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Kent man pleads guilty in hit-and-run where girl struck on bike
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2017 at 12:01 pm

ALBION – A Kent resident has pleaded guilty in a hit-and-run last summer when a girl was struck on her bike.

Jeffrey P. VanNostrand, 52, pleaded guilty in Orleans County Court to reckless endangerment in the first degree and driving while intoxicated.

VanNostrand will be sentenced on May 23 and could face a maximum of 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison.

He was driving on Aug. 16 when he allegedly struck a child on a bicycle at 8:47 p.m. on Baker Road. The girl was injured and transported to Strong Memorial by Mercy Flight.

VanNostrand allegedly fled the scene and turned himself in the following morning.

Judge James Punch recused himself from the case. The judge in December said the case is very similar to another hit-and-run with VanNostrand in 1989 where a girl was injured.

The judge said he remembered the details from the 1989 case, back when he was district attorney in Orleans County. Punch said the latest incident with VanNostrand is “infuriating” given the prior incident.

Judge Sara Sheldon handled the case after Punch recused himself.

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Medina man gets year in jail for endangering welfare of child
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2017 at 11:45 am

ALBION – A Medina man was sentenced to a year in the Orleans County Jail on Monday for endangering the welfare of a child.

Judd A. Farewell Jr., 24, of Countyline Road allegedly tried to solicit an underage girl to send him naked pictures of herself. Farewell gained access to the alleged victim through social media.

“You acted in a predatory manner using the internet to solicit a young girl,” Judge James Punch told Farewell during sentencing.

The judge also issued orders of protection for the victim and her mother.

Farewell has already spent several months in jail, and that time will count towards his sentence. He was also ordered to pay a $200 court surcharge and $50 DNA fee.

The following appeared for arraignments:

• Brionnah L. Raglan, 21, of Medina is charged with third-degree grand larceny and criminal mischief. Raglan and two other co-defendants are accused of smashing a truck window and stealing an envelope containing $8,000 in Clarendon.

The two other co-defendants – Devon Robinson, 23, of Rochester and Jade Fayko, 21, of Holley – were arraigned on April 3.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said the stolen money hasn’t been recovered.

Raglan was released with no bail.

• Laura L. Spear, 49, of Shelby is charged with third-degree grand larceny and second-degree forgery for allegedly stealing and using her mother’s credit card. Spear has no prior criminal history and is free on no bail.

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Judge sets bail at $200K for parolee who allegedly stole car and crashed into Murray garage
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2017 at 9:48 am

ALBION – An Orleans County resident who recently was released from prison now faces numerous charges after he allegedly stole a car and drove while under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Joshua D. Biaselli, 33, was arraigned in Orleans County Court on Monday. Judge James Punch set bail at $200,000.

The judge cited Biaselli’s criminal history, with four prior felonies, numerous misdemeanors and two escapes.

Biaselli is accused of stealing a car from a person delivering pizzas on Feb. 10. Biaselli then allegedly crashed the vehicle into a garage on Gulf Road in Murray.

He was allegedly driving drunk and high from using cocaine and marijuana.

Biaselli was released from state prison in Elmira in January after serving more than five years in prison for felony DWI, bail jumping and drug convictions.

He was arraigned on Monday two counts of DWI, driving while impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and two counts of criminal mischief.

Biaselli was an inmate in Attica Correctional Facility when his grandmother, Elsie Biaselli, then 70, was arrested twice and charged with smuggling drugs to him. That led to felony charges against both of them.

Elsie Biaselli, 73, was recently released from state prison after being convicted promoting prison contraband by bringing drugs to Attica. She also was convicted of offering a false instrument for lying on her pistol permit and welfare application.

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Oak Orchard Health takes down house, awaits expansion in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2017 at 8:57 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: A green house next to the former Off-Track Betting parlor in Albion was knocked down on Monday. The house is at 321 West Avenue.

ALBION – Oak Orchard Health is taking a step forward with its plans to expand in Albion. The healthcare provider on Monday knocked down a house at 321 West Ave. Oak Orchard, which owns a healthcare center next door, acquired the OTB site and the house last year.

Oak Orchard is planning an expansion in Albion, and is working to secure funding for the project, said Jim Cummings, Oak Orchard CEO.

Oak Orchard Health would like to expand healthcare services in Orleans County, including dental and possibly vision and behavioral health, after acquiring the sites on Route 31 in Albion.

For now, Oak Orchard will have the debris from the house removed, and then will have the site backfilled and seeded, Cummings said.

The former OTB site will be used for Oak Orchard’s maintenance shop and for storage.

“We are presently working with our architect to design the combined expansion and renovation project that we hope to develop,” Cummings said. “As with most significant projects of this type we are also working to develop funding and the timing of the project will obviously be tied to the acquisition of this funding.”

Here is how the house looked last October. The former OTB parlor is in back.

Oak Orchard is a Federally Qualified Health Center. The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary in the community last year. Oak Orchard was originally founded by the University of Rochester in 1966 to provide health care for migrant farmworkers. Oak Orchard has expanded to an integrated health center with services for all community members. Oak Orchard has sites in Albion, Lyndonville, Brockport, Warsaw and Hornell, as well as a mobile dental unit.

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After sunny on Tuesday, lots of rain in the forecast
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2017 at 10:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: A car heads west on the Albion-Eagle Harbor Road in Gaines this evening as the sun was setting.

Tuesday is forecast to be sunny with a high near 55. On Wednesday, showers are likely, mainly between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. with a high near 65, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

More showers are likely on Thursday with a possible thunderstorm before noon. More showers are likely and a thunderstorm is possible on Thursday night.

On Friday, showers are likely with a high near 49. On Saturday, the Weather Service says it will be sunny with a high near 53.

The sun sets in this photo taken this evening at about 7:50 p.m. It shows the Erie Canal in Gaines, looking west from the canal bridge on Gaines Basin Road.

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Union says 3 officers injured during attack at Orleans Correctional Facility
Staff Reports Posted 17 April 2017 at 9:42 pm

ALBION – Three officers were injured on Saturday after an inmate head-butted an officer and injured two other officers who were trying to restrain him, said the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, Inc.

The incidents were in the visitors’ room at Orleans Correctional Facility, a medium security men’s prison on Gaines Basin Road.

On Saturday at approximately 2:30 p.m. an inmate, Adrian Phoenix, got into an argument with his female visitor in the visitors’ room. The argument escalated and became physical. Witnessed by two officers, the female visitor initially put her hands over Phoenix’s mouth. He responded by pushing her back in her chest. The two continued to argue in the room, which was filled with other inmates and visitors.

The two officers assigned to the room escorted Phoenix out and brought him into a frisk area. Phoenix continued to be disruptive and agitated. He turned suddenly and head-butted one of the officers in the face, the union said.

Additional staff entered the area and used body holds on the inmate to gain control of him. He continued to struggle with the officers.  Restraints were applied but the inmate continued to struggle and refused orders to calm down. Eventually, after being ordered again to calm down, the inmate complied.

Phoenix, 27, was placed in a special housing unit. He faces disciplinary charges in the attack, NYSCOPBA said in a news release.

He is serving a six-year sentence after being convicted in Onondaga County in 2011 for criminal sexual act in the 2nd degree.

The officer who was head-butted was transported by ambulance to Strong West in Brockport and treated for a concussion, swelling over his left eye, left knee abrasion, nose bleed and nausea.  He was treated and released.

A second officer sustained left knee and lower back pain and was also transported to Strong West for treatment. Both officers have not returned to duty.

A third officer sustained a small laceration to his hand and minor abrasions to his arm. He stayed on duty.

“The visitors’ rooms in our correctional facilities continue to be problematic,” said Joe Miano, vice president of the Western Region for NYSCOPBA.

Two visitors were arrested on April  2 trying to smuggle in drugs to inmates at the Livingston Correctional Facility. The presence of K9 dogs thwarted both attempts by the visitors to pass the drugs on to the inmates, Miano said.

He then referenced the Saturday argument at the Orleans Correctional Facility that escalated, resulting in the assault of one officer and injuries to two others who attempted to gain control of the unruly inmate.

“Once again, this brings to light the need for the administration to make changes and hold inmates accountable when they attack officers, as well as stop the influx of contraband making its way into facilities,” Miano said.

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Polish community celebrates end of Lent with Dyngus Day
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2017 at 5:21 pm

ALBION – Denise London holds a tray of Golabki, which are Polish cabbage rolls filled with rice, hamburg and tomatoes.

London is one of the cooks for about 75 meals of Polish food at St. Mary’s Athletic Club on Moore Street in Albion.

“We’re trying to carry on the tradition,” London said.

St. Mary’s, which was started by the Polish community that also founded the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Brown Street, is stepping up efforts to celebrate Dyngus Day. The Polish community revels in Dyngus Day on the Monday after Easter, a chance to indulge after Lent.

Linda Lewis is working on pierogis. They are first boiled and then fried.

The dinners at St. Mary’s are open to the community and are available until sold out today.

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Pennysaver wins 12 design awards at NY competition
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2017 at 1:56 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Lake Country Pennysaver won 12 graphics awards for advertisements and a specialty publication by the Free Community Papers of New York. Pictured, from left, included Jayme Privitera, senior graphic designer; Karen Sawicz, publisher; and Marissa Olles, art director.

ALBION – The Lake Country Pennysaver won several awards in the annual graphics competition through the Free Community Papers of New York.

The association held its annual meeting in Saratoga Springs, and the Lake Country Pennysaver won 12 awards for ad designs. That includes a second place in general excellence and a second place for a specialty publication – the annual Community Directory. The awards were presented on April 8.

The Pennysaver is part of Lake Country Media, which also owns and runs the Orleans Hub. The office is at 170 North Main St., Albion.

Karen Sawicz serves a publisher of both operations. She praised the graphic designers and sales staff for working so well together, and for turning around the ads so quickly.

Marissa Olles of Albion serves as art director. The St. Bonaventure graduate joined the Pennysaver as a part-time proofreader in 2005 and worked her way up to art director.

“We’re proud of how efficient we are,” she said about the staff.

The Pennysaver staff enjoys working with so many small business owners, helping them with ads and promotions to boost their businesses, Olles said.

“We are in Orleans County,” Olles said. “You don’t have to go into the city for professional design services.”

Privitera of Le Roy said she and the staff research the latest trends in layout, with color schemes and photographs.

“We have a real clean, professional and modern look to our ads,” she said. “Everything looks cohesive right down to the last detail.”

Amy Fox also works as a graphic designer for the Pennysaver and Orleans Hub.

The Pennysaver is celebrating its 70th year this year. Sawicz’s parents, Vincent and Gwen St. John, owned the Pennysaver beginning in 1960.

The Pennysaver endured the prolonged power outage last month and still met the Thursday layout deadline. Sawicz said the Pennysaver has had continuous publication every week, except during the Blizzard of ’77.

The Pennysaver won awards in the following categroies:

The Pennysaver was recognized for its annual Community Directory.

• General Excellence, Division A up to 15% Editorial content – SECOND PLACE – March 27 and April 3 Pennysavers were submitted in their entirety

• Advertising Design Contest – FIRST PLACE AND SECOND PLACE – ads submitted by Jayme Privitera

• Best Restaurant Ad: B&W – SECOND PLACE – The Basket Factory

• Best Single Ad: B&W up to 12″ in length – FIRST PLACE – Seever Construction

• Best Single Ad: Color over 12″ in length – FIRST PLACE – Sunrise Door

• Best Single Ad: Color over 12″ in length – SECOND PLACE – KFC

• Best Institutional Ad: B&W – FIRST PLACE – Pat’s Long Bridge Repair

• Best Institutional Ad: B&W – SECOND PLACE – B&L Landscape

• Best Single Ad – Local Agency Design – FIRST PLACE – Elderwood by Gelia Media

• Separate Publication, 8.5″x12″ mag standard or ltwt. newsprint – SECOND PLACE – Community Directory

• Community/Customer Service – Good Will – SECOND PLACE – Pet of the Week campaign

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Lobby gets an upgrade at Medina Memorial Hospital
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2017 at 10:20 am

MEDINA – The lobby at Medina Memorial Hospital is getting its first overhaul since the early 1990s.

The front desk is now enclosed and has been moved down the hall to be closer to a new entrance near the emergency room.

Some of the hospital’s maintenance staff is pictured by the lobby, including from right to left: Doug Fuller, maintenance mechanic; Tim Bisher, maintenance mechanic; Joe Barnes, maintenance helper; and Tyler Fuller, maintenance helper. Jim Buckman, not pictured, is head of the group.

The hospital’s maintenance crew put up the new wall with framing, drywall, steel studs and electrical.

Anthony Drisdom, supervisor of registration and also a financial counselor, takes a call at the switchboard. Drisdom used to have an office away from the lobby, but now he is upfront to meet with patients in his role as a financial counselor.

The hospital received a $272,000 grant for the lobby renovations, which are ongoing.

Additional work includes the new entrance, which will be at the left side of the taped off area. The current entrance will remain open during the day, but will be closed at night with patients using the new entrance by the ER. Paul Lamparelli of Cheektowaga is the contractor for that project.

Takeform Architectural Graphics will be adding graphics and signage.

Cindy Perry, director of Outreach, Education and Marketing for Community Partners for Orleans Community Health, stands in the lobby, where the hospital will remove the carpet and replace it with tiled flooring. The lobby will also be getting new countertops.

The changes in the lobby will improve security, streamline the registration process, and create a more positive and calming experience for ER patients, Perry said.

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Sandstone Heritage: Dunkirk built church edifice of Medina sandstone a century ago
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2017 at 8:45 am

DUNKIRK – A century ago, when Dunkirk was booming from the railroad industry, a congregation built a large church edifice at 601 Washington Ave.

The church shows the wealth of the congregation and the small city in Chautauqua County at the time. Besides using high-quality Medina sandstone, the church has three very large stained glass windows, and numerous smaller windows.

The First United Methodist Church in Dunkirk has large, striking stained-glass windows. The one on the left depicts the The Ascension of Christ, which shows the apostles watching in awe as the resurrected Christ ascends to Heaven. The window on the right shows Christ as the Good Shepherd.

I stopped by the church on Easter. I was in the area visiting my parents and other family. I saw this church a few months ago when I was home scouting for the Civil War Memorial in Dunkirk. There is a stone statue of a soldier in a park next to the church.

Greg Cole, husband of the church’s pastor Judy Cole, gave me a brief tour of the church after the 11 a.m. service on Sunday. I told Cole I was building a database of Medina sandstone sites, and would pass the photos along to the Medina Sandstone Society. I told Cole I also like to feature the sites on the Orleans Hub, showing that our local stone has been used in important community buildings all over the state – and beyond.

Mr. Cole said people stop by periodically for tours. They want to see the inside of the church with the enormous stained-glass windows. Many have commented the church was built with Medina sandstone. “You’re known all around the world,” he said about Medina sandstone.

There are about 40 people attend Sunday services. The church hosts monthly dinners for the community, including one on Tuesday. It also has a ministry for people who are homeless, offering a clothing closet, food pantry, household items, laundry facilities, showers and a place to rest, along with a meal. The church also offers temporary overnight emergency shelter.

A cornerstone indicates the church was built in 1916, replacing one from 1845, but inside a sign says it the church was finished in 1918. Mr. Cole said it took about two years to build the church, with construction starting in 1916.

Jesus is portrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed before he was betrayed and would be crucified. This is one of three large windows depicting Jesus. Mr. Cole said the windows were created by the Pittsburgh Art Glass Company.

This close-up shows Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

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Merrill-Grinnell hosted first Easter egg hunt
Staff Reports Posted 17 April 2017 at 7:45 am

Provided photos

ALBION – Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Homes in Albion hosted its first Easter egg hunt on Saturday. Kids hunted for eggs on the lawn at Merrill-Grinnell, a historic site at the corner of East State and Ingersoll streets. Anne Dobmeier, the funeral home’s manager, was pleased with the turnout despite the rain.

This photo includes, from left: Anne Dobmeier, Ella Busby, Pam Cherry, Robert Eaton, Easter Bunny (Brendan Dymes), Megan Sullivan and Christa Busby.

The Easter Bunny was happy to pose for pictures with children.

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White pelican spotted at Lake Alice
Staff Reports Posted 16 April 2017 at 8:22 am

CARLTON – Doug Boyer, a nature photographer who lives by Lake Alice, captured these photos of a white pelican at the lake on Saturday.

“You will not believe we saw a white pelican today on Lake Alice, but I have 7 witnesses,” Boyer said in an email with the photos.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the white pelican as “a huge waterbird with very broad wings, a long neck, and a massive bill that gives the head a unique, long shape. They have thick bodies, short legs, and short, square tails. During the breeding season, adults grow an unusual projection or horn on the upper mandible near the tip of the bill.”

The white pelicans are typically found along coasts in winter, they can be found in California’s Central Valley, the Salton Sea, and the Colorado River drainage of California and Arizona. They also spend the winter in Florida.

“They are superb soarers (they are among the heaviest flying birds in the world) and often travel long distances in large flocks by soaring,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “When flapping, their wingbeats are slow and methodical.”

For more on white pelicans, click here.

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3 injured in Hartland head-on collision
Staff Reports Posted 16 April 2017 at 7:43 am

HARTLAND – Three people were injured in a head-on collision on Ridge Road in Hartland on Saturday at 6:43 p.m., the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Investigation shows a west bound vehicle went into the east bound lane causing the collision. Fire personnel on scene had to use the Jaws of Life to extract the driver and front passenger out of the east bound vehicle.

The driver and front passenger of the east bound vehicle were transported by Mercy Flight to the Erie County Medical Center with serious injuries. The small child in the east bound vehicle was transported to Children’s Hospital by Ambulance for his injuries.

The driver of the west bound vehicle was transported to the Eastern Niagara Hospital for his non-life threatening injuries.

The names of the occupants are being withheld at this time pending notification of the family. The investigation is continuing by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Accident Investigation Unit.

The Hartland Fire Department, Gasport Chemical Hose Company, Tri-Town Ambulance and Mercy Flight all responded, as well as Niagara County deputies.

Editor’s Note: The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office provided this update today at 11:24 a.m. on those injured in the accident:

The occupants of the motor vehicles involved in the injury accident on Ridge Road on April 15 have been identified as 30-year-old Matthew Lukasic of Lockport, 64-year-old Ellen Matesic of Newfane, 32-year-old Maren Smith of Newfane and a 1-year-old from Newfane.

Lukasic is listed in good condition at ECMC, Matesic is listed in serious condition at ECMC, Smith was released from ECMC last night and the 1-year-old is still at Children’s Hospital in good condition.

Charges are pending against Lukasic as the accident is still under investigation by the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Accident Investigation Unit.

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Family that lost daughter, 2, to leukemia starts foundation to help others
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2017 at 3:58 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Beth and Kyle Webb have started the FLED Foundation to help children and their families who are battling childhood leukemia. Their daughter Elaina, 2 ½, passed away from leukemia on Feb. 7.

ALBION – The Webb family and some of their close friends and supporters have started a new foundation to support children battling childhood leukemia.

Beth and Kyle Webb lost their daughter, Elaina, to leukemia on Feb. 7. She fought the disease for nine months before passing away at age 2 ½.

The FLED Foundation aims to help families with out-of-pocket expenses, offering gas cards, and funds for babysitters, meals and help with household expenses. They want to connect families with counseling services, and support research into fighting childhood leukemia.

FLED – Fight Like Elaina Dixie – is a non-profit organization. The Webbs and the board of directors are in process of having the organization become an official foundation, working with the IRS on the paperwork.

The Webbs said the community and many organizations provided them with much needed support while Elaina was hospitalized and receiving treatment.

The Knights-Kaderli Memorial Fund that assists families fight cancer in Orleans County, the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation and IACKids all provided critical financial support so the Webbs could keep their house going while their daughter battled leukemia.

Kyle and Beth Webb snuggle with their daughter Elaina at “Elaina’s Tree Fort,” which was added to their backyard in January due to efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The Webbs say they want to support other families battling leukemia with a focus on patients at Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Wilmot Cancer Institute in Rochester.

Beth and Kyle met with the Albion Village Board on Wednesday to discuss an upcoming fundraiser at Bullard Park, a kickball tournament. They envision several teams playing throughout the day, with other vendors at the park.

“Kickball was our daughter’s favorite sport,” Beth Webb told the Village Board.

Albion Trustee Pete Sidari said kickball is seeing a resurgence, and the tournament would likely be a big draw for the park.

The board tabled setting a date for the tournament to determine what date would work best for the community, whether in late June or July. The village may also sponsor the event.

“We would like as many teams as possible,” Mrs. Webb said.

The FLED Foundation has already sold enough FLED T-shirts to raise $2,000 in start-up funds for the organization.

Webb said the organization’s board is planning other fundraisers, including bowl-a-thons, spaghetti dinners, a possible golf tournament that would be closer to Rochester and other events.

Kyle is serving as president of the FLED board of directors, while Beth is vice president and head of foundation operations. Other directors include Sarah Applegate, Alishia Newman, Chelsea Webb, Tanya Williams, Randy Williams and Tim Burt.

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House fire knocked down quickly on Route 31 in Holley
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 April 2017 at 11:40 am

HOLLEY – Firefighters were dispatched to a house fire at 11:26 a.m. today in the Town of Murray, and had the fire knocked down within minutes, an Orleans County dispatcher said.

Firefighters responded to 16629 Route 31, which is between the village line and Lake Road.

The dispatcher said no was injured from the fire.

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