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Artist begins work on bronze statue of soldier to go by Medina Armory
Staff Reports Posted 21 March 2017 at 9:12 am

Provided photos: Sculptor Brian Porter is pictured with a subframe for a statue of a soldier that will go by the former Medina Armory, which is now the YMCA on Pearl Street.

The statue of a soldier that will go by the former Medina Armory is taking shape.

Brian Porter, a sculptor who works as an assistant professor for Erie Community College, is working on the statue that will resemble a young soldier, someone who looks between 18 and 21.

That was typical soldier of Company F, which trained out of the Armory in Medina. The Company F Memorial Committee wants the statue to look like a typical soldier from the site when they left the community in October 1940 during World War II.

The 7-foot-high bronze statue will be erected outside the Armory, which was used for about 75 years to train soldiers for battle. The statue will honor those soldiers and help people appreciate the building’s past in training soldiers to defend the country

Porter created the statue for the Seabees Memorial in North Tonawanda.

Porter is trying a new process using 3D technology. He scans in the image of the miniature clay model, and data sent to a CNC machine is used to cut out thin plywood slices that are then glued together. The wood structure is a subframe for the clay to be shaped upon.

“It was a really interesting process to get to this point and many people that viewed it on campus were excited about the look of this stage of the structure,” Porter said.

The next step will be to begin carving and prepping the surface for clay modelling.

The plywood slices have been glued together in sections of about 10 pieces each. Porter anticipates that they will be easier to model and mold in this way.

The miniature clay model, about 20 inches high, is next to the wood structure which will be covered in clay in the next step in the process.

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Governor says Collins’ Medicaid funding shift would hurt New Yorkers
Posted 20 March 2017 at 8:21 pm

Cuomo: Federal aid cuts would decimate upstate health care system

Press Release, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released this statement this evening about the healthcare proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, and also responded to Congressman Chris Collins’ push to have counties in New York no longer contribute to Medicaid, with the county share picked up by the state.

“The more we learn about the repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act, the sicker New York gets,” Cuomo said. “The repeal and replacement is exactly what the Trump Administration promised that they would not do. It is the classic Republican program referred to during Reagan’s time as ‘passing the buck without passing the bucks.’ Congressman Paul Ryan and the radical conservatives are having their way.

“Congressman Ryan brags about ‘cutting entitlements by billions of dollars.’ That is precisely what he is trying to do to New York’s Medicaid program. The conservatives have long lamented that New York’s Medicaid program was ‘too generous.’ They scoffed at our health care proposal that provided dental care and one conservative even said when questioned about the denial of dental benefits, ‘soup is good.’

“The Repeal and Replace Act would block grant money to the state in the name of local flexibility but at the same time it would dramatically cut that funding. Over four years New York State would lose $4.6 billion and lose at least $2.4 billion a year by fiscal year 2020.

“If this were not bad enough Congressman Chris Collins and Congressman John Faso have offered an amendment that would stop the counties from paying a share of Medicaid. Historically, the federal government paid 50 percent, the state paid 25 percent, and local governments – counties – paid 25 percent. The state has already absorbed much of that burden, but even so the reduction to the program from the loss of the counties’ share outside of New York City is $2.3 billion.

“The cut is so severe that the majority of hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities located in Upstate New York and on Long Island would be devastated. How a county executive could believe their county could prosper while losing hundreds if not thousands of jobs and seeing the decimation of their health care system is beyond me.

“Congressmen Collins and Faso are calling their amendment a ‘tax savings plan for the county.’ Really it’s a deathtrap as there is no way to make up the shortfall. The Upstate New York and Long Island economy will falter or collapse if the health sector is damaged.

“It would be nice if Congressmen Collins and Faso actually tried to help their districts rather than hurt them. These health care cuts are on top of a dizzying array of cuts to real New Yorkers. The Republican budget cuts housing assistance, food stamps, heating projects, community development funds – all at the expense of the middle class and working families – while they cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans. They won’t get away with it. They can’t play New Yorkers as fools and New Yorkers will remember.

“The bill for Congressmen Collins and Faso’s rabid conservative zealotry will be paid by Upstate New York’s hard working families, and those families will know exactly who to thank.”

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Holley man admits driving impaired without license, could face 1 to 3 years in prison
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2017 at 4:53 pm

ALBION – A Holley man admitted to drinking some hard liquor on Oct. 29, before he was stopped in Barre and charged with driving while impaired and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

William Tuttle Jr., 36, of West Albion Road in Holley could face a maximum of 1 to 3 in state prison when he is sentenced at 2 p.m. on June 12.

He had his driver’s license suspended after he was found guilty previously of driving while impaired due to drugs.

Tuttle did not have a breathalyzer to measure his Blood Alcohol Content on Oct. 29, and he also passed a field sobriety test. He had about 2 ounces of hard liquor about an hour before he was pulled over in Barre, Tuttle told Orleans County Court Judge James Punch.

The judge asked Tuttle if his ability to drive was “impaired by some degree” and Tuttle agreed it was.

In another case, District Attorney Joe Cardone presented a plea offer to a Murray resident with multiple prior DWIs.

Kevin A. Truesdell, 39, of Hurd Road was arraigned in court on March 6 for felony DWI, AUO of a motor vehicle in the first degree and aggravated DWI (registering 0.18 percent or more).

Truesdell also faces charges of violating his probation in Genesee County. He also was recently arrested for criminal mischief and trespass in Murray.

Cardone’s plea offer would incorporate all of the crimes. Truesdell would face a maximum of 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison as part of the plea.

Truesdell is represented by attorney Gary Horton. Truesdell has been in jail the past two weeks with bail at $20,000. He was given time to consider the offer from the DA.

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Construction of STAMP infrastructure expected to start soon
Staff Reports Posted 20 March 2017 at 1:18 pm

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Economic Development Center today announced that bids for infrastructure work at STAMP have been released.

“We are extremely aware of the fact that the funding for the infrastructure work involves taxpayer money and as such this is going to be an extremely transparent process,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC.  “We fully anticipate having shovels in the ground in a couple of months.”

Clark Patterson Lee is issuing the bids and will manage construction inspection for Phase I work for water infrastructure, including enhancements to the Town of Alabama water system.

The engineering firm will also be issuing bids in the near future and managing construction inspection on roadways within the STAMP site and the main entrance off of Route 63 and 77.

The firm will review the bids for the road and water infrastructure work and make recommendations to the GCEDC Board for approval.

The Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) is a 1,250-acre mega site in Genesee County that connects the cities of Buffalo and Rochester. The STAMP site is available for large scale multi-billion dollar advanced manufacturing, semiconductor, photovoltaic, energy storage, and bio-manufacturing.

The first tenant, 1366 Technologies, is planning to build a 100,000-square-foot silicon wafer production plant inside the park.

But critical infrastructure needs to be in place, including water lines and roads before 1366 Technologies can get started.

The GCEDC also will host a pre-bid conference on March 29, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the MedTech Centre’s Innovation Zone so that interested parties can ask questions about specifications for the bids and other relevant information, including MWBE requirements and the Project Labor Agreement (PLA).

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Orleans reduces unemployment rate in January compared to 12 months earlier
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2017 at 10:51 am

The unemployment rate in Orleans County was 6.7 percent in January, which was down slightly from the 6.9 percent in January 2016.

The county actually had about 300 fewer people working in January compared to January 2016 – down from 16,700 the previous January to 16,400. Despite fewer people working, the unemployment rate went down because there were about 100 fewer people on unemployment, about 1,200 total, according to state Department of Labor data.

The DOL reports the state’s private sector job count increased by 123,600 during the 12 months to 8,035,600. The state’s unemployment rate of 5.0 percent was down from 5.3 percent in January 2016. Nationally, the rate was 5.1 percent in January, a decrease from 5.3 percent in January 2016.

Several counties topped a 7 percent rate for unemployment in January, including nearby Niagara at 7.1 percent. Other counties near Orleans have lower unemployment rates: Monroe, 5.0; Erie, 5.5; Genesee, 5.8; and Livingston, 5.8.

Wyoming County had the highest rate of the GLOW counties at 7.3 percent unemployment in January.

Nassau County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.1 percent and Hamilton was the highest at 9.4 percent.

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GO ART! approves grants to support many arts and cultural events in Orleans, Genesee
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 March 2017 at 8:40 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Bill McDonald and his wife Kay play in Medina from a boat in this photo from July 2015. They are part of the Old Hippies band which is calling itself “The Traveling Towpath Troubadours” for a canal concert series. The band travels to canal towns by boat.

The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council has announced funding for many cultural programs in the two counties. The $63,084 was presented on March 2 to 24 grant recipients in Orleans and Genesee.

GO Art! has now administered the New York State Council on the Arts’ Decentralization Regrant Program for 30 years

The grant recipients for 2017 include:

Orleans County

• The Arc of Genesee Orleans, sponsored by Orleans County Chamber of Commerce, (Open Mic & Art Show) – $2,375

• Lee-Whedon Memorial Library (“Finally Fridays!”) – $2,800

• Lyndonville Lions Club (Music Fun in the summer in Lyndonville) – $3,800

• Orleans County Chamber of Commerce (Traveling Towpath Troubadours: Bicentennial  Celebration of the Erie Canal) – $5,000

• Village of Albion (Concerts on the Canal) – $2,673

• Village of Holley (Concerts at  Canal Park) – $1,000

• World Life Institute Inc. (Voices from Earth: Pottery Experience in Orleans County) – $4,908

• Yates Community Library (More Than Just Books ) – $4,400

The Who Dats, including guitarist Marty Hobbs, played to a big crowd by canal in Albion in June 2016.

Genesee County

• The Arc of Genesee Orleans (Art Show and Film Festival) – $2,394

• Batavia Concert Band (2017 Summer Concert Series) –$4,250

• Batavia Players (Summer Musical) –$1,750

• Byron-Bergen Public Library (Art and Music in the Community) – $2,250

• Genesee Chorale (Genesee Chorale 2017 Season) –$4,000

• Batavia Players (Spring After School Program) –$1,427

• Jill Pettigrew (NYS School for the Blind 150th Anniversary Permanent Ceramic Tie Mural) – $3,559

• Ted Canning sponsored by Genesee Symphony Orchestra (Steel Band Residency) – $1,725

• David Burke (Byron-Bergen Public Library Exterior Mural) – $2,500

“If you enjoyed any of the events or public art work created by the recipients, please note that the Decentralization Grant Program (DEC) is probably in danger of being cut or disseminated by Federal Budget cuts that is being proposed,” said Gregory Hallock, assistant director for GO Art! “If you care about art and culture in your life at the grass roots level, let your legislators know that we need funding to continue to promote art and culture in our community.”

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This week, high temps mostly in 40s, with 54 on Saturday
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2017 at 7:48 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – The sunset is pictured on Johnson Creek near the Lyndonville dam on Thursday evening.

After a tough week of winter weather, with about two feet of snow dumped on Orleans County, the temperatures will be on the rise this week.

The highs in Orleans County for the week, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo, include 42 on Monday, 44 on Tuesday, 25 on Wednesday, 40 on Thursday, 50 on Friday and 54 on Saturday.

Many geese and at least swan were hanging out on Johnson Creek last Thursday.

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Barre honors outgoing fire chief, charter members
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2017 at 12:25 pm

Jerry Bentley is pictured with his family, including from left: parents, Doug and Linda; daughter Kara; son Brian; wife Terry; and brother Tom.

Photos by Tom Rivers

EAST SHELBY – The Barre Volunteer Fire Company honored Jerry Bentley on Saturday for his many years of service to the fire department, including two stints as fire chief from 1997 to 2004, and 2015 to 2016. Bentley was recently named a deputy fire coordinator for the county for the center battalion.

Bentley in the top photo is wiping a tear from his eye after being presented with an award of appreciation from Chris Flansburg, captain; Karl Diesel, president; and Ben Flansburg, assistant chief.

Driesel said Bentley, who also works full-time for the Barre town highway department and part-time as a dispatcher, is a “people person.”

“He has a way of encouraging people to push themselves to do a little more,” Driesel said.

The fire department responded to 2019 calls in 2016, including 114 EMS, 27 motor vehicle accidents, 5 structure fires, 6 car fires, 5 brush fires, 16 miscellaneous fires, 4 traffic control, 1 Mercy Flight landing zone and 32 mutual aid.

The following were the top 10 in responding to calls: Jerry Bentley, 132; Amanda Dixon, 119; Pat Lamka, 108; Kara Bentley, 99; James Neal, 96; Sarah Lamka, 92; John Egloff,89; Mark Farone, 87; Brian Bentley, 79; and Geddy Morgan, 78.

The fire department completed 1,332.5 hours of fire/EMS training last year, including in-house, county and state fire courses.

“Training is very important to me, more than making calls,” Bentley told the firefighters. “I would rather have members know what they are going to do when they get to a call than wonder how do it when they get there.”

The top 10 in training hours include: Richard Barnard, 159; Brian Bentley, 119; Jerry Bentley, 104; Kara Bentley, 101; Sarah Lamka, 76.5; Karl Driesel, 75; Andrew Faskel, 62.5; Chris Flansburg, 62; John Egloff, 48.5; Doug Bentley, 43.5.

Jerry Bentley presented two awards as the outgoing chief on Saturday. He named Rich Barnard the “firefighter of the year.” Barnard led the department with 159 training hours, including completing the firefighter 1 course and a class for basic pump operations.

“He’s very self motivated and willing to learn,” Bentley said about Barnard.

Bentley presented the Chief’s Award to his daughter, Kara Bentley, who was fourth in the department in training hours and in responding to calls. She was a high school student for half the year until she graduated last June, and then attended classes at Finger Lakes Community College.

Kara, 18, is working on becoming an EMT. She said she enjoys helping others through the fire department. Her father said she has become a dependable member of the department, looking to improve her skills.

The fire company also announced that Steve Karas was made an honorary lifetime social member in appreciation for portraying Santa the past two years while firefighters delivered toys to local children. Karas was unable to attend the dinner on Saturday because he is in Florida.

The fire department formed in 1961 and several of the charter members have been steady contributors all 55 years. They were recognized during the installation banquet on Saturday, including Herman Hicks, John Baron, Don Josyln, Larie Vagg, Warren Snyder and Frank Babcock. The 55-year members were presented with citations of appreciation from the State Assembly and Orleans County Legislature.

Herman Hicks accepts certificates of appreciation on Saturday for his 55 years of service to the Barre Volunteer Fire Company. Eileen Banker, chief of staff for Sate Assemblyman Steve Hawley, hands Hicks one of his certificates. Dale Banker, the emergency management director, is in back left by State Sen. Rob Ortt.

Hicks remains a commissioner with the Barre Fire District. He was the fire company’s first assistant chief in 1961. A retired dairy farmer, he served in numerous roles for the fire company throughout its history.

“There was a big demand (for the fire company) and we have done a lot of good for the community,” Hicks said.

He is encouraged by a new generation of volunteer firefighters stepping up to serve in Barre.

“We have a lot of people interested and that’s what you need, a good nucleus,” Hicks said.

John Baron receives his certificates of appreciation for his 55 years with the Barre Volunteer Fire Company from President Karl Driesel. Baron worked the third shift at Rochester Products and he said that made him available to respond to many fire calls during the day, when other firefighters were working. He was an active firefighter for 25-30 years.

“You’re needed,” he said about volunteer firefighters. “I also have made a lot of friends through the fire department.”

State Sen. Rob Ortt addressed more than 100 people who attended the annual installation dinner for Barre, held at the East Shelby Fire Hall. Ortt said the volunteer firefighters provide an invaluable service to their communities, and save taxpayers an estimated $3 billion annually if the communities had to have paid personnel.

Ortt was praised by Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, for directing a $75,000 grant to pay for a fire prevention trailer to be used for smoke simulation, and teaching children and the community about fire safety and prevention. That trailer will be available county-wide.

Banker also said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley has directed funds for a firefighter recruitment effort, paying for billboards and advertisements to urge people to join their local volunteer fire department. Those ads and billboards will be out in April.

Marty Zwifka receives a plaque and appreciation for his 20 years of service as deputy fire coordinator for central Orleans County. Dale Banker, the EMO director, made the presentation to Zwifka. Jerry Bentley has succeeded Zwifka in the part-time role as deputy fire coordinator.

These Barre officers take the oath of office. They include, from left: Barry Flansburg, Brian Bentley, Nic Elliott and Ben Flansburg.

The officers for 2017 include:

Department Officers: Karl Driesel, president; Jesse Babcock, vice president; Terry Bentley, secretary; and Edgar Morton, treasurer.

Firematic Officers: James Neal, chief; Ben Flansburg, assistant chief; Chris Flansburg, captain; Bert Mathes, 1st lieutenant; Nic Elliott, 2nd lieutenant; Brian Bentley, 3rd lieutenant; Barry Flansburg, 4th lieutenant; Andrew Faskel, EMS captain; Susan Driesel, Fire Police captain; Doug Bentley, chief mechanic; John Egloff, assistant mechanic.

Directors: Jesse Babcock, Bert Mathes, Bradlee Driesel, Chris Flansburg, Andrew Faskel and Bill Basinait.

Ladies Auxiliary Officers: Betty Hazel, president; Stephanie Corke, vice president; Stephanie Spencer, secretary; Maura Curtis Moy, corresponding secretary; Debby Westlund, treasurer; and Georgianna Gauthier, flag bearer.

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Pitch count will monitor high school hurlers
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 19 March 2017 at 9:18 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Barker’s Eddie Wasnock and his fellow high school pitchers will be playing with pitch count limits this season.

When the snow melts and the games begin in a couple of weeks area high school baseball teams, and their counterparts around the state, will find a new bit of strategy has been added to the sport as the state Public High School Athletic Association has approved pitch count regulations.

A part of Little League Baseball rules for some time, the new regulations set limitations on how soon a pitcher can return to the mound depending on how many pitches he throws in a game.

“The new pitch count action “is a giant step forward in doing our part to protect and support our student athlete baseball players,” said State Baseball Coordinator Ed Dopp when the regulations were passed by the State Executive Council in January.

The new regulations state that during the regular season a pitcher who throws from 1-30 pitches needs one night’s rest before returning to the mound. If he throws 31-65 pitches two nights rest are required, 66-95 pitches three nights and 96-105 four nights.

The limits are expanded a bit for post season competition which then has 1-40 pitch count requires one nights’ rest, 41-71 two nights, 72-102 three night and 103-125 for nights.

“It will be interesting. It will add a lot of strategy in how you use your pitchers,” sad Barker Coach Rob Mucha in summing up the feelings of area coaches.

That pitch count strategy certainly will come into play, not only for teams with limited pitching, but for all teams if weather postponements result in teams having to play three, four or more games in a week during what is already a condensed regular season which ends by mid May.

During games each team will be required to record pitches on an official state pitch count form. At the conclusion of the game the two teams will compare forms to make sure they are in agreement on the number of pitches each pitcher has thrown and the forms will then be signed by the coaches.  It will be the school’s responsibility to maintain all pitching records so that a pitchers availability can be checked by opponents at upcoming games.

The state regulations also impose strict penalties if they are not followed. The regulations state that violations will be treated the same as if a team used an ineligible player and the game will be forfeited.

Weather permitting local teams will begin trying out the new pitch count regulations when Medina hosts Pembroke on March 27 and Albion entertains Holley and Lyndonville visits Barker on March 31.


Albion formed electric company in 1889 to light village streets
By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 March 2017 at 11:09 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 12

The origins of electric streetlights date back to over 130 years ago when Wabash, Indiana became the first city to utilize the system that would eventually replace gas lighting.

It was nearly six years after that initial testing that the Village of Albion began to explore the possibility of erecting electric lights to illuminate the streets. This image shows a group of eleven men erecting the first electric pole in Albion, located on Madison Street (now East Park).

The Albion Electric Light Company, formed in 1889 by E. Kirke Hart, William G. Swan, and George W. Barrell with a capital of $18,000, first proposed the illumination of Albion’s streets at a cost of roughly $55 per light. The first dam was constructed near Sprague’s Mill on East State Street and served as the primary source of local power through the 1890s. Other area municipalities, such as Lockport, started the process of transitioning from gas to electricity but gave up on the endeavor due to excessive costs. Despite the relative increase in costs, Albion’s streets were illuminated by electricity for the first time on April 7, 1890.

The glories of electric lighting were short lived, when the electric company proposed a rate hike for providing service for village lighting. Jumping nearly $20 between 1890 and 1896, the new rate would have led to a $.10 per $1,000 rise in assessments. Naturally the taxpayers voted the proposal down and the electric current was cut. Residents were forced to carry lanterns or wander the streets in the dark.

This raised a huge issue, as the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle noted, because women who paid taxes in the village became extremely vocal about the cutting of electricity. Those who had to walk the streets after dark felt uncomfortable walking late at night. Despite their status as taxpayers, women were still unable to vote at the time. The village later reached an agreement with the company, agreeing to pay the $75 per light and cutting service to seven lights in order to balance the cost.

Two years later, George Lum would assume the lighting contract at a proposed cost of $62 per light, providing service to over fifty streetlights in the village from sundown to 1 o’clock in the morning. The new contract would lead to the construction of a new power plant at Clark’s Mills in Waterport to replace the small plant in Albion.

Of course, electricity was far from safe, often proving dangerous to residents and workers alike. In 1902 a local resident was jolted by electricity while using the phone in their home. It was believed that the electrical line crossed over the phone line causing the shock. Others were less fortunate, such as John Daniels of Albion, who was killed while working for the Buffalo General Electric Company when his shoulder came in contact with live wires. His parents were the first in Albion to receive settlement money as a result of his death under newly passed legislation.

That same year, James Robinson of Albion was killed while working with Matthew Ryan’s quarry outfit. Robinson was electrocuted while moving wires during the process of relocating heavy machinery. The pole he was using came in contact with live wires from Swett’s Electric Light & Power Company where insulation had worn off.

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Albion Middle Schoolers persevere in performing Wizard of Oz
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2017 at 9:44 am

Extreme weather knocked out 5 rehearsals in last 2 weeks

ALBION – The Wicked Witch of the West (Olivia Morrison) confronts Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer) and her friends during the Albion Middle School production of The Wizard of Oz on Friday. There are shows today at noon and 7 p.m. at the Middle School Auditorium.

Last night’s show included a fire alarm about halfway through the second act. The crowd and performers all had to leave the building after the fog machine triggered the fire alarm.

It was the latest adversity for the cast and crew of 73 students. They had five of their rehearsals canceled in the past two weeks because of the wind storm that knocked out power and then the snow storm this week.

The students put on an entertaining show last night and were given a standing ovation by the crowd.

This is the 40th show led by Carrie Kozody, director, and Kevin Feder, the assistant director. Kozody thanked the students for persevering in the face of so many challenges in the past two weeks.

Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer) holds her dog Toto while on the Kansas prairie with her Aunt Em (Annaliese Steier) and Uncle Henry (Jacob Coolbaugh).

In Munchinland, the mayor (second from right – Leah Kania) and the farmer (right – Keyonna Hamilton) realize Dorothy’s house has flattened the Wicked Witch of the East, who tormented the Munchkins. Dorothy was presented several gifts who ridding the Munchkins of their enemy.

Glinda, the good witch played by Sydney Mulka, presents Dorothy with the ruby slippers and sends her on her way to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz, who might be able to help Dorothy get back to Kansas.

Emily Merger plays the Tin Man, one of three friends Dorothy makes on the way to see the Wizard of Oz. The Tin Man feels inadequate because he doesn’t have a heart.

The Yellow Brick Road Dancers include, from left: Maleah Knight, Leeanna Montanarella, Annabella Salisbury, Emma Tower, Alyson Knaak and Hannah Coolbaugh.

The four friends are happy after they reach the Emerald City. The Tin man (Emily Merger), Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer), the Scarecrow (Zachary Kilner) and the Lion (Myleigh Miller) all have requests for the Wizard. The Tin Man wants a heart and Dorothy wants t go home, while the Scarecrow wants a brain and the Lion would like courage.

Kenyatta Hamilton is one of the Ozians in the Emerald City.

Olivia Bieber also performs as an Ozian during Friday’s performance. The cast includes students in grades 6 through 8.

The Great Oz appears as a disembodied head. He is voiced by Will Tremblay. Oz refuses to grant any wishes until the group comes back with the broomstick from the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Witch’s Winkies are led by the Winkie General (Jacob Coolbaugh). The Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man would dress as Winkies to rescue Dorothy and Toto from the Witch’s castle.

Will Tremblay plays the Wizard. He shows the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion how they already had the brains, heart and courage they desired. He tells Dorothy he will take her back home in a hot air balloon.

Dorothy (Aubrey Boyer) takes a bow at the end of Friday’s show, which was disrupted by a fire drill. The show didn’t end until about 10:20 p.m. The crowd showed its appreciation for the students who are back today for shows at noon and 7 p.m.

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Rescued cow succumbs after being pulled from cold water
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2017 at 5:09 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

SHELBY – Shelby firefighter John Miller II, holding oxygen mask, and Fire Chief Andy Benz help a steer that was pulled out of a pond at about 12:30 today.

The steer showed signs of recovery initially after being pulled out of the water. But the cow was unable to get back on its feet and died at about 4 p.m.

The animal may have had hypothermia or suffered from taking in too much water, according to one of the firefighters.

The steer is owned by Jack Farrell of Dunlop Road. Farrell and three of his neighbors – Russ Peters, Connie Murray and Justin Gray – were able to get the animal out of a pond after it fell through the ice.

The cow was no longer breathing when it was pulled out of the water. Shelby firefighters used an oxygen mask to help revive the animal.

Firefighters try to keep the cow warm after it was pulled from the icy water today.

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Neighbors, firefighters rescue cow that fell through ice
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2017 at 3:06 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

SHELBY – A beef farmer’s neighbors and Shelby firefighters rescued a steer that had fallen through the ice today just after noon.

The top photo shows Shelby firefighter John Miller II holding a pet rescue mask on the steer so the animal could get oxygen. The Shelby Volunteer Fire Company has the mask for dogs and cats, but it worked for the steer and helped the animal with its recovery.

The steer is owned by Jack Farrell of Dunlop Road. He was thankful the animal was able to be pulled out of the water. The steer is 7 months old and about 900 pounds. Farrell said the steer was holding its head up and bellowing, good signs it would be OK. The steer hadn’t been able to get on its feet after getting pulled out of the water.

Photos courtesy of Russ Peters

Firefighters put a shelter of hay bales around the animal and the other steer gathered around it.

“It might take a couple hours before it can get back on its feet,” said Jason Watts, a Shelby firefighter.

Russ Peters, pastor of the Alabama Full Gospel Church, was driving on Dunlop Road just after noon when he saw the steer’s head sticking out of a pond. Peters pulled over and called his wife. Another neighbor, Connie Murray, also came over. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 12:11 with the message a cow had fallen through the ice.

Peters, Murray and another neighbor, Justin Gray, found Jack Farrell and they tried to get the steer out. Peters went in the water which was up to his waist. He put a rope around the steer’s neck and they were going to use a tractor to pull the animal out, except the tractor was out of gas. Murray ran to her house and got some gas. While she did that, Peters knocked some of the ice loose, creating a channel for the cow to get out.

Photos by Tom Rivers

The tractor, once it had gas, was used to pull out the steer, which by then was no longer breathing.

Shelby firefighters arrived on the scene and then helped revive the steer, giving it oxygen through a pet rescue mask and thumping on its back to get out fluids.

The steer bellowed and showed signs of life. But he wasn’t ready to get up. Firefighters put a warm blanket on him, and made a shelter with hay bales.

Farrell was optimistic the steer would be OK. He thanked his neighbors and the firefighters.

“It’s a good deal,” he said.

The rescued steer sits on the ground and recovers after its ordeal in the cold pond water. Jack Farrell, owner of the farm, expects the steer will recover and get back on its feet.

Firefighters don’t recommend people go on thin ice to make a rescue.

Peters said he knew the animal meant a lot of Farrell, and the pastor didn’t want to watch it die.

“It is my honor to help,”  Peters wrote in a message to the Orleans Hub. “I thank God for helping me to act despite my fear!”

(Updated at 4:58 p.m.: Shelby firefighters say the steer died at about 4 p.m. The animal may have had hypothermia or fluid in its lungs.)

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Conservative Party vice chairman cries foul over ‘double dipping’ by elected officials
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2017 at 12:02 pm

YATES – Paul Lauricella said “politicians” continue to shock his senses, taking advantage of ways to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.

Lauricella, the vice chairman of the Orleans County Conservative Party, said it should not be legal for some elected officials to “retire” from their positions, collect their pensions, and then stay on in their elected positions receiving their full pay.

Lauricella addressed the Yates Town Board on Thursday. He is upset that Roger Wolfe, the town highway superintendent, is considered retired and able to collect his public pension, while continuing to work as town highway and water superintendent. Wolfe is paid $64,180 as highway superintendent and $13,658 as water superintendent in 2017.

He entered the NYS Employees Retirement System on Dec. 31, 2015, eligible for a pension at $50,619 annually. (He can’t receive that full pension each year because he is younger than 65. But he can receive a prorated amount until he surpasses $30,000 in pay in a year. A letter from the state comptroller’s office on March 15 said Wolfe was able to receive his monthly pension of $4,209.02 until May 2016, when he hit the $30,000 level in income.)

Once over 65, retired municipal employees have no income restrictions that affect their pensions, according to the state Retirement and Social Security Law.

Lauricella has been sending Freedom of Information Act requests to the town and comptroller’s office. He presented the responses to the Town Board on Thursday. Town Supervisor Jim Simon asked Lauriella to present his questions in writing, and the board would work to answer them.

Lauricella shared some of his concerns during the meeting on Thursday. He said the town minutes don’t show any record of Wolfe retiring. Town Councilman Jim Whipple said he recalls the Town Board accepting the resignation at a December 2015 meeting. Whipple said the minutes could be modified to show that.

Wolfe had been re-elected that November and started a new term on Jan. 1, 2016. That is how some of the elected officials who then collect their pensions handle the timing. When they have already been re-elected to start new terms on Jan. 1, they retire typically the day before the new term starts.

Ed Morgan, the Murray highway superintendent, and Larry Swanger, the Clarendon highway superintendent, also are retired and continuing to work full-time in the jobs. Many long-term state legislators, such as David Gantt in Rochester, also are retired, collecting a pension and their regular pay for their elected positions.

Simon, the Yates town supervisor, said Wolfe has done nothing illegal. As an elected official, the rules are different for “double dipping,” collecting a pension and full-time pay.

Normally a public employee has to get a waiver to continue working on the government payroll and collect a pension. The municipality needs to show the person is difficult to replace, without a qualified successor ready to take over.

Lauricella said other capable people could serve as highway and water superintendent for Yates.

Normally municipal retirees also have to stay out of the same position they were working in for at least a year, before they are brought back to that job. But that stipulation doesn’t apply to elected officials.

Lauricella said it was wrong to have different rules for elected officials and other public employees.

“I’m sure there is some loophole because when you’re a politician you can get away with anything,” Lauricella said at the meeting.

Simon said he would research Lauricella’s questions to make sure the answers were correct.

Simon praised Wolfe and the highway workers for their recent effort cleaning up after the powerful wind storm last week and then for their work clearing town roads from the big snowstorm this week.

Simon also praised the Lyndonville Fire Department and Village of Lyndonville for making their facilities available as warming shelters for people without electricity. Simon said some residents went four days before their power was restored.

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State legislators push for raises for direct care workers who serve people with disabilities
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 March 2017 at 10:57 am

‘We’re having a staffing crisis because we’re not funded to pay them more than a fast food worker.’ Donna Saskowski, executive director of the Arc of Genesee Orleans

The State Senate and Assembly have both put in an additional $45 million in the state budget for pay increases for direct care workers for people with disabilities.

The raises are needed to stabilize the workforces for many agencies that serve people with disabilities, said Donna Saskowski, executive director of the newly merged Arc of Genesee Orleans.

Donna Saskowski

“We’re having a staffing crisis because we’re not funded to pay them more than a fast food worker,” Saskowski said.

The ARC chapters and other agencies that serve people with disabilities receive much of their funding from the state. Saskowski said state increases have lagged in recent years, making it difficult for the agencies to state competitive with their wages.

The ARC chapters are losing some workers to fast food, department stores and other industries, sometimes for entry level positions. That doesn’t seem right to Saskowski, who said her employees are making less money despite the need for more training and responsibility in their direct care jobs.

She is hopeful Gov. Andrew Cuomo will keep the additional $45 million in the budget.

The Arc of Genesee Orleans has more than 500 employees. Satkowski said many of them are so dedicated to the agency they have picked up second jobs so they can continue to serve people with disabilities. The pay increase would be a big boost for the workers and their familes, she said.

State Senator Rob Ortt (R-North Tonawanda) is chairman of the Senate’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. He announced on Thursday the Senate Republican Majority’s 2017-18 budget plan includes $45 million to support wage increases for direct care professionals.

“This is a tremendous step on an issue that is very dear to me – one that we have been working on diligently over the past year,” he said. “Senate Republicans are standing shoulder to shoulder with direct care professionals, individuals in the disability community, and nonprofit agencies who care for our most vulnerable population across the state. These employees deserve a fair living wage, and we will continue to fight for them in our state capital. This goes beyond the state’s fiscal obligation to these providers – it’s a moral imperative to help those most in need and we cannot leave them behind.”

Direct care professionals provide critical state services for individuals with autism, serious brain injury, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other developmental and intellectual disabilities, Ortt said.

Currently, direct service professionals earn an average of $10-$13 per hour – just above the state’s minimum wage. To adequately meet the needs of direct care workers, the proposal provides $45 million annually to help ensure competitive salaries while reducing turnover rates and overtime costs for the nonprofits, and recruit qualified staff for the difficult work. Without new funding for direct care workers, the salary gap with minimum wage workers will lead to increased vacancies in the field as qualified individuals seek less strenuous work, such as in the fast food industry, Ortt said.

“We have lost people to better paying jobs,” Saskowski said today. “We’re looking for a fair wage.”

A final state budget is expected to be adopted by April 1.

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