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Medina’s Joshua Helper named king of prom at Orleans/Niagara BOCES
Posted 19 May 2017 at 2:30 pm

Provided photo: Meghan Livesay (North Tonawanda) and Joshua Helper (Medina) were named the Queen and the King of the prom.

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

The students in the Orleans/Niagara BOCES programs recently took to the dance floor for their annual prom, with Joshua Helper of Medina named king.

Ten classes total – six from the Orleans Learning Center, one from Niagara Wheatfield High School and three from the North Tonawanda High School – got dressed up in their finest and they entered the Lockport High School West gymnasium that was decked out in an Italian bistro theme.

The staff put their all into the fabulous decorations and the Niagara Career and Technical Education Center Culinary Arts students, under the direction of Robert Ihle, made a fantastic pasta and pizza luncheon for the students to enjoy.

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600-plus will graduate on Sunday from GCC
Staff Reports Posted 19 May 2017 at 10:27 am

BATAVIA – Genesee Community College will celebrate its 49th commencement on Sunday with a 1 p.m. ceremony in the Anthony T. Zambito Gymnasium at the college’s Batavia campus.

About 600 students will receive degrees and certificates during the ceremony.

The Batavia Brass Society will provide music for the event and GCC student (Class of 2016) Alannah Gross will sing “God Bless America.”

Bill Kauffman

Edgar “Ed” J. and Mary Louise Hollwedel will be receiving the Alpha Medal of Service Award from the GCC Foundation.

President James Sunser will introduce this year’s keynote speaker, author Bill Kauffman of Elba. Born and raised in Batavia, Bill has been a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and also written for publications such as The American Conservative, The American Scholar, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Nation, New York History, Newsday, The Australian and The Spectator of London.

Kauffman has authored 10 books, including Look Homeward, America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Port Anarchists, which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006 and won the Andrew Eiseman Writers Award. His book, Ain’t My America, The Long Noble History of Antiwar Conservatism and Middle American Anti-Imperialism was named by Barnes & Noble as one of the best books of 2008. Locally, he is probably best known for his Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette: A Mostly Affectionate Account of a Small Town’s Fight to Survive (2003), the story of Batavia and its changing fortunes.

Following Kauffman’s address, graduates will be presented and degrees conferred. Commencement will recognize more than 600 students including those completing programs of study in August 2016, January 2017, May 2017 and August 2017.

Again this year, GCC will be live-streaming the ceremony allowing parents and family members from around the globe to watch their graduates participate in the commencement ceremony. To view the event through the Internet, click here.

Commencement is open to the public, but the seating in the gymnasium is reserved for family and friends of graduates and requires a ticket for entry. The ceremony will also be video cast internally throughout the Batavia campus and can be viewed in the Stuart Steiner Theatre, room T102 of the Conable Technology Building and on every campus monitor including those in the Student Union and cafeteria. Tickets are not required to watch the ceremony in these areas.

Immediately following commencement, the college will host a reception with punch and light refreshments in the Forum for all graduates and guests.

The college provides child care services at no cost during commencement for children eight weeks to five years of age. To register a child, please contact the Student Activities Office at (585) 343-0055, ext. 6261.

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Chuck Nesbitt heads task force for counties studying impact on ‘raising the age’ of criminal responsibility
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 May 2017 at 9:17 am

An Orleans County official will head a task force for counties across New York, examining the financial impact for implementing a new state law that will raise the age of criminal responsibility for non-violent felons from 16 to 18 by October 1, 2019.

Chuck Nesbitt, chief administrative officer for Orleans County, is chairman of a task force for the New York State Association of Counties.

Implementation of the new law is still being developed at the state level. The new law will require new resources in county probation departments, county attorney’s offices, mental health services, and social service agencies.

“This law will require initial and sustained investments in critical county departments, and this task force is charged with identifying those areas of investments and other unintentional consequences that may result from it,” Nesbitt said in a news release from NYSAC.

Recognizing the fiscal and operational impact the new law will have on New York’s counties, the state budget included provisions for partial state reimbursement for the costs associated with raising the age of criminal responsibility.

The Task Force will include representatives from probation, sheriffs, district attorneys, county attorneys, social services, and administration.

Other members of the Task Force include: Alex Wilson, Counsel, Sheriff’s Association; Tony Jordan, District Attorney, Washington County; Bob Masters, District Attorney, Queens; Kira Pospesel, DSS Commissioner, Greene County; Robert Iusi, Warren County Probation Director; and New York City Mayor’s Representative.

“Our state leaders have made this is a top priority in New York, and now their partners in government at the county level and in the court system must work together to make this law work for the young New Yorkers it is designed to support,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “This Task Force will help the state implement the new law mindful of its impact on local taxpayers and law enforcement officials.”

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Refugee who found new life in Rochester shares inspirational message with Holley students

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Sandra Uwiringiyimana (center), poses with Holley Community Free Library Director Sandra Shaw(left) and Holley Middle School/High School Librarian Lisa Osur (right) following Uwiringiyimana's book talk at the school on Thursday.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 19 May 2017 at 7:08 am

Author Sandra Uwiringiyimana speaks to students and community members in Holley on Thursday afternoon.

HOLLEY – Students at Holley Middle School/High School were inspired and challenged to be “an agent of change” Thursday afternoon by African-born author Sandra Uwiringiyimana who spoke about her book, How Dare the Sun Rise.

She writes about how she survived a massacre, immigrated to the United States, and overcame her trauma. The book was released May 16.

The 22-year old Uwiringiyimana was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and enjoyed what she described as “a happy childhood” and a “fulfilling life” in her conflict-stricken homeland, until the age of 10. That’s when rebel groups sought to kill her and members of her tribe because of their dialect and physical characteristics.

“We were made to feel subhuman, as if we didn’t deserve to live in the Congo,” Uwiringiyimana said.

Her family was forced to flee from their home, but were ambushed during the attempt. A man came up to the window of their vehicle and punched Uwiringiyimana’s six-year old sister in the face.

“It was then I discovered hate,” Uwiringiyimana said.

That memory is what lead her to write about her experiences, Uwiringiyimana said.

She encouraged students and members of the Holley community to become agents of change – to break the cycle of hatred between different people – as she is trying to do.

“We must see each other’s humanity first,” Uwiringiyimana said.

In 2004, the refugee camp where Uwiringiyimana’s family was living was attacked. Uwiringiyimana watched as her 6-year-old sister was killed and other members of her family were wounded.

Uwiringiyimana signs books following her talk at the school.

Eventually, surviving family members were able to immigrate to America and settled in Rochester where Uwiringiyimana went to Mercy High School. She is now a student at Mercy College.

Uwiringiyimana told the students she understands their daily struggles, particularly after her experiences as a refugee.

“High School can be difficult, especially if you feel like an outsider,” she said.

Uwiringiyimana told the audience she has worked to turn tragedy into triumph and that they can do the same

How Dare the Sun Rise is published by Harper Collins/Katherine Tegen Books.

“You are never too young to change the world,” Uwiringiyimana said. She encouraged students to start with the choices they make on a daily basis.

“You can’t make change globally if you don’t make change at home,” she said.

She encouraged them to take an interest in others and offer kindness and support.

“It’s not enough to be a nice person,” Uwiringiyimana said. “You have to express that.”

She said the friendships she made in Rochester and the encouragement of others helped her to see that it was important to tell her story

Uwiringiyimana is the first of her tribe to write a book about their experiences, and she now gives of her time as a human rights activist and spokesperson for refugees.

“I put a face to the issue,” she said. “When you hear the word refugee, picture me.”

Uwiringiyimana works to help girls in rural communities in the Congo. “A lot of kids don’t have the luxury of dreaming,” she said.

Through the Jimbere Fund (a non-profit organization which fights poverty in the Congo), Uwiringiyimana assists refugees and helps educate young women. She told students to become involved in local community organizations which help others.

“I live my life with my heart and mind opened to other people,” she said. “I want to be inclusive… it was (extremist) thinking that took (my sister’s) life. How could I embrace the notions that killed her?”

Following her speech, Uwiringiyimana signed copies of her book in the Holley Middle School/High School foyer.

Claudia Drechsel, a soon-to-graduate senior, has already read the book and was able to have it signed. She said she was thrilled with the book and with what Uwiringiyimana told the audience.  Drechsel was especially moved by Uwiringiyimana’s courage.

“She said exactly the things that should be said, it was so personal. She touched on so many important issues,” Drechsel said. “It was really great.”

“Her story was inspiring to me,” eighth-grader Arrianna Ianello said. “I tend to take things for granted.” Uwiringiyimana taught her that good can come out of suffering and tragedy, Ianello said.

The author visit was made possible by the Holley Community Free Library and the Holley Rotary Club.

Library Director Sandra Shaw and Holley Central Superintendent of Schools Bob D’Angelo were both impressed by the talk and the response from students. Both said they know the visit will make a lasting impression on students and they hope to be able to offer similar programs in the future.

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VFW Auxiliary discusses stars and stripes with kindergarteners
Staff Reports Posted 18 May 2017 at 10:43 pm

Provided photos

ALBION – Members of the VFW Auxiliary Strickland Post #4635 paid a visit to the Albion Elementary School and met with kindergarten students today.  Corinne Padura, left, read a book to the students about the origins of the American Flag as well as the symbolism of the stars and stripes.  She talked about the importance of respecting the flag and proper care of the flag.

The top photo shows the VFW Auxiliary members with students in Mrs. Perry’s class. The group includes, from left: Corinne Pahura, Payton Babcock, Sue Boyce, Olivia Ginger, Debbie Ashe, Dalmas Weese and Edwin Dudley.

Corinne Pahura reads a book about the origins of the flag to the entire kindergarten class. She was a former kindergarten teacher.

Students sang “We Love Our Flag” and recited a poem about the flag.

Red, white and blue,

These colors run true;

Red, white and blue,

waving I love you!

At the end of the program each child received a flag.  Students will use these flags during their annual Flag Day program on June 14. This community outreach effort is part of the VFW Auxiliary Americanism program.

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Collins, 3 others in Congress want FEMA aid for shoreline property owners
Posted 18 May 2017 at 4:35 pm

Members of the National Guard battle crashing waves while placing sandbags along the Kendall shoreline on May 7.

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Chris Collins (NY-27), John Katko (NY-24), Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21) are urging Governor Cuomo to take swift action in requesting the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deliver relief to Lake Ontario shoreline and St. Lawrence River property owners.

In a letter to the Governor released today, the Representatives who all represent shore areas, called on Cuomo to comply with the federal Stafford Act and make the initial request for federal assistance. Federal law requires the initial request to come from the governor in order for President Trump to declare a federal state of emergency for the Ontario lakeshore areas.

“While we commend Governor Cuomo’s efforts thus far to address the concerns of Lake Ontario homeowners, our letter respectfully urges him to request the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” said Congressman Collins. “In making a formal request to President Trump to declare a federal state of emergency, impacted residents will be able to access the wide-ranging disaster assistance that FEMA has to offer. Our Lake Ontario constituents have remained patient as water levels continue to rise each day, but it’s now time to act and provide them with the relief they deserve.”

Representatives Katko, Tenney, and Stefanik signed onto the letter sent to Governor Cuomo, as they too represent communities along Lake Ontario impacted by recent record high water levels.

“With rising lake levels gravely impacting communities along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, I’ve spent time visiting with property owners and local officials in Fair Haven, Sodus, and Oswego.  Homeowners, businesses, and farmers are suffering substantial and costly damage,” said Congressman Katko (NY-24). “I applaud Governor Cuomo for his attention to this critical and unprecedented situation.  Still, current water levels pose a significant burden and, left unaddressed, will continue to cause damage to shoreline communities across New York State.  That’s why I’ve joined my colleagues to urge the Governor to elevate these concerns by requesting federal assistance from FEMA so that our communities may have access to the assistance they desperately need.”

According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), current water levels in Lake Ontario are measuring in 31 inches higher than average and are expected to rise another 5 inches over the next 30 days.

Shoreline property owners continue to invest in breakwalls and other erosion protection resources; however, a significant number of homes have been condemned and impacted property owners anticipate tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

The letter details that while both the National Guard and USACE have helped provide counties along the shoreline with hundreds of thousands of sandbags, unfortunately “they are no match for waves measured between 5-7 feet tall that are crashing against private property, housing structures, and docks causing irreparable damage to the shoreline.”

Full text of the letter along with signatories can be seen here and full text can be read below.

May 18, 2017

The Honorable Andrew Cuomo


State of New York

The Capitol

Albany, New York 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo,

We are writing you today regarding the recent flooding along the shoreline of Lake Ontario.  Lake Ontario water levels have recently surpassed record high levels, currently sitting 31 inches higher than normal levels with an expected increase of 5 inches over the next 30 days.

It has come to our attention that your office has not yet requested the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in getting damage assessments.  This is a crucial first step in the process of declaring a federal state of emergency through the Stafford Act.  As you know, a declaration by the president of a major disaster must originate from the Governor of the affected State.

Erosion along the shoreline is a serious issue; nearly all of the shoreline in New York State erodes at a rate of one foot per year, some parts erode at a rate of more than two feet per year.  This recent flooding has exacerbated erosion, some property owners who once had 80 feet of land standing between their home and the lake, are currently looking at 40 feet or less.

Numerous shoreline property owners have invested in break-walls surrounding their property that are now sitting far into the lake.  Homeowners and shoreline property owners are experiencing tens of thousands of dollars in damage, homes have been condemned, and there is no relief in sight.

The National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers have helped counties along the shoreline to fill and place hundreds of thousands of sandbags.  Unfortunately, they are no match for waves measured between 5-7 feet tall that are crashing against private property, housing structures, and docks causing irreparable damage to the shoreline.

While we commend you for ordering the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to speed up permit processing for the construction of protective structures, we respectfully request that you swiftly begin the process for requesting federal assistance.  We must act now to protect our shoreline property owners.

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Strawberry Festival picks winning poster
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2017 at 4:02 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The winning poster has been chosen to help promote this year’s Albion Strawberry Festival. Destini Hurlbert holds the poster with a depiction of a Santa Claus.

This year’s festival, June 9-10, celebrates a Santa theme in honor of Albion native son, Charles W. Howard, who operated a school for Santa, served as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa for 18 years, and also ran the popular Christmas Park in Albion.

Jackie Quintana, last year’s winner, came in second with this photo. The students all researched historic photos of Howard and the Santa School to help with the poster design.

Charity Henhawk came in third with this design to help promote the Strawberry Festival.

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Strawberry Festival urges parade participants to celebrate Santa theme
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2017 at 11:28 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Dance Reflections in Albion won for “Best use of theme” in last year’s Strawberry Festival, which had a theme: Hook, Line & Strawberry, to promote the local fishing resources and to play on the strawberry theme of the festival.

ALBION – The Albion Strawberry Festival parade is less than a month away and festival organizers want parade participants to start thinking about their floats.

The parade this year has a Charles W. Howard theme, in honor of the man who founded a Santa Claus School in Albion. Parade participants are urged to incorporate Santa and Christmas decorations in their displays.

There will, however, only be one Santa Claus in the parade. He is expected to make a guest appearance with Mrs. Claus. Some members of Charles Howard’s family also are expected to be in the parade with his granddaughter serving as the parade grand marshal.

Parade participants are welcome to wear Santa hats, dress as elves or think of other ways to promote a Santa theme.

The festival has expanded its list of parade categories for awards. All of the winners will receive certificates.

The categories include:

• Best use of theme (Charles W. Howard and Santa Claus)

• Most original

• Best band

• Best cheer/dance

• Special recognition/community service

• Best public safety agency (fire department, police, ambulance)

• Best classic car

• Best wooden boat

• Best use of humor

Santa is expected to make an appearance in the Albion Strawberry Festival. He may opt for his casual wear because Santa doesn’t tend to wear his full Santa suit during the the off-season.

The Albion Merchants Association also will have a holiday window decorating contest during the 31st annual Strawberry Festival on June 9-10.

Charles Howard ran a Santa School in Albion from 1937 to 1966. Howard also served as the Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for 18 years. He remains revered among people who portray Santa for establishing standards in how to act and dress as Santa.

The Albion Betterment Committee is working on raising money for a bronze statue and memorial in downtown Albion in honor of Howard. The group is hoping to celebrate Howard, and promote Albion’s history with Santa Claus.

The two-day Strawberry Festival has many activities, from a food court, craft vendors, a classic car show, turtle race, trout pond, 5k and 8k race, and family fun center. A chalk art festival also will be back.

For more information, check the festival’s website by clicking here.

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Kendall town supervisor thanks community for rallying during lake crisis
By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 18 May 2017 at 10:50 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Members of the National Guard place sandbags along a residential property in Kendall on May 7.

65,000 sandbags and counting

KENDALL –  Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata is sending out, “One big thank you to the Kendall community for your help in trying to resolve this crisis with mother nature.”

Residents and organizations have worked hard to help homeowners and property owners along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Cammarata made his comments during the regular meeting of the Kendall Town Board Tuesday evening.

“I would like to extend a personal ‘thank you’ to Warren Kruger and the Highway Department for all their work, time and effort to help the residents of this town,” Cammarata said.

He noted the innovative process Kruger, the highway superintendent, designed to fill sand bags utilizing the town’s salt spreaders. The National Guard, inmates, Kendall residents and residents from neighboring communities have been working the past two weeks to fill sandbags and distribute them to residents along the lakeshore.

“We had filled 65,000 sandbags as of yesterday, it’s probably above that by now,” Cammarata said.

He also thanked Assemblyman Steve Hawley, State Senator Robert Ortt, Governor Cuomo’s Office, the National Guard, the Kendall Fire Department and Ladies’ Auxiliary for their assistance.

The Ladies’ Auxiliary, the Masonic Temple, the Kendall Lions and community members have worked to keep the National Guard and sandbag volunteers fed each day with breakfast and lunch. Cammarata said donations of food have also come from Tops, Wegmans, Pizza Shack and many others.

He thanked the Fire Department, local churches and the Kendall Central School District for their efforts to mobilize volunteers for the sandbagging efforts, and Town Clerk Amy Richardson for her efforts in obtaining necessary permits for residents trying to save their property.

“Kendall is a special community,” Cammarata said.  “People in Kendall always come together when there is a crisis. From the bottom of my heart I thank everyone in Kendall. We are people helping people and will continue as we try to curtail mother nature in this dilemma we are facing.”

“I can’t say enough praise,” Council member Barb Flow said during her report, regarding the volunteer efforts of those in the community to help residents along the lakeshore.

Cammarata read two letters from lakeshore residents thanking the town, the highway department and volunteers for their assistance.

Jim Locicero of Bald Eagle Drive called the sandbags and assistance in placing them, “a gift from heaven.”

Barry Scorse of Lomond Shore praised the highway department’s quick response. “They’ve done a tremendous job,” Scorse wrote.

In other business, Flow gave a brief update on the Dollar General project from Planning Board Chair Andrew Kludt, who has been communicating with the engineering firm. The new site plans are being drawn to reflect conditions required by the town in approving the project. Construction will likely begin in September, Kludt indicated.

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Assemblyman welcomes veterans for 10th annual Patriot Trip to DC
Posted 18 May 2017 at 7:13 am

Provided photo – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) joined veterans and their family members in Washington D.C. during the 2015 Patriot Trip.

Press Release, Assemblyman Steve Hawley

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) today announced that his 10th annual Patriot Trip to Washington D.C. will take place Sept. 21-24.

More than 100 veterans and their family members participated in the 2016 trip, which included stories of valiant service members and valuable time spent together reflecting on the courage and dedication exhibited by our nation’s veterans.

Hawley is a longtime supporter of veterans and has served on the Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee since 2006.

Only veterans who have never been on the trip before may sign up now. After Aug. 1, veterans who have been on the trip before and those living outside of the 139th Assembly District may apply. The approximate cost of the trip is $350, which includes meals, transportation and admission to the memorials.

“I look forward to this trip each year as a way to give back to those who have served our country and remember those who have perished in combat,” Hawley said. “I came up with this idea after a similar trip I took with my father, a World War II veteran. Through the experiences of my father and my own service in the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, I have gained a tremendous understanding and respect for the sacrifices endured by our veterans. It is for these reasons that I continue the Patriot Trip each year and have solidified it as one of the staples of my service to our community.”

Attractions Hawley plans to visit this year on the trip include:

White House

WWII Memorial

Gettysburg Memorial

Korean War Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial

Iwo Jima – The Marine Corps Memorial

American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

Air Force Memorial

911 Memorial at the Pentagon

Arlington National Cemetery, including the Changing of the Guard

Wreath Laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns – Vietnam Veterans

If you or a veteran you know want more information about this year’s Patriot Trip X, please call 585-589-5780 or email To view photos from previous years, use the following link:

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25 businesses, service providers at Job Fair on Thursday at GCC in Medina
Posted 17 May 2017 at 10:05 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Job Development

MEDINA – Orleans County Job Development is collaborating with the Village of Medina, Genesee Community College Association and Orleans/Niagara BOCES to host the 2nd Orleans County Spring Job Fair on Thursday, May 18, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the GCC Medina Campus Center.

The facility has plenty of space for parking and transportation is also available through Orleans Transit Service (585-589-0707), which is graciously providing complimentary transportation to those traveling to/from the Medina GCC Campus for the duration of the job fair.

A wide range of businesses and service providers will be on hand, recruiting for full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, including Adecco Staffing, Arc of Genesee-Orleans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of WNY, Brunner International, Inc., Community Action of Orleans and Genesee – Early Head Start and Child Care Resource & Referral, Darien Lake, Fidelis Care, Genesee Community College Adult Education Opportunity Center, Hinspergers Poly Industries, Holli-Pac, Imagine Staffing, Iroquois Job Corps, Orleans County Job Development Youth Employment Program, Orleans Community Health, Orleans County  Civil Service, Orleans County Adult Learning Services (OCALS), Orleans RTS (Regional Transit Services), Pathstone  Corporation , Power & Construction Group Inc, Pride Pak Inc., Takeform, Tender Loving Family Care, Tim Horton’s, United Healthcare and Velocitii LLC.

All those in search of employment are invited to attend. Please bring your current resume and come dressed for success. Assistance with resume development, application completion and/or interview skills will be available on site by OC Job Development Counselors.

Orleans County Job Development is a proud partner of the American Job Center Network, 585-589-7000.

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Vets Park renovation project begins
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 17 May 2017 at 8:19 pm

Photos by Mike Wertman – The project to replace the 15 year old artificial turf at Medina’s Vets Park got underway in earnest today. The two-year project, will also include the installation of a new video scoreboard at the east end of the park this summer and the addition of new permanent bleachers on the south side of the park next year. The bleachers will be installed on land the school district has purchased just south of the present boundary of the park. A variety of machines made quick work of removing the old turf, a job which is expected to be completed by Friday.

Here a machine cuts the turf into long, narrow strips.

This machine “fluffs” the turf to remove the sand and rubber before it is rolled up.

Once cut and fluffed this machine pulls the strips of turf to it and up into rolls.

Here rolls of the turf are picked up and headed to the dumpster.

With rising river, marina works to raise its docks

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gatlen Ernst, left, and his father Steve work this morning on one of the docks that has been raised more than 2 feet at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2017 at 4:02 pm

Galen Ernst has raised some of his docks so boats can get back into the Oak Orchard River, which he said has risen about 2 1/2 feet since early April.

POINT BREEZE – There’s normally a lot of energy this time of year at the marinas and docks along the Oak Orchard River.

Many boaters have their vessels in the water. Charter boat captains usually are busy taking anglers out fishing and pleasure boaters welcome the refuge at the lake.

But high Lake Ontario water levels have many of the docks under water. That has kept many of the boats on land.

One marina owner, rather than wait perhaps weeks – or longer – for the water to go down and make the docks accessible, decided to raise his docks.

It hasn’t been easy. Gatlen Ernst and his staff have been in the water in waders, tearing apart the docks and making them higher.

“It’s finding the right method,” he said.

Ernst and his crew, including his father Steve, have experimented, swapping out stringers and lifting the docks up about 26 to 27 inches.

Many of the boating slips remain underwater at the marina.

He has about 90 boat slips at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina. After raising two docks, he now has 22 spots open for boats, and is working to have more docks available.

Ernst’s is about a half mile from the lake. Since the marina opened in early April, the water has gone up about 2 ½ feet, Ernst said. Even with little rain the past week, the water still inches higher each day, often with trees and other debris floating down the channel and out into the lake.

Ernst continues to keep the marina functional, launching boats and pumping gas.

Lois Caldwell, an Ernst employee, checks the gas pump today with employees from Reisdorf Oil & Propane. The marina remains operational despite the high water. Ernst has placed planks on pallets so people can walk on this dock.

The lake businesses and their customers have a short season when the weather is good. Ernst pushed to get the docks raised, so the boaters and Point Breeze area could get into the water and boost the Point Breeze economy.

“The high water is hurting business for everyone, for sure,” he said.

Ernst has a lot more work to do to get all of the docks raised. He estimated it takes about 2 ½ days to raise a dock, which have about 15 to 20 slips.

The marina wants to have spots for boaters with competitive fishing tournaments scheduled for next month, the Condor on June 9, and the Orleans County Open on June 10-11.

“Right now it’s an empty river,” Ernst said. “We just want to get people out here. That’s the main thing.”

Many of the docks remain under water along the Oak Orchard River.

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2 Orleans deputies arraigned on fraud for fake time sheets for security work
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2017 at 1:35 pm

ALBION – Two long-time Orleans County deputies were arraigned in Orleans County Court this morning on charges of first-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records.


Sgt. Dean Covis and Deputy Thomas Marano both entered not guilty pleas. They are accused of submitting false time sheets and collecting about $18,000 they weren’t entitled to for part-time security work for Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners, which runs power plants in Orleans County at the Waterport Dam and in Medina.


The deputies were allegedly collecting their $20 an hour pay for the security work while they were also on the clock for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office from November 2013 to January 2015. Covis received about $14,000 and Marano about $4,000 for the security work while they were also working shifts for the Sheriff’s Office, according to The Daily News in Batavia.

The State Police handled the investigation and made the arrests on Monday, The Daily News reported.

Both have been suspended, Sheriff Randy Bower said.

“It is with great disappointment that I announce the arrest of two members of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office,” Bower said in a statement. “The arrest of Thomas Marano and Dean Covis, both Deputy Sheriffs, stemmed from a lengthy investigation into alleged conduct by the above named deputies during 2013 and 2014. The New York State Police conducted the investigation along with a Special Prosecutor assigned to the case.”

Bower said the Sheriff’s Office is conducting its own internal investigation in the matter.

Sara Sheldon of Niagara County is serving as judge in the case with Lawrence Friedman, the Genesee County district attorney, serving as prosecutor.

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Albion native unveils new canal mural in Brockport
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2017 at 9:58 am

Photos courtesy of Stacey Kirby

BROCKPORT – A new 40-foot-long mural was unveiled last Thursday in Brockport on the railroad overpass on Route 19.

Albion native Stacey Kirby created the mural, which was a project pushed by the village and Walk! Bike! Brockport!

“They were very interested in creating a gateway into the Village of Brockport,” Kirby said. “I think it’s very effective.”

The mural was unveiled to kick off Brockport’s fifth annual “Low Bridge High Water” festival to celebrate the start of a new canal season.

Kirby created scenes showing the canal from yesteryear.

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