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quick questions

Quick Questions with Chris Wylie

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2015 at 12:00 am

Cerebral palsy doesn’t keep pastor from pulpit in Knowlesville and Millville

Chris Wylie

Photos by Tom Rivers – Chris Wylie shares the children’s message during Sunday’s service at The United Methodist Church of the Abundant Harvest in Millville. Wylie preaches there at 11 a.m., following a 9:30 a.m. service in Knowlesville.

Chris Wylie was born struggling to breathe. He had cerebral palsy and doctors said he would never walk. He was put up for adoption.

Wylie, now 46, was welcomed into a loving home as a young boy, and he would learn to walk chasing after his sister. He played lots of sports as a kid and went on to a career as a banker for 10 years in downtown Buffalo with HSBC.

He felt a call to the ministry about a decade ago and attended the former United Theological Seminary in West Seneca, a pastoral training program run through Houghton College. He would lead United Methodist churches in Hartland, Alden, and Pavilion before being appointed as pastor for the Millville and Knowlesville United Methodist churches almost two years ago. For more than two decades, the churches shared a pastor while maintaining their own congregations and buildings.

Under Wylie’s leadership, the churches have merged into The United Methodist Church of the Abundant Harvest. That merger became effective on Jan. 1, following approvals from each congregation, and the Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church.

“It ties the two churches,” Wylie said. “They have two distinct talents. By tying them together you can compound those talents for one great tool for God.”

Wylie leads a 9:30 service on Sunday mornings in Knowlesville at this church, which put on a new roof last year and also started a pie shop across Knowlesville Road at its fellowship hall.

Wylie built support for the merger by listening to members in both churches, and guiding the process, said long-time member Peter Beach of the Millville church.

“He tries to make changes without rubbing people the wrong way,” Beach said.

Wylie preaches while sitting down and uses a cane or a wheelchair to move around church.

“He’s overcome a lot in his life,” Beach said. “Things we take for granted are a struggle for him. What he does is inspiring.”

The Knowlesville church has about 40 regular attendees and last year completed a $15,000 project to put a new roof on the building at 3622 Knowlesville Rd. The congregation also started as coffee and pie shop at its fellowship hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. “That has taken off more than we expected,” Wylie said.

About 60 people attend the Millville location. Both sites have upgraded their projector screens, multi-media equipment and sound systems. Wylie enjoys using videos and pictures in his sermons.

(His wife Jennelle, director of academic support and training at Roberts Wesleyan College, helps with the church’s technology and multimedia issues. The Wylies have an 8-year-old daughter, Hope.)

Each church, or campus as Wylie calls the two sites, has its own service. Wylie leads church in Knowlesville at 9:30 a.m. and then goes to the Millville location at 11 a.m.

That hasn’t changed from before the merger. But Wylie said the congregations are doing more sharing, and will have a unified web site, social media presence and other collaborations.

The service in Millville on Maple Ridge Road starts at 11 a.m. on Sundays with a lunch to follow.

Wylie chatted for an interview on Sunday at the Millville site. The church was busy with its weekly luncheon after the service. Wylie is happy to see several families with young children stay for the lunch.

On Sunday, Wylie preached about “restoration,” a message that included photos of a beat-up El Camino that was repaired. He said there is symbolism in that vehicle and God’s restorative work in people.

Q: Is part of your ministry showing people that you shouldn’t hold yourself back and not let fears or limitations prevent you from trying?

A: I would say, and in fact I often say, ‘Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can.’ I try to live that way. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy and that doesn’t mean there won’t be times of discouragement, but that’s where the support comes in. That’s what we have, the community.

Q: It seems like these churches are not very accessible for people in wheelchairs or who may have challenges getting around?

A: This one (Millville) is, while Knowlesville isn’t so much. We’ve looked at making modifications for handicapped accessibility. I can get up the stairs, but certainly there are times of the year when that is a problem.

In Knowlesville there are people who come to a point in their life where they can’t come to church because they physically can’t get in. So we try to address these things as we go. Sometimes it’s as simple as railings, or other things that were never there that were put to help Chris, and then you see other people also using them.

Chris and Jennelle Wylie

Chris Wylie is pictured with his wife Jennelle inside the fellowship hall in Millville.

Q: I wonder too if people see you getting a little help then they realize that that is OK for all of us as human beings, that we don’t have to do everything on our own?

A: Yes, they see it’s great to lean on each other.

Q: I think some people might have too much pride and may not want help, especially in a public way.

A: I think there is absolutely that. I talk about this a lot. As people, especially as people get older (and I’m living some of that now), you want to do the things you always used to be able to do, and sometimes that’s not possible, sometimes that involves doing things a little bit differently, and other times that involves asking for help.

That was part of my message today at church that it’s not about Chris trying to everything, because Chris, even in an able body, can’t do everything. It’s about what we can all do together.

Q: What do you like about being a pastor?

A: The people.

I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me in my life and help me. I’ve had people help me who didn’t have to do what they did. They went beyond themselves to be connected to others.

Q: Do you think your condition has made you a more compassionate person and helped you connect with people?

A: I can see it. It gives me better understanding. I have not been through every situation, but I definitely have some understanding that maybe others might not have because they haven’t been there yet.

Q: (People are talking in background at fellowship hall.) I’m struck by the number of children and younger families that attend church here. You have a good intergenerational mix.

A: I connect with the older people because of the body in which I live. But I’m also, even at my age, fairly young for a pastor, and having the young daughter, and knowing that I like a different style of music and knowing that I sometimes experience things in a different way so we’re bringing in the multimedia, we’re connecting with younger people on a different level and being intentional about that.

We’re not only saying we want you to come, but we’re giving them a voice as part of the community. That’s so important because no matter what you’re doing, if you don’t have a voice you’re not going to be connected.

Knowlesville has teen-agers and here at Millville with have a lot of younger kids.

Chris Wylie leads the congregation at Millville in prayer during the service this past Sunday.

Q: So many of the rural churches seem to be struggling. What do you think has been working here?

A: It’s as simple as being part of people’s lives, just sitting down and talking with them. We did that when we first started. I don’t come and tell them what I wanted. I asked them, ‘What do you want to see here?’ So not having it be Chris-centered, but instead what do we want, what is our hope here, what to we want to be? So it’s listening and moving into that.

Q: Is the fellowship hall and food a big part of that, of doing life together?

A: That’s exactly what it is. If you look at the Book of Acts, Chapter 2, it says that they ate together, they worshipped together, they did life together. That’s what we’re trying to do. It’s connection.

That’s something the church here was doing before I got here. We also have had people in to the parsonage for dinners in smaller groups, from anywhere between 1 to 5.

Q: Do the churches work together on the popular Lenten fish fries?

A: We’re working on that. We’re still at the early stages of making us-and-them just us. That’s the hope here.

Sunlight pours through a stained-glass window at the church at Millville.

Q: You do basically the same service at both places?

A: I do, yes. The bulletin, in general, we keep the same. There is a choir here (Millville) but there is no choir at Knowlesville. But mostly it’s similar.

Q: You could see how having the choir in Knowlesville, if someone wanted to sing from Millville, they could be part of the choir. And maybe the choir would sing at Millville on some Sundays.

A: That’s exactly what we’re trying to do.

Q: It looks like you have to work harder than everyone to get around, especially in the winter.

A: Some days. We all have those challenges. Mine are just more visible. We all have challenges in one way or another. Some people have things you don’t readily see, and to me that’s harder because you look healthy. With me, everything that Chris is going through is on the surface.

I know my body is breaking down faster than I’d like, but I don’t know what it’s like to be an able body, so to speak, so I’ve always had to adapt. I’ve had to do things outside the box a little bit, but you still get them done.

Q: You mentioned you could have been on disability and not worked?

A: Nobody can deny I am disabled, just look at me. I could have done that, but as long as I can find a way to keep moving forward, I’m going to keep moving forward.

There will be a day for all of us, sooner or later, when we can’t do, but while I can do, I’m still going to do.

Mary Zelazny has seen lots of changes in 37 years with Medina bank

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 February 2015 at 12:00 am

Quick questions

KeyBank branch manager retiring today

Photos by Tom Rivers – Mary Zelazny, fourth from left, is pictured with KeyBank staff in Medina on Thursday. The group includes, from left: Bob Rice, Evie Osborne, Sharlene Pratt, Mary Zelazny, Jacky Organisciak and Tina Sheeler. Two other employees, Laurie Newton and Kathy Kepner, were working at the drive-through on Maple Ridge Road.

MEDINA – Mary Zelazny was 18 and working at Jubilee when she was approached to work at Marine Midland Bank in Medina as a teller. That was 37 years ago. Zelazny also typed loan documents early in her banking career.

She worked her way up through the ranks and became branch manager about a decade ago. Marine Midland would become HSBC Bank and about two years ago KeyBank bought the HSBC sites in Medina at 514 Main St. and also a drive-through on Maple Ridge Road.

Today is Zelazny’s last day at the bank. She is retiring. She will still be a Main Street presence. She will join her husband, Michael Zelazny, across the street at his accounting business. The Zelaznys have two grown children: Jacob works with Michael at the Walter Zelazny and Sons farm and Nicole is the marketing manager for Smokin Joes in Niagara Falls.

The following interview was conducted on Thursday at Zelazny’s office at the bank.

Q: You started as teller and typed loan documents, and then what happened in your banking career?

A: I worked my way up. I didn’t like staying in one spot. I liked learning. I wanted to help the customers. If we were slow at one time and we were idle I would ask if there was something I could do and that’s how I learned.

Q: You’ve been in this building the whole time?

A: I have been here the whole time which is kind of unusual for banking. I raised here. I’ve been here my whole life and I’ve been here my whole career.

Mary Zelazny is pictured outside KeyBank’s historic site on Main Street, a site that was originally Central Bank of Medina.

Q: Were you thinking 37-year career in banking when you started?

A: Absolutely not. I had just turned 18, just graduated and I was working at Jubilee. Ken Sylvester came in and asked if I would be interested in putting my name in. I thought, “Maybe.” I didn’t really pursue it but he came in and asked me again. I thought I’d try it. I put my name in and got hired and I’ve been here ever since.

Ken used to go to the little grocery stores and that’s where he hired a lot of his people because they had cashier’s experience and customer service.

Q: What have you liked about this for 37 years?

A: My customers. I have to say I’ve made some great friends, great relationships along the way. I’ve been on all kinds of journeys of their lives, from going to school, graduating, going to college, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house, having children, going through everything in their lives. That’s been very exciting for me and now the next generation has come up.

It’s just knowing your customers, and not just waiting on them. It’s getting to know your people, building that relationship is what it is about. That’s where you get the trust from the people.

At this bank we’ve always been very family oriented. I don’t just treat them as a customer. I treat them as a family member because that is how I would want to be treated.

Q: It seems like there has been a lot of new technology in banking.

A: When I first started we had what you call scratch pads. You didn’t have adding machines and all that. It was a little scratch pad and you would write the customer’s name on and if they had a check and they were going to make a payment, you would write that down. You would actually do the adding and subtracting right in front of them.

The difference between then and now, you put the information in a computer and it tells you if you owe them money or if they owe you money. It tells you everything now. It was more manual back then.

Some of the other things that are different are your mobile banking today. You can take a picture of the check you are going to deposit, the front and back of it, and it’s automatically into your checking account.

Q: Do you mean take a picture with your phone?

A: With your iPhone. You have to sign up for the mobile banking. You just take a picture. Say you’re out of town and you can’t get to the bank. You just take a picture of it and it credits to your account immediately. That has become quite popular. It’s more for the younger customers.

ATMs, who would have thought years ago that you would drive up to a building and put a card in? You’re going to a wall and money comes out. Who would have thought that? ATMs are huge now.

Your on-line banking, internet banking, bill pay, transferring between accounts. When I first started here that had what they called a microfiche and it was like a screen. Everyday you would put in a fiche, and it would come up on a screen and give you the customer’s account number and the activity they did for the day.

Now you just put their name or account number in and it all comes up on a computer.

Bob Rice, the relationship manager at KeyBank in Medina, has an old piggy bank given out by the Central Bank of Medina, which used to operate out of the site at 514 Main Street. The piggy bank belonged to Rice’s father, Leonard. Technology in banking has evolved in a big way since Leonard Rice was a boy. (KeyBank still gives out piggy banks for kids.)

Q: With all the new technology, it seems like there would be fewer customers who actually come inside a bank these days.

A: There is a lot less traffic now, any bank will tell you that because they are using on-line banking and the ATMs, especially your younger generation.

Q: What do you see the roles being for the branches in the future, and the employees here?

A: They’re going to be here for a while. I’m sure as time marches on there will be changes. I still think you need that personal touch. If you got a problem, you have someone you can come in and see or call.

Banking is a lot different now. When a customer comes in, we look at the entire relationship. It’s not just a checking account. We look at the whole package. We talk to you about insurance, we talk to you about mortgages, refinancing. We’re trying to help you out and save you money.

It used to be you can in for a checking account and that’s all you got. Now we talk to you about your whole entire package: retirement, investing, everything.

Q: What are you doing for your husband’s accounting business after you retire from here?

A: I’m going to be smiling, filing and answering phones.

Q: It’s great that you’ve been able to stay and work here your entire career in the same building given all the changes in the banking industry.

A: I’m very happy I was able to do that.

Q: Do you sense a resurgence in Medina?

A: I think you can see in Medina, at least on Main Street with some of the new shops, you can feel that people are excited again. You have younger people coming in. I like the old in Medina with all of the history and believe it or not I think the younger people do, too. There are not many empty offices or buildings. There is some excitement. I think you will see more.

When KeyBank took off the HSBC sign about two years ago, the original bank sign was underneath.

Q: Wasn’t there something about the sign on the bank, a discovery of some sorts when KeyBank bought the building?

A: When they took off the HSBC logos, one of the engineers got excited to see the original Central Trust sign behind. We wanted to keep it. Key is very much into the community and the history, so we kept it and the people have been very happy about it.

Q: Any other comments?

A: I just want to say thank you, thank you to my staff and my customers.

Quick Questions with Larry Montello

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2015 at 12:00 am

American Legion leader enjoys honoring veterans, connecting with community

Photos by Tom Rivers – Larry Montello is pictured with the memorial next to County Courthouse for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Montello, the American Legion and county officials dedicated the memorial on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. The First Presbyterian Church is pictured in the background.

ALBION – Larry Montello has been an active community member and leader for the American Legion since he moved to Orleans County about 13 years ago after marrying an Albion woman. Montello, a Ridgeway resident, drives bus for Community Action Transportation System.

He grew up in the Adirondacks and joined the Army in 1979 after graduating from Fort Edward High School. He served 14 years in the military.

Montello, 52, is a past county commander for the American Legion, and a past post commander in Albion and Medina.

He organizes the annual memorial service for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Montello has visited all of the memorial sites for victims of the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania.

He raised the funding to have Sept. 11 memorials in Orleans County by the County Courthouse, Legion Post in Albion and Rotary Park in Medina.

He is organizing an upcoming Feb. 1 service for the “Four Chaplains.” That 9:30 a.m. service will be at the First Baptist Church in Holley on Geddes Street. The Four Chaplains all were Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilians and military personnel as a troop ship sank on Feb. 3, 1943.

Montello assists with other Legion and community events, including the annual oratorical contest, flags on veterans’ graves and other events.

He was interviewed last Monday at Tim Hortons in Albion.

Q: Why did you join the American Legion?

A: I started out as a Son (of the American Legion) underneath my dad. My dad got me going along with my brother. I joined the service with my sister. We joined the Army together. She went to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and I went to Fort Dix in New Jersey where my dad went.

Orleans County Legislator Don Allport, left, teams with State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Larry Montello in raising the 9-11 flag last Sept. 11 during a service at the Elk’s Club in Albion. Montello organized the memorial service.

Q: For a newcomer in Orleans County, you quickly made a mark and emerged as a leader.

A: I was the commander in Albion for four years, the commander in Medina and also the county commander. I went up the chain.

Q: What is your role right now?

A: Right now I am sergeant of arms for the county because I want to go in rank in the district. I gave up some of the county duties, but I don’t want to totally give something up.

Q: How long have you been organizing the 9-11 services?

A: I started in 2005, not long after I first got here.

I’ve put a lot of time working on the memorials. I got a nice surprise from the county when they put in a new flag pole and big cement base for the stone.

I do it partly because my sister was working down there (in Manhattan) in Building 7 near the Twin Towers. By the grace of God her boss sent her out on an errand so she wasn’t there when it happened.

When I was in the Sons (of the American Legion) I went down there when it was pretty much cleaned up and when they dedicated the new 9-11 building (The Freedom Tower). The year before last we went down to New York and I actually got to go in Building 7 where my sister worked. It was emotional.

Q: Why do you keep the local memorial service going and try to include many of the first responders?

A: I get them all involved (local and state police departments, COVA, fire departments, Mercy Flight) because they were all involved.

Q: I remember you also did a Pearl Harbor service.

A: Hopefully this year we will do it again.

The Orleans County Legislature was presented an official 9-11 flag on Sept. 24, 2014, from Larry Montello, past commander of Medina’s Butts-Clark American Legion and also the coordinator of 9-11 memorial events in Orleans County. The flag given to the Legislature was the first one to fly in front of the courthouse about four years ago. Montello, left, presented the flag to David Callard, Orleans County Legislature chairman.

Q: Why do the Four Chaplains service?

A: I did it back home. It’s part of history and it shouldn’t be forgotten just like 9-11. I started it with Jean Johnston, who has since passed away. I’ve been doing it in her honor since.

At the service we bring in all of the colors. It’s in Holley this year so we’ll bring in Holley’s colors, the county colors, the auxiliary county colors, the VFW county colors, the POW flag and then the Canadian flag and American flag.

We have a Color Guard to bring it in. And then we have members get up and do a part of each of the chaplains, sharing their biographies. When they are done, they go down from the podium where I have a wooden box with each of the chaplain’s names. They lay a rose down on it and a light a candle.

We carry an American flag in for everybody that went down on the ship and a wreath. After that we play Taps.

We go to different churches (every year) in the community, a Catholic church, a Protestant church, a Baptist church.

Q: How is the Legion membership doing, locally and nationally?

A: It has ups and downs. Right now we’re down a lot. On average we lose 10 to 15 World War II veterans a day nationally.

Q: I think people might think, with the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there would be a new group of veterans who could join the Legion. Do many of them join the Legion?

A: No. When they get home they go back into society and that can take a long time.

Q: How much worry is there about the future of the Legion and VFW?

A: I don’t think there is worry, we just have to promote what we do. We’re not just a bar. Everybody thinks we’re just a bar. We do a lot of things for the community. Since our county is so small, I put all of the posts together to work as one. We get more out of it that way.

Q: I know you do the oratorical contest, and the Honor Guard at funerals.

A: Each Legion has its own Honor Guard, but the Posts and the VFW will join together. You get more people that way. They’re all people from the older generation. For a lot of the younger generation when they get out of the service the first thing on their mind is to get a job. That’s what was on my mind.

A lot of the ones on the Color Guard are all retired.

Larry Montello, front center, waves while he joins other walkers at the start of the “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” at Watt Farms in October 2013. Montello was part of a team from Community Action that walked in memory of Kathy LaLonde, a former Community Action employee.

Q: Why have you stayed active with the Legion?

A: I like working with kids, I like working with the community, and I like working with the veterans. I’ve always said if I knew back home in high school what I know now I would have aced history. I have friends of mine in the Albion Post that were in the Death March. I have a friend from back home who was a POW.

Listening to their war stories is unreal. A lot of people don’t realize this is part of history.

I enjoy doing the 9-11 service because it’s part of history. The community can’t forget that day. When it first happened everybody in town had a flag up. Now, it’s hardly ever.

Q: What else do you want to say?

A: I wish more of the public would get involved with our events, and don’t just think the American Legion is a bar. There are a lot of other things the Legion does. We make sure all of our veterans have flags on their graves for Veterans’ Day.

I just wish more of the public would get on the ball with us and know that when we’re going out for donations we’re not using that for the bar but for flags, the 9-11 service and for veterans.

Shelby, Ridgeway schedule Jan. 14 meeting for dissolution questions

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 December 2014 at 12:00 am

MEDINA – With a vote on dissolution of the Village of Medina looming on Jan. 20, the leaders of the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway have scheduled a Jan. 14 meeting to take questions from the public.

The two towns say residents from the towns and the village are welcome to meeting at 7 p.m. in the Medina High School auditorium, where town officials say they will provide answers to the dissolution. Only village residents will have a vote at the polls on Jan. 20.

It’s been a contentious issue for nearly a year. Medina Mayor Andrew Meier is looking for ways to reduce the tax burden on village residents. Medina villagers pay the highest combined tax rate – about $54 – in the Finger Lakes region.

With dissolution, the community can cont on $541,000 in additional state aid, Meier said. A dissolution plan prepared by a committee and a consultant also sees about 2 percent savings or $277,000 in efficiencies with the current village services being shifted to the two towns, a fire district, and non-profit local development corporations.

The Dissolution Committee in April recommended a dissolution plan that would cut the current village tax rate by about $6 per $1,000 of assessed property. The Ridgeway residents outside the village currently pay a $6.71 rate for town, lighting and fire protection. That would rise 46 percent to $9.83 if the village dissolves and services are picked up according to the plan.

Shelby residents would see a 10 percent increase with dissolution with the current rate for outside-village residents going from $8.36 per $1,000 of assessed property to $9.17. That would raise taxes for a $70,000 home from $585 to $642.

Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper said the margins are too narrow for the forecasted 2 percent savings. He doubts there would be any overall savings.

“The plan calls for no reductions in the village work force or village services,” Draper told The Buffalo News in an article published on Sunday. “When you go into something with that commitment, the only alternative is to find someone else to pay.”

Brian Napoli, the Ridgeway town supervisor, said the community shouldn’t count on the $541,000 from the state because the state has a history of reneging on promised funding.

The Dissolution Plan suggests Ridgeway create a town-wide police force and contract with Shelby to have the local police cover the two towns. Napoli said Ridgeway has no intention of assuming local police if dissolution is passed and the village police department is abolished.

“We’re under no obligation to follow (the plan),” Napoli told The Buffalo News. “From what we’re hearing from our residents outside the village, they don’t want it. They’re happy with the (Orleans County) Sheriff’s Department and the State Police.”

To see The Buffalo News article, click here.

 

Sad truth is there are some bad cops

By Orleans Hub Posted 19 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Sad truth is there are some bad cops

Editor:

The recent media focus on protests in Ferguson, MO to Staten Island, NY and across America is a topic long overdue. Sadly, it has taken the protests of thousands of people to draw attention to a serious social problem.

The problem is not simply defined as a racial element in law enforcement, although that is clearly a notable point that cannot be ignored. The problem goes deeper into the psyche of those who are entrusted to uphold the law.

No one will deny the need for law enforcement or police protection. High praise and honor is deserved for the men and women who patrol and protect our neighborhoods; who investigate crimes and seek out those who threaten our well-being and property; who help bring the guilty to a place of justice.

Yet, there is a serious problem in the realm of law enforcement. A problem with policies and philosophies within the agencies themselves and as a public delusion. The problem is the assumption that once someone puts on that uniform and badge that they become inscrutable. They can do no wrong. They are immune to prosecution or repercussions for questionable actions and the results that occur.

That has been the status quo. According to the police unions, their public relations departments, and most every Grand Jury, the police can do no wrong. The police never abuse their power or the people they are confronting. Their actions are always defended and justified.

Why does it seem so impossible to expect the police department and public officials to make a better effort to spot and weed out the bad apples among their ranks? Stop covering up for them and hold them responsible for their actions? What kind of example is being set when the ones we trust to uphold the law abuse and break the law without being held accountable?

Be honest with reality. There are bad cops. Period. Egotistical, arrogant and yes, sometimes sadistic minds who enjoy the power and authority of their job title. This problem exists in our jail and prison systems as well. Ignore that if you wish, but it is a sad truth.

There do exist some in authority that enjoy, yes, enjoy provoking a fight, an opportunity for violence, and go home and are so proud of themselves. Never with any fear of answering for the wrongs they have committed.

I make an appeal to you all and to the good people in law enforcement. Stop looking the other way, making excuses, and ignoring a serious problem.

Ask yourself, honestly, was Eric Garner provoking or threatening the five police officers that surrounded him? Did Officer Daniel Pantaleo act in response to a physical threat or was he just being a “take charge” kind of guy? If you can’t discern that he applied an illegal and unnecessary choke hold then maybe you think along the lines of the CIA it was only ‘enhanced’ restraint.

Sure.

Jay Rothmund
Albion

 

US Attorney will hold police officers accountable for excessive force

By Orleans Hub Posted 17 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

In recent reporting of incidents from around the country, some have questioned whether police are held accountable when they break the law, particularly in the case of excessive force.

As a federal prosecutor for over 25 years, I can assure the public that the vast majority of law enforcement officers conduct themselves according to the highest ideals of their noble profession. With thousands of daily contacts between officers and citizens, incidents of excessive force are rare. Yet, on those occasions when officers have used illegal and excessive force, this Office has held them accountable and pursued criminal prosecution. Incidents need not result in death before our Office engages.

Since becoming U.S. Attorney, six law enforcement officers, based in suburban, county and city police departments, have been convicted in our Federal Court for violating civil rights through the use of excessive force.

The conduct included two instances where the officers were off-duty, but relied upon the presence of on-duty police to either choke or punch their victims. Moreover, during the time that I have worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, this Office has consistently been aggressive in prosecuting officers who abuse their positions in fact, one former Buffalo Police Officer prosecuted in 2005 continues to serve his sentence of 45 years-and-a-day for violating the constitutional rights of residents of the City of Buffalo.

These cases were reported to us by community members and the leadership of the police agency. Our prosecutions not only result in convictions, they also cost officers their jobs.

I am truly proud to work with the fine men and women who carry a badge and work hard to keep us safe. The public should also know that when they report illegal activity of any kind, including by police, this Office and its law enforcement partners will work just as hard to ensure equal justice under law and to hold accountable anyone who cross the line.

By removing rogue officers who taint the uniform they wear, such prosecutions restore public confidence in those sworn to protect them and to defend the Constitution and the people of this great country.

William J. Hochul, Jr.
Mr. Hochul is the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York

 

Albion doctor has license revoked

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Dr. Jamal Janania worked at Albion Urgent Care Center

ALBION – A doctor who joined a new Albion healthcare site when it opened in November 2012 has had his medical license revoked by the state Department of Health.

Dr. Jamal Janania no longer works for Orleans Community Health and its Albion Urgent Care site, OCH officials said today. They said they would not comment further on the matter.

Janania had his medical license revoked last month after state DOH officials deemed he was guilty of professional misconduct for fraudulent practice, filing a false report, and violations of education law.

Janania has had a license in New York since Nov. 2, 2009. He began work at the Carthage Area Hospital in June 2009. He was twice suspended for failure to complete patient records. He was terminated from Carthage on Sept. 7, 2011 for record keeping, tardiness and absences, according to the DOH report on Janania.

He then worked at Mountain Medical Services in northern New York from January 2012 to May 2012 and was terminated for record keeping, “and time and attendance issues,” the DOH said.

He also sought a medical license in Kansas in 2006 but was denied in March 2008 for failure to meet licensing requirements, the DOH said.

When Janania sought work at Lewis County General Hospital on April 30, 2012, and then at Oswego Hospital on June 11, 2012, he did not disclose his past terminations, nor did he reveal his medical license application had been denied in Kansas, according to the DOH. Janania also was licensed to practice medicine in Florida in 2012.

When he applied to Orleans Community Health in October 2012, he disclosed in his application he had prior employment suspensions, but did not disclose he had been terminated.

In a hearing with DOH officials, Janania said he was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder in 2005, and that ADD affected his record keeping. He said the ADD did not affect his performance in practicing medicine.

The DOH also faulted Janania for not disclosing he had a license in Florida in his job applications in 2012. He called that an “oversight,” according to the DOH report.

The DOH hearing committee ruled that Janania committed fraudulent practice. “(Janania) intentionally and repeatedly misrepresented and concealed information from potential employers in an effort to mislead them about his professional history and qualifications.”

The doctor was found to have filed a false report based on lies in his employment history on job applications, the DOH said.

Janania was found guilty of violations in education law for failing to disclose his employment terminations and the reasons for those dismissals when he applied for other jobs.

The DOH committee said misrepresentations in a job application “brings into question his reliability in matters more directly related to patient care.” The committee also said poor record keeping is poor patient care.

 

Artist creates enchanted entrance to childrens library in Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Artist creates enchanted entrance to children’s library in Medina

Photos by Tom Rivers
Judith Villavisanis takes a break from painting to pose with a new entrance leading to the children’s section. The library is having the entrance resemble a giant book.The portals in the book cover are spots for people to place books. The pig is Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web.

MEDINA – Winnie the Pooh, Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web, fairies, elves and other characters are all taking shape in a new entrance leading to the children’s section at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library.

Artist Judith Villavisanis has been working on the project for about three weeks. She is painting book sides of a book-shaped entrance. The cover faces the children’s section. The front or the pages in the book includes illustrations and famous characters from children’s literature, including Winnie the Pooh.

Some details from the front of the entrance, which resemble illustrations on a page.

Villavisanis, a former Albion resident who now lives in Florida, also wrote a poem and those words will be painted on the book pages. She submitted her proposal after reading an artilce in August on the Orleans Hub, where the library sought artist submissions.

The project has sparked lots of questions and interest from library patrons. Many stop and chat with the artist, and each passing day more details emerge. Villavisanis is hoping to have the project completed by this Sunday.

Villavisanis needs to add the text from a poem she wrote. She is doing the illustrations first and will then add the words from this poem.

All you wishers and dreamers,
pretenders and schemers,
Come in!
Pass through this portal
to enchanted forests
With fairies and
elves aplenty.


Or musical waters
where mermaids play
and treasures are
so many

Please do come in!
Walk through this book
and sail to worlds you have never been.
Come in!
This door will transport
you to towers of learning,
bending space and time.
Discover the moon and
stars and how they
all align.

Come in!
Magic awaits you
The Adventures are
Many, not costing a penny.
It can only begin
When you
Come in!

Villavisanis works on an illustration for the art project. Library Director Catherine Cooper is pleased with project and the public’s reaction.

"It’s a public piece of art," Cooper said. "Everyone walks over and makes a comment. The creation of this will be part of people’s memory."

Cooper said the project is part of interior renovations at the library, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016.

 

Genesee will partner to promote fishing in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2014 at 12:00 am


File Photos by Tom Rivers
The Oak Orchard Rivers draw anglers from many states to Orleans County.

Press Release, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce

 

BATAVIA – The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and Orleans County Tourism are pleased to announce the launch of a new tourism initiative designed to bring more out-of-state visitors to the 2-county area in 2015 and beyond.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce has been working with Orleans County Sportsfishing Coordinator Mike Waterhouse and recently retired County Tourism Director Wayne Hale to develop overnight, full and half day charter and fly-fishing packages. The program is up and running and packages can now be booked. You can view them online at www.FishingPackages.Net.

Orleans County is a year-round fishing mecca for charter fishing adventures on Lake Ontario, as well as fly fishing on Oak Orchard River, one of the United States top tributaries for Salmon, Brown and Steelhead trout. Many who come to fish in Orleans County stay overnight in Batavia area hotels, due to the limited inventory of guest rooms in Orleans County.

Given the Genesee Chamber’s success at developing and booking golf packages for the area, as well as the regional marketing approach it takes in attracting visitors, it was a win-win for both counties to partner in packaging fishing.

“This is yet another program where the individual strengths of two counties are combined for the betterment of both,” Waterhouse said.

The Oak Orchard River is considered a top fishing spot for Brown Trout, Steelhead and Chinook Salmon.

Visitors have their choice of seven different packages with options for full and half day guided excursions and each includes choice of overnight accommodations in Batavia, breakfast and boxed lunch in Point Breeze, $25 towards dinner at their choice of restaurants in either county, and $50 Batavia Downs Gaming FreePlay.

The tourism representatives are finalizing a new print brochure of the packages and each will take them to upcoming consumer shows. Waterhouse has a full slate of fishing shows scheduled, and the Chamber will also bring them to their golf shows to cross-promote to their golf visitors, who return each season through our packages. A targeted online marketing campaign and TV commercial to run in select Pennsylvania markets is scheduled for February.

“Genesee and Orleans tourism offices have for years pooled resources as we market our areas to visitors,” said Kelly Rapone, Tourism Marketing Director for Genesee County. “Fishing wasn’t an obvious next step, but it certainly was a step in a new direction that made a lot of sense the more we thought about it. The participating charter captains and fly-fishing guides are excited about this, as are our hoteliers, and that’s what makes it exciting for us.”

Packages can be booked by calling the Genesee Chamber office at 585-343-7440 (Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) and a tourism representative will organize the entire trip. Questions may be emailed to visit@geneseeny.com as well.

 

Hoag director says library is engaging public

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Hoag director says library is engaging public

Photo by Tom Rivers
Jeff Davignon, director of Hoag Library, outlines what he said are successes in the library during his first three months on the job. He spoke during Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

ALBION – In his first three months as director of the Hoag Library, Jeff Davignon has pushed to improve programming, signage and the environment at the library, trying to make the site more welcoming to people of all ages, particularly children, he said during Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

He believes the community has responded to the changes. He cited a door counter that tracked 9,311 people through the front door of the building from September through November, compared to 4,113 people during the same three months in 2013.

Davignon said the library has added children’s programming, including Minecraft and literacy efforts. The Minecraft game utilizes reading and science on a program where users interact with other players over the Internet.

“They are the future engineers of America,” Davignon said about Minecraft players. “The children are communicating, collaborating and learning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).”

The Minecraft players are also future adults, as are the other children that use the library, Davignon said. Hoag has created “The Loft” on the second floor for teens to study.

Davignon was criticized at Wednesday’s board meeting by library user Donna Wolcott for not providing enough oversight to teens, who she said use foul language and have public displays of affection.

Davignon said the teen programs and how to engage them is “a work in progress.” But he said he wants to continue to reach out to the age group.

“Having teens in the library has added vitality,” he said. “We’re going to try. We’re going to make an investment and see if it pays off.”

About 40 people attended Wednesdays’ board meeting, the first since last month’s contentious meeting when several residents said they were upset about changes at the library, including the termination of a long-time employee and other resignations or retirements.

The board responded to many of the questions from a month ago with more detail on Wednesday. Trustee Carol Miller spoke about the library’s “progressive levels of discipline” that include three steps before an employee is fired, unless the director deems one offense enough for a firing.

Trustee Linda Smith shared that a committee reviewed 20 applications for the director’s job and narrowed that pool to nine people who were interviewed. Davignon was picked by the committee and the board as the top candidate. He started in late August and is on a six-month probationary period.

Former trustee Patricia Cammarata thanked the board for open dialogue at the meeting. She asked that community members be able to send letters confidentially to one trustee, who would then share that information with other trustees.

Cammarata said some residents have left letters that haven’t been acknowledged by the board or library staff. The board has created an email account – hoaglibrary@gmail.com – to take questions from the community. Letters can also be sent to Hoag Library, 134 South Main St., Albion, NY 14411. Attention: S.L. Board of Trustees.

Cammarata would like the letters to be received away from the library. Library Board President Kevin Doherty wants to check with legal counsel on how to best do that.

Ken Braunbach also addressed the board and said he is disappointed about “character assassinations” some library officials have made in the public about his wife, Mary Anne Braunbach, a former board member and current president of the Friends of the Library.

“You shouldn’t discredit the Friends,” Mr. Braunbach said. “They work very hard finding money for the library, which helps you.”

Mrs. Braunbach addressed the board and she questioned if counting people through the doors has been done accurately, especially with people like herself who make frequent trips to the library, going back and forth to retrieve items from their vehicles.

She also said circulation numbers are the best way to measure if the library is seeing more use.

The circulation numbers weren’t available at the meeting.

Davignon said the library is assessing its collection. He would like to weed out seldom used books and replace them with more popular items.

He would like to establish community focus groups in the new year to help chart the library’s future and its programming. In early 2015, Hoag will introduce a new website, a 3-D printing program, credit card acceptance, and a consistent schedule of interesting programs for children and adults, Davignon said.

He welcomes ideas from the staff and community.

"If it’s a good idea, we’ll do it," he said.