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2 are sentenced in County Court for sex crimes against children
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 August 2019 at 2:21 pm

ALBION – Two men from Orleans County were sentenced to incarceration today for sex crimes against children.

Richard Hering Jr., 46, of Albion was sentenced to 2 years in state prison for first-degree sexual abuse. He also will have 3 years of post-release supervision and will be a registered sex offender.

On June 6, Hering entered an Alford plea, where he pleaded guilty while insisting on his innocence.

He maintained he didn’t commit the crime today during sentencing.

“There is no way I can win,” he said at sentencing. “I just wish they would tell the truth.”

The sentencing was delayed for about two hours after a letter was presented in court that was sent to Hering in the Orleans County Jail on Aug. 4. The letter was signed by the victim in the crime, and said “it was all lies” and Hering didn’t abuse her.

District Attorney Joe Cardone then had the victim testify in court. She said she didn’t send the letter and it wasn’t her hand-writing.

Hering said he had nothing to do with the letter.

“I don’t know where the letter came from,” he told Judge Charles Zambito of Genesee County, who presided over the case.

Cardone said the letter in latest effort from Hering to manipulate “various aspects of this case.”

Cardone said Hering should be sent to state prison.

Judge Zambito agreed, and gave him the maximum as part of the plea agreement.

“It’s clear you don’t accept responsibility,” Zambito said. “There is no question in my mind you are guilty as charged.”

Hering initially faced a 43-count indictment that included charges of rape and incest against a child and sexual abuse against three children.

Hering and Renee Koch, 55, were charged on Feb. 27, 2018 with forcible touching, sex abuse and act in manner injurious to a child less than 17 years of age.

Koch today was sentenced to three years on probation after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child.

The crimes are alleged to have occurred in 2008 and 2010 in the Village of Albion.

Zambito issued an order of protection for the victim.

• A Medina man who pleaded guilty to course of sexual contact against a child in the second degree was sentenced to 6 months in the county jail, plus 10 years of probation.

Jefffrey Woodroe, 39, admitted to sexual contact with a girl under age 12 on a least two occasions between April 2008 and April 2012.

The victim of the crime spoke in court and said Woodroe violated her family’s trust and damaged her self esteem. However, she is determined to not let the crime define her.

“I will forever be a prisoner of my memories,” she said.

Woodroe apologized to the victim, her family and his family.

“I realize the acts are uncalled for,” he told Judge Samford Church, who presided over the case. “I feel so bad for the pain I caused.”

Woodroe’s attorney, Chris Privateer, asked that Woodroe not be sentenced to jail so he could continue working and supporting his family.

“Some crimes call out for punishment,” Church said. “This crime was so horrendous and it was for a duration of time.”

Church also issued an order of protection for the victim for the next 8 years, the maximum allowed.

• In other cases, an Albion man who was unsuccessful in a judicial diversion program was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison for third-degree burglary.

Prince Wilson, 20, didn’t keep appointments with mental health and drug treatment as part of the diversion program.

His attorney, Nathan Pace, said Wilson didn’t have the support from his family to keep up with the program. Wilson has struggled with mental health issues since he was a young boy, Pace said.

He asked for probation for Wilson, who broke into an Albion gas station two years ago and stole about $60 of merchandise.

Wilson said he “wants to break the cycle I’ve been suffering for a long time.”

• A Medina man was arraigned on one court of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. Jim Farewell, 31, allegedly had 2 ounces of cocaine on April 27. He is out on $10,000 cash bail, $20,000 bond.

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Cuomo, Connecticut governor go fishing on Lake Ontario

Photos from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont went fishing on Lake Ontario, off the shore of Wilson, on Tuesday. They caught four fish, including two rainbow trout.

Staff Reports Posted 22 August 2019 at 10:22 am

2 state leaders announce mutual aid Emergency Management Inter-State Compact

Gov. Andrew Cuomo chats with Bill Hiltz Jr., a sportsfishing promoter in Niagara County. Assemblyman Michael Norris is in back in blue shirt.

WILSON – Gov. Andrew Cuomo went fishing on Lake Ontario with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Tuesday. The two reeled in two rainbow trout.

They were promoting the Lake Ontario fishery while announcing a new mutual aid Emergency Management Inter-State Compact between New York and Connecticut.

“It is an exquisite day to be on Lake Ontario,” Cuomo told reporters after the outing on the lake. “I want to thank Governor Ned Lamont for taking the time to be with us today.

“First, we just had a lot of fun. Fun is important. And when you go out on Lake Ontario on a day like today, which is just glorious, there are very few places like it in the world I believe. It is as the Supervisor said an international tourist destination and it should be. So we had a beautiful boat ride and a successful boat ride. We caught and released two fish. And then we caught two steelhead trout. The Governor is going to take one back. I am going to take one back. We are going to be eating well tonight. Not that we are competitive, but the fish happened to be twins. They are identical twins, identical weight, and they are beautiful. So we had a lot of fun and we also had a chance to talk some business.”

The two governors announced a cooperative agreement, effective immediately, that will pave the way for both states’ emergency responders and law enforcement agencies to better protect and prepare the region to react quickly and effectively during disasters and emergencies, according to Cuomo’s Office.

The agreement includes responses to both natural and manmade disasters, and will result in critical resources being deployed more efficiently.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont hold the rainbow trout they caught Tuesday in Lake Ontario.

Climate change and the evolving threat of manmade disasters, like mass shootings, know no borders and pose drastic threats to the safety of citizens across all jurisdictions, Cuomo said. “Connecticut is our neighbor to the east, and there are many issues we are dealing with that are enhanced when we work cooperatively,” Cuomo said on Tuesday. “The most important issue we can collaborate on is the safety of our residents which is why this emergency management partnership is so crucial. Today’s agreement is about ensuring our two states have the resources we need during difficult times, and that’s what neighboring states do.”

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said, “The first thing I’ve learned is that our state borders are pretty artificial and we have a lot of overlap between us – from the Long Island Sound to Metro-North to our energy needs, and especially in terms of our security. We are much better off when we work together and we are very fortunate to have Governor Cuomo as a neighbor, and I look forward to working with him very closely on all that we have to do together.”

The agreement includes joint National Guard training exercises, coordination of aviation assets for emergency response, expanded training for the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Citizen Preparedness Corps, evaluating technology improvements and interoperability between New York State Police and Connecticut State Police, and establishing a direct line of communication between State Police superintendents, National Guard Adjutant Generals and Homeland Security advisors of both states.

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Collins pushes 9-8-8 as mental health crisis hotline
Posted 22 August 2019 at 8:50 am

Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) is pushing the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (H.R. 4194), bipartisan legislation which designates “9-8-8” as the universal telephone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.

This system currently operates through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veteran’s Crisis Line. Congressman Collins is an original co-sponsor of the legislation in the House.

“When experiencing an emergency, everyone knows to dial 9-1-1, but now those dealing with a mental health crisis will have an easy to remember number that will provide them with the help they need,” said Congressman Collins. “This legislation is crucial in saving the lives of Americans all over the United States and end the stigma surrounding mental health.”

This legislation authorizes states to collect a fee limited to supporting local crisis centers that are affiliated within the national network area that funds the suicide hotline services similar to that of existing emergency services. Also this legislation will set a deadline of one year for the FCC to complete the nationwide upgrade to ensure all lines have access to 9-8-8.

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Cuomo signs legislation strengthening protections for minors against felony sex offenders
Posted 22 August 2019 at 8:38 am

Press Release, Gov. Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S2836C/A4784C) strengthening protections for minors against felony sex offenders.

This prevents minors from being placed in the custody of an individual who has been convicted of rape in the first or second degree, sexual conduct against a child in the first degree or predatory sexual assault against a child.

The new law specifically prohibits courts from placing a child in the custody of an adult who previously committed a felony sexual offense against them. Additionally, this measure prevents sex offenders from having unsupervised visits with a person who has been convicted of a felony sexual offense against the subject of the visitation order.

Although courts already consider these factors in determining whether to place a child in custody of or allow unsupervised visits with an individual, this new law now mandates such a requirement.

“No child should have to endure the trauma of sexual abuse and it is critical that children going into the custody of another individual are safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new law is common sense: it mandates that minors not be placed in the custody of or have unsupervised visits with anyone who committed a felony sex offense against them and ensuring the future wellbeing of these vulnerable children.”

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Master Gardeners renovate perennial garden for Makeover winner
Posted 22 August 2019 at 7:54 am

Provided photos: 2018 Master Gardener Makeover winner Sue Hill with some of the Master Gardener volunteers who helped to install her new garden.

Press Release, Katie Oakes, Horticulture Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County

ALBION –  A beautiful perennial garden was designed and installed by Master Gardeners at the home of Sue Hill in Albion this summer. Sue was the winner of the Master Gardener Makeover, a major fundraiser for the Master Gardener program at the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Members of the public purchase $10 tickets at various Master Gardener events throughout the year. Their names are then entered into a drawing to win a 200-square-foot garden (a $1,000 value). The drawing is held during the annual Master Gardener Plant Sale in September.

Don O’Keefe, the Makeover chairperson, designs the garden with the winner, plants are donated from Sara’s Garden Center in Brockport, and the garden is installed by Master Gardener volunteers.

Sue Hill, the winner of the 2018 drawing, is the wife of former Orleans County CCE grounds maintenance employee, Buzz Hill. Buzz worked for the CCE office in the early 2000s. The Education Center portion of the CCE office is named for him in recognition of all of the contributions he made to the association over the years.

“Buzzy was meticulous in everything he did,” said Kim Hazel, Administrative Assistant and Master Gardener volunteer at Orleans County CCE, “He treated our building as an extension of his own home. He was a great worker and an amazing man.”

Master Gardeners hard at work clearing existing plants, weeds and stone from the new garden location.

Buzz suffered an accident while working with a tractor in 2007 and passed away due to injuries sustained from the accident. Since then, Sue Hill has donated beautiful flower pots each year to decorate the Extension office in memory of her husband.

“I was so excited when I found out Sue was the winner of the makeover this year,” Kim explained. “Buzzy gave everything he had to make our grounds look beautiful, and it’s as if Master Gardeners are repaying all of his hard work by making a beautiful garden for his wife.”

Sue was hesitant to accept the prize at first, intending her ticket sales to simply benefit a CCE program, she never imagined she would win.  After choosing a location near her home that had been troublesome in the past, she worked with Don to come up with a design and maintenance plan that fit her busy life.

In May, she met with Don at Sara’s Garden Center in Brockport to choose the plants that would be installed, and a team of eight Master Gardeners spent a day in June clearing the garden plot and planting the new garden.

“The Master Gardener Makeover is entering its eighth year and has been a popular fundraiser for the Master Gardeners in Orleans County, “ said Don O’Keefe, “We are certainly thankful for Sara’s Garden Center for donating all of the plants and materials for all those years, as well as for their ongoing and enthusiastic support.”

Tickets for the Master Gardener Makeover are on sale now at the Orleans County CCE office, 12690 State Route 31, Albion or at Sara’s Garden Center at 389 East Ave. in Brockport. The drawing will be held at the close of the Master Gardener Annual Plant Sale at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 14.

Tickets will also be available the day of the Plant Sale for purchase. The winner must live in Orleans County or directly adjacent town. Call Orleans County CCE for more details at 585-798-4265.

The garden makeover is finished at Sue Hill’s home.

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Pillars in Albion will be featured on Ghost Hunters on Aug. 28
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2019 at 3:01 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Pillars on West Countyhouse Road in Albion is the focus of the Aug. 28 episode of the Ghost Hunters.

ALBION – The popular Ghost Hunters television series on Aug. 28 will feature The Pillars in Albion. Orleans Hub last week reported the season premiere of Ghost Hunters tonight would focus on The Pillars.

The episode tonight will highlight Pocatello High School in Idaho.

The paranormal detectors the following week will feature the estate on West Countyhouse Road in Albion, as they try to find evidence of “the lady in the window” who seems to appear in some photographs, looking out from the attic.

A crew of about 25 spent two weeks at The Pillars and in the Albion community in May.

Tony McMurtie, owner of The Pillars, said he had lots of questions for the Ghost Hunters. He was stunned by their discoveries, although he said he can’t discuss it publicly.

“When you see this episode it will blow your mind away,” he said.

The Ghost Hunters initially ran for 11 seasons on SyFy from 2004 to 2016. It is now on A&E.

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Barker begins removal of fire-damaged village hall/library, looks to rebuild
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2019 at 2:05 pm

Provided photo

BARKER – The Village of Barker began demolition and excavation of the Village Hall and Public Library this morning. The shared building was destroyed in a fire on Jan. 21.

Empire Building Diagnostics of Depew is taking down the building.

The Barker Village Board will be meeting with an engineer and architect in a public meeting at 6 p.m. on Sept. 9 at the Barker Fire Hall, 1660 Quaker Rd. They will be discussing a new building.

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Elks Lodge unveils memorial for Jason Johnston in Albion

Photos courtesy of Jenny Johnston: Some of Jason Johnston’s family members are pictured Saturday morning when the Albion Elks Club unveiled a memorial for Johnson at the Elks on East State Street. Jason’s mother Jenny Johnston is in back with Jason’s sisters Carrie Riley and Heather Johnston. Jason’s niece and nephews include, from left: Skye Tranello, Kwame Riley, Raekwon Riley, Rilee Tranello and Chase Tranello (being held by Heather).

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2019 at 11:57 am

Johnston is only soldier from Orleans County killed in Afghanistan

ALBION – The Elks Lodge in Albion on Saturday morning unveiled a memorial in honor of Jason Johnston of Albion, who was killed in Afghanistan on Dec. 26, 2009.

He is the only soldier from Orleans County who died in action in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

Johnston was 24 when he was killed by a roadside bomb the day after Christmas in Arghandab, Afghanistan.

Specialist Johnston was on his second deployment. He was also a paratrooper. He completed a 13-month-deployment in 2008 and left again for the war-torn country in October 2009.

The Elks do a motorcycle ride each year to raise funds for a memorial scholarship for Johnston. The Elks give a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating senior pursuing a helping profession.

Jenny Johnston, Jason’s mother, said she appreciates the memorial for the son.

“It is absolutely beautiful,” she said today. “It’s amazing that they would do that and keep his memory alive.”

The monument states: “In honor of Spc. Jason M. Johnston, 82nd Airborne U.S. Army. Orleans County’s only soldier killed in action since Vietnam. May his spirit keep this country and county safe. A truly honored soldier. One man in one unselfish act to save us all.”

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GCASA wants to open recovery recreation center in Batavia
Posted 21 August 2019 at 10:51 am

Courtesy of Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist

Photos courtesy of Thomas Claffey: A trio plays the guitar during a Recovery WOW campfire outing at Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia earlier this month.

BATAVIA – News that Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has made the commitment to offer a recovery recreation center in Batavia is music to the ears of local residents who believe the much-needed support is a key to their sobriety.

“This needs to happen, and the sooner the better,” said Thomas Claffey of Batavia, an adult digital art/photography student at Genesee Community College. “It’s always good to be around people and to have a good support system … people that can relate to what you’re going through and not judge you.”

Claffey, 33, has struggled with alcohol and drug use for many years. He has been sober for the past nine months – “I have found my ground recently and am doing well,” he said – but is acutely aware of the possibility of relapse.

“I’m really glad to be in Batavia, away from where I encounter triggers that lead to substance use,” he said. “Addiction is a sickness and a disease that affects you mentally. It changes the chemical makeup of the brain, and makes you constantly scared of that withdrawal, but yet you’ve got to feed that demon.”

He said it is essential for him to keep his schedule filled and that’s why he got involved with Recovery WOW, a program of GCASA, and is looking forward to taking part in the various activities to be offered by the recovery recreation center that will be housed at the former Bohn’s Restaurant on Clinton Street Road.

GCASA, under the guidance of Executive Director John Bennett, is in the process of purchasing the building and plans to convert it to a gathering place for those in recovery – a destination where those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction can interact through sober living activities.

Planned activities include community clean-up and community garden projects; fitness activities (yoga, hikes, runs, biking, basketball, martial arts); art classes; peer support; cooking and nutrition classes; mutual aid and self-help meetings; games and live music, and special events during holidays.

This group shot was taken at the Recovery WOW campfire outing at Northgate Free Methodist Church.

‘Peers’ Lend a Helping Hand

Bennett said that GCASA has trained 18 peers – Certified Recovery Peer Advocates – through the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to assist those in recovery.

And statistics show the need for such a program as Genesee County has one of the highest opioid overdose rates in New York.

While there is no exact statistics regarding the number of people in recovery, it is estimated that 7 percent of the population suffers from some kind of substance use disorder and that only one in seven get treatment for it, Bennett said.

Amy Kabel of Batavia is one of the peers who will be working at the recovery center.

“I’ve visited other recovery centers and realize that this is something that Batavia really needs,” said Kabel, who has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and formerly was employed at Hope Haven, an in-patient program in Batavia.

“Our job isn’t to tell those in recovery that you can’t do this or that, or that you have to stop using (right away),” she said, “but to be there for them, no matter what their choices are.”

GCASA has set up an advisory committee, steered by Sue Gagne, the agency’s recovery center coordinator for Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Kathy Miller of Byron, a committee member, said that her goal is to help erase the stigma placed upon those who have been involved in substance use.

“A lot of people have been diagnosed with substance or alcohol disorder and there is no place for them to hang out and not feel the stigma of addiction,” she said. “I would like to see this program expand to offer a wide variety of places for people to go and events to attend. We need to stress that it is okay to not drink or do drugs – to make that more the norm.”

Ricco Oquendo, 58, another advisory committee member, is in recovery and has been sober for 10 months. He said he is prepared to educate the public about the disease of alcohol and substance use.

“This is the best I have felt in a long time,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, and, with the help of my savior, Jesus Christ, am determined to make something out of my life.”

Gagne has put together a full activities calendar – events such as campfires, hiking, tie-dye, yoga, karaoke and cooking classes – and sees the recovery recreation center as the next logical piece of the puzzle. (For more information, like us on Facebook – Recovery WOW).

“The recovery center will only increase the awareness and opportunities,” said Gagne, who previously worked for Wyoming County Mental Health. “It’s a confusing world out there, and hopefully this will be a place where people and their families can come and get support without being judged.”

ROCovery Fitness: A Model for Success

Photos by Mike Pettinella: This photo shows the outside of ROCovery Fitness in Rochester, a former fire station.

The Batavia facility is being patterned after the ROCovery Outreach Center on Dewey Avenue in Rochester, a converted fire station that promotes physical fitness as a vital step on a road to recovery.

ROCovery Fitness was founded five years ago by Yana Khashper and Sean Smith, both of whom are in recovery.

ROCovery Fitness co-founder Yana Khaspher, left, and Lindsay Chambers, director of development, are shown inside the site in Rochester.

They opened the outreach center two years ago after it was gifted to them by an anonymous donor. Since then, the program has been used by an estimated 3,000 people in the Rochester area.

“Greater Rochester has been very supportive,” Khashper said. “They believe in our mission, which is to meet the needs of the community.”

When asked to speak of the program’s success, she said the success is “this place.”

The outreach center features a large community room and a gymnasium (with exercise machines and free weights) on the first floor and another community room, yoga room, men’s and women’s locker rooms and offices on the second floor.

Structured activities include hula-hooping, kettlebells, weightlifting, boxing and group meetings. It is open every day except for Sunday.

Currently, the staff there is gearing up for its major fundraiser – a ROCovery 5K and X-Challenge on Sept. 15 at Mendon Ponds Park.

Jay Dockum and Adam Welch, both in recovery, said they have found a renewed sense of purpose while participating in ROCovery Outreach Center programs and are focused on living a healthy and sober existence.

“Isolation was the worst place for me,” Dockum said. “I go to meetings here, use the gym and am meeting like-minded people. I just got sick and tired of the way I was living and had to make a change.”

Welch said he has volunteered at ROCovery for about seven months after being in and out of rehab for several years.

A former software engineer, he said drugs took a toll on his career and marriage.

“Sobriety is my main job now,” he said. “I go to AA meetings and hopefully will be able to see my two boys (ages 5 and 8) soon.”

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Holley church provides ideal setting for documentary of famed preacher, Charles Finney
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2019 at 8:49 am

Photos courtesy of I Am Rochester

HOLLEY – Dick Grout of Lima portrays Charles G. Finney during filming on Saturday of the documentary, I Am Rochester. The film crew shot footage inside the First Presbyterian Church of Holley.

Finney was an abolitionist preacher who pushed for many social reforms, including equal education for women and African Americans. He taught at Oberlin College in Ohio, which accepted students without regard to race or sex. He served as Oberlin’s second president from 1851 to 1866.

Garrett Wendt, right, is director/producer of the documentary, and Stephen Morse is a camera operator.

Wendt is working on the documentary as a ministry through the LifeTree Fellowship church in Rochester.

 I Am Rochester highlights the spiritual history and revival fires that burned in the Rochester region, once known as the “Burned-Over District,” an area made up of the six counties of the Greater Rochester Metropolitan Area of the Genesee River Valley.

The film presents rarely shown perspectives of local people who became global change agents of freedom and justice, such as Finney, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.

Saturday’s filming included many extras in costume, including local Civil War re-enactors. The story being filmed occurred on Sunday, Aug. 14, 1853, and tells the true story of a dire situation which ends in supernatural renewal. The East Shelby Community Bible Church provided some of the costumes for the cast in the pews.

Dick Grout preaches as Charles G. Finney during Saturday’s filming in Holley. The Charles Finney School loaned filmmakers Finney’s actual pulpit from the Rochester Revival of 1830-31.

The scene shot in Holley is based on events at Finney’s church in Oberlin on August 14, 1853.

“We were unable to get the needed extras for the film shoot at First Church of Oberlin, as many Ohio re-enactors were here in NY at the Genesee Country Village & Museum for the big Civil War weekend,” Wendt said in an email. “We had a short window to film in Oberlin as they were about to do renovations on Finney’s church building. So we shot outside of the building to establish our story as happening there.”

The crew was in Oberlin last month for footage there. With that sanctuary unavailable for filming, Wendt tried to find a suitable church in the Rochester area.

The sanctuary at the Holley church provided an ideal setting for the documentary.

“I looked all around the rural areas surrounding Rochester for an old church with wooden pews, a center aisle, and 1800s pipe organ in the front of the sanctuary,” he said. “First Presbyterian of Holley fit the bill! I met with Pastor Tom Gardner and one of his leaders, Don Welch, who surprisingly was born in Oberlin, and later attended Oberlin College, where Finney had been president! They were so gracious to allow us to film this exciting story in their beautiful sanctuary.”

Wendt said that B.T. Roberts, founder of Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, was friends with Finney and visited him in Oberlin. That college would serve as a model school for Roberts with the college in Rochester.

“Finney was a great abolitionist and a pioneer in the church to elevate women,” Wendt said. “Oberlin College is known to be one of the first schools in America to accept African Americans and women as students.”

Dick Grout portrays Charles G. Finney during a critical scene in the film.

Wendt is aiming for the film to be released on Feb. 2, 2020. He wants every congregation in the six-county Rochester area to share it with their church. It will also be available through streaming and DVD purchases.

He is hopeful it will inspire Christians to see the power of what God can do in a community. He also wants the Rochester area to better understand its identity during an important time in the church’s history when it pushed for equal rights and abolition.

For more on I Am Rochester, click here.

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Nearly 2,500 attended summer reading programs at Medina library

Provided photos: Wolcottsville Wildlife in Akron was a popular exhibitor on July 18.

Posted 20 August 2019 at 7:33 pm

Press Release, Lee-Whedon Memoiral Library

MEDINA – Lee-Whedon Memorial Library had a fantastic summer reading program this year. This year’s theme was “A Universe of Stories.” Our staff offered 64 programs that were attended by 2,424 children, teens and adults.

A crayon initiative resulted in more than 40 pounds of crayons being donated.

Children read 1,035 books, teens read 933 books, and adults read 685 books. Library staff gave away over 200 books to participants.

We partnered with the YMCA, Medina Parks and Rec, Medina Central School, and multiple local daycare centers to offer programming.

In addition to providing literacy and reading focused programs, our staff helped foster better global citizens. Children, teens, and adults learned about local animal conservation and rehabilitation efforts, different cultures from around the world, and the importance of donating to charity. Participants donated 50 pounds of food to a local animal sanctuary, 40-plus pounds of crayons to the Crayon Initiative, and many boxes of food for the local food pantry.

Our weekly STEM programs focused on space, coding, and robotics which strengthened critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills.

Overall, the summer program was a great success in preparing children and teens for the future. Thank you to everyone who participated and we look forward to seeing you at the library!

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Drunken driver not injured in rollover crash on 98 in Carlton
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 August 2019 at 6:15 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – A drunken driver was charged by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office after a rollover accident today just after 5 p.m. on Route 98.

The male driver wasn’t injured in the accident and declined to be transported by COVA ambulance.

The rollover happened near the Carlton town sign, just north of Gaines on Route 98.

The vehicle took out a resident’s mail box and caused other damage to the front yard where the Dodge Ram pickup came to a rest.

The driver was led away from the scene by Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies. No other information is available.

Carlton firefighters clean up debris from the scene.

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Medina husband and wife facing federal charges for allegedly selling cocaine
Posted 20 August 2019 at 6:03 pm

Press Release, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. Western District of New York

BUFFALO – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Anthony Allee and Tashira Allee, both of Medina, were arrested and charged by criminal complaint with possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of, cocaine, maintaining a drug-involved premises, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking activity.

The charges carry a minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of 20 years, and a $1 million fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin G. Bish, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, on July 22, 2019, a search warrant was executed at the defendants’ residence on Ridge Road in Medina.

Investigators seized 11 firearms, numerous articles of property reported as stolen, marijuana, pills believed to be controlled substances, ammunition, scales, bags, and other items of evidence including Tashira Allee’s cell phone. The firearms included a Taurus Judge pistol that had been reported stolen in the Town of Tonawanda.

Investigators also searched a barn located behind the main house. Inside, a safe was located. Within the safe, officers recovered prescription pill bottles containing pills, and a loaded Colt .45 ACP pistol. Also seized from the barn were digital scales with white powder residue, plastic bags, ammunition, an SKS rifle and magazine, a Ruger model 10-22 carbine, and marijuana.

The defendants made an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. Anthony Allee was detained. Tashira Allee was released on conditions.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Randy Bower, and Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly.

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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Hail and wind on Friday ruined big chunk of apple crop in Knowlesville

Photo courtesy of Adam Krenning: The powerful winds on Friday evening around 6:30 snapped apple trees that were in a trellis system on Howlett Road. Toussaint Farms, which owns the orchard in the photo, estimates it lost 1,500 apple trees of very popular varieties, including Honeycrisp, Gala and SnapDragon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 August 2019 at 1:45 pm

Photos courtesy of Kenny Haylett: These apples already started to rot on Monday, three days after being bruised and sliced by hail in Knowlesville. Kenny Haylett, the orchard manager for Haylett Enterprises, took the photo.

KNOWLESVILLE – A storm Friday evening felt like a tornado in the Knowlesville area and decimated many apple orchards due to the hail and high winds.

The storm caused the most damage between routes 31 and 18, with the area between Knowlesville and Kenyonville roads hit the hardest.

“It’s pretty sickening,” said Kenny Haylett, an orchard manager of a farm that had about 80 acres of apples destroyed. “We put all the time and effort and money into the growing the crop, and in two minutes it’s all gone.”

Haylett said the farm has about 120 other acres that are still good. The winds knocked many apples on the ground, while the hail bruised and cut the fruit. Three days after the storm the apples were already turning to rot on Monday.

The farm can’t just leave the orchards strewn with fallen apples “or else the rodents will come in,” Haylett said.

The storm hit in a narrow band. Haylett was on Knowlesville-Eagle Harbor Road when the heavy rain hit. On that road, it wasn’t very destructive. But on Howlett Road the storm took down trees. A barn fell over and a roof was blown off in Knowlesville.

Steve Nesbitt II said Nesbitt Farms had 50 acres of apples destroyed by the hail. Nesbitt was in Gaines when the storm hit.

“It was just a little bit of rain in Gaines,” he said. “In Knowlesville, it was terrible, a whole different world.”

Jeff Toussaint, owner of Toussaint Farms, said the high winds snapped 1,500 of his trees which were weighed down with nearly full grown apples.

Kenny Haylett holds an apple on Friday, soon after it was hit by hail. Three days later the apples were turning to rot.

Toussaint lost about 1 ½ to 2 acres of apple trees, and they were popular varieties such as Honeycrisp, SnapDragon and Gala. They were planted in high-density orchards with the trees held up in a trellis system.

But that wasn’t a match for the winds on Friday.

“A wicked narrow band came through,” Toussaint said. “The winds were unbelievable.”

Toussaint planted those trees in 2010 through 2013. They were just hitting peak production. Now he has to start over in that block on Howlett Road. “They were some of our most valuable apples,” he said. “It will be a number of years before it gets back.”

Toussaint said all of his acres were damaged on Howlett Road while 2/3 were affected on Culvert Road. The crop near Route 31 is fine, he said.

Toussaint said the growers “will now go into salvage mode and hope crop insurance kicks in.”

Haylett said the crop insurance is far less than selling the fruit at the market price.

The farmers also said Nice Farms was hit hard by the hail.

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Orleans vegetable growers urged to be on lookout for Late Blight

Photos courtesy of Cornell Cooperative Extension

Posted 20 August 2019 at 12:26 pm

Plant-killing disease has been detected in Genesee County

Press Release, Cornell Vegetable Program

KNOWLESVILLE – Late Blight was detected in Genesee County on August 16. Late blight is a serious, airborne disease of tomatoes and potatoes best known for causing the Irish potato famine. Late blight is caused by a fungus-like organism that spreads dozens of miles on storm fronts.

If you have either crop in your garden, you should be inspecting your plants and spraying with a preventative fungicide. For home gardeners, Chlorothalonil is usually the best preventative fungicide. For those who grow organically, a copper product would be an option. The product label should list Late Blight & tomato/potatoes (which ever you are treating).

Late blight can kill plants in less than two weeks. Disease spots are often dark gray to brown in color and tend to be surrounded by pale green tissue.

Initially, spot shape and size varies but eventually most of an infected leaf or stem will become discolored and die. Leaf spots often look slightly fuzzy on the underside of the leaf in the early morning or when the weather is wet and humid conditions.

Late blight will put dark brown to black smears on plant stems. Tomato fruit may also develop large, firm, greasy-looking, brown, gray, or black smears on the upper part of the fruit.

Potato leaves show dark spots with fuzzy white spores on the underside during humid weather. Potato stems show similar lesions to those seen in tomato.

Late blight does not resemble lower leaves that yellow and contain numerous small black specks. Late Blight does not resemble leaves that have spots that contain small, black, concentric rings.

Remember – if you find late blight it is probably too late to save your plants. Bag up diseased plants ASAP, preferably when the sun is shining and if possible, when the plants are dry. Let them cook in the sun in garbage bags, then dispose of them. DO NOT compost plants. The spores are airborne so leaving your plants alive will infect your neighbors.

If you need help identifying it, please bring a sample to your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office – preferably in a clear, plastic bag.

Since this disease is aggressive, spreads easily, and can be very damaging to area farmers, Cornell Cooperative Extension asks that anyone suspecting they have late blight please contact their local CCE office for assistance.

In Orleans County, the office can be reached at 585-798-4265. Commercial vegetable farmers may contact the Cornell Vegetable Program.

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