State health commissioner declares polio ‘imminent threat to public health’
Posted 28 September 2022 at 4:09 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced additional steps New York State is taking to address evidence of circulating poliovirus in New York State, including an official declaration to further support local health departments in driving immunizations.

Earlier today, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett declared poliovirus an imminent threat to public health in New York State, thereby expanding the availability of funding and resources to support local health departments in establishing immunization clinics, deploying vaccine to health care partners, and conducting outreach to unvaccinated and under-vaccinated New Yorkers to increase immunization rates particularly in the areas affected by the virus and among children.

“From day one, we’ve taken an aggressive public health approach to combat the spread of polio and ensure New Yorkers are protected,” Governor Hochul said. “This declaration will bolster our ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers against paralytic disease, prevent spread, and support our public health partners.”

The declaration enables localities to continue to work closely with the State Department of Health’s Office of Public Health Practice to claim reimbursement for these public health activities. The Commissioner’s declaration covers poliovirus response activities undertaken from July 21 through Dec. 31.

Working with the State Department of Health, local health departments continue to actively respond to polio in New York State through wastewater monitoring, clinical surveillance, and vaccine administration for unimmunized and under-immunized New Yorkers. These departments are also conducting education and outreach in communities where the virus has been detected to spread greater awareness and encourage vaccination, particularly to parents and guardians of young children.

New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, “Working daily with local county health departments, our partners at CDC, and trusted leaders, the Department is working effectively to increase childhood and community vaccination rates in counties where the virus has been detected. Thanks to long-established school immunization requirements, the vast majority of adults, and most children, are fully vaccinated against polio. Our focus remains on ensuring the on-time administration of polio vaccination among young children and catching kids and adults up who are unimmunized and under-immunized in the affected areas. That work continues at full force.”

Following the identification of a case of paralytic polio in an unvaccinated individual in Rockland County, the State Health Department launched wastewater surveillance, a tool to check for signs of the virus in sewage water in communities. Sequence analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has since found repeated evidence of poliovirus detected in samples collected from Rockland County, Orange County, and Sullivan County as well as detected in samples collected from New York City and Nassau County.

New York State has focused its efforts in areas where the threat is concentrated, which includes where there is repeated detection, and where there is a relatively low percentage of children that have completed their three-dose polio regimen by the age of 2. These areas include Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan Counties.

Polio vaccination has long been part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended immunization schedule and New York State’s requirements to attend school. Most adults and many children in New York State are already vaccinated.

Parents and guardians with children 17 years of age or younger who are unvaccinated or not up to date with their polio immunizations should immediately make sure their children get up to date with all recommended doses.

Polio is a serious, life-threatening disease that affects the nervous system and can cause muscle weakness, paralysis, or death. Polio is very contagious and can be spread by someone even if they aren’t sick or experiencing symptoms, which range from mild flu-like symptoms to paralysis, permanent disability, and death.

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Rochester man sentenced to 3 to 6 years in state prison for arson in Murray
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 September 2022 at 3:45 pm

ALBION – A Rochester man was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in state prison today for arson in the third degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree.

Devon M. Rose, 27, admitted in a previous court appearance that he set a 2009 Acura on fire on May 22, and also stole a 2003 Chevy Silverado from the Town of Murray on May 22. The Silverado is estimated to have been worth about $6,000.

He took the Acura from Monroe County and drove it to the Murray Town Hall and set the car on fire at 5 a.m. on May 22.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said Rose has  “horrible” criminal record with a history of committing multiple arsons.

“Much of what Mr. Cardone has said is mostly true, actually it’s all true,” Rose’s attorney David Wade said in acknowledging Rose’s lengthy criminal record.

Wade said Rose has spent most of his adult life incarcerated. He said a history of drug abuse and physical abuse against Rose when he was a child are factors in the arsons.

County Court Judge Sanford Church didn’t give Rose the maximum sentence. He could have faced 4 to 8 years in state prison.

In other cases today in County Court:

• Bryan Bates, 42, of Albion was sentenced to 1 ½ to 3 years in prison for first-degree criminal contempt. Bates admitted to striking a person in the face on July 6. That person had an order of protection from Bates since July 2018.

• Alonzo Rivera, 23, of Albion was sentenced to weekends in the county jail over four months and five years of probation for attempted making a terrorist threat.

When law enforcement was called due to a domestic situation on Jan. 6, Rivera allegedly called 911 to say he was armed and planned to fire at police officers. Law enforcement went to the scene and saw Rivera walking along Ridge Road without any weapons.

Rivera said he was drunk at the time and doesn’t remember the incident. County Court Judge Sanford Church said Rivera had enough presence of mind to call 911.

Rivera said in court today he made a mistake and is working a full-time job. The judge, instead of giving him a maximum of six months in jail, sentenced Rivera to weekends so he could keep working.

• Adam Locke, 37, of Albion was sentenced to 10 years of probation for attempted sexual abuse in the first degree.

Locke entered an Alford plea, where he didn’t admit a crime. In a court appearance on July 27 he said he was concerned he might be found guilty at a trial and could face state prison.

District Attorney Cardone said Locke was around a girl under age 11 over several days in August 2019. The girl was sitting on Locke’s knee and he allegedly subjected the child to sexual contact while clothed. Locke denied those allegations in court, but still plead guilty to attempted sexual abuse in the first degree.

As part of a plea agreement, he could have faced up to 364 days in the county jail and probation.

The judge decided for “strict probation” that will include searching Locke’s computer and internet use, as well as social media and gaming systems. The judge also issued an order of protection for the alleged victim. He also ordered 250 hours of community service for Locke.

• Jeremiah Thomas, 36, of Albion pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in the third degree and reckless endangerment for a road rage incident where he allegedly rammed a car in the McDonalds in Medina on May 18, causing more than $8,000 in damage and putting the other driver at risk of significant injury, according to the DA’s office.

Thomas could face a maximum of 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison. He will be sentenced on Jan. 4, 2023.

• Jacoun Harden, 35, of Holley and formerly of Medina, pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree for having a loaded firearm. Harden admitted in court today that when he was charged he had a loaded 9 mm handgun and was intending to use it but didn’t fire it at anyone.

He faces a split sentence of jail and probation when he is sentenced on Nov. 30.

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United Way seeks support in fundraising push for 16 agencies
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 28 September 2022 at 2:08 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Dean Bellack, director of United Way of Orleans County, points to the sign at the corner of Maple Ridge Road and South Main Street in Medina, showing United Way is at 70 percent of its fundraising goal for 2022.

The year may be winding down, but at United Way of Orleans County, things are ramping up.

The organization is planning for its biggest event of the year, a gala fundraiser Oct. 9 at White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville, starring Las Vegas entertainer Jimmy Mazz. Click here for more information on tickets. The evening will feature a gourmet meal, raffles and silent auction.

Also, as the year ends, so does United Way’s annual campaign to raise funds which allow the agency to help 16 agencies in Orleans County which serve every segment of the population, from infants to senior citizens, the poor and the handicapped. Currently, United Way is at 70 percent of its fundraising goal, and helping these agencies depends solely on our reaching our goal, said director Dean Bellack of Medina.

Bellack and United Way are determined to turn around statistics which show the per capita revenue for United Way of Buffalo and Erie County is $24.12, while Orleans County’s per capita revenue is $3.62.

“We can’t have the impact we need to have until we have resources comparable to urban United Way operations,” Bellack stated in a letter earlier this year to community leaders.

Every donation has an impact, Bellack said. Every dollar stays in Orleans County and directly benefits United Way’s partner agencies. No gift is too small to help.

Donations can be made online. Click here for more information.

Some of the agencies  United Way funds are 2-1-1 WNY, 4-H Youth (Cornell Cooperative Extension), GLOW Arc (Camp Rainbow and Meals on Wheels), Boy Scouts, Care Net Center of Greater Orleans, Christ Church Community Kitchen, GCASA, Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, Hands 4 Hope, Kendall Community Food Cupboard, Orleans County Accredited Literacy Services (OCALS), Orleans County YMCA, P’raising Kids Daycare, Project Stork, Supportive Care of Orleans Grief Support Group and Town of Yates Recreation Program.

United Way is also inviting currently unfunded 501c3 agencies to apply for funding by logging on to  Bellack said making out an application does not guarantee funding, but it is the first step to take for assistance, if United Way funds are available.

“We wish to make sure those who need help have the opportunity to get it,” Bellack said. “The United Way of Orleans County is here for our total community benefit. The dollars we receive stay in Orleans County and benefit our community in many ways.”

In addition to sponsoring fundraisers and seeking donations, United Way of Orleans County has made a major impact to the county by initiating efforts to hire a grant writer. In 2021, Nyla Gaylord, who was then working for Ministry of Concern, on her own time wrote a grant, which United Way received for $450,000 to hire a grant writer and part-time development professional for United Way for five years.

“In just over a year, this investment has resulted in nearly $700,000 in direct benefits to Orleans County residents and fostered new collaborations between non-profits, the business community and local government,” Bellack said.

In his short time as grant writer, Matt Holland has also got approval for $600,000 in grants which will be announced within the next week or so. It is pertinent to note that Holland’s services are free to any non-profit in Orleans County.

“It is important to note that the United Way helps partner agencies in two ways, through allocating donated dollars and by helping organizations obtain funding from other sources,” Bellack said.

It should also be clarified that United Way must raise the funds it allocates, as grant money can only be used for the purchase for which it was approved. That is why it is so important for the community to continue to donate.

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Sponsored Post
By Orleans Hub Posted 28 September 2022 at 9:42 am

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Medina FD open house set for Sunday
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 September 2022 at 9:41 am

MEDINA – The Medina Fire Department will have its annual open house this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the firehall on Park Avenue.

There will be a bounce house by Air Affair available for play, a K-9 meet and greet with the Medina Police Department, car seat safety checks from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, and fire prevention activities with Medina firefighters.

There will also be food from Dubby’s Wood Fired Pizza, Mann vs. Food and Lugia’s Ice Cream. There also will be representatives available from the American Red Cross, Orleans Community Health and the Orleans County Emergency Management Office.

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With 20 harbors dredged, state hands off future sediment digging to counties

Photos by Tom Rivers: An excavator scoops sediment from the Oak Orchard Harbor in August 2021. The Oak Orchard was one of 20 harbors or channels dredged as part of the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, or REDI.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 September 2022 at 9:02 am

ALBION – State officials have passed the baton for future dredging of the Oak Orchard Harbor and other southshore harbors and channels.

The state spent $15 million clearing sediment from 20 harbors and channels. The dredging projects were part of the state’s $300 million Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI), which has been focused on repairing and building resiliency in communities hit by flooding in 2017 and 2019.

The harbors and channels will continue to be dredged but the counties are working on an alliance to do the work in the future. The state will hand over their engineering reports on how to best do the work.

“We need to maintain it,” Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislature chairwoman, said about the harbors. “I am so excited that the counties want to work together.”

Johnson said the counties along the southshore should put dredging in their budgets and work together on a contract for digging out sediment to get a better price.

State officials were in Orleans County on Tuesday to announce the completion of 20 harbor and channels along the southshore. Future dredging will be managed by the counties. Pictured from left include Carolyn Ryan, REDI program manager; Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey; Jeanette Moy, commissioner of State Office of General Services; and Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature.

Oak Orchard was dredged last year through REDI, and was previously done in 2014. If the harbors and channels aren’t dredged there will be a buildup of sediment and silt that can make them impassable for larger boats.

County officials have previously said the harbor should be cleared of sentiment every three to five years, but that can vary depending on the weather. Johnson said the alliance will work to have the harbors and channels dredged on a regular basis.

Jeanette Moy, OGS commissioner, said the county officials teamed with the state to get the harbors dredged in a $15 million initiative. Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey is in back.

Jeanette Moy, commissioner of State Office of General Services, was in Albion on Tuesday with other state officials, including leaders of REDI. The state worked with the state Department of Parks, Department of State and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the projects, and is handing over detailed engineering reports about the channels and harbors.

Moy said the reports show how to best access the waterway, contend with wildlife and connect with property owners on the dredging.

“This is public service at its best,” she said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday also praised the effort in getting the 20 harbors and channels dredged.

“I am proud to announce the completion of the Regional Dredging Project, a comprehensive measure which included the dredging of 20 vital navigation channels within the region, proving essential to protecting critical aquatic and coastal habitats of the region, while also boosting tourism by ensuring safe recreational access for boaters,” Hochul said in a statement.

The dredging projects at eight counties included:

  • Salmon River/Port Ontario, Sandy Pond Outlet (Oswego County)
  • Olcott Harbor, Golden Hill State Park (Niagara County)
  • Oak Orchard Harbor, Johnson Creek (Orleans County)
  • Sandy Creek, Braddock Bay, Long Pond Outlet, Irondequoit Bay (Monroe County)
  • Bear Creek Harbor, Pultneyville, East Bay, Port Bay, Blind Sodus (Wayne County)
  • Clayton French Creek Marina, Henderson “The Cut” (Jefferson County)
  • Ogdensburg “City Front Channel,” Morristown Navigation Channel (St. Lawrence County)
  • Little Sodus Bay (Cayuga County)

The harbors included in the Regional Dredging Project along the southern shore of Lake Ontario are estimated to generate $94 million in economic activity, with $3.8 million in state tax revenues and an additional $3.8 million for local communities annually, supporting 1,350 jobs, Hochul’s Office said.

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Walk/Run for Knights-Kaderli Fund returns this Saturday without Covid restrictions
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 September 2022 at 9:25 pm

File photo by Ginny Kropf: Walkers are off to start the 30th annual Knights-Kaderli Walk/Run in October 2018. The course starts by the East Shelby firehall.

SHELBY – For more than three decades, the community has gathered for a walk/run to support patients living with cancer in Orleans County and their families.

The Knights-Kaderli Fund was formed when two families, whose loved one died from cancer, joined their fundraising efforts. The foundation was named in honor of Richard Knights and Susan Kaderli, both lifelong residents of Orleans County.

After being apart in 2020 due to Covid-19, the walk reconvened last year, although the pandemic forced organizers to pivot and make logistical changes to the event to keep participants safe, said Knights’ daughter, Stacey Knights Pellicano.

“This year we are happy to report we can again gather without restrictions for the 34th annual Knights-Kaderli Walk on Saturday,” Pellicano said. “We are returning to an untimed event, so registrants can participate at a leisurely walk with family and friends, or set their watches for a 5K run.”

The event this year will resemble the more casual family atmosphere of the walk’s earlier years, Pellicano said.

The event on Saturday will begin at 11 a.m. at East Shelby Volunteer Fire Hall. Lunch will be served immediately following the race and guests may eat outside under the pavilion. Participants and the public are urged to be part of a big basket raffle.

“This is one of our major fundraisers for the year,” Pellicano said. “We look forward to being with all of our supporters. Those who have ever participated in our event understand the energy of that day. It gives us hope and unites participants. We know the community will show up to support their neighbors who are living with cancer. Cancer does not stop for a pandemic, and our neighbors need us, especially now as they fight their disease and are sometimes isolated from their own families to protect their health.”

The Knights-Kaderli Memorial Fund is a 50l(c)3 tax-exempt organization run by a board of directors, which means there are no administrative costs. This allows 100 percent of money raised to be used to help cancer patients. Money raised is used for the benefit of Orleans County cancer patients. In addition to fundraising, money is raised by contributions made by individuals, organizations and memorials.

Funds thus far have assisted families with nutritional supplements and prescriptions, as well as medical supplies and bills and transportation costs.

For more information or financial assistance, contact Mary Zelazny at (585) 746-8455; Melissa Knights Bertrand at (716) 983-7932; or Stacey Knights Pellicano at (716) 998-0977.

Participants may register online (Click here for more information.) Donations may be made by logging online (click here) or Venmo @knightskaderli.

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Sponsored Post
By Orleans Hub Posted 27 September 2022 at 5:00 pm

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1,000 students from GLOW counties explore careers in trades, local industries
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 September 2022 at 3:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BATAVIA – This student was one of just over 1,000 who attended today’s 4th Annual Glow With Your Hands career exploration festival at the Genesee County Fairground.

There were 65 different businesses doing exhibits or hands-on activities. Students from more than 30 school districts attended GLOW With Your Hands, including all five districts in Orleans – Albion, Holley, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina.

Patrick Hargrave of Lyndonville gets to operate a tractor loader backhoe under guidance from Scott Holmes, the Land Pro store manager in Alexander. The equipment is typically used for residential projects.

The turnout today was a record participation from students and businesses. Students were encouraged to consider a career in skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage manufacturing, construction and agriculture sectors.

“While the record participation of our students and businesses is welcome, the true success of GLOW With Your Hands is the having a youth arrive at our event and discover a passion for a career that they may have never considered before,” said Jay Lazarony, GLOW With Your Hands Co-Chair. “Our exhibitors, volunteers, sponsors and organizers are dedicated to supporting students today, and throughout their path to success.”

Nick Prest of Albion hammers a nail in one of the activities. Ethan Lewis of Byron-Bergen, a BOCES building trades student, assisted in the activity.

Albion had 90 students in grades 9 to 12 attend the career exploration program today.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for kids to experience the trades and the opportunities out there for them,” said Mickey Edwards, Albion school superintendent.

He was impressed to see all the opportunities available for students, especially if they learn a skilled trade.

A representative from Barilla in Avon speaks about the pasta manufacturer. He urged the students to consider a career at Barilla, where he said 110 tons of pasta is produced annually.

Students rotated through experiences that included operating backhoes and excavators, competing in nail driving and construction competitions, and testing their skills on dairy farming and welding simulators.

“It’s incredible to see so many students that are excited about careers right in their own backyard,” said Chris Suozzi, GLOW With Your Hands Co-Chair. “Our companies are growing, and today demonstrates that the national workforce challenge can be solved locally. More than 1,000 students all progressed in their readiness for careers, and are now thinking about the classes, clubs, and training they can take to continue to grow their skills.”

These Holley students see a sprayer up close. Holley had 35 students at the event today in grades 9 and 10. Brian Bartalo, the district superintendent, joined them.

The students were thrilled to be given a chance to operate some of the machinery and equipment.

“The students are getting directly involved,” Bartalo said. “This is a very unique event. It’s wonderful.”

Luke Gilbert from Livonia gets in the seat to operate the excavator.

Beckett Swanson of Notre Dame moves a pile of dirt with the excavator.

A member of the National Guard helps a student try on about 20 pounds of tactical gear, including duty helmets, plate carriers and bullet-proof plates.

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Breast Cancer: Can you prevent it?
By Orleans Hub Posted 27 September 2022 at 2:00 pm

By Mary Richards, FNP, Oak Orchard Health in Warsaw

Most everyone knows a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. That is because breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in American women, except for lung cancer. It can occur at any age, but the risk goes up as you get older. Because of certain risk factors, some women may have a greater chance of having breast cancer than others, according to the American Cancer Society.

Schedule your mammogram today!

Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms which is why it is important to get a regular mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends women start at age 40 for their yearly breast cancer screening. Should you have a family history of breast cancer you may need to get your mammogram earlier, particularly if that family member was under 40 years of age and in your immediate family (sister, mother). If that is the case, you may want to start mammograms at 35. With that family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you may be eligible at age 25+ for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation test. According to the Mayo Clinic, the BRCA gene test is offered to those who are likely to have an inherited mutation based on personal or family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Talk to your health care provider about this option. 

What causes Breast Cancer? 

With about 1 in 8 women getting breast cancer during their life, it is important to look at what causes it. Though there are no definitive answers for every case of breast cancer, we do know that there are known risk factors. They are lifestyle related or genetic. A risk factor can increase your chance of getting it, but that is not for sure. Here are just a few according to the American Cancer Society:

Drinking alcohol is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Women who have one alcoholic drink a day have a small (about 7% to 10%) increase in risk compared with those who do not drink, while women who have two to three drinks a day have about a 20% higher risk. Alcohol is linked to an increased risk of other types of cancer, too.

Being overweight or obese. Having more fat tissue after menopause can raise estrogen levels and increase the chances of getting breast cancer. Women who are overweight also tend to have higher blood insulin levels. Higher insulin levels have been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer. However, weight is a complex topic when it comes to a link to cancer. You should talk with your provider if you have questions.

Not being physically active. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week (or a combination of these). Getting to or going over the upper limit of 300 minutes is ideal.

You can help reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy choices like eating right, staying active, and not smoking. It is also important to follow recommended screening guidelines, which can help detect certain cancers early. And never let paying for your mammogram stop you from getting one. Contact Oak Orchard Health at (585) 637-3905 and we can help you find financial support. 

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EMS Task Force continues to look for solutions locally to strengthen ambulance service
Posted 27 September 2022 at 1:56 pm

‘The creation of an ambulance district in order to implement a tax for service has been discussed, and is on the September meeting agenda, but unfortunately includes a long legal process to establish.’

Press Release, Orleans County EMS Task Force

ALBION – On October 26, 2021 the local elected officials in Orleans County were briefed on the crisis EMS agencies are facing not only in our county, but across all of New York State and throughout the Nation as a whole.

Following this, local officials requested that the county create and facilitate an EMS Task Force to identify issues ambulance services and fire departments in the county were facing and determine a course of action.

The EMS Task Force members included representatives from each town, village and fire department, as well as representatives from COVA, Kendall Ambulance, Monroe Ambulance and Medina Ambulance. Orleans County Legislators, Public Health Officials and the Orleans County Sheriff’s office were also included.

Prior to the EMS Task Force being established, the Orleans County Legislators worked with the Emergency Management Office to identify three major focus areas for the EMS Task Force to explore: augmenting the existing services with county municipal ambulances, contracting with the existing providers for service, and an EMS model similar to what is being used in the West side of the County.

The first meeting of the Orleans County EMS Task Force was held on Feb. 16, 2022. Although introductory, the meeting laid important ground work for future meetings. Each ambulance service provided an overview of their operation and an evaluation of their strengths, weaknesses, challenges they face and how they overcome them.

A history of EMS within Orleans County was provided so that all members of the Task Force had an understanding of the challenges currently faced.  One challenge highlighted, addressed the loss of six volunteer fire department operated ambulances or transport capable rescues in the past 15 years, with a seventh loss looming, as a result of less volunteer medics and rising operational costs.

Additionally, each ambulance agency within the county is different; what is legally allowed to do for one agency may not be allowed for another. Kendall Ambulance is all-volunteer non-profit, COVA is non-profit and combination of career and volunteer, Medina Fire Department Ambulance is a municipal agency, and Monroe Ambulance is a career for-profit agency.

Response metrics for the previous 4 years were distributed, showing increased requests for ambulances, increased response times, increased number of calls the responsible agency was unable to handle, and increased requests for mutual aid response.

‘Medicaid and Medicare are also an issue of great concern when it comes to funding.  Medicaid and Medicare reimburse at rates of 20-30% of what is actually billed by the transporting ambulance agency.’

For some agencies the increases were minimal and no cause for alarm, while for others the numbers were concerning. Each metric examined has an impact on each of the others; more requests for services means less ambulances available which leads to ambulances responding from greater distances, or relying on other ambulance services for mutual aid which causes shortages in other service areas.

As meetings progressed the three focus areas remained consistent, but the Task Force also began to evaluate additional factors impacting these focus areas.

Staffing shortages continue to be a challenge for volunteer and career agencies. One contributing factor is that EMS is not considered an essential service, and therefore not a part of the same retirement and benefit systems that law enforcement and firefighters are a part of.

As a result, EMS sees a large turnover of personnel as they ultimately seek jobs outside of EMS that offer those benefits. For both career and volunteer medics, there is a great deal of training required to become certified and additional education is required to keep certifications current. The financial investment of this training can be significant.

Many of the local volunteers happily donate their time to participate in available training and respond to a calls. However, as dedicated as volunteers are, outside obligations sometimes mean the local fire department is unable to have an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) on every call within their response area. As a result the Task Force is looking at ways to better compensate career medics and how to recruit and retain both volunteers and career personnel.

Available funding is one of the ongoing issues for ambulance agencies. The EMS Task Force sought proposals to evaluate costs associated with providing EMS service, at varying levels, in the East and Center portions of the county and exploring the means to fund this service. The creation of an ambulance district in order to implement a tax for service has been discussed, and is on the September meeting agenda, but unfortunately includes a long legal process to establish.

Recruitment, training, continuing education and retention of both career and volunteer providers will remain focus areas for the EMS Task Force going forward.

Insurance reimbursement plays a significant role in an EMS agency’s bottom line. Although New York State Law requires insurance checks to be paid to the patient rather than the transporting EMS agency, this often times results in delayed payment or non-payment to the EMS agency. And although legislation has failed to pass committee on either the Senate or Assembly side for over a decade, our County Legislators and EMS Coordinator have continued to work with Senator Ortt, Assemblyman Hawley, Assemblyman Norris and the Senate Minority Office to get this legislation changed.

Medicaid and Medicare are also an issue of great concern when it comes to funding.  Medicaid and Medicare reimburse at rates of 20-30% of what is actually billed by the transporting ambulance agency.  Locally the impacts of this low reimbursement have impacted COVA significantly. The Villages of Orleans, Albion Correctional Facility and Orleans Correctional Facility all fall in COVA’s response area and most transports from these facilities are Medicaid or Medicare covered, these responses ultimately result in a loss.

As it stands now, estimated costs to provide services for EMS service in the Center and Eastern portions of the county are being obtained by the towns. If agreements are met between the towns and service providers in regard to ambulance coverage, this solves only one challenge we currently face.

Recruitment, training, continuing education and retention of both career and volunteer providers will remain focus areas for the EMS Task Force going forward.

In the unfortunate situation that an agency is no longer able to provide service, there are mutual aid plans in place at the state and county level to ensure that ambulance coverage will still be provided.

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Medina’s Class of ’82 celebrates 40th anniversary reunion

Provided photos: The Class of 1982 at Medina High School held its 40th class reunion last weekend, with a mixer Friday night at Zambistro's new Bistro Bar Room and get-together Saturday night a Shelridge Country Club. They are photographed here at Shelridge.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 September 2022 at 12:56 pm

Sue Clark Squires, left, and Sue Green, both of Medina and members of the Class of 1982, have been friends since seventh grade.

MEDINA – This past weekend was a time to celebrate and renew old friendships for Medina High School’s Class of 1982.

Groups of classmates attended a mixer Friday night at Zambistro’s new Bistro Bar Room. They are the first party to take place there. On Saturday night, 39 members of the class gathered at Shelridge Country Club for conversation, drinks and snacks.

The 210 students who graduated in 1982 were the biggest class to graduate from Medina. Class officers were Tam Menz, president; Carole Moore, vice president; Sheila Mack, treasurer; and Beth Feltz, secretary. Their members represent an impressive list of accomplishments.

To highlight just a few: Ann Webster Bunch is a professor; Jeanne Putinas Spencer is a doctor and educator in Jamestown, Pa.; Randy Bushover is a producer at WBEN radio in Buffalo; Sue Clark Squires is supervising superintendent of eight jails in the Wende hub; Sandra Leigh Hellwig is a pharmacist; Brandi Zavitz, art teacher and muralist; and Kathie Lewandowski Allen of Florida is an interior designer.

Squires said she started working at the Albion Correctional Facility in 1985 as a stenographer. She returned in 2018 as superintendent.

The class as met every five years since they graduated. This year a new memorial table was set up, honoring the 15 class members who have died.

Bronwyn Balcerzak Green was head of the planning committee for the reunion, which included Cindy Cotriss Flynn, Tam Menz, Randy Bushover, Sandra Leigh Hellwig, Tina Zelazny Feldman, Wende Manuele Nicosia, Ann Webster Bunch.

Several classmates have attended every reunion – Bronwyn Balcerzak Green, Cindy Cotriss Flynn, Kathie Lewandowski Allen, Tam Menz, Michael Slack, and Linda Wind Zakrzewski.

The Class of 1982 has given a $200 scholarship every year in memory of Brian Kwiatkowski to a senior interested in being an EMT or becoming involved in firefighting.

Members this year traveled from Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana and Connecticut, as well as across New York state.

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Nicole Tuohey again collecting ‘elephant links’ at Case-Nic to support Alzheimer’s Association
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 September 2022 at 9:11 am

Provided photo: : Nicole Tuohey is pictured with some of the links she sells for $1 to support the Western New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She has raised about $15,000 in the past decade-plus selling the links. She has 741 links so far this year and wants to break her record of 1,639 set last year.

MEDINA – A Medina woman is again selling “elephant links” for $1 in a fundraiser for the Western New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Nicole Tuohey, 32, already has sold 741 links. She is trying to break her record of 1,639 set last year.

The links are available at Case-Nic Cookies on Main Street in Medina, a business owned by her mother, Mary Lou Tuohey.

Nicole has Triple X Syndrome. She hasn’t let that disability prevent her from being a tireless advocate against a disease that took the lives of her grandparents, Don and Jane Bradley.

Nicole typically is part of the kickoff celebration for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. This year’s event will on Oct. 8 at State Street Park in Medina. Registration will begin at 10 a.m., with the Walk commencing at 11 a.m.

That walk already has $15,511 raised for a $28,000 goal. Click here for more information.

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease – a leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Additionally, more than 11 million family members and friends provide care to people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In New York alone, there are more than 410,000 people living with the disease and 580,000 caregivers.

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Yates celebrates 200 years as town of good neighbors
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2022 at 5:05 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

YATES – The Town of Yates hosted a bicentennial celebration on Saturday at the Yates Town Park, which has received $2.5 million in upgrades.

The top photos shows Town Supervisor Jim Simon cutting a cake with Mary Scarlett, the town’s oldest resident at age 96; and Sandra Houseman Gapa, who is descended from George Houseman, one of the town’s first residents in 1809. He was Gapa’s great-great-great-great grandfather.

Saturday’s event was the third and final bicentennial party for the town. The “Grand Finale Lake Fair” followed the “Family Fair” in July and the “Street Dance” in August.

Sandra Houseman Gapa, 63, said George Houseman moved to Yates in 1809 and died in 1814. (Yates was originally part of the town of Ridgeway before forming its own town in 1822.)

Houseman Gapa said she is grateful her family has stayed in the town for more than 200 years. She raised three children in Lyndonville and Yates.

“It’s a great school system,” she said. “We’re all neighbors here.”

Town Supervisor Jim Simon tries some of the new playground equipment with his granddaughter, 2 ½-year-old Adelaide.

The new playground was designed by Parkitects, which is owned by Lyndonville native Ben Frasier, a 1988 Lyndonville graduate. The playground equipment includes several handicapped accessible features. The playground is on a rubber surface.

The cedar pavilion was named in honor of Russ Martino, a former town supervisor who led the town government when the 5 acres was acquired 25 years ago for the park.

State Sen. Rob Ortt is speaking in this photo. He said the park’s location by the lake offered a striking location for residents and families to get some recreation and respite.

“This has to be one of the most beautiful views from a park in all of New York State.”

The Simon brothers – John Paul, Elijah and Sharbel – sang the first and fourth verses of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” Their father is the town supervisor.

American Legion members Scott Goetze and Bob Burtwell, left, were part of the Honor Guard for the ceremony.

State Sen. Rob Ortt presents a proclamation to Simon in honor of the town’s 200th anniversary. Eileen Banker, right, is chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Hawley who also had a proclamation for the town’s bicentennial from the State Assembly.

Ortt also praised Simon and the Town Board for pushing for the park upgrades which were 95 percent funded through the New York State’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI).

Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature supported the $300 million in REDI projects along the southshore to help fight erosion and flooding, and also boost tourism and recreation opportunities for residents, Ortt said.

The Yates projects at the park also include a kayak launch, bolstered shoreline, pier and walking trail, as well as the playground and pavilion.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson, a Yates resident, presents a proclamation from the County Legislature on behalf of Yates’ bicentennial.

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MRI services return to Medina Memorial Hospital
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 26 September 2022 at 3:29 pm

MEDINA – Orleans Community Health has announced the return of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services at Medina Memorial Hospital beginning on Sept. 28.

These services will be offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays, according to Scott Robinson, director of marketing, communications and outreach at the hospital.

“The importance of MRI services cannot be overstated,” said Erica Chutko, director of radiology at Orleans Community Health. “We can perform MRI on the brain, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis and extremities. These tests can help detect potential health concerns, such as strokes, tumors, multiple sclerosis and much more.”

The MRI machine is a mobile unit which allows the hospital to flex it scheduling with the demand, while keeping current with technology, Robinson said.

“We’re working with Alliance Health Services to make this possible,” he said

An MRI is a non-invasive imaging exam that does not include any radiation, Robinson explained. To schedule an appointment, patients will need a referral from their doctor. Some insurances required prior authorization.

Appointments can be made scheduled with the radiology department by calling (585) 798-8054.

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