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Chimney fire damages cottage by lake in Yates
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2020 at 11:11 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

YATES – Firefighters put out a chimney fire this morning and make sure there aren’t any hot spots in the cottage by Lake Ontario.

Lorrie and Ed Thering are thankful there wasn’t more damage to their cottage on Fisher Lane. Mrs. Thering called to report the fire at 8:58 a.m. Her husband arrived on the scene and was able to fill buckets of water from mud puddles, helping to contain the fire.

There are strong westerly winds this morning. If it had been easterly winds, the fire likely would have spread through the house, Mr. Thering and firefighters said.

The Therings are putting an addition on the cottage, hoping to make it a year-round residence. The site has been in Mrs. Therings family for about 70 years.

There was a big turnout of firefighters from Lyndonville, Ridgeway, Shelby, Medina and Carlton. That isn’t the normal situation on a Thursday morning, but many of the firefighters are home from work right now due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Therings are hopeful they can have the room repaired soon.

Kyle Morgan of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company carries a ladder back to a fire truck.

Donato Rosario of the Medina Fire Department removes some of the steel roofing.

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Sponsored Post
Posted 9 April 2020 at 9:02 am

Link to local takeout and delivery options in Orleans County


Albion village budget would keep tax rate the same
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2020 at 9:01 am

ALBION — The Albion Village Board has put together a $6,872,286 budget that keeps the tax rate at $17.80 per $1,000 of assessed property.

The budget would increase the tax levy, what the village collects in taxes, by $17,252, or by less than 1 percent (0.6 percent). The tax levy would go from $2,730,417 in 2019-2020 to $2,747,669 in 2020-21.

The board held a public hearing on the budget Wednesday. Residents could only comment through the Zoom online option because the village hall is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. No one commented on the budget during the hearing.

The board is scheduled to adopt the budget at 6 p.m. on April 22. The fiscal year starts June 1 and runs to May 31, 2021.

Mayor Eileen Banker is pleased the budget doesn’t increase the tax rate. She is concerned state and county revenues that are in the budget may not come through at the budgeted amounts. That includes road paving and maintenance funding from the state (CHIPS) and some of the local sales tax revenue distributed by the county.

If those revenues don’t meet expectations, the village will likely have to make some adjustments.

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Wind advisory in effect for Orleans County
Staff Reports Posted 9 April 2020 at 8:38 am

A wind advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. today until 6 p.m. Friday for Orleans, Monroe, Wayne and northern Cayuga counties.

There will be westerly winds from 25 to 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 mph, the National Weather Service in Buffalo said.

“Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects,” according to the Weather Service. “Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.”

The Weather Service urges extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle. Secure outdoor objects.

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Schumer wants Covid-19 ‘Heroes Fund’ for essential workers to receive $25K
Posted 9 April 2020 at 8:19 am

Press Release, Sen. Charles Schumer

U.S.Senator Chuck Schemer, D-NY, unveiled a COVID-19 “Heroes Fund,” a proposal to reward, retain, and recruit essential workers.

The Schumer-led, proposed “Heroes Fund” consists of two major components: a $25,000 premium pay increase for essential workers, equivalent to a raise of $13 per hour from the start of the public health emergency until December 31, 2020, and a $15,000 essential worker recruitment incentive to attract and secure the workforce needed to fight the public health crisis.

Schumer says essential frontline workers are the true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic response in America. In working to craft the proposal with his colleagues, Schumer says that providing premium pay to frontline workers during this pandemic is important to reward essential workers’ for their great personal sacrifices, but also to ensure the retention of essential workers who are working grueling hours on the frontlines of this crisis as well as the recruitment of additional workers who will be needed in the months ahead.

“Thousands of New Yorkers across the city, Long Island and upstate are leading this fight and reporting to the frontlines of our state and nation’s pandemic response each and every day, placing themselves squarely in harm’s way to serve the needs of others,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “And this proposed ‘Heroes Fund’ would provide premium pay to these essential workers—the doctors and nurses, grocery store workers, transit workers, and more who are central to fighting this crisis—and would establish an incentive system to retain and recruit the workforce needed for the long months to come.”

The COVID-19 “Heroes Fund”

Proposal for Pandemic Premium Pay to Reward, Retain, & Recruit Essential Workers

Essential frontline workers are the true heroes of America’s COVID-19 pandemic response. Senate Democrats believe in providing premium pay to frontline workers during this pandemic to reward essential frontline workers, ensure the retention of essential workers who are working grueling hours on the frontlines of this crisis, and promote the recruitment of additional workers who will be needed in the months ahead.

As the Congress looks at a potential fourth COVID-19 bill, the following proposal is meant for consideration by Members of Congress, key stakeholders, and the American people.

Our proposal consists of two major components:

• A $25,000 pandemic premium pay increase for essential frontline workers, equivalent to a raise of an additional $13 per hour from the start of the public health emergency until December 31, 2020.

• A $15,000 recruitment incentive for health and home care workers and first responders to attract and secure the workforce needed to fight the public health crisis.

Structure of the Pandemic Premium Pay

To meet the goals of reward, retention, and recruitment, we propose a set dollar amount per hour with a maximum amount for the year, for a definite duration, and with an additional bonus for workers who sign up to do such essential work during this crisis.

Amount of Pay Premium. Our proposal—

• Uses a flat-dollar amount per hour premium model in order to ensure it is clear, simple, and lifts up particularly those workers making lower wages.

• Would give each essential frontline worker $13/hour premium pay on top of regular wages for all hours worked in essential industries through the end of 2020.

• Would cap the total maximum premium pay at $25,000 for each essential frontline worker earning less than $200,000 per year and $5,000 for each essential worker earning $200,000 or more per year.

Duration of Premium. The premium pay period—

• Must be for a specified and clear duration of time to ensure workers can rely on it for their economic security and plan for needs like additional child care.

• Should cover all hours worked by each essential frontline worker through December 31, 2020, or until the worker’s salary-based maximum premium pay is reached.

Premium Pay as a Recruitment and Retention Incentive.  In order to recruit the additional health care workers, home care workers, and first responders needed over the coming months, our proposal—

• Would provide a one-time $15,000 premium for signing on to do essential work.

• Would limit eligibility for this incentive premium to essential health and home care workers and first responders that are experiencing severe staffing shortages impeding the ability to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premium Pay and Worker Incentives Delivery Mechanism

Our proposal would fully federally-fund the premium pay and recruitment and retention incentive. We will continue to seek input on the specific mechanism for delivering the pay to workers, as well as the universe of “essential workers” to be covered. The new federal fund would partner with entities designated as an “eligible employer” – states, localities, tribes, and certain private sector employers – to issue the funds premium payments to eligible workers. Frontline federal employees would also be granted the new benefit of up to $25,000.

COVID-19 Heroes Fund.

The new COVID-19 Heroes Fund would provide funds directly to eligible employer-partners so that they could distribute the premium payments.

Employers in industries engaged in “essential work” would apply to the Heroes Fund for funds to be used to add line-item premium pay to employees’ or independent contractors’ paychecks. The eligible employer would track these payments, provide payroll records demonstrating premium payments, and return any unspent funds to the agency.

No employer would be required to participate, but all would be strongly encouraged to and the program would be widely advertised.

An entity that contracts directly with the state, locality, Tribe, or the federal government (e.g., to provide care to people with Medicare and Medicaid coverage) would be considered a private sector employer, and employees of this entity who are designated as “essential” would be eligible for premium pay. Similarly, an eligible employer is also an individual who hires someone designated as “essential” through programs established through the State (e.g., self-directed care arrangements). This would help ensure coverage of the 2.2 million home health aides, direct service providers, and personal care workers who provide services to more than 12 million Americans.

Eligible employers would submit applications for the recruitment and retention incentive premium on a rolling basis.

Federal Workforce. Our proposal would ensure all federal government essential frontline employees receive the same $25,000 premium pay benefit provided to other essential workers.

Coverage should be expansive to capture all federal employees with public-facing positions. This includes Title 5 employees and employees of all other federal personnel systems.

The benefit would be limited to frontline and public-facing positions – employees who are not teleworking from their homes.

Additional Background and Commentary

Precedents. Disasters require exceptional flexibility in standard work schedules and assignments and often put first responders and other essential workers in dangerous situations. To ensure this critical workforce is compensated appropriately, there are precedents for funding hazard premium pay and worker incentives through a federal program.

FEMA, through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Response and Emergency Assistance Act and the Disaster Relief Fund, is currently authorized to reimburse state, local, and tribal governments for straight-time and premium pay associated with disaster response. Extraordinary costs (such as call-back pay, night-time or weekend differential pay, and hazardous duty pay) for essential employees who are called back to duty during administrative leave to perform eligible Emergency Work are eligible for reimbursement in certain circumstances.

This authority has been used many times over the last few years to pay for personnel costs associated with enforcing curfews, facilitating evacuation routes, and restoring critical infrastructure. Past usage illustrates precedent for federal funding of critical state, local, and tribal employees performing essential response functions that keep our communities safe in times of disaster.

Essential Frontline Worker definitions. As mentioned above, the definition of essential frontline workers for purposes of both the premium pay increase and the recruitment-retention incentive will be the subject of debate. This proposal is not meant to exclude any worker from this conversation. Rather, we hope this proposal will encourage a discussion about how large and diverse this universe of workers truly is. Our goal is to make federal, state, tribal, local and private sector essential workers that are at risk eligible for this benefit.

Retroactive Pay. Workers who have been on the frontlines since the initial declaration of the Public Health Emergency on January 27, 2020, could receive a lump sum of backpay of $13 per hour for work before enactment. These workers would continue to receive the $13 per hour premium pay on top of regular wages moving forward, but these workers would still be subject to the maximum premium pay cap outlined above.

Additional Benefits for Essential Health and Home Care Workers and First Responders. The employers of frontline health and home care workers and first responders should be eligible to apply for a second round of premium pay funds of up to $10,000 as those workers continue to combat the virus.

Death Benefits. It is a deeply disturbing but unfortunate reality that some of our frontline workers are making the ultimate sacrifice to the nation through their work fighting COVID-19.  Their families rightfully deserve to receive the full amount of the premium pay as a lump sum in addition to all other forms of death benefits.

Protections from Corporate Expense Shifting. Certain large corporations engaged in the provision of essential services and goods employ essential frontline workers who are deserving of premium pay. However, massive corporations should make investments in providing premium pay of their own accord before trying to participate in this program.

Protecting Workers and PPE. Senate Democrats have been fighting to give essential workers the protections and equipment they need to stay safe. The CARES Act provided billions of dollars for PPE, and Democrats have pushed the Administration to appoint a czar to handle all manufacturing and distribution of critical PPE. We must do more to ensure all frontline workers have the protective gear they need to perform their jobs safely, and we need a strong emergency temporary standard to protect all workers.

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Lake Ontario water levels forecast to be above normal, but below 2019
Staff Reports Posted 8 April 2020 at 9:02 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The lighthouse at Golden Hill State Park in Barker is pictured on Aug. 7, 2016 during a sunset on Lake Ontario.

The board that manages water levels at Lake Ontario expects the water levels this spring to be higher than normal for Lake Ontario, but shouldn’t surpass 2017 and 2019, years of destructive flooding along the southshore.

Spring is a critical period for Lake Ontario outflow regulation, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board said. That group is closely coordinating with the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board during the Ottawa River snowmelt to have the highest outflow from Lake Ontario while balancing impacts upstream and downstream on the St. Lawrence River.

Inflows from Lake Erie, precipitation, runoff, snowpack, along with the snowmelt in the Ottawa River basin are the primary drivers of water level fluctuations this time of year, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board said in a news release.

These conditions are different each year, made more challenging by dynamic spring weather, making it difficult to accurately forecast water levels.

Last month there was a record outflow from Lake Ontario, the third straight month of record-high outflows under the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board’s deviation strategies.

The delayed opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, in combination with seasonable weather and favorable conditions in the Ottawa River basin, allowed the Board to remove an extra 3.46 cm from Lake Ontario. This would not have been possible had the Seaway opened on March 20.

Lake Ontario had been rising gradually for the past couple of weeks, but very slowly recently.  As of April 6, the level was 75.26 m (246.92 ft). This is 42 cm above average, but 38 cm below the record-high for this time of year.

It is important to remember that there is still a lot of snow to melt and the possibility of active and wet spring weather in the coming weeks.  Even at the current levels, storms and strong winds can also cause severe damages, and it is always good to have a coastal resiliency plan in place, the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board said in its news release.

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Albion’s music program makes it 13 straight years of national recognition

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gary Simboli leads the high school choir during its year-end concert last June. The choir has more than 150 students and performs at many community events throughout the year. Albion has earned national recognition for its school music program for the 13thstraight year. It is one of 754 districts across the nation named a “Best Communities for Music Education” by the NAMM Foundation.

Posted 8 April 2020 at 5:21 pm

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – The Albion Central School District has been named a Best Community for Music Education for 13 years in a row!

This designation comes from The NAMM Foundation for Albion’s outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Albion answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities and support for the music programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

This award recognizes that Albion is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

“Making music is the artistic synthesis of all academics,” said High School Choral Director Gary Simboli. “When presented in a public forum, not only does it allow students to demonstrate their skills in real world settings, but it also enriches the lives of those giving and receiving the performances.”

The pep band enlivens the crowd during the homecoming football game on Oct. 5. Albion runs an active music program in the elementary, middle and high schools. The high school puts on two full-scale musical and students also perform in several different instrumental and choral groups. In all, high school musicians perform numerous times during the school year.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores that their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well.

Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children that in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound; young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.

The High School performed The Big Bad Musical in November, one of two musicals scheduled for the high school drama program. The middle school also typically does two musicals. In this photo Chase Froman, sitting, stars as the Big Bad Wolf and Aubrey Boyer is Sydney Grimm, a flashy reporter for a cable news channel, EFN – Enchanted Forest News. In back from left are the Wolfettes, from left: Olivia Morrison, Hannah Coolbaugh, Hannah Brewer and Sydney Mulka.


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4 new Covid-19 cases in Orleans, 11 more in Genesee
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2020 at 4:26 pm

There are four new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Orleans County and 11 more in Genesee County, according to the Orleans and Genesee County Health Departments.

The department is breaking out the ages by decades, starting today. Previously the cases were listed as being under 65, or 65 and older.

In Orleans County, the four new positive cases bring the county’s total to 21. All 4 new cases live in the central part of the county. The cases include people in their 50s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.

All of the Orleans positive cases were connected to a confirmed positive case and are in mandatory isolation the Health Department said.

Genesee County’s 11 new positive cases bring the total to 54 confirmed cases. Ten of the new cases are for people who live in the central part of the county with the other person living in the eastern part of Genesee.

The cases include one in the 20s, four people in their 30s, two in their 40s, three in their 60s, and one in the 70s.

The Health Department said they are included the age ranges broken down by decade (except those from ages 0-20) to reiterate that any age is susceptible to COVID-19 and the complications.

“Throughout the nation even young people are having serious complications which may be associated with known or unknown underlying health conditions and health behaviors such as smoking, vaping and obesity,” the Health Department said in a news release.

On Thursday the Health Department is planning a cumulative breakdown of the ages for all cases.

With the four new cases in Orleans and 11 in Genesee, contact tracing has been started with known contacts placed under mandatory quarantine. They will be swabbed for a Covid-19 test if symptoms become present.

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Albion’s village meeting will be televised through Zoom
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2020 at 2:36 pm

ALBION – The Albion Village Board meeting and public hearing, which begin at 6 p.m. today, will be televised through Zoom.

The board will temporarily be televising its meetings due to health concerns from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The meeting today begins with a public hearing about the tentative village budget, with the annual organizational meeting to follow.

To comment at the public hearing or to observe the meeting, click here to be directed to the Zoom meeting.

The meeting ID is 665 991 379 and the password is 845782.

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With new record high in deaths from Covid-19, Governor orders flags at half-mast

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, pictured in a screen shot of a news conference at 12:30 today, showed images of first responders and healthcare workers who died from Covid-19.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2020 at 1:50 pm

Cuomo announces unemployment benefits extended from 26 to 39 weeks, with New Yorkers who filed receiving $600 check soon

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state seems to be flattening the curve and making progress in stopping the spread of coronavirus. However, the governor shared grim news that 779 people died in state on Tuesday from the virus, the highest death toll yet from Covid-19.

It surpassed the previous high of 731, which was on Monday. There are now 6,862 New Yorkers who have died from the virus. That is more than the 2,753 killed in New York City during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The governor said the daily number of people who die from the virus may remain high for another week to reflect the higher rate of hospitalizations from about a week to two weeks ago. The number admitted to the hospital for Covid-19 is slowing, and Cuomo expects the number of deaths to decline to reflect that. He told reporters at his 12:30 p.m. news conference that the healthcare system should stabilize in the next couple of weeks after seeing dramatic increases the past month in Covid-19 patients.

Cuomo said New York residents should not let their guard down about adhering to guidelines about social distancing and staying home as much as possible. The numbers could spike high again if people push too quickly to return to life before the pandemic.

“We are flattening the curve because we are rigorous about doing social distancing,” Cuomo said. “This is not a time to get complacent. We have to remain diligent.”

The governor, in honor of the 6,862 who have died from Covid-19, ordered that flags be lowered across the state.

Cuomo confirmed 10,453 additional cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, bringing the statewide total to 149,316.

He also announced unemployment benefits would be extended from 26 to 39 weeks, and those who filed for unemployment who be receiving a $600 check very soon. That check will be reimbursed to the state through the federal CARES Act.

The governor also announced absentee voting would be allowed for all registered voters in the state in the upcoming June 23 primary and election.

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5 agencies in Orleans receive $74K from Covid-19 WNY Fund
Staff Reports Posted 8 April 2020 at 11:10 am

Five agencies in Orleans County have been approved for $74,000 through a new WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

The agencies to receive funding include Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, Meals on Wheels program through the Arc of Genesee Orleans, Christ Community Kitchen in Albion, and The Kendall Food Cupboard.

The five agencies together will share $74,000 from the fund, said Dean Bellack, executive director of the Orleans County United Way.

Those agencies are all on the front line of serving people in need, Bellack said.

The Western New York COVID-19 Community Response Fund is coordinated by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, The John R. Oishei Foundation and the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. They announced $4.5 million to 74 organizations.

Grants were awarded to organizations in eight counties of Western New York that are addressing immediate needs in the community as a result of the COVID-19 crisis in the areas of food, housing, healthcare, childcare, mental health, transportation and other emergency services.

Grants were made to nonprofit organizations throughout WNY including urban and rural areas, organizations of every size, and to those serving a range of populations with consideration for areas already in economic distress.

The following nonprofit organizations received a grant from the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund:

  • Allegany County Community Opportunities and Rural Development
  • Arc of Genesee Orleans (Meals on Wheels)
  • BestSelf Behavioral Health
  • Boys & Girls Clubs Collaborative
  • Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network
  • Buffalo Urban League
  • CAO of Western New York
  • Cattaraugus and Wyoming Counties Project Head Start
  • Cattaraugus Community Action
  • Cattaraugus County Dept. of Aging (Meals on Wheels Fund)
  • Cazenovia Recovery Systems
  • CCNY
  • Child & Family Services of Erie County
  • Child Care Coalition of the Niagara Frontier
  • Christ Church Community Kitchen in Albion
  • City Mission Society, Inc.
  • Community Action of Orleans & Genesee
  • Community Health Center of Buffalo
  • Community Missions of Niagara Frontier
  • CoNECT (Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo)
  • Crisis Services
  • Cuba Cultural Center
  • Directions in Independent Living
  • Empower (United Cerebral Palsy Assoc. of Niagara County)
  • Erie Regional Housing Develop. (Belle Center)
  • Evergreen Health
  • Every Bottom Covered
  • Family Help Center
  • Feed Buffalo
  • FeedMore WNY
  • Friends of Night People
  • Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern, Inc.
  • Harvest House of South Buffalo
  • Health Association of Niagara County (HANCI)
  • Healthy Community Alliance
  • Heart Love & Soul
  • Hearts and Hands: Faith in Action, Inc.
  • Horizon Health Services
  • Jericho Road Community Health Center
  • Jewish Family Service of Buffalo & Erie County
  • Journey’s End Refugee Services
  • Kendall Community Food Cupboard Corp.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of WNY
  • Life Impact (Resurrection Life Food Pantry)
  • Lt. Col. Matt Urban HSC of WNY
  • Metro Community Develop. Corp.
  • Mid-Erie Mental Health Services (Endeavor Health Services)
  • Native American Community Services
  • Neighborhood Health Center
  • Niagara Community Action Program, Inc.
  • Northpointe Council
  • NYS Network for Youth Success
  • Olmsted Center for Sight
  • Open Buffalo (Seeding Resilience Initiative)
  • Parkside Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • PUSH Buffalo
  • Restoration Society
  • Safety-Net Assoc. of Primary Care Affiliated Providers
  • Save the Michaels of the World
  • Say Yes Buffalo
  • Spectrum Health and Human Services
  • The Dale Association
  • The Rural Outreach Center
  • The Salvation Army – Olean Corps.
  • The Salvation Army (Erie County)
  • The Salvation Army (Niagara County)
  • Valley Community Assoc.
  • Western New York Independent Living
  • Westminster Economic Development Initiative
  • YMCA Buffalo Niagara
  • YMCA of the Twin Tiers
  • Youth Mentoring Services
  • YWCA Niagara Frontier
  • YWCA Western New York

To date, the WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund has received approximately $5.5 million from local foundations, private sector companies, and individuals. Additional funds raised will be distributed based on evolving needs related to the pandemic. To see a full list of contributors to the Fund, visit www.WNYResponds.org.

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911 center will send county-wide texts today, urging social distancing
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2020 at 10:17 am

Orleans County residents are expected to receive two text messages today, around noon and at 6 p.m., from the 911 emergency alert system, urging residents to protect themselves and others in the community from the coronavirus.

This is the first time the local 911 emergency communication system is sending out a county-wide alert, said Dale Banker, the emergency management director for Orleans County.

“Your impact on the community is great, and your efforts in promoting and adhering to the safety guidelines is appreciated,” according to the message.

The Public Health departments in Genesee and Orleans counties urged the 911 centers in each county to send the messages to residents. Genesee County sent the texts on Tuesday.

The message to Orleans County residents will remind them to take precautions against the virus by staying home, washing your hands frequently and following social distancing by staying at least six feet away from non-household members.

“We thank you and your community for your cooperation during these difficult times,” according to the message.

Orleans and Genesee counties have both seen a jump in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases. Orleans is up from 6 on Thursday to 17 on Tuesday. Genesee County increased from 17 on Thursday to 44 on Tuesday.

The texts today will reinforce the importance of health and safety guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control and the NYS Department of Health.

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Albion waives community service requirement for Class of 2020
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2020 at 8:33 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Caden Crosby, a senior at Albion High School in 2018, helps a plant a bur oak tree on Nov. 1, 2017 as part of his community service requirement for all students at Albion.

ALBION – The school district requires all graduates of Albion Central School to complete at least 30 hours of documented community service.

Some students complete the community service during their freshmen or sophomore years, and often exceed 100 hours of service. But many students also tend to wait until late in their senior year to complete the 30 hours.

There are some students to graduate in June who haven’t reached the 30 hours of community service yet. The Albion Board of Education on Monday decided to give them a waiver on reaching that threshold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many organizations where students could do their community service are currently closed to the public.

Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, said the district values service learning and isn’t making the decision lightly about the service requirement. Students who met the requirement and also reached 100 hours will be noted in the commencement program.

In other action at Monday’s meeting:

• The board accepted a bid from P-A-Z Masonry of Albion to construct two dugouts each for softball and soccer. P-A-Z submitted the low bid of $66,100. Thompson Builds of Churchill submitted a bid for $81,531. The project includes a concrete pad for the dugouts which will be cinder blocks with a roof. One of the soccer dugouts also includes a small room for a sound system.

• The board agreed to allow online view of tax bills, where property owners could also print the

school tax bills and receipts. Derek Vallese, the district’s business administrator, said Albion receives many requests from individuals, attorneys, and tax preparers for public access to tax bills and receipts.

Vallese said Albion is the only school district in the county that does not have this service available. Currently an individual has to call the tax collector and request a copy of the tax bill or the receipt.

Vallese said the tax bills are public information. Albion won’t charge to view the bills. The district will grant “view only” access to the tax bills.

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Public Health Director urges people to take virus seriously
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 April 2020 at 6:55 pm

‘We’re asking the public to do their part, even if it’s painful, even if it’s something you don’t want to do. Maybe you don’t really believe or you don’t want to hear that this is a significant issue for us. We’re all in this together.’ – Paul Pettit

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Village of Albion last week closed Bullard Park to the public to fight the spread of the coronavirus in the community. Many communities have closed parks, especially playgrounds during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The public health director in Orleans and Genesee counties is urging all residents in the community to take the coronavirus seriously.

Paul Pettit, the public health director, said big increase in cases in the two counties in the past few days shows people are not adhering to social distancing with many going to stores, work and public places, sometimes while they are symptomatic.

In Orleans County, the number of cases has increased from 9 on Friday to 17 today. In Genesee County, the confirmed cases is up from 21 on Friday to 44 today.

“We’re asking you all, we’re asking the public to do their part, even if it’s painful, even if it’s something you don’t want to do,” Pettit said. “Maybe you don’t really believe or you don’t want to hear that this is a significant issue for us. But we’re all in this together, we live together, we play together, we work together. This is something that we all have to be part of to be successful and continue to flatten the curve and push this out so we don’t continue to have a spike in cases.”

Pettit said the Health Departments in the two counties receive many calls from the community about people congregating and not observing social distancing.

This week is Public Health Week in the state. Pettit said the local health departments have dedicated and hard-working staff. But Pettit said the community’s health, especially during this pandemic, depends on everyone doing their part.

“Public health is not about one person, it’s not about an agency or a government bureaucracy doing their work,” Pettit said. “Public health is about all of us together in our community. We’re going to be as healthy as we’re going to be, we’re going to be as a sick as we’re going to be as a result of the actions we take today, as a result of the way we come together and look at this as a community wide issue.”

“I call on every single of you that we are all public health, we’re all in this together, and we need to take this very seriously, and make sure we adhere to the guidelines and the guidance before so we make sure we can get through this difficult situation in front of us as quickly as we can,” Pettit said.

The best defense against Covid-19? Stay home as much as possible, Pettit said.

The Health Department provided the following update this afternoon:

Going out for essentials – recommendations

• If you have to pick up essential items such as groceries or prescriptions, only one member of the household should be going out. Make a list ahead of time to limit your exposure in the store. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people.

• Do not bring in unessential items such as purses, phones, etc. These items can carry germs from the store and back home with you. Wash your hands frequently and use a cloth face shield to protect yourself and others from spreading the virus.

Businesses and Employers

• Essential businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the New York State Department of Health and every business, even if essential, is strongly urged to maintain social distance to the extent possible.

• As an employer or business, it is your responsibility to protect your workforce and to follow and understand guidance as it pertains to Covid-19. The health and safety of your employees should be your utmost concern.

Below are some things to consider:

• Actively encourage sick employees to stay home. Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of repercussions, and ensure employees are aware of these policies.  There is a lot of guidance and information available to businesses and employees in regards to coverage of wages and protections related to Covid-19

• Provide education and training materials in an easy to understand format and in the appropriate language and literacy level for all employees, like fact sheets and posters.

• If an employee becomes sick while at work, they should be separated from other employees, customers, and visitors and sent home immediately. Follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting areas the sick employee visited.

• Have conversations with employees about their concerns. Some employees may be at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.

• The Governor has established the New York State PAUSE Enforcement Assistance Task Force where individuals can file complaints regarding the operation of non-essential businesses or gatherings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Click here to file a complaint online. You may also call 1-833-789-0470. Businesses that are not in compliance with the Governor’s executive order may be penalized.

• If you believe your employer is in violation of either existing labor laws or recently issued executive orders, please contact the New York State Attorney General’s office at (212) 416-8700 or Labor.Bureau@ag.ny.gov.

Use of Cloth Face Coverings

• The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.

Recent studies have suggested that Covid-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing or proper hand washing.

• The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

• Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

The cloth face cover should:

• fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

• be secured with ties or ear loops

• include multiple layers of fabric

• allow for breathing without restriction

• be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

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Orleans, Genesee both seeing rise in Covid-19 cases
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 April 2020 at 4:47 pm

Genesee has 10 new cases, 2 more in Orleans since yesterday

Orleans and Genesee counties are both seeing a significant jump in confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Orleans has two more new cases today, after six new confirmed cases on Monday. Orleans now is at 17 total cases, Public Health Director Paul Pettit said at a 4 p.m. news briefing.

Genesee County has experienced a bigger increase, with 10 new cases today after 10 on Monday. Genesee is now at 44 total positives.

In Orleans County, both new cases are people under age 65, with one from central Orleans and the other from the eastern end of the county.

Pettit said the Health Department expects to make more information available about the cases, putting them in age brackets by decade. Right now the department only reports if the person is 65 or older or under 65.

Many of the cases are younger adults who are being active in the community, either going to the store frequently, going to work or attending social gatherings.

Pettit said it is imperative that people of all ages stay home as much as possible to stop the spread of what he said is a “prolific” virus, capable of easily passing from one person to another.

Of the two new cases in Orleans, one person was already under quarantine after being a known contact with someone who tested positive, while the other didn’t have a known connection to someone with the virus.

Of the 10 new cases in Genesee County, 7 are under age 65 in the central part of the county and 3 are under 65 in eastern Genesee.

All 10 of the new positives are people who were under precautionary or mandatory quarantine. They had known connections with others who had Covid-19.

Of the 44 cases in Genesee, 10 people have recovered from the illness and while four of the 17 in Orleans are considered to be recovered.

Click here to see a two-county map with more details about the cases and testing in the two counties.

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