By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2019 at 10:05 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers
ALBION – Dillon DiGuilio and other members of the Albion Middle School Jazz Ensemble play “Who Let the Elves Out” during this evening’s middle school concert. Several students wore Santa hats or reindeer antlers for the concert.
The jazz ensemble also performed, “Go Tell it on the Mountain.” The middle school concert choir and concert band also performed several holiday favorites.
Here is the schedule of holiday or winter concerts at the five school districts in Orleans County.
Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. – Middle school holiday concert
Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. – Elementary school chorus and 5th grade band holiday concert
Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. – High school chorus holiday concert
Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. – High school band holiday concert
Holley had its middle school/high school concert on Dec. 5 and its elementary winter concert on Dec. 3.
Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. – Junior/Senior high band and chorus holiday concert
Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. – Elementary school band and chorus holiday concert
Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. – Grades 3-8 winter concert
The senior high winter concert was Dec. 5.
Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. — Grade 4 holiday concert at Wise Middle School
Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. – Grade 5 holiday concert at Wise Middle School
Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. – Grades 6 and 7 holiday concert at High School
Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. – A’Cappella Choir concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church
Dec. 18 at 7 p.m. – High School holiday concert at High School
Alonzo Figueroa-Fuentes plays the baritone saxophone in the Albion Jazz Ensemble.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2019 at 6:23 pm
Provided photo: Pictured from left include John Pera, county commander of the American Legion; William Barnosky of Albion, third place; Lauren Miller of Kendall, second place; Ethan Kuhn of Kendall, first place; and Gary Befus, contest chairman for the Legion.
MEDINA – Medina High School on Saturday hosted the 83rd annual oratorical contest through the American Legion in Orleans County.
Ethan Kuhn of Kendall won first place and Lauren Miller of Kendall was second. William Barnosky of Albion placed third.
Students presented an 8 to 10 minute prepared oration on a US Constitution topic of their choosing.
Kuhn and Miller both advance to the District level contest to be held in Kenmore in January.
MEDINA – Three people were charged today after an investigation into the sale and distribution of crack cocaine in the Village of Medina.
The Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force, the Medina Police Department, Orleans County Sheriff’s Department and the Orleans County Multi-Agency SWAT executed a search warrant at 107 South Ave. and arrested two individuals on numerous drug charges. A third suspect related to the investigation was located at a different location by the Medina Police Department and was also arrested on drug charges.
Police seized over an ounce of crack cocaine packaged for sale, $874 in cash, a loaded 380 semi-auto hand gun with defaced serial numbers, a stun gun, numerous packages of synthetic marijuana, scales, packaging and other drug paraphernalia.
The following were charged:
Brandon Askew, 40, of 107 South Ave., Medina. He was charged with 2 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree (Class B felonies) and 4 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (Class B felonies). He also was charged with 1 count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree (Class D felony).
Lisa Mailman, 48, of 107 South Ave., Medina. She charged with 2 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.
Mathew Parker, 30, no known address, was charged with 2 counts of criminal sale and 2 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.
Askew and Mailman were arraigned in Shelby Town Court by Town Justice Dawn Keppler. Askew was committed to the Orleans County Jail on $100,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. Mailman was committed to the Orleans County Jail on $20,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond. Both are to return to Shelby Town Court on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m.
Parker was also arraigned by Justice Keppler in Shelby Town Court and was committed to the Orleans County Jail without bail due to his previous criminal history, the Task Force said in a news release. Parker is to return back to Town Court on Dec. 13 at 10 a.m.
This investigation is ongoing, and further charges and arrests are pending, the Task Force said.
Provided and article courtesy of the Orleans/Niagara BOCES
MEDINA – Students in Joe Wilkie’s Certified Personal Trainer Program at Orleans/Niagara BOCES recently got a lesson in boxing.
Lori Grabowski is a personal trainer at SNAP Fitness in Medina. She stopped at the class, which met at Royalton-Hartland High School, to show the students some moves and talk about its uses to help clients reach their physical fitness potential.
Lori Grabowski is shown with teacher Joe Wilkie and his class: Jon Rivera (Lockport), Don Ross (Albion), Joe Ogiba (Lockport), Caden Gibson (Newfane), Ethan Dominquez (Lockport), Logan Overton (Lockport), Brendan Saia (Royalton-Hartland), Caleb Cidzillo (Medina), Ruben Cheatham (Lockport), Richie Stern (Newfane) and Kali Sharping (Royalton-Hartland).
Grabowski has been a personal trainer since 2011 and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well. Mr. Wilkie says it was a great experience for his class to hear from her.
“She really shared a lot of knowledge with my class and talked about how boxing is a different modality that people can use to achieve their fitness and health goals,” Wilkie said. “She really wore them out with her routine!”
MEDINA – Lee-Whedon Memorial Library hosted some very special friends on Friday night. The Santa Pajama Storytime program celebrated its 37th year as children, along with family and friends, eagerly awaited an evening with Santa.
The children were treated to a movie titled “What is Christmas?” Then, to everyone’s delight, sleigh bells began to ring as Santa arrived to entertain everyone with special songs and activities. Next, over 100 people settled in as Santa read, The Broken Ornament by Tony DiTerlizzi.
Santa reads, The Broken Ornament, to children and families.
The evening culminated with each child visiting with Santa and everyone was encouraged to make crafts, read books and visit with friends and family.
Families also contributed to the local food bank as part of this annual event.
Kendall Oliver Farewell shares her list with Santa.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2019 at 12:25 pm
ALBION – The Town Board on Monday gave final approval to set a 15-ton weight limit on Gaines Basin Road. The weight limit includes the section of Gaines Basin from the south entrance of Walmart, going south to the Barre townline, which is between West County House Road and Route 31A (West Lee Road).
Town Highway Superintendent Michael Niedert pushed for the weight limit because he said many big trucks and tractor trailers were using Gaines Basin to bypass going through the village.
Neidert said routes 98 and 31 are better suited for the heavy truck traffic.
The town had a public hearing on the weight limit in November. Albion previously didn’t have a weight limit for the road. Neidert said keeping the heavy trucks off Gaines Basin Road will help the road to last longer without needing major maintenance.
Photos by Tom Rivers: Susan Phillips, left, welcomes the new owner of The Book Shoppe, Gloria Fierch. Gloria and her husband Fred Fierch became the new owners of the store on Dec. 2. Phillips will remain at the store until the end of the year, helping with the transition.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2019 at 11:20 am
Susan and Roland Phillips ran the store for 21 years
MEDINA – The Book Shoppe on Main Street in Medina has new owners after 21 years of Susan and Roland Phillips leading the popular spot at 519 Main St.
Gloria and Fred Fierch on Dec. 2 became the owners of the store. The couple owned Pizza Place II in Middleport for 28 years, until selling that business nine years ago.
“Susan has made this an institution in Medina for 20 years,” Mr. Fierch said. “We plan on changing nothing.”
The Fierchs have stayed active in their retirement, with Gloria leading a Silver Sneakers exercise class at the Orleans County YMCA the past several years.
Fred has written two local books about Medina and Middleport history. He also is retired as a social studies teacher from the Orleans/Niagara BOCES, where he taught at sites in Medina, Sanborn and Niagara Falls.
The two missed the hustle and bustle of owning the pizza business. They wanted that excitement, but not quite at that level.
They have been long-time customers at the Book Shoppe. When the business was listed for sale, Mr. and Mrs. Fierch moved to buy it.
They have been at the store since last week, with Phillips introducing them to customers and helping with the ownership transition. She will stay at the store until late December, helping through the holiday rush and them ordering more books and toys for a new year.
“This has been fun,” Mrs. Fierch said at the store on Monday. “I’m enjoying the people and the total atmosphere. I just love being in Medina on Main Street. I want to continue the traditions of the book store.”
Gloria and Fred Fierch are shown in the arch leading to the children’s section at The Book Shoppe. They owned the Pizza Place II in Middleport for 28 years. They sold that business nine years ago and wanted to become more active in the community by owning the book store in Medina.
Mrs. Fierch has heard from customers that the book store is highly valued by the community. Besides the latest best sellers, The Book Shoppe gives prominent display of books by local authors. The store has a separate section for children’s books and toys.
The Book Shoppe sells toys that aren’t electronic and don’t make noise.
“They’re toys that children can use their imagination on,” Phillips said.
She is grateful for the 21 years of support from many loyal customers. Phillips said it has been exciting to watch the rebirth of Medina’s downtown, with many new businesses opening in recent years, and many building owners completing major restorations to the historic structures.
The Medina downtown has become a big attraction, and Phillips said the book store increasingly sees more customers from Buffalo and Rochester who enjoy shopping in Medina.
Phillips worked at the store for two years, when it was owned by David and Caroline Stefaniak. Phillips and her husband Roland became the owners in 1998.
She is pleased to see the new owners have a passion for business and being part of the community.
Phillips has watched many of her customers’ children grow up to be adults, and then bring their own children to the store. (The Book Shoppe hosted many Harry Potter parties, when new books of the popular series were released.)
Phillips was praised for making the store a welcoming environment, with the strong scent of gourmet coffee greeting customers. She also gift wraps books and presents for her customers.
“I want to say thank you to all of my great customers for all of the great years we had together,” she said.
U..S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the federal government to increase mental health resources in rural communities, especially for farmers, who have a suicide rate 3.5 times the general population.
Schumer was at a Wyoming County dairy farm on Nov. 27 for a news conference about the issue. Schumer said farmers face a number of stressors that can negatively impact mental health, including financial issues, climate and weather challenges, farm or business problems, and fear of losing their farm.
To address this escalating issue, which is doing real damage to farmers in the GLOW Region of Upstate New York, Schumer launched a two-pronged plan. First, he called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive study of suicides among farmers. Second, he called on Congress to expediently pass the Seeding Rural Resilience Act, which would establish a number of initiatives designed to quell farmer suicides.
“On a good day our family farmers work long hours on tight margins,” Schumer said. “Our farmers are beset by enormous pressures, and so many factors out of their control—from bad weather to bad government policy to giant swings in the economic cycle—that for too many it becomes too much and tragedy ensues. That is why we need to break through the silence, and why we must together confront this challenge, offer better avenues for our farmers who are hurting to getting help, and do more studies so we have a real handle on the depth of the mental health challenge we face,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer explained that suicide has increasingly become a major public health crisis in Upstate New York and the GLOW Region. In New York State, the suicide rate has increased by more than 28 percent over the past two decades. Specifically, Wyoming County has the 8th highest suicide rate in New York State, and the highest in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region.
According to the New York State Department of Health, 22 individuals died by suicide in Wyoming County from 2015 to 2017, representing a rate of 18 deaths per 100,000 people. Nationwide, a total of 47,173 Americans died by suicide in 2017, well above 2016’s recorded total of 44,695. Schumer said that this follows an alarming trend that has seen the national suicide rate increase by 33 percent since 1999.
“Farmers face a number of unique circumstances that can negatively influence mental health, including a constant fear of losing their farm,” Schumer said. “These stressors, which can be exacerbated by stigma and inadequate access to mental health services in underserved, rural areas, have manifested in a disproportionate rate of suicide among farmers. We need better mental health care for farmers, better information on how they can access that care, and better data on the nature and extent of the problem.”
The CDC has previously acknowledged that its 2018 report on suicides was limited in scope, as it only considered data from 17 states participating in the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) in both 2012 and 2015. Also, it is estimated that the 17 states included in the 2018 study only represented roughly one quarter of farms across the country. Now that all 50 states participate in the NVDRS, Schumer explained the CDC now has data that is representative of the entire nation and the farmer population.
Second, Schumer urged Congress to expediently consider and pass the Seeding Rural Resilience Act. Introduced in the Senate by Senators Jon Tester [D-MT] and Chuck Grassley [R-IA], this bipartisan legislation would establish three initiatives designed to help farmers cope with issues of mental health, including:
• Establish a requirement for USDA to offer voluntary stress management training to employees of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and National Resources Conservation Service.
• Authorize the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA to execute a $3 million public awareness campaign about mental health issues on farms and ranches and to destigmatize mental health care in rural areas
• Require the Secretary of Agriculture to collaborate with stakeholders from state and local governments, as well as the agricultural industry, to issue best practices to address mental health issues on farms and ranches.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2019 at 10:29 pm
Photos by Tom Rivers
KENDALL – The Kendall community last Wednesday had a tree-lighting celebration for this Christmas tree at the town gazebo across from the elementary school on Kendall Road.
These photos, taken this evening, also show the new war memorial that was dedicated on Sept. 29. The war memorial was led by four Boy Scouts who each took charge of part of the memorial for their Eagle Scout project.
The 39-foot-long brick wall features granite plaques highlighting the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terror. Alternating the granite plaques are concrete medallions representing the five branches of the military.
Three flag poles stand tall behind the brick wall. The center American flag pole is 35 feet high, with two 30-foot flag poles representing the State of New York and Orleans County standing on either side. The memorial is lit from dusk to dawn.
There is a bench by the memorial. The bench includes a quote by Joseph Campbell: “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
The war memorial project was led by four Boy Scouts – Ryan Barrett, Noah Rath, Jayden Pieniaszek and Brian Shaw.
The tree-lighting celebration last Wednesday included a supper with Santa at the elementary school cafeteria. The Kendall Community Band also performed at the event.
BATAVIA – Christen Ferraro has been hired by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse as project coordinator of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force.
GCASA Executive Director John Bennett announced the appointment of Ferraro, who received her bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences Interdisciplinary with a concentration in community and mental health from the University of Buffalo earlier this year.
A Batavia High School graduate, Ferraro said she recently moved back to Batavia from Buffalo and is excited to connect with task force stakeholders in the tri-county area.
“I missed the community and am thankful to be able to have a role in bringing agencies and people together to take on this epidemic,” Ferraro said. “Our goal is to continue the momentum that Allison (Parry-Gurak) has developed.”
Ferraro is replacing Parry-Gurak, who accepted the director of treatment position at GCASA’s Albion clinic.
As part of her college program, Ferraro served as an intern with the Genesee-Orleans Youth Bureau from August 2018 through May 2019, assisting with event planning, supervision, Youth Court and Youth Lead.
The GOW Opioid Task Force currently has over 350 members from across the tri-county region.
Members represent various sectors of the community, including public health, mental health, human services, local government, substance use disorder treatment and recovery agencies, law enforcement, EMS, faith-based groups, health systems and medical practitioners, education, businesses, concerned individuals, families, and individuals in recovery.
The task force project coordinator oversees six “work groups” – access to care, community education, data, family & loved ones, law enforcement and Naloxone, and two sub-committees – hospital policies and faith-based – and provides periodic progress reports to a steering committee.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that opioid overdose deaths among New York State residents, outside New York City, declined 15.9 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, the first decrease in 10 years.
While close to 2,000 people tragically died from opioid overdoses last year, the decrease remains a significant milestone and is the result of several aggressive actions taken the past several years to combat opioid addiction.
These actions are outlined in the new Heroin and Opioid Task Force Progress Report detailing three years of work and improvements to expand and enhance services aimed at combatting the opioid crisis. The Task Force recommendations were signed into law in 2016.
“New York’s first reduction in opioid overdose deaths in over ten years is an important milestone and demonstrates our work to combat this deadly scourge is working,” Governor Cuomo said. “And while New York has taken the most aggressive actions to combat the opioid crisis of any other state in the country, the opioid epidemic continues to devastate too many families and we will not rest until we put an end to it once and for all.”
After years of rising opioid-related overdoses deaths among New York State residents, 2018 finally saw a drop, from 2,170 deaths in 2017, to 1,824 deaths – a 15.9 percent decrease – according to preliminary State Health Department data covering areas outside New York City. Furthermore, hospitalizations for opioid related overdoses decreased 7.1 percent – from 3,260 in 2017 to 3,029 in 2018. Overdose deaths, hospitalization and other data are included in the most recent New York State County Opioid Quarterly Report, available here.
(Editor’s Note: In Orleans County the overdose deaths increased from 4 in 2017 to 6 in 2018, according the state data. The number of emergency room visits due to opioid overdoses increased from 36 in 2017 to 40 last year.
The state report also says the number of Orleans County residents admitted to certified chemical dependence programs for opioid addiction increased from 224 in 2017 to 234 in 2018.
The state also tracks how many times Naloxone is administered by EMS and law enforcement. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, helps stop an overdose. Naloxone was administered 48 times in 2017 by EMS in Orleans, and 30 times in 2018. Naloxone was administered 1 time by law enforcement in 2017 and 13 times in 2018, according to the state report.)
The progress announced today is the direct result of recommendations from the New York State Heroin and Opioid Task Force, which Governor Cuomo convened in 2016. The Governor reconvened the Task Force in his 2019 State of the State proposals. Co-Chaired by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez, the Task Force proposed new, non-traditional services, including recovery centers, youth clubhouses, expanded peer services, Centers of Treatment Innovation, mobile treatment, telehealth and 24/7 open access centers, which provide immediate assessments and referrals to care. These services have since been established in numerous communities around the state and have helped people in need access care closer to where they live.
Photos by Tom Rivers: Grace Denniston, a trustee with the Cobblestone Museum, walks on the edge of Route 104 near the Cobblestone Museum during an Oct. 19 Ghost Walk at the museum.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2019 at 12:03 pm
‘Five to Revive’ designation could help bring resources to historic district
GAINES – The recent “Five to Revive” designation by the Landmark Society of Western New York should bring attention to the historic district in Gaines, where there are cobblestone and brick buildings from before 1850.
The Cobblestone Museum is hopeful the designation will galvanize local and state officials to look for ways to make the district more pedestrian friendly, while also promoting the area as a tourism destination.
The routes 98 and 104 intersection is a busy spot in Orleans County. Not only are there several businesses and a museum in the hamlet, but motorists pass through on their way to other destinations.
The museum would like to see sidewalks in the district, better signage, historic-looking street lights and a reduced speed limit.
“This area has so much history,” said Doug Farley, the museum director. “The (Five to Revive) will do nothing but help us if we promote it right.”
Mark Tillman, owner of Tillman’s Village Inn, would like to see a reduced speed limit, and more ambitious marketing plan for the historic cobblestone district. The businesses and museum do a lot of their own marketing, and would benefit from a bigger collective push about the historic district, he said.
The district is highlighted by three cobblestone buildings – a church, a residence and a schoolhouse – that were designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1993. This is the only site in Orleans County ranked as a National Historic Landmark.
This ranking means the sites have national importance, including such nearby sites as the George Eastman House and Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, and the Darwin R. Martin House and U.S.S. The Sullivans in Buffalo.
Farley said the historic district is at a main crossroads in the county, with routes 98 and 104. The museum is exploring having a visitor’s site at the district and would welcome the county as a partner in the project, Farley told county legislators last month.
The Five to Revive has been critical in bringing attention and funding to the former Holley High School (being renovated for $17 million into apartments and the village offices) and the chapel at Hillside Cemetery.
Farley said the historic district is not well marked with signs and he is concerned about the 45 mile per hour speed limit.
“The cars travel past us at a very high clip,” Farley told the county legislators.
There isn’t much parking in the hamlet for larger tractor trailers and trucks. Many park on the edge of Route 104 near the Crosby’s convenience store.
The museum will often bring out traffic cones and have road marshals during events to make it safer for pedestrians.
Carol Culhane, the former town supervisor, manages Fairhaven Treasures at a brick building owned by Ray Burke at the routes 98 and 104 intersection. She said a reduced speed limit should be a top priority.
The speed limit drops to 40 mph near the Gaines Town Hall to past the intersection with Gaines Basin Road. Culhane would like the speed limit to go down to 35 in the historic district. But she said it isn’t an easy process to petition the state Department of Transportation and get DOT approval for a reduction in speed.
“To lower the speed limit would be wonderful,” she said. “But the state is very particular. It is a very long, arduous journey to get them to change that.”
The museum buildings are spread out on Route 104, with several buildings also on Route 98, south of Ridge Road. The museum could use more parking, and the sidewalks would make it safer for the visitors on foot, Culhane said.
Farley urged the local elected officials to work with the museum, businesses and residents in the district to develop a plan to better promote the district, and make it safer for pedestrians.
“We certainly have a wonderful historic product here that we can be proud of,” he said. “The sky is really the limit if we put on our thinking cap with the resources we have.”
In a personal meeting with Consul General of Canada, Phyllis Yaffe, and her successor, Deputy Consul General Khawar Nasim, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer recently expressed his concerns over Lake Ontario’s above-average water levels for this time of the year and urged the officials to do everything possible to mitigate the risk of a repeat of last year’s historic flooding.
Specifically, Schumer called for the officials to advocate for enhanced shipping safety maneuvers and concomitant increased outflows at the Moses-Saunders Dam to both the Canadian Seaway and to the Canadian commissioners of the International Joint Commission (IJC).
Schumer argued that while the outflows are already significant, there is further room to increase them when done in conjunction with enhanced shipping safety measures. Schumer said this would continue safe shipping along the Seaway and help ensure that both residents of Upstate New York and Canada have their sky-high risk of future flooding mitigated. Last month, Schumer also urged the St. Lawrence Seaway and American commissioners of the IJC to support increased outflows at the Moses-Saunders Dam.
“During our meeting, I told Consul General Yaffe and Deputy Consul General Nasim that we need to do more—now—to mitigate flooding risks in the spring, especially increasing outflows at the Moses-Saunders Dam in conjunction with enhanced shipping safety maneuvers,” Schumer said. “After experiencing record flooding in two of the last three years and already seeing sky-high water levels this season, there is an urgent need to act now to prevent the worst.”
With Lake Ontario’s water level currently 19 inches higher than the average for this time of the year and a repeat of last year’s historic flooding looking likely, Schumer called for the immediate institution of all the enhanced security protocols to enable increased dam outflows.
“That’s why I called on our Canadian partners to support the further increase of outflows at the Moses-Saunders Dam and to express that support to the Canadian Seaway and Canadian Commissioners of the IJC, as I have done on the American side,” Schumer said. “With the risk of a repeat of these immense damages looming, we must take every sensible measure possible to protect communities along Lake Ontario.”
Schumer explained that last summer, in the midst of flooding season, when the Moses-Saunders Dam outflows were increased to 200 cubic meters per second (m3/s) above the normal safe navigation flow limit (L), the Saint Lawrence Seaway accommodated the increased outflows by employing additional operational and navigation safety precautions such as speed controls in sections of the Seaway, a prohibition on meeting or passing vessels in certain areas, positioning a tug boat at some locks to assist vessels if needed, and reduced speeds to minimize vessel wakes.
Schumer explained that while outflows now remain at L+200 m3/s, not all of these same enhanced precautions are still being employed, indicating that outflows could be safely increased now above L+200 m3/s if these measures are reinstated. Schumer added that in order for outflows to be further increased, the measure must be supported by the Canadian Commissioners of the IJC and the Canadian Seaway.