2 new officers take oath and join Medina PD
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2024 at 10:19 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Nick Joy, left, and Tanner Ferris takes the oaths of office and are sworn in as new police officer for the Village of Medina.

Joy’s dad Scott, right, is holding the Bible for while Ferris’ grandmother Darlene Sullivan holds the Bible while he recites the oath of office.

The two new officers were sworn in during this evening’s Village Board meeting.

Joy of Lyndonville is already well known in Albion and Medina, where he is a trainer and co-owner of the Hustl House gym. He will continue at Hustl House while starting a new career as a police officer.

“It is a really great opportunity to serve the community even more,” Joy said.

Ferris is a 2017 Albion graduate. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from SUNY Brockport. He has been working for Keeler Construction.

“This is a great way to make a difference,” Ferris said about working as a olice officer.

His grandfather, Richard Ferris, was a deputy with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

Tanner Ferris is grateful for the chance to work for the Medina PD.

“This is a smaller community where you can make a difference and not just be a number,” he said.

The two officers will take a six-month police academy starting Monday at Niagara County Community College then they do field training with the Medina PD.

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Health Department says several residents getting treated for rabies
Posted 26 February 2024 at 2:06 pm

Warm winter results in more encounters with wildlife, stray animals

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) are warning residents to stay away from wild life and stray animals.

“Due to the mild winter and warmer temperatures, there has been a rise in the instances of people encountering wild animals and strays throughout Genesee and Orleans counties,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for GO Health. “In the past month, several residents have required rabies treatment following an animal encounter.”

Rabies is most often found in wildlife such as raccoons, bats, and skunks, but pets can be at risk of the virus too.

“If you see an animal in need, even if it is a baby animal, avoid touching it and contact animal control,” stated Darren Brodie, Environmental Health Director for GO Health. “It is also important to keep your pets up to date on their rabies vaccination.”

Rabies can be fatal if left untreated. It can be transmitted through direct contact with saliva through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention. All bites should be reported to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

To prevent the spread of rabies, the health department reminds residents to take the following precautions:

  • Keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations
  • Obey leash laws. Keep your pets under direct supervision and on a leash so they do not come in contact with wild or stray animals. If an animal bites your pet, seek veterinary assistance for the animal immediately and contact the health department.
  • Avoid contact with wild or stray animals. Do not handle, feed, touch, or attract wildlife (raccoons, skunks, bats, bunnies, rabbits, and foxes) or stray dogs and cats.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
  • Prevent bats from entering living quarters. If you find a bat in your home, safely capture it and call the health department. DO NOT release it! For a video on how to safety capture a bat, click here.
  • Call your local animal control agency to remove any stray animals from your neighborhood or if you see an animal showing signs of rabies. Signs of rabies in animals may include aggression, excessive drool or saliva, confusion, hair loss, and loss of movement or function.

Residents are encouraged to take note of our upcoming drive-thru rabies vaccination clinics for dogs, cats, and ferrets in Genesee and Orleans Counties that are offered at no charge.

Genesee County Rabies Clinics at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 East Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020)

  • Thursday, May 16, from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 8, from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 10, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Orleans County Rabies Clinics at the Orleans County Fairgrounds (12690 State Route 31, Albion, NY 14411)

  • Saturday, April 13, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, June 5, from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, August 10, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, October 19, from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

For more information on GO Health’s programs and services, visit GOHealthNY.org. You can also contact your respective health department:

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Medina accepting applications for universal Pre-K in 2024-25
Posted 26 February 2024 at 9:35 am

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – The application for Medina’s Full Day Universal Pre-K (UPK) program is now available on the Primary School’s website or by accessing the link found here.

Parents of children not already enrolled in UPK who are interested in enrolling their child in kindergarten for the 24-25 school year are also asked to complete the application form.

To be eligible for UPK, children must be 4 years old by Dec. 1, 2024. To be eligible for kindergarten, children must be 5 years old by Dec. 1, 2024.

For any families looking to learn more about the full day UPK program, the Medina School District will be hosting an Information Night on Thursday, March 14th from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m., held at Oak Orchard Primary School. Childcare will be provided for any children eligible to attend school in the 2024-25 school year.

Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. and the evening will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. There will be a brief general session for adults in the auditorium, and then participants will visit scheduled locations throughout the building. Please plan to arrive by 5:30 and stay for the duration, in order to receive all the information prepared.

Families interested in learning more about Medina’s UPK program are encouraged to attend the Information Night. If you are unable to attend, information will be shared afterward on Oak Orchard Primary School’s website.

Timeline for UPK Application, Acceptance, Registration and Screening:

  • Feb. 16 to April 1: UPK applications accepted by calling the Oak Orchard Main Office, or through our website, starting on Feb. 26
  • Thursday March 14: UPK Information Night 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. at Oak Orchard Primary
  • April 2: Families notified of acceptance into UPK Program or if program capacity is reached, that lottery is to be held.
  • Week of April 1: Lottery held, if needed, and registration packets mailed.
  • Week of May 6 – May 10: UPK Student Screening, applicants should bring all registration materials to the screening. A parent and the child are expected to attend the screening. Applicants will be contacted by phone to schedule their screening time.

Any questions can be directed to the Oak Orchard Main Office by calling 585-798-2700, option 3 and then 0, between 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Hungerford-led AMGIS company sees big breakthrough in new medical device
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 26 February 2024 at 8:51 am

File Photo: Roger Hungerford speaks during Dec. 9, 2021 in the Bent’s Opera House events center.

MEDINA – An announcement, which Roger Hungerford once said would “blow the medical industry out of the water,” is forthcoming on a project which Hungerford and head medical researcher Jason Maine have been working on for four years.

Hungerford has numerous patents for medical devices, including an intravenous delivery pump and a cardiopulmonary bypass pump. His father Van also is credited with designing the first heart pump for a physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

Roger has formed AMGIS, headquartered in the Olde Pickle Factory on Park Avenue, where work is progressing on a revolutionary approach to intravenous fluid and drug delivery. Fifteen engineers have been working remotely on this project, Hungerford said in an interview.

Most recently, Hungerford and his team developed an advanced clinical guidance software tool which electronically connects and integrates patient data from multiple units, such as seizure pumps, infusion pumps and cardiopulmonary pumps.

Hungerford anticipates his newest invention, an intravenous drug and fluid delivery device, will be ready to submit to the FDA for review in two parts the second half of this year. He said it will be tied up at the FDA for a year before AMGIS can begin manufacturing it in Medina. He anticipates a large number of patents will be associated with the device.

He said the new invention will make every other device in its field obsolete.

“We are using things that have not previously been considered until we engineered all these breakthroughs,” Hungerford said.

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Newspaper editor in 1920s shared many reminiscences, ‘Do you remember?’
Posted 26 February 2024 at 7:30 am

‘When Albion organized an oil company in 1864 to speculate in Pennsylvania oil and lost all the cash it invested?’

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

“Illuminating Orleans” – Vol. 4, No. 9

“I remember when…..”

These words, when uttered by an elder, are almost always guaranteed to send the younger generation scurrying from the room. As we age, we tend to reminisce about “the way things used to be.”

In recent years, social media has facilitated memory sharing, we can find online peers to confirm our recollections, even if the young folk are disinterested.

In the early 1920s, Albion newspaper editor Lafayette H. Beach, used his newspaper, The Orleans Republican, as a platform for his reminiscences. Born in 1856, Beach, for whom Albion’s Lafayette Park is named, was then in his sixties, a decade when the onset of “rememberingitis” is prevalent.

The columns were titled:

“Doings of the Old Days Long Gone By – Do You Remember?” They consisted of memories framed as short questions. These entries capture the flavor and color of daily life some fifty years prior i.e. the 1870s to 1890s.

Here are some, with explanations where necessary:

“When Albion was an open town for gamblers and painted women and when John N. Proctor as Village President and John Cunneen as Village Attorney put skids under these undesirables and moved them out of town?”

“When the rule prevailed with workingmen of one day’s wage for one week’s rent?”

“When Albion belonged to the Town of Barre* and our folks travelled to Barre Center for political caucuses and election in the spring, rain or shine?”

(*The Town of Albion was formed in 1875 from 17,000 approx. acres in northern Barre.)

“When spray rigs were unknown, and worms and bugs had their orchard picnics without fear of poison spray?”

 “When cows roamed the village streets and were sometimes coaxed into backyards and robbed of their milk by mischievous boys who had learned how to filch the lacteal fluid?”

A Dolly Varden outfit

“When venison and bear meat were sold in the local markets every winter?”

“When the butcher used to give away liver and other interior trimmings and never expected that one day they would be exchanged for coin?”

“When crinolines* were the proper thing and women’s full dress skirts were ten yards around the bottom and just escaped the ground?”

(*Crinolines were stiffened or hooped petticoats which made the skirt stand out, thus making the waist appear smaller. They were popular from the 1850’s to the late 1870’s.)

“When Dolly Varden* costumes were in great favor with the ladies?”

(*The Dolly Varden costume was popular in the early 1870s. Named for a Charles Dickens character from his novel Barnaby Rudge, the outfit featured a brightly patterned dress with a polonaise overskirt which was gathered up and draped over a separate underskirt. A flat straw hat trimmed with flowers and ribbons completed the ensemble.)

“When tobacco was a staple farm crop along the Ridge and when Revenue agents used to snoop around and try to catch farmers selling tobacco without a government tax?”

“When the Western New York Hedge Company* induced farmers to edge their farms with hedges which later took money, time and labor to pull out?”

(*The Buffalo Weekly Express, 29 July 1886, noted that a stock company called the Western New York Hedge company had been formed in Medina with a capital of $20,000. On 27 April 1893, the Democrat & Chronicle noted that the company had failed.

“When sugar beets appealed to the farmers and they raised them for the Lyons* sugar factory for $5 per ton, the state paying $1 per ton as a bonus to encourage production?”

(*The Empire State Sugar Company factory was built in the Wayne County town of Lyons in 1900.)

“When Albion organized an oil company in 1864 to speculate in Pennsylvania oil and lost all the cash it invested?”

“When boils* and felons* were a common affliction of mankind?”

(*Boils were painful bumps that formed on the skin, felons were infections that formed on the pads of the fingertips.)

“When the child with a sore throat or stiff neck wound a wool stocking around the neck as a sure cure?”

“When political bigotry was so rampant that no Republican would take a Democrat paper and no Democrat would take a Republican paper?”

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Gas prices go down 2 cents in Orleans in past week
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2024 at 7:11 am

The average price for regular unleaded dipped down 2 cents nationally in the past week to $3.26, while the price is unchanged in New York State at $3.30, AAA reported this morning.

In Orleans County, the price is down from $3.384 a week ago to $3.360 today.

“After spiking more than a dime two weeks ago, the national average for a gallon of gasoline has had a calm week by remaining at $3.27,” AAA said in a statement. “Recent news that the large BP-Whiting refinery in Indiana—which has been offline since early February due to power issues—is reopening soon may have contributed to easing pump price nerves.”

“Additionally, milder weather and longer days are in the forecast, which means the seasonal rise in gas prices is primed to begin. Experts project it will be a slow, wobbly start to rising prices this spring.”

The national average price for diesel is $4.07, down 3 cents from one week ago, and down from $4.43 a year ago. The New York average for diesel is $4.40, down 1 cent from a week ago, and lower than $5.07 one year ago, AAA reported.

Here are the average prices today among WNY counties:

  • Orleans, $3.360
  • Genesee, $3.231
  • Wyoming, $3.350
  • Livingston, $3.373
  • Monroe, $3.231
  • Niagara, $3.219
  • Erie, $3.309
  • Chautauqua, $3.387
  • Cattaraugus, $3.261
  • Allegany, $3.389
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Salmon Foundation taking applications for trades scholarships
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2024 at 8:06 pm

BARRE – The Salmon Children’s Foundation is offering two $1,000 scholarships for high school grads pursuing a career in the trades or attending trade school

Applications are due April 15 and Jim Salmon will award the scholarships on his radio program on May 4. Salmon, a resident of Barre, has hosted the WHAM Home Repair Clinic on 1180 for 34 years.

The Salmon Foundation will award one of the scholarships for a resident of Orleans County and one more for the rest of the surrounding counties which Genesee, Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, and Livingston.

“This is our first scholarship for the trades only,” Salmon said. “For the last 10 years we have done a general scholarship.”

Salmon shifted the focus to trades this year.

“With a commitment to empowering the next generation of skilled workers, we believe in the importance of investing in individuals who are dedicated to mastering a trade and contributing to their communities,” the Foundation states about the scholarship.

For more information on the scholarship, click here.

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Christmas bird count reaches nearly 20,000 at Oak Orchard Swamp
Posted 25 February 2024 at 7:37 pm

2 new species – Ruddy Duck and Lesser Black-backed Gull – found in annual tally

Press Release from Celeste Morien, bird count compiler

Photos courtesy of Celeste Morien, not taken on bird count day: The Lesser Black-backed Gull was spotted for the first time during the Christmas Bird Count.

SHELBY – Despite a cold snap before the Oak Orchard Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 28, the weather was unusually warm, with a low of 48 and high of 50. There was no snow cover.

Open and moving water were not frozen. Rain occurred throughout the day and was occasionally heavy with the only break at midday. Ground fog reduced visibility at times.

Perhaps due to the warm weather, the 37 count participants reported high counts of ten species, and found two new species! These dedicated volunteers found 72 species and 19,890 individual birds. Counters logged 33 hours on foot and 67.75 hours by car. Counters walked 26.5 miles and drove 577 miles by car.

Ruddy Duck and Lesser Black-backed Gull were new species, and were also seen at other locations outside the count circle during the same time period.

Species that remained in the area in greater numbers were Tundra Swan (73), Herring Gull (764), Sandhill Crane (17), Barred Owl (4), Belted Kingfisher (5), Northern Flicker (59), Merlin (2), Common Raven (6), Tufted Titmouse (39) and Eastern Bluebird (86).

Here are the numbers for species seen in the count:

  • Tundra Swan, 73
  • Trumpeter Swan, 2
  • Snow Goose, 1
  • Cackling Goose, 3
  • Canada Goose, 8,151
  • American Wigeon, 4
  • American Black Duck, 25
  • Mallard, 365
  • Redhead, 4
  • Ruddy Duck, 3
  • Common Goldeneye, 2
  • Common Merganser, 63
  • Ring-necked Pheasant, 1
  • Wild Turkey, 78
  • Great Blue Heron, 1
  • Bald Eagle, 12
  • Northern Harrier, 9
  • Cooper’s Hawk, 5
  • Accipiter sp., 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk, 42
  • American Kestrel, 6
  • Ruddy Duck is new to the Christmas Bird Count at the Oak Orchard Swamp.

    Merlin, 2

  • Sandhill Crane, 17
  • Ring-billed Gull, 44
  • Herring Gull, 764
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3
  • Gull sp., 3
  • Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon), 409
  • Mourning Dove, 235
  • Eastern Screech-Owl, 14
  • Barred Owl, 4
  • Short-eared Owl, 1
  • Belted Kingfisher, 5
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker, 43
  • Downy Woodpecker, 71
  • Hairy Woodpecker, 16
  • Northern Flicker, 59
  • Pileated Woodpecker, 6
  • Northern Shrike, 2
  • Blue Jay, 215
  • American Crow, 189
  • Common Raven, 6
  • Horned Lark, 14
  • Black-capped Chickadee, 269
  • Tufted Titmouse, 39
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch, 3
  • White-breasted Nuthatch, 55
  • Brown Creeper, 12
  • Carolina Wren, 4
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet, 24
  • Eastern Bluebird, 86
  • American Robin, 421
  • Northern Mockingbird, 2
  • European Starling, 6,522
  • Cedar Waxwing, 145
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler, 11
  • American Tree Sparrow, 165
  • Song Sparrow, 18
  • Swamp Sparrow, 8
  • White-throated Sparrow, 70
  • White-crowned Sparrow, 6
  • Dark-eyed Junco, 193
  • Lapland Longspur, 2
  • Snow Bunting, 17
  • Northern Cardinal, 92
  • Red-winged Blackbird, 11
  • Brown-headed Cowbird, 3
  • House Finch, 95
  • American Goldfinch, 220
  • House Sparrow, 395
  • Sparrow sp., 6
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Refill with Randy – Father-Daughter Dance provides memories to cherish
Posted 25 February 2024 at 2:48 pm

By Randy LeBaron

One of my favorite events that I have participated in over the years here in Orleans County is the annual Father-Daughter Dance.

Sponsored by Harvest Christian Fellowship, the dance had been established long before I arrived in Albion but once I discovered it it became a cherished family tradition.

I remember the first year when it was just me and my oldest daughter Ashlyn, she was around 5 years old at the time and was more interested in chasing bubbles and eating snacks than dancing with dear old dad.

I wasn’t alone though, I connected with many other dads who were biding their time around the buffet while their girls danced in groups with their friends. It felt like middle school all over again.

Eventually though our patience would be rewarded when the lights would dim and the DJ would announce that he was slowing things down. This was the time for us dads to shine because, even if you could never quite learn the choreography to the The Electric Slide, with a slow song you simply got to hold your daughter tight as you swayed back and forth. It doesn’t sound like much but year after year I would look around and see the same look in every father’s eyes, they knew that a special memory was being made.

And so it was with myself and Ashlyn, we had decided that “Butterfly Kisses” was our song and, even after my other daughters Maddie and Jilly were old enough to join us for future dances, when that song came on I knew who I would be swaying with.

(On a side note, if you are not familiar with the song it talks about a father who one minute is snuggling with daddy’s little girl and the next he’s giving her away at her wedding. I dare any dad to listen to it and try not get teary eyed.)

Every year the dance became that much more special as my three girls and I would dress up like we were going to the prom. Even the year when my father died, and his funeral was a couple hours away, I drove back home through a blizzard so that I wouldn’t miss making more memories with my girls.

Unfortunately, that streak ended 4 years ago with the pandemic, although I was excited to see that it was coming back this year. Originally, when planning to write this article, I had hoped to include new memories and photos from that event but unfortunately my daughters were too sick to attend.

It was a bummer to be sure but at least I will not have to wait a whole year to dance with them since my daughter Ashlyn’s wedding is this coming June. And yes, “Butterfly Kisses” will be playing and yes, I am getting teary eyed just thinking about it.

See you in 2 weeks!
Pastor Randy

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Temps will top 60 on Tuesday and Wednesday, then plummet into 20s on Thursday

Photo by Tom Rivers: The snowdrop flowers are out early this year during an unseasonably warm February. These flowers are in an Albion backyard this afternoon.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2024 at 12:51 pm

The warm February will continue this week in Orleans County with a high of 44 today, followed by a high of 46 on Monday, the National Weather Service in Buffalo said.

Then the temperature reaches 65 on Tuesday and 64 on Wednesday before plunging to a low of 21 on Thursday with a high of 29.

Friday is forecast to be sunny with a high near 45, followed by a sunny Saturday with a high near 56, according to the Weather Service.

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Bitsas family happily gives back while growing pizza, restaurant businesses
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 February 2024 at 11:38 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Vassilious Bitsas, left, and his dad Jim hold a pizza ready for the oven at Cusimano’s. The family, who also owns Country Club Restaurant in Medina and pizzerias in Lockport and Brockport, believe in supporting their community. They regularly donate pizzas to Little League teams and gift cards for benefits and charitable organizations.

MEDINA – If there is one thing the Bitsas family believes, it is in feeding the hand that feeds them.

The Bitsas’ story began in 1980 when Bill Bitsas and his family immigrated from Greece to Toronto, and then to Rochester. The trip from Toronto, through Orleans County, would set the stage for the success that was to come.

Bill worked at a restaurant in Rochester, owned by his maternal grandparents, but when he started looking for an opportunity to expand, he remembered his drive through Medina.

In 1972, with his wife Frances, he opened the Country Club Restaurant on Main Street. Twenty-two years ago, his son Jim and his wife Mindy took it over.

“Our son Michael loves pizza, and we started thinking about opening a pizzeria here,” Mindy said.

The building on Maple Ridge Road, at the corner of West Avenue Extension, was available, and Jim and Mark Massaro bought it. They opened Cusimano’s Pizzeria in 2017, the year son Vassilious graduated from Medina High School.

The pizzeria was named after Massaro’s late mother, Jim said.

When Covid hit in the spring 2020, Cusimano’s donated food regularly to workers at Medina Memorial Hospital, firefighters and policemen.

“We wanted to support the first responders and emergency personnel who had to be on the job every day,” Mindy said. “We continue to donate to them.”

They provide free pizzas to Little League teams after games and to other sporting events. They support benefits and fundraisers with gift cards. This summer Vassilious wants to do something for Little League softball and baseball. They will rotate teams to invite in for free pizza after each game.

The Bitsas family also owns Cusimano’s pizzeria in Lockport and Brockport, as well as the Olive Leaf in Lockport. In Brockport, they support a reading program at the school, where students who complete their reading assignments can come in get free pizza.

In addition to Vassilious, 24, Jim and Mindy have a son Michael, 21, and daughter Elaina, 17, all of whom come in and work in the restaurants.

Bill, who is retired, spends six months in Medina and six months in his home country of Greece.

“We love taking care of our customers and showing the community we appreciate all the customers we’ve had over the years,” Jim said. “Many of them have become good friends.”

Jim said they want their restaurants to feel like home, and for customers to feel comfortable.

The Country Club, at 535 Main St., is a full service restaurant, open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Cusimano’s  sells, pizza, wings, salads, subs, wraps and newly-introduced beef-on-weck. Dessert options include cannoli, ice cream, cheesecake and brownies. Specials are made daily. They are open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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Next up at Lyndonville concert series: E-YAH-Pah-Hah Wind Quintet performing Native American music
Posted 24 February 2024 at 5:52 pm

Provided photo: Pictured from left include Scott Horsington, clarinet; Darren Pulley, oboe; Kae Wilbert, bassoon; Maggie Warren (not pictured), French horn; (pictured on French horn Heather Melnick), and Susan Walders, flute.

Press Release, Lyndonville Presbyterian Church

LYNDONVILLE – Lyndonville Presbyterian Church will present the third in our musical series on March 9 from 3 to 4 p.m. with music from Native American composers arranged for wind instruments and performed by the E-YAH-Pah-Hah Wind Quintet, led by Kae Wilbert of Albion.

Their name means town crier, and the group was born out of the desire to bring the message of classical Native American composers to the public and especially to youth.

Formed in 2023, the quintet first performed at Camp Asbury in Perry, a United Methodist Camp where the group began realizing their goal of exposing youth to Native music. The gift of their lyrical name came from 82-year-old Rosalie Jones, a nationally acclaimed choreographer of Native American Contemporary dance from Cree lineage.

Ms. Jones collaborated with Dr. Ballard, a Cherokee composer of one of the pieces, and with the quintet to choreograph a dance piece. This work was premiered at a performance at Ganondagan Seneca Art and Culture Center.

On October 8, 2023, the quintet performed the pieces at Ganondagan during Indigenous People Day’s Weekend. The Ganondagon Seneca Art and Cultural Center brings programing about the Seneca people to the greater Rochester community. E-YAH-Pah-Hah has now performed at other venues including the annual Democratic Party dinner in Albion.

We are blessed to bring you this unique performance with regional musicians. Help us spread the message and embrace sharing Native American culture and music with our communities. Please join us for an hour of rare entertainment. Admission is $10 at the door, and proceeds go to the church’s capital drive.

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SCORE mentor shares advice for businesses to succeed in small town
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2024 at 9:59 am

Angela Waldriff has offered guidance to about 250 businesses, including Diago Russell of Home Town Lawn Care

Photos by Tom Rivers: Angela Waldriff has owned Ashlee’s Place in downtown Medina for 33 years, withstanding pressure from Walmart, Big Box stores and the online marketplace.

MEDINA – Angela Waldriff opened a clothing store for women 33 years ago in downtown Medina. She has defied intense business competition over years, from Walmart, other Big Box stores and the online marketplace.

Waldriff said she strives to connect with her customers, sending them birthday cards, newsletters and letting them know they are valued. Waldriff sends about 100 birthday cards a month with hand-written notes.

She was at a meeting 12 years ago with the Medina Business Association when two SCORE volunteers – Jon Costello and Jim Hancock – said the community could use more SCORE mentors who offer advice and guidance to small business owners in Orleans County. Costello tends to focus on banking and financing, while Hancock connects businesses to services in the community to make the businesses stronger.

Waldriff has been committed the past 12 years to volunteering as a SCORE counselor through the U.S. Small Business Administration., focusing on marketing and building the business’s brand.

“It is satisfying to being able to help someone with their business,” she said. “It’s bouncing off ideas.”

Angela Waldriff works with Diago Russell of Home Town Lawn Care, a business Russell started about two years ago. Russell is a long-time friend of Waldriff’s son, Tanner. They both graduated in Medina’s Class of 2019.

Waldriff gives people suggestions for advertising and getting the word out about their business, often through social media and being an active participant in the community.

Keys to long-term success come from being reliable, offering a quality service or a product, and showing customers they are cared about, Waldriff said.

She has adapted her business when she sees opportunities. The women’s-only clothing store sells shoes and accessories. Ashlee’s also rents out tuxedos.

“You have to know who your customer is,” she said.

Waldriff also suggests using colors to help make the business stand out. She uses pink in her storefront, in her newsletter, and even with the color envelopes she sends out.

Waldriff has been working with Diago Russell, a lawn care business owner she has known since he was a young kid. Russell, 22, graduated with Waldriff’s son Tanner in Medina’s Class of 2019.

She knows Russell is a hard worker. He has been a personal trainer at the Orleans County YMCA the past three years. He started Home Town Lawn Care about two years ago. His first job was with Zambistro, starting as a dishwasher at age 16 and working up to the salad and service line.

Diago Russell is ready for the busy spring season in the lawncare business. He would like to expand services to have a year-round business.

Russell runs an active Facebook page showing some of the jobs he’s done with lawn care and landscape. He completed the Microenterprise Assistance Program and used a grant through MAP to add equipment including zero-turn mowers, a leaf blower and weed wackers.

Russell will start the busy spring season with one employee and expects to add more. He has run the business with four workers at its peak.

Home Town Lawn Care does lawn mowing, landscape, hedge trimming, power washing, edging, flower bed installation and other tasks.

Russell said he is looking to send out newsletters to connect with customers. He already has a sense of what some customers prefer with their lawn. Home Town Lawn Care has a Google business page and he puts out yard signs when he completes a job.

He enjoys helping people keep their properties looking neat. Most of the customers are in the Medina and Lyndonville area, but Russell said he is willing to drive farther if needed.

“With Home Town Lawn Care, I wanted to produce something here that would stay,” Russell said. “I’m a reliable person and someone you can trust.”

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Hochul praises growth of FFA programs in state

Photos by Tom Rivers: Roy-Hart FFA students work on their float for the Parade of Lights in Medina on Nov. 25. Roy-Hart’s FFA chapter is among the 89 in the state that have started since 2016. Its members are involved in many community projects, as well as competing in FFA contests.

Posted 23 February 2024 at 8:55 pm

Number of ag teachers has grown by 75 percent in NYS since 2016

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

During National FFA Week, Governor Kathy Hochul today announced significant growth in New York State’s agriculture education and FFA Programs. Since 2016, the number of agricultural teachers has grown to 412 in 2023, a more than 75 percent increase from 2016.

In addition, New York’s FFA chapters and membership continue to grow, with 36 new FFA chapters created since 2022 and 89 since 2016, making for a total of 200 FFA chapters established across New York today. The Governor’s 2024 State of the State and FY 2025 Budget both prioritize agricultural education, with the creation of a youth agriculture leadership conference and the dedication of $1.25 million to support the FFA, an increase of $250,000 from last year.

“As a former 4-H kid, I know firsthand how important agricultural education is to developing a generation of leaders that understand where our food comes from, value the work of our farmers, and are committed to supporting our agricultural communities,” Governor Hochul said. “There are endless opportunities for our students to build a career in agriculture, from farming to food science, bio-technology, engineering, veterinary medicine, and so much more. New York will continue supporting our passionate educators and grow these critical programs across the state.”

The increase in agricultural teachers, through programs such as Cornell University’s Agriculture Education and Outreach Program, New York Agriculture in the Classroom, and the New York State FFA Association, is allowing more schools and students to participate in a formal agricultural curriculum, providing a direct boost to the pipeline of students who will go on to enter into the agricultural industry as a future career.

Alongside this growth in teachers, the number of FFA charters and members has also increased. With 200 chapters established in 53 of New York’s 62 counties, there are now nearly 12,000 FFA members in New York State, an increase from 9,300 in 2022. In 2016, State Agriculture Commissioner challenged the FFA to increase its number of charters across the State by 100; the FFA is nearing that goal with 89 created since then.

Albion FFA students march in Medina’s Parade of Lights on Nov. 25.

The New York FFA Association is a youth organization that helps middle and high school students become leaders in a variety of career fields, including agriculture. In the FY 2024 Budget, $2 million was invested to support the New York FFA, Association of Agricultural Educations, and New York Agriculture in the Classroom, and $50,000 was allocated to support the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) program.

The Governor’s 2024 State of the State address and FY 2025 Budget builds on this work, with the Governor continuing to prioritize investments in agricultural education to support workforce development and ensure that agriculture remains a viable industry in New York State.

She has proposed a youth agriculture leadership conference, increased support for the FFA in the Executive Budget by $250,000 for a total of $1.25 million and dedicated $1 million to support the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program and increase the number of certified agricultural educators in the state. In addition, $250,000 is included in the Executive Budget in support of Urban Agricultural Education and $50,000 for the MANRRS program. Together, these programs help meet the growing demand for agricultural education across New York.

National FFA Week, which is celebrated from February 17 – 24, honors the positive impact that FFA and agricultural education programs have on students across New York and the nation.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Our agricultural teachers and FFA leadership are so passionate about building the future of this industry. They are the driving force behind these powerful programs that are helping our young people to learn about the industry and obtain the skills they need to be successful in agriculture and its related industries. When I look at our schools’ ag programs and our FFA students, I’m optimistic and excited about the future of our industry. I want to thank our existing ag teachers and FFA leaders for their dedication and welcome our newest teachers, who are embarking on this significant work of educating our young people. I also want to thank our Governor, and our Legislature, for their continued support of these critical programs that are making a lasting impact on agriculture and will continue to for generations to come.”

The Medina FFA also had a float in Medina’s big lighted parade.

New York State FFA Director Juleah Tolosky said, “Whether it’s chapters starting in new communities or students starting their journey toward relevant, personal success, the story of New York FFA is growth. I am so proud of the work of our teachers to cultivate environments where students have the opportunity to thrive. We know just how much work it takes to go beyond the classroom and beyond the school year to move our communities forward through agriculture.”

New York State FFA President Ella Underberg said, “In New York FFA, we are offered the opportunity to witness so much growth within our members, communities, and chapters. FFA has helped me see new perspectives on what it means to lead and truly be passionate.”

About NY FFA

Administered by Cornell University, NY FFA develops premier leadership, personal growth and career success through activities and opportunities nationwide. FFA was founded by a group of young farmers in 1928. Their mission was to prepare future generations for the challenges of feeding a growing population. They showed that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting – it’s a science, it’s a business and it’s an art.

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Hawley joins highway superintendents in pressing for more CHIPS funds

Provided photo: Assemblyman Steve Hawley speaks at press conference on Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding at the Ogden Highway Department in Spencerport. He was joined by many highway superintendents from Genesee, Orleans and Monroe counties.

Posted 23 February 2024 at 8:24 pm

Press Release, Assemblyman Steve Hawley

SPENCERPORT – Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C-Batavia) attended a press conference on Thursday to call for greater state investments in local roads, bridges and culverts.

Hawley was joined by his colleagues in both the state Senate and Assembly in response to the governor’s proposal to cut CHIPS aid by $60 million in the next fiscal year. The group argued local roads and bridges must be the foundation for any state infrastructure plan moving forward.

Local roads and bridges account for 87 percent of New York state roads, and more than half of its bridges. Additionally, 48 percent of the vehicle miles traveled in New York are on local roads, yet less than 12 percent of the taxes and fees paid to the state by these drivers go toward the maintenance and upkeep of these crucial roadways.

Because of this, Hawley and his colleagues are calling on state lawmakers to increase funding for the CHIPS program by $160 million to a total of $698.1 million annually to help boost the quality of transportation infrastructure across the state. Hawley believes this proposal will help to improve road conditions for residents of Western New York and ensure taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively.

“Local roads are the foundation of our infrastructure here in New York state,” Hawley said. “Despite this, however, the governor has year in and year out neglected to give these vital roadways the funds they need for basic upkeep and maintenance in the state budget. I’ve talked to numerous highway superintendents and board members over the years, and they all tell me the same thing: we need more funding for our local roads.

“Without an increase in programs like CHIPS, these roadways will deteriorate due to the rising costs of materials and repairs,” Hawley said. “This is completely unacceptable. If these were downstate roads we were talking about, we would have no problem getting these funds. Gov. Hochul needs to remember her Western New York roots and give upstate roads the attention and funding they deserve.”

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