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3 candidates nominated for Albion village election
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2020 at 9:29 pm

ALBION – Three candidates for the Albion Village Board were backed this evening at party caucuses for the Republicans and Democrats. The village election is March 18.

Kevin Sheehan

There are two seats open and the incumbents – Peter Sidari and Mattea Navarra-Molisani – aren’t seeking re-election to new four-year terms.

Republicans have backed Kevin Sheehan, a former village trustee, and Christopher Barry. The Democratic Party nominated Maurice Taylor.

Kevin Sheehan, 57, was on the Village Board for eight years and was interested in running for mayor in March 2014. But the Hatch Act derailed those plans and prompted him to step away from the Village Board. (The Hatch Act prevents a federal employee from running in a partisan election.)

Sheehan worked as a union plumber for 27 years before getting a job with the federal VA in Batavia. He was the maintenance mechanic work lead and retired on Sept. 21 after about six years.

“I was upset I had to leave (the Village Board),” Sheehan said this evening after the caucus at the LGI at Albion High School. “There were things I wanted to see finished.”

Sheehan said the village government has moved along some key projects the past six years he has been away from the board, including the solar ray installation by the sewer plant on Densmore Road and the upgrades to Bullard Park.

The South Clinton Street resident said he enjoys getting involved with the inner-workings of the village government.

“I like getting the projects going and figuring things out,” he said.

Sheehan has a new job as a safety compliance consultant for Safety York Solutions. The job gives him lots of flexibility, he said.

Christopher Barry

As a village trustee, he said he would push for grants to help the Police Department. He would consider adding police cameras on utility poles if there was grant funding for the projects.

Sheehan said the new bail reform and discovery laws from the state are straining the Police Department. He said he will be an advocate for the department.

“I think we should pursue grants and give the police the tools they need to give us a better quality of life,” Sheehan said.

Sheehan and his wife Carole have four grown sons.

Christopher Barry, 47, works as sergeant at the Orleans Correctional Facility. He started his career as a corrections officer 16 years ago.

Barry, a South Main Street resident, said he looks forward to knowing more about how the village government works. He wants to ensure there are programs for youth.

Maurice Taylor

He and his wife Lisa have two children, ages 5 and 9.

“I want to be part of the solution and not just sit on the couch and complain,” Barry said. “There was a lot going on in town when I was growing up.”

The Democrats endorsed Maurice Taylor, 53, of McKinstry Street. He retired in 2016 after 27 years as a corrections officer.

Taylor and his wife Ethel raised four children in Albion. They have five grandchildren.

He said he wants to take in active role in the community. He sees himself as a candidate for the people.

“I want people to be more cohesive and to get along,” he said.

The Democrats had their caucus at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church.

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Fishing has $28 million annual impact in Orleans County
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2020 at 4:48 pm

File photos by Tom Rivers: Anglers fish at the Oak Orchard River at St. Mary’s Archer’s Club in Carlton. The Archer’s Club has an annual fly fishing tournament that draws many out-of-state fishermen.

Fishing is big business in Orleans County, according to a new survey by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The total economic impact from fishing in Orleans added up to $27,989,393 in 2017, according to survey results announced today by the DEC. (Oswego was the highest-ranked county with $192.7 million in total economic impact from fishing.)

Out-of-state anglers account for 70 percent of the fishing economic output in Orleans County, $19,620,488 of the $27,989,393. County residents who fish accounted for $1,767,334 in economic activity while other New York state residents outside Orleans represented another $6,601,571.

“The $28 million for a little county like us is huge,” said Dawn Borchet, the county’s tourism director. “I knew this has always been Orleans County number 1 attraction.”

She attends many sportsfishing shows to promote the fishery.

“It’s all good numbers,” she said about the report.

She noted the survey was done in 2017 during a year of flooding from Lake Ontario. The high waters resulted in a lot of bad PR, which likely kept some anglers away, she said.

Julie Schaeffer and her husband Mike hold Julie’s 29-pound, 6-ounce Chinook salmon which won the $4,000 grand prize in 2019 Rotary Fishing Derby. They are pictured on Aug. 18, 2019. The Schaeffers are from Sligo, Pa., and have been fishing in the derby since the 1980s.

The survey breaks the economic benefits into $23,207,903 in direct economic activity, $3,719,674 in indirect effects, and another $1,061,817 in induced effects.

The direct effects result from the home-based and location-specific spending by anglers on each fishing trip – fishing tackle, camping equipment, lodging, groceries and restaurants.

Indirect effects represent subsequent rounds of money spent among local businesses based on the direct effects – the impact of local industries buying goods and services from other local industries.

The last effect, the induced effect, includes all money spent by the employees who receive salaries and benefits from jobs created by angler expenditures and local businesses on purchases such as those from retail clothing stores, restaurants and other local businesses.

The report also says anglers generated $5,110,762 in local and state tax revenue ion 2017 with $3,588,672 from out-of-state fishermen, $1,187,630 from state (non-county) residents and another $334,460 from Orleans County residents. The anglers combined also accounted for $1,159,206 in federal tax revenues.

The mean distance traveled to fish in Orleans County was 154.4 miles. The survey shows that 62 percent said they are satisfied with their fishing in the county.

The report also ranks which species of fish the anglers were primarily trying to catch. The survey reports that 23 percent said they were primarily fishing in Orleans County for Chinook salmon, with 20 percent saying were after brown trout. Another 18 percent said largemouth bass were their primary target and 14 percent said steelhead/rainbow trout.

The DEC does the angler survey every 10 years. It contacts people with valid freshwater fishing licenses in 2017, and does the survey online or by mail.

Combined direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts of freshwater angling in New York State totaled an estimated $2.14 billion and supported 10,961 jobs in 2017. Of this total, out-of-state anglers contributed approximately 26 percent, or $564 million.

Freshwater anglers spent an estimated $252 million at New York fishing destinations in 2017, and an additional $204 million was expended at home or while traveling to fishing destinations. Purchases of fishing equipment and fishing-related equipment such as boats, motors, etc., generated an estimated $1.8 billion in additional expenditures, the DEC said.

The DEC measured the at-location expenditures by fishermen and Orleans was ranked 15thout of 62 counties.

Here are the top 20 counties for at-location expenditures by anglers

  1. Oswego, $32.61 million
  2. Jefferson, $18.41 million
  3. Delaware, $13.46 million
  4. Warren, $11.72 million
  5. Niagara, $11.67 million
  6. Essex, $11.39 million
  7. Chautauqua, $9.69 million
  8. St. Lawrence, $9.32 million
  9. Sullivan, $9.24 million
  10. Franklin, $9.12 million
  11. Monroe, $6.61 million
  12. Erie, $6.35 million
  13. Hamilton, $6.08 million
  14. Wayne, $5.68 million
  15. Orleans, $4.98 million
  16. Clinton, $4.69 million
  17. Yates, $4.01 million
  18. Cayuga, $3.81 million
  19. Oneida, $3.75 million
  20. Ulster, $3.11 million

Source: NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

(Click here to see the full fishing survey results from the DEC.)

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Libertarian candidate also in the running for NY-27
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2020 at 1:00 pm

Duane Whitmer

An upcoming special election to fill a vacancy in New York’s 27th Congressional district includes a Libertarian Party candidate who runs an accounting business.

Duane Whitmer of Hamburg doesn’t like the numbers with the federal deficit or the big money in politics.

The Republican Party has backed State Sen. Chris Jacobs while the Democrats have endorsed Nate McMurray for Congress. The special election is expected to be on April 28.

The Libertarian Party, in endorsing Whitmer, said the “two-party system continues to fail us.” Whitmer said he will make an impact in the race, far more than the 2 percent vote expected for a third-party candidate.

Whitmer grew up in rural Franklinville and earned an accounting degree from Fredonia State College. He opened his own accounting business at age 25. He said he enjoys helping small business owners work through the government’s red tape.

He has been backed by the Orleans County Libertarian Party, which is led by chairwoman Chase Tkach, who ran for county legislator last year.

“We are very pleased to endorse Duane based on his standing as a small business owner and accountant who works directly with small business,” Tkach said. “His tax plan, his support of the second amendment, and his opposition to foreign wars and aid benefits many people in this county.”

Whitmer said he appreciates the support from the Libertarians in Orleans County. He received the party’s endorsement last week.

“I am pleased to receive the endorsement Orleans Libertarian Party County Committee,” Whitmer said. “We have demonstrated through our unity and focus in my candidacy for NY-27, we are a major party in this race. We are contrasting ourselves from the real third party, the Republican Party, which is still infighting, and failing to coalesce around a real candidate.”

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4 with minor injuries after 3-vehicle accident on 31 in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2020 at 11:05 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Four people were taken to Medina Memorial Hospital this morning after a three-vehicle accident on Route 31, just west of the Allens Bridge Road intersection.

Firefighters on the scene said none of the four taken by ambulance had serious injuries. They were transported by two ambulances from COVA and one from the Medina Fire Department.

The accident occurred at about 9:45 a.m. with slick roads. No other information is available on the cause of the accident or the identification of the people involved.

Frank Strasburger, owner of Frank’s Auto Center in Albion, and Albion firefighter Fred Piano sweep debris from the road after the accident. Frank’s towed the vehicles from the scene.

Albion firefighter Rob Conner was among the emergency services personnel who responded to the scene.

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Ortt accepts award from Conservative Party for his voting record
Posted 28 January 2020 at 10:06 am

Provided photo: State Sen. Robert Ortt accepts an award from Gerard Kassar, chairman of the State Conservative Party, during a reception in Albany on Monday.

Press Release, State Sen. Robert Ortt

ALBANY – State Sen. Robert Ortt, a U.S. Army combat veteran, was honored on Monday evening by the Conservative Party of New York State for his 100 percent conservative voting record on legislation in 2019.

Ortt received the “Legislative Scorecard Award” at the Conservative Party’s annual convention in Albany. Ortt pointed to his proud defense and support in protecting the conservative values of New York’s residents.

“I am honored to be recognized by the Conservative Party of New York State and thank its members for their support over the years,” said Ortt. “While Conservative values are constantly under attack by divisive New York City regressives, standing up in defense of our values is something I cherish. I will never shy away from defending those in our state who believe in the conservative principles our nation was founded upon.”

Over his recent years serving in the Senate, Ortt has fought back against Gov. Cuomo and his New York City allies. Not only has he advocated for veterans and military families, but he has also fought to protect the sanctity of life and has pushed back against some of the nation’s most extreme social policies such as the “Abortion on Demand” act.

Ortt has also continually ranked as one of the most pro-Second Amendment legislators in New York State, recently receiving an “A” rating from the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.

Since joining the New York State Legislature, Ortt has ranked as one of the most conservative legislators in the State Legislature and has received the top conservative rating in three of his five years of service.

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Mychajliw staying in Congressional race
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 January 2020 at 7:46 am

Stefan Mychajliw

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw isn’t giving up on the 27th Congressional seat. Mychajliw didn’t get the backing on Saturday from eight county chairmen in the district. They instead picked State Sen. Chris Jacobs to run in a special election, which will likely be on April 28.

Mychajliw, in a letter to supporters posted on his Twitter, said “political insiders” chose Jacobs.

“The fix was in,” Mychajliw wrote. “I fought hard against the process. The political machine handpicked a fellow establishment moderate masquerading as a conservative. The ‘insider’ process is what makes people angry.”

Mychajliw said he will seek Republican support in a June 23 primary, where Republican voters pick the candidate, not the county chairmen.

“I’m  now doing the same thing Donald Trump did four years ago; take on the establishment,” he said in his letter. “Us against them. It’s a fight that’s worth it.”

The winner of the special election will finish about eight months of a term vacated with the resignation of Chris Collins last Sept. 30. Collins has since been sentenced to 26 months in federal prison for insider trading and lying to the FBI.

The general election in November will be for a full two-year term. The 27th District is the most Republican-leaning in the state.

“I’m running in a June Republican primary to let true conservatives choose our nominee in NY27,” Mychajliw said. “President Donald Trump ran for the ‘forgotten Americans’ taken for granted by political elite. Just like you, I’m sick & tired of them screwing us over. I’ll fight like hell for you.”

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Officials say canal plan in Orleans County comes at perfect time

Photos by Tom Rivers: Ed Flynn, director of planning at LaBella Associates, leads a meeting last week at Hoag Library, where the public was invited to rank priority projects for better utilizing the Erie Canal.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 January 2020 at 7:34 pm

State has many millions available for canal communities with a strategy

ALBION – An effort by several Orleans County municipalities to develop a waterfront plan for better utilizing the Erie Canal couldn’t come at a better time, local officials said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing for a $300 million “Reimagine the Erie Canal” program, which is in addition to regular pots of funding from the state for canal projects and other economic development.

The state wants to see a plan for the projects, with assurances the money will be well spent and will make an impact in the canal communities.

Construction of marinas in Albion and Holley were given red stickers, considered a top priority. Community members at a meeting last week also want to see better signage on the canal pointing people to local businesses and attractions. Boaters and kayakers also could use more amenities, such as launches and docks.

“The timing is incredible,” said County Legislator Ken DeRoller, who is a committee member for the Canal Corridor Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Plan. “We’re hitting a sweet spot.”

The committee had a meeting last week at Hoag Library, asking community members to help prioritize projects and areas of focus on the canal.

The county received a state grant for $62,000 to develop the plan and hired LaBella Associates as a consultant for the project. Each municipality along the canal in the county has a representative on the committee, except Medina, which has developed its own plan. The county committee members are representatives from the villages of Albion and Holley, and the towns of Albion, Murray, Gaines, Ridgeway and Shelby.

Ed Flynn, director of planning at LaBella Associates, told the local officials he believes the collaborative approach will stand out when the state considers which projects to give money.

“Orleans County is unique in developing a plan,” he said.

LaBella created poster boards with images and descriptions of potential projects. People at the meeting were given five stickers and asked to put them by projects. They were given two red stickers for highest priority projects, then one each for green (second highest), yellow (third highest) and blue (fourth highest).

LaBella will tabulate the results and give and report during the next meeting, which hasn’t been set.

DeRoller said the lack of a canal waterfront plan has hurt the communities’ chances in getting state grant funding in the past. But that should change now that the canal towns and villages are identifying projects.

“This plan is so imperative to give us leverage,” DeRoller said. “The attractiveness is we’ve never had a plan before so we’ve been kind of left out.”

The plan so far has identified four goals to boost the canal in the county.

Goal 1: Leverage the Canal’s Recreational Resources

(The county and corridor communities should capitalize on the canal’s wealth or land and water-based recreational resources.)

• Attract, develop and grow boating and kayaking facilities

• Provide rental facilities for bikes and kayaks

• Promote year-round sporting competitions to encourage use of recreational opportunities

• Upgrade trail surfaces for bikes

Goal 2: Stimulate Tourism along the Canal

Adding more events would draw visitors and also get local residents more enthused about the canal. Some ideas include launching a barge and bridge festival, where bridges and barge would be closed off for events, such as community dinners, brewfests, wine events, musical performances and food festivals.

(Attraction of local, regional and national visitors will promote the long-term sustainability of the Canal Corridor.)

• Provide full-service marina facilities along the canal

• Increase amenities for boaters and kayakers

• Hold year-round events on and near the canal

Goal 3: Accelerate Revitalization of Corridor Communities

(Investments in villages, downtowns and anchors along the corridor will improve the economy and quality of life for Orleans County residents and benefit businesses and tourists.)

• Provide financing and incentives to targeted businesses that will improve the vitality of village and hamlet centers

• Incubate locally based new businesses along the canal

• Redevelop sites on and near the canal

• Provide financing for agricultural siphoning and facilitate its deployment

• Provide directional and directory signage for businesses in village centers and hamlets

Goal 4: Promote the Corridor’s identity, sense of place and history

Public art projects that feature oxen and mules, two animals critical to the early success of the canal, would promote the canal and could be a fun community project drawing visitors.

(The corridor’s unique character and culture should be promoted, protected and leveraged to advance revitalization of Orleans County and corridor communities)

• Develop branded signage compatible and complaint with canal sign standards for mileposts, history, gateways and directions

• Provide informational signage at key points to tell the corridor’s natural and man-made history

• Revitalize historic and cultural buildings and sites

• Increase access to natural and agricultural areas

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Mobile Dental Unit headed to Medina, now offering vision screenings, too
Posted 27 January 2020 at 4:57 pm

(Editor’s Note: The tour by the Board of Education has since been pushed back to March due to scheduling conflicts.)

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

MEDINA – The Medina Board of Education on Thursday will tour Oak Orchard Health’s Mobile Dental Unit, which will be at Oak Orchard Elementary to provide services to their students.

For the past 15 years, the Medina School District has collaborated with Oak Orchard Health to provide oral health services to students and their families. Since 2005, the Oak Orchard Health Mobile Dental Unit has traveled throughout Orleans County to various schools, providing dental cleanings and exams, dental treatment, and education to children and adults.

The Mobile Dental Unit travels to these schools on a rotating basis with visits lasting from two to eight weeks. OOH is excited to announce that they now provide vision screenings in addition to our dental services on the Mobile Dental Unit.

The Mobile Dental Unit visits the school district every year for a couple of months to provide cleanings, dental exams, x-rays, and fluoride applications for cavity prevention. If needed, they also provide fillings, extractions, sealants and stainless steel crowns.

A simple vision screen can help identify if a child has vision issues and needs further evaluation. To date, 45 students have used the new vision screening service.

For more information about this service or to schedule an appointment, contact Denise Beardsley, Mobile Dental Unit coordinator, at or call her at 585-267-9236.

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GOW Task Force members encouraged by progress battling opioid crisis

Provided photo: Taking part in Wednesday's GOW Opioid Task Force meeting were, from left, Christen Ferraro, task force coordinator; Donald O'Geen, Wyoming County district attorney; Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties; Laura Paolucci, Wyoming County public health administrator, and Matthew Kuhlenbeck, Greater Rochester Health Foundation president.

Posted 27 January 2020 at 12:34 pm

In Orleans County, however, overdose deaths increased from 2017 to ’18

By Mike Pettinella, GCASA Publicist

BATAVIA – On a national level, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses has decreased over the past two years, but that trend doesn’t give the nearly 450 members of the GOW Opioid Task Force any reason to relax their efforts in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

That was the message communicated by the coalition’s leaders on Wednesday during their quarterly meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road in Batavia. About 100 people representing a cross-section of organizations from the three counties attended.

“We’ve seen a 5 percent decrease from 2017 (in the number of opioid-related deaths) and that’s a positive thing … but we need to stay the course, even if the numbers are going down,” said Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties.

Pettit’s statement is especially true when considering the data from the GOW counties, particularly Genesee, which had an opioid overdose death rate of 36.2 per 100,000 people in 2017 – one of the highest in the United States.

That number went down to 21.1 in 2018, but in Orleans County the rate rose from 17.1 to 29.5 from 2017 to 2018 while in Wyoming County the rate stayed the same at 27.

The opioid epidemic started due to physicians’ overprescribing drugs such as Oxycodone, Pettit said, and evolved into serious problems with heroin and fentanyl after laws were passed that restricted access to the prescription drugs.

Drug overdoses resulted in nearly 800,000 deaths to Americans from 1999 through 2018, including 47,590 from opioids in 2018 alone, Pettit reported.

Pettit applauded the work of the GOW Task Force which has taken on the crisis by pooling the resources of the three counties and developing six “work groups” that meet on a regular basis – Access to Care, Community Education, Data, Family/Loved Ones/Allies, Law Enforcement and Naloxone.

He also noted the significance of funding provided by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

“The funding is very important in that it enabled the task force to hire someone (a project coordinator) with a dedicated focus,” he said. “They see the value in what we are doing.”

The meeting also featured reports from the chairpersons of the work groups and task force evaluators, updates from the GRHF President Matthew Kuhlenbeck and GOW Task Force Coordinator Christen Ferraro, and a summation of the state’s new bail reform law by Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen (see separate article below).

Access to Care – John Bennett and Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, executive director and project director, respectively, at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and Holli Gass, clinic director at Spectrum Health and Human Services, outlined the numerous services and programs that have been instituted in all three counties – programs such as expanded jail services, childcare for patients, crisis housing, certified peer recovery advocate training.

Bennett also said that a 16-bed detox center and recovery recreation center in Batavia and a 25-bed women’s and children’s residence in Albion are on the horizon (with the recovery center at the former Bohn’s Restaurant expected to open by the end of February).

Community Education – Sherri Bensley, a GCASA employee, explained the role of this work group is to facilitate the task force meetings, including setting up venues, speakers and vendor tables, and to coordinate media campaigns with the three county’s hospitals.

Specific ongoing projects are educating the senior population about opioids and the handling of prescription medications and assisting the task force in distributing “Dispose Rx” packets.

Data – Brenden Bedard, director of community health services and deputy public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said the role of the evaluators is to ensure that task force initiatives are data-driven, to get that data to the community and to use the data to support grant applications.

In addition to the county overdose death rates mentioned above, he reported that there were 23 opioid overdose deaths in the three counties in 2019 – down from 38 the previous year – and that Naloxone (Narcan) administration – given to those who are overdosing from opioids – has decreased in all three counties since 2017.

Bedard also said that more than 2,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected during “take back days” in both 2018 and 2019.

Families, Loved Ones and Allies – Sue Gagne, coordinator of the Recovery WOW program, said that the goal of her work group is to support families of those in active addiction or recovery and families of those who have died as a result of drug use.

She reported that the group plans another Overdose Awareness Day this summer at Austin Park.

Law Enforcement – Batavia City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch touted the tri-county law enforcement collaboration on projects such as drug drop-off and jail programs, and participation in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative that creates non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

Naloxone – Chairperson Charlotte Crawford reported that more than 1,300 people have been trained in the use of Narcan, including all of the peer recovery advocates. A video, “Narcan After Care,” can be viewed on the GOW Opioid Task Force website.

Tom LaPorte, Ph.D., research scientist with the Center for Human Services Research, University of Albany, said that evaluation objectives include reaching 1,800 users per year with opioid information, deploying peers or recovery coaches to assist 90 percent of opioid patients and increasing the number of people trained to administer Narcan by 500 per year.

“This provides us with useful feedback that providers of services can use for data-driven decision-making,” he reported.

In closing, Kuhlenbeck and Ferraro spoke of the importance of making sure grants were available for programs in rural counties, and set goals as follows:

• Establish and implement policies and protocols at United Memorial Medical Center, Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital, and for contacting Peers/Wyoming County Community Health System Recovery Coaches on call every time a person arrives at the emergency department due to opioid use.

• Establish a three-prong approach: peers called, bridge scripts are given, and naloxone training is provided.

• Schedule and conduct doctor-to-doctor trainings and conversations in each county on opioids, non-opioid pain management alternatives, and limiting opioid prescription writing.

• Conduct at least two community education events around non-opioid pain management alternatives, and create and publish two press releases or news articles on non-opioid pain management alternatives.

• Communicate with Buffalo and Rochester hospitals to share policy best practices and advocate for and locally lead action toward improvements.

The next quarterly meeting of the GOW Task Force is scheduled for April 23 at a site to be determined.

Wyoming County DA: Bail reform law limits access for those in addiction

The Wyoming County district attorney on Wednesday spoke out against New York State’s new bail reform rules, stating that they will adversely affect law enforcement’s efforts to assist those struggling with drug addiction.

Speaking at the GOW Opioid Task Force quarterly meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia, Donald O’Geen said that state lawmakers’ decision to require automatic appearance tickets or “released on own recognizance” status for all misdemeanor and non-violent felonies means that many who are using opioids or other drugs won’t have access to treatment programs provided in local jails.

“This law takes us back to where we we’re 30 years ago,” he said, adding that the powers-that-be in Albany passed these new rules without the input of the police agencies or attorneys who deal with crime on a regular basis.

Bail now can only be set on certain qualifying offenses, such as first- and second-degree assault, rape, manslaughter, sexual abuse, but suspects must be set free for crimes such as second-degree burglary, grand larceny, non-violent homicides “and every single drug case.”

“We want to treat the users, but you have to (be able to) get after the dealers,” he said.

O’Geen said the reform measures are based upon a “false narrative” – that poor people are languishing in jail because they can’t make bail.

“That is definitely not true,” he said. “The ones incarcerated are the flight risks and those who present risks to public safety.”

The district attorney also noted that the time restrictions to turn over documents to defense lawyers – in most cases, 15 days – put a huge burden on police, district attorneys and labs.

“This is not CSI New York. You don’t go to a commercial break and the labs (results) are done,” he quipped.

He said that the new rules, which took effect on Jan. 1, have created a “lawlessness system” where many of those charged don’t show up for their court appearance.

“If they don’t show up, we have to send a second notice,” he said. “If they fail to appear again, we have to wait another 48 hours and send out another notice before we can issue a warrant for their arrest.”

O’Geen said pressure is being put on Gov. Cuomo to modify the law, but criticized the State Assembly for “holding fast” to the current provisions.

“I think the only way it will happen (modifications) is through his budget,” he said. “That’s how it passed in the first place.”

According to a Siena College poll released on Tuesday, more New Yorkers are taking O’Geen’s view.

The poll found that 49 percent of respondents said the changes were bad for New York while 37 percent said they were good for the Empire State, a far cry from April 2019 poll numbers that showed that 38 percent said it would be bad and 55 said it would be good.

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Pack 35 in Medina competes in annual Pinewood Derby
Posted 27 January 2020 at 11:50 am

Photos courtesy of John Dieter, Cub Master of Pack 35

MEDINA – Cub Scouts of Pack 35 in Medina competed in their annual Pinewood Derby on Sunday. There were 17 Webelos and Cub Scouts from the pack in the annual event to determine the fastest car made the Scouts.

In picture for top winners from left to right are Nate Surdel (First Place), Mason Berry (Third Place), and Sam Gray (Second Place).

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Albion to face key N-O basketball tests
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 27 January 2020 at 11:06 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s Anthony Freeman and his league leading Purple Eagle teammates will host Akron on Tuesday and visit Wilson on Friday.

Looking to maintain a slender lead in the tight Niagara-Orleans League boys basketball title race, Albion faces a pair of key contests this week at home against Akron on Tuesday and at Wilson on Friday.

Currently at 7-1, Albion holds a half game lead over 6-1 Newfane followed by Akron at 4-3 and Wilson 3-3. Newfane hosts defending champion Medina (4-4) in another key contest on Tuesday and the Panthers visit Akron on Friday.

The Albion girls basketball squad likewise faces a pair of key games as the Purple Eagles work to stay in the N-O title race.  Currently at 6-2, Albion visits Akron on Tuesday and then hosts league leading Wilson (7-0) on Friday.

In Genesee Region League boys basketball action Lyndonville has a pair of must win contests, at Attica on Wednesday and at home against Pembroke on Friday. Currently at 5-3 in G-R action the Tigers are looking  to snap a two league game losing streak and battle back into the Division 2 title race. Elba currently leads the division at 7-1.

The N-O All-League individual swimming championships will be held this week with the boys meet at Akron on Wednesday and the girls competition at Newfane on Friday.

Weekly Schedule
Boys Basketball: Medina at Newfane, Akron at Albion, Wilson at Barker, Kendall at Wheatland-Chili, 7 p.m.
Girls Basketball: Barker a Wilson, 6 p.m.; Newfane at Medina, Albion at Akron, 6:30 p.m.; Lyndonville at Attica, Wheatland-Chili at Holley, Kendall at Alexander, 7 p.m.
Wrestling: Lyndonville at Akron, Holley-Kendall vs. Brighton at Kendall, 6 p.m.

Boys Basketball: Attica at Lyndonville, Wheatland-Chili at Holley, Alexander at Kendall, 7 p.m.
Swimmng: N-O All-League boys meet at Akorn, 5:30 p.m.

Girls Baksetball: CSAT at Barker, 6 p.m.; Pembroke at Lyndonville, Holley at Elba, Kendall at Oakfield-Alabama, 7 p.m.
Wrestling: Albion at Lyndonville, Wilson at Holley-Kendall, 6 p.m.

Boys Basketball: Albion at Wilson, 6 p.m.; Roy-Hart at Medina, Newfane at Akron, 6:30 p.m.; Lyndonville at Pembroke, Elba at Holley, 7 p.m.
Girls Basketball: Akron at Newfane, 6:30 p.m.; Medina at Roy-Hart, Wilson at Albion, 7 p.m.
Swimming: N-O All-League girls meet at Newfane, 5:30 p.m.
Wrestling: Lyndonville at CSAT, 6 p.m.

Boys Basketball: Oakfield-Alabama at Kendall, 2:30 p.m.; Tonawanda at Roy-Hart, 7 p.m.
Girls Basketball: Roy-Hart vs. Holland at NCCC, 5:30 p.m.

N-O Standings
Boys Basketball: Albion 7-1, Newfane 6-1, Akron 4-3, Medina 4-4, Wilson 3-3, Roy-Hart 2-6, Barker 0-8
Girls Basketball: Wilson 7-0, Newfane 6-1, Albion 6-2, Barker 3-5, Roy-Hart 3-5, Akron 2-6, Medina 0-8

G-R Standings
Boys Basketball
Division 1: Oakfield-Alabama 7-2, Byron-Bergen 6-2, Attica 4-4, Pembroke 4-4, Alexander 2-6, Holley 1-8
Division 2: Elba 7-1, Notre Dame 6-2, Lyndonville 5-3, Wheatland-Chili 1-5, Kendall 1-7
Girls Basketball
Division 1: Pembroke 7-1, Byron-Bergen 6-2, Oakkfield-Alabama 6-4, Alexander 4-5, Attica 2-6, Holley 0-8
Division 2: Elba 7-1, Notre Dame 5-3, Wheatland-Chili 5-3, Lyndonville 2-6, Kendall 1-6

Ridgeway Fire Company installs officers, honors dedicated members

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Firefighters salute as Charles Smith rings the bell in memory of Royce Caleb, a 55-year-member of the Ridgeway Fire Company, and his wife Bev, who both died in 2019.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 January 2020 at 11:04 am

Harriet Petrie gets a hug from Ridgeway firefighters Tyler Luckman and Jason Bessel, after presenting them with a set of New York hooks and Haylo LED safety flares, in memory of her late husband Larry.

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company installed new officers and recognized dedicated members at its annual banquet Saturday night.

David Green of East Shelby was master of ceremonies, and began the evening by introducing distinguished guests, which included local law enforcement, politicians and representatives from other fire companies.

First Assistant Chief Kristin McAdoo presented training certificates to those firefighters in attendance, followed by presentation of awards for years of service. Service awards went to Dave Monagan, 50 years; Robin Gardner and Brian Withey, 40 years; Dell Stork, his son Ron Stork and Guy Scribner, 30 years (Dell also served 30 years in the Medina Fire Department); Francis Woodward, Tom Rushing and Kristin McAdoo, 25 years; and Matt Natale, 10 years.

Chantelle Blackburn chose April Fearby as recipient of the President’s Award.

“She’s here all the time and does things we didn’t even know needed to be done,” Blackburn said. “She deserves this award more than anyone.”

Fearby presented tokens of appreciation to several members who assisted her throughout the year.

Joshua Klotzbach, who was chosen Firefighter of the Year, was not able to attend because he was serving in the military with the National Guard.

Ladies Auxiliary president Tracey Hendrick announced Harriet Petrie as the Auxiliary Member of the Year.

“She is always here and really took over the reins,” Hendrick said.

Firematic officers of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company for 2020 were sworn in Saturday night by Orleans I, Dale Banker (standing at rear). From left are Zachary Blackburn, EMS lieutenant; Chantelle Blackburn, EMS captain; Tyler Luckman, firematic captain; Matthew Natale, second assistant chief; Kristin McAdoo, first assistant chief; Jason Bessel, deputy chief; Donald Marchner, safety officer; Michael Kelly, fire police captain; and Rick Harmer, fire police lieutenant. Partially visible standing at rear is installing officer, Dale Banker, Orleans I.

Orleans I Dale Banker was the installing officer, who swore in the following officers:

Executive officers – Donald Marchner, president; April Fearby, vice president; Chantelle Blackburn, secretary; Samantha Raduns, treasurer; Zachary Blackburn, sergeant-at-arms; and trustees Paul Wengrzycki (three years), Kyle Morgan (two years) and Francis Woodward, one year.

Firematic officers – Patrick Kelly, chief; Jason Bessel, deputy chief; Kristin McAdoo, first assistant chief; Matthew Natale, second assistant chief; Tyler Luckman, firematic captain; Kyle Morgan, firematic lieutenant; Donald Marchner, safety officer; Michael Kelly, fire police captain; Chantelle Blackburn, EMS captain; and Zachary Blackburn, EMS lieutenant.

Officers of Ridgeway Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in at their annual banquet Saturday night. From left are Harriet Petrie, chaplain; Joelle Brown, secretary/treasurer; Melissa Harmer, vice president; and Tracey Hendrick, president.

Officers of the Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in by Ridgeway town clerk Karen Kaiser. They are Tracey Hendrick, president; Melissa Hansler, vice president; Joelle Brown, secretary/treasurer; and Harriet Petrie, chaplain.

April Fearby thanks those who helped her during the year, after being named recipient of the President’s Award during the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company’s annual installation dinner Saturday night. Seated at left is first assistant chief Kristin McAdoo.

Charles Smith conducted a service paying tribute to 55-year member Royce Caleb. He and his wife Bev, who was a member of the Auxiliary, died during 2019.

Smith rang a bell three times, which signifies a firefighter has fallen.

Tracey Hendrick recognized Auxiliary members for their years of service. They were Effie McAdoo, 25 years; Donna Lockwood and Joleen Bessel, 10 years.

As has been customary each year since her husband died, Harriet Petrie has presented a gift in his memory to the fire company. Saturday night she gave firefighters Jason Bessel and Tyler Luckman a pair of New York hooks and a set of Haylo LED safety flares.

Don Palmer, a member of the fire company for 35 years, stood up to thank the department for allowing him to remain a member, in spite of the fact he cannot see.

“Even though I am totally blind, they accept me, and for that I say thank you,” Palmer said.

The Rev. Dan Thurber closed the evening with a prayer, saying how thankful he was, as a resident and pastor of the church just down the road, to have the Ridgeway Fire Company protecting them.

Executive officers of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company who were installed Saturday night are, from left: Zachary Blackburn, sergeant-at-arms; Chantelle Blackburn, secretary; Samantha Raduns, treasurer; Francis Woodward, director for one year; Donald Marchner, president; April Fearby, vice president; and Paul Wengrzycki, director for three years.

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McMurray releases plan to protect and expand healthcare coverage
Posted 27 January 2020 at 10:28 am

Press Release, Nate McMurray for Congress

HAMBURG – Nate McMurray, Democrat running in the special election in Western NY’s 27th District, today released his proposal for protecting and expanding health care for seniors, working families, rural communities and small businesses.

McMurray said the time for action is now due to a growing rural doctor shortage and many rural hospitals struggling; the high cost of health care for small businesses, entrepreneurs and so-called “gig workers”; nearly 30 million people still uninsured, and Trump’s new attack on Medicare.

“Insurance companies and big pharma are choking our economy, making people sick and driving families into bankruptcy,” McMurray said. “The cost of insurance is up, deductibles are up, and co-pays are up, and the CEO’s of drug companies and insurance companies are taking home millions. Meanwhile, rural hospitals can’t find doctors, and Trump is getting ready to cut Medicare. The system we have isn’t working for too many people, and we need to change.”

McMurray put a particular focus on Medicare, which provides healthcare to America’s seniors.

“Medicare is one of the great successes of our nation,” he said. “Before Medicare, half of all seniors couldn’t afford health insurance, now everyone is covered because taxpayers and employers put money into the system with every paycheck.  How dare Trump and his allies threaten to cut benefits. Our seniors paid for those benefits all their lives, and as Congressman, I’m never going to let Washington break that promise.”

McMurray slammed Washington’s approach to health care in general, and called out members of Congress for taking corporate PAC money from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, while protecting their profits, over helping families and small businesses.

“It’s corrupt,” said McMurray.  “Big pharma pushes cash to Congressmembers like they pushed opioids into our communities. The politicians they buy should be protecting us but they don’t, so we need to cure this sickness by electing people who will do the job.”

McMurray’s 4-Point Healthcare Platform includes:

  1. Supporting rural hospitals by expanding debt forgiveness programs for medical professionals and doctors that work in rural hospitals and clinic and increasing funding for rural hospitals
  2. Creating a single payer health care system while protecting patients’ rights to choose their doctors
  3. Blocking Trump’s Medicare cuts
  4. Battling the opioid epidemic by reimbursing local hospitals and clinics for overdose treatment, and training all first responders in usage of Naloxone to save overdose victims’ lives.

“Medical costs help cause two-thirds of all bankruptcies, and the average cost for a small business for family coverage is over $20,000 per employee,” McMurray said. “How many more small businesses have to go under and how many more families have to go bankrupt before we are willing to change? It’s time to break free and give Americans the health care they deserve.”

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Parlato staying in NY27 race, now focused on Republican primary in June
Posted 26 January 2020 at 9:04 pm

Press Release, Beth Parlato for Congress

Beth Parlato

Yesterday, the county chairs held a closed-door meeting to pick career politician Chris Jacobs for the GOP ballot in the special election. This decision does not reflect the voice of the voters of NY27.

Jacobs has voted to raise taxes and fees, funded Planned Parenthood, has been weak on the Second Amendment and voted to provide free college tuition. As a Republican in name only, he is the wrong fit for the constituents in the reddest district in New York State.

As the true conservative, our message has resonated with voters. In six short days we had over 2,500 voters sign our pick Parlato petition. Our campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, our grassroots continue to build and we are gaining momentum as our movement continues to motivate and excite voters throughout the district.

We believe the voters deserve to have their voices heard. Therefore, we will continue our campaign and look forward to winning the Republican nomination in the June primary.

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Medina kicks off winterguard season with competition in Orchard Park
Posted 26 January 2020 at 4:18 pm

Photos and article courtesy of Medina Mustang Band

MEDINA – Medina opened its winterguard season on Saturday, competing in Orchard Park. The varsity guard is shown in the top photo.

Winter guard is a hybrid art form that combines elements of music, dance and military-like precision marching in a competitive arena into a total entertainment package. Winterguard started about 30 years ago and involves the manipulation (spins, tosses, flips) of equipment (rifles, flags, sabers) while moving around the performance space.

Medina is sponsoring two guard units this season – junior varsity and varsity. Both guards performed in competition for the first time this season at Orchard Park.  It was a large show with 26 guard units from around Western New York and Canada.

The junior varsity guard competes at Orchard Park.

The junior varsity guard consists of 16 students in grades 5-9. Their show this year is “Reach for the Stars” and is about how each one of us has a big dream, places it in a star and sends it into the sky. In life you add more stars in the sky and reach for the ones you realize in life.

There were four guards in the junior varsity class and Medina took third place with a score of 50.66.

The varsity guard consists of 15 students in grades 9-11.  This year their show is “Metamorphosis”  about the decision to conform to what is around us or become the person you truly want to be. In the varsity class, Medina took third place with a score of 55.83.

Medina’s next competitions are Feb. 8 in Victor,  Feb 15 in Batavia,  Feb. 29 at Marcus Whitman,  March 7 in Lancaster,  March 14 in Medina for its home show,  and March 21 in Jamestown. The championships are March 28 at Gates-Chili.

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