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Posted 2 June 2020 at 8:59 am

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Murray seeks input on how to better utilize local assets for tourism and recreation

Photo by Tom Rivers: This bicycle with flowers is pictured last August by the Erie Canal in Hulberton.

Staff Reports Posted 2 June 2020 at 8:51 am

MURRAY – The Town of Murray is hosting a meeting through Zoom videoconferencing today, welcoming feedback on how Murray could better utilize agricultural, historic assets and other natural resources in the community.

The Erie Canal, streams and lakes, historic sites and agriculture support the region’s tourism economy, including agri-tourism, providing recreational opportunities, and represent the natural, historic and cultural richness of the Town of Murray.

As part of its Comprehensive Plan Update, the Town of Murray has organized a “virtual” public forum from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today to explore opportunities to build on these resources to benefit the Town and region.

The forum will include presentations from representatives of businesses and county government, who will share their perspective about these resources and how the Town can leverage them to improve the area’s quality of life and support local businesses. The Town’s planning consultants will describe the Town’s natural, agricultural and historic resources and their significance to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Panelists include James Bensley, Orleans County Planning Director who is working on the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan for the Erie Canal; Dawn Borchert, Orleans County Tourism Director who will discuss tourism promotion; Ken DeRoller, Orleans County Legislator who will offer a county government perspective and share ideas to better utilize the Erie Canal; Max Han of Red Rocks Ponds RV Resort; Amy Machamer, Hurd Orchards owner who will discuss agri-tourism; and Debbie Diehl, owner of the Hickory Ridge Golf Course and Resort.

LaBella Associates will host the meeting an offer an overview presentation.

The agenda includes:

5:30 – 5:35: Joe Sidonio, Town Supervisor, and Chad Fabry, Chairman of Comprehensive Planning Committee, will open the meeting and welcome the participants.

5:35 – 5:45: Barbara Johnston, Planning Consultant for the Comprehensive Plan, will give an overview of the Comprehensive Plan process, briefly summarize the natural, historic, agricultural, recreational and tourism resources in the Town and existing programs and regulations, and present the objectives of this workshop.

5:45 – 6:15: Panelist presentations (5-10 minutes each.) Each panelist will address the following questions from their perspective:

  • What assets or resources in the Town of Murray are most valuable for recreation or tourism?
  • How do these resources or assets support business development and/or recreational opportunities for residents?
  • What are some of the challenges or obstacles affecting tourism and recreation in the Town?
  • Are you aware of any Town zoning regulations that may unreasonably restrict business development relating to recreation or tourism, including agri-tourism?
  • How can the Town or other entities support business development relating to its natural, historic and agricultural resources? Do you have any ideas for specific projects or programs?

6:15 – 6:30: Questions/Discussion with Comprehensive Plan Committee members

6:30 – 6:55: Questions/Discussion with the public

6:55 – 7:00: Wrap-up/Next steps

Check the town’s website (click here) for the Zoom instructions.

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Medina welcomes flowers to downtown
Staff Reports Posted 1 June 2020 at 10:01 pm

Provided photo

MEDINA – The Medina Department of Public Works put out flowers today along Main Street. Mary Lewis, left, and Kathy Blackburn, right, of the Medina Area Partnership’s Beautification Committee and Mayor Mike Sidari were there when the first planters were placed. The Beautification Committee said they are still accepting donations. Stop by Creekside Floral to see Lewis for an application to donate.

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Pullman church hosts peaceful vigil for justice
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2020 at 9:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Susan Daiss, a lay leader at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church in Albion, speaks at a vigil for peace and justice on the church’s lawn this evening.

About 20 people attended the vigil that lasted about a half hour. Darrel Dykes of Medina holds a Black Lives Matter sign.

He attended a march on Saturday in Buffalo. He said the event was “overwhelmingly positive and peaceful” in the beginning. He could tell the atmosphere was changing later in the evening and he left before there was widespread vandalism.

He regrets that most of the news coverage and social media attention on the marches has focused on the looting and detracted from the message of peace and justice.

The church wanted to offer “safe space” to pray and send energy for justice, peace and healing “during these troubling and chaotic times in our nation and communities, as well as observe a moment of silence for all of those lost to racial violence so far this year.”

The group gathers outside the church on East Park Street. They responded to the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died a week ago after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd’s anguish and pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

That death led to nationwide protests, with many resulting in damage to businesses and public spaces, including in nearby Buffalo and Rochester.

Lance Zink, 18, right and his mother Jennifer Bagley light a candle at the vigil. They are from Gaines and recently moved to the area. Bagley said she was grateful there was an opportunity for a gathering to express remorse about George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. She said she supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

Jessica Geroge, chairwoman of the board for the Pullman Church, shared a reflection during the vigil.

“Our world needs so much right now. So much love, and compassion, and kindness, and justice, and peace, and understanding.  We are called here tonight as people of conscience. People outraged by the disregard for human lives that we are seeing, outraged by the divisiveness we see in our communities, and by the dehumanization we are seeing from people in positions of power and authority.”

She urged the group to “love radically”  and challenge “systemic oppression.”

The Pullman church wanted to offer a place during a scary time for the country. Besides the death of Floyd, the country has seen the images of looters, and has endured nearly three months of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are called here tonight to seek a more compassionate, peaceful, and kind world,” George said. “We are moved to be here as people that are committed to seeing our world, our nation, and our society be better for all of us.  We are moved to search not only for justice, but for equality, fairness, equity and peace.”

Al Capurso also sang a song during the vigil – “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.

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Genesee, Orleans nursing team recognized by CDC as TB elimination champion
Posted 1 June 2020 at 7:02 pm

Press Release, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments

Provided photo – Front row: Mary Ellen Messmer, Deborah Restivo, Doris Delano and Kayla Shuknecht. Back row: Kerry Miller, Kerry Ohlson, Carla Wahls and Melissa Pless. Missing from photo: Gail Pettit.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments’ nursing team has been recognized as a Tuberculosis Elimination Champion for 2020 by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Our nurses partner to test and treat TB disease and latent TB infection in migrant farmworker camps. Working together with Oak Orchard Health, a local federally funded qualified health center, they have adapted how they provide directly observed therapy to better match the schedules of their clients,” said Brendan Bedard, Deputy Public Health Director for the Health Departments. “This partnership allows them to provide TB screening and treatment for TB disease and latent TB infection to over 70 migrant farmworker camps in both counties.”

The cross-jurisdictional agreement between the two counties has allowed our nursing team to collaborate on projects such as this for the past 8 years. Not only does this help financially, but allows both counties to provide coordinated services in an effective and efficient manner.

“We are continuing in our efforts as chief health strategists to look at how our departments can combat illness and disability and assessing emerging health needs to improve community health,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “This team approach to monitor and address the needs of priority populations in the community will help in our efforts to eradicate TB. We commend our nursing team for their efforts and diligence.”

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Health Department reports 10th death from Covid-19 at Orchard nursing home
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2020 at 4:54 pm

MEDINA – Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center has suffered another death of a resident from Covid-19, the 10th total at the nursing home in Medina on Bates Road, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported this afternoon.

Orleans County has now had 37 residents die from Covid-19.

The county also has four new confirmed cases, with three of those at Orchard Rehab and Nursing Center. Orchard has now had 45 of its residents test positive for Covid-19. The three new cases include a resident in the 60s, one in the 70s and one in the 80s.

Orleans County also had a community resident in the 20s test positive for Covid-19. The county has now had 234 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since mid-March.

The new positive case in the community was not on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive, the Health Department said.

Orleans County also has had two more people recover from having Covid-19, bringing the total recoveries to 75.

There are currently 19 people from Orleans hospitalized with the coronavirus.

In Genesee County, there is one new confirmed case, a person in the 20s from Batavia. The person was on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.

Genesee has now had 189 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

It has one resident currently hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Click here to see an online map of confirmed cases in Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties.

The facility breakdown shows the total positive cases from those facilities from where the Health Departments have received a positive swab for Covid-19.

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Driver hits house on Rte. 31 in Holley
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2020 at 4:17 pm

HOLLEY – A motorist appears to have had a medical condition this afternoon when he drove off Route 31, went through a front yard and crashed into a house.

The incident happened just after 3 p.m. The driver was headed eastbound on Route 31 when the man went off the northside of the road, just east of the Bennetts Corners intersection.

Joe Sedita was in his house watching TV. He could see a red Toyota Corolla coming through the yard. Then it hit the house.

“It was like an explosion,” he said.

The house has damage to the siding and insulation. Sedita will have it checked to make sure there hasn’t been damage to the foundation and walls.

Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies said the driver was taken by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

Holley firefighters also responded to the scene. The vehicle was removed by Callahan Towing in Holley.

No other information is available.

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Jacobs, McMurray tout endorsements in NY-27
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2020 at 1:47 pm

The major-party candidates in the June 23 special election for the New York 27th Congressional are touting recent endorsements.

Chris Jacobs

Chris Jacobs, the Republican candidate and a state senator from Buffalo, today announced he has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

“It is truly an honor to be the only candidate to receive the endorsement of the NRA for NY-27,” Jacobs said. “This is a testament to my conservative record and experience of fighting for the Second Amendment rights of my constituents as County Clerk and New York State Senator.”

“Whether it is fighting for the privacy of pistol permit holders, battling Governor Cuomo over the unconstitutional SAFE Act, or voting against red flag laws – I have always stood with law-abiding gun owners,” Jacobs said. “I promise to uphold this commitment to protecting our rights, and Western New York gun owners can rest assured they have an ally and a fighter for them in Congress with me.”

Jacobs also has been endorsed of United States President Donald Trump, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), Congresswomen Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Former Congressman Jack Quinn (R-NY), NYS Senator Patrick Gallivan, NYS Assemblyman Steve Hawley, NYS Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, NYS Assemblyman Mike Norris, Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, and the National Right to Life Committee.

He also has the backing of the National Federation of Independent Business.

“I have known Chris Jacobs for 10 years,” said Greg Biryla, NFIB New York State Director. “I have lived in communities he has represented, and I have worked side-by-side with Chris on the most important issues facing NFIB members in Western New York and across our state. Small businesses are uncertain and anxious about their future and they need a champion in Congress who has walked in their shoes, understands their challenges, and will make sure the voice of small business is heard loud and clear in Washington. Chris Jacobs is the right person at the right time to represent the people, communities, and job creators from every corner of New York’s 27th District.”

Nate McMurray

Nate McMurray, the Democratic candidate for the NY-27th District, also is announcing several recent endorsements, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

“I’m proud to endorse Nate McMurray for New York’s 27th Congressional District,” Schumer said. “Now more than ever, this district needs a fighter like Nate to advocate for health care and family farms, and provide much needed support to small businesses during this pandemic crisis. Fortunately, Nate’s extensive experience as a business professional and town supervisor means he will hit the ground running in DC after he wins next month.”

McMurray is a former Grand Island town supervisor. He lost a very close election in November 2018 to Chris Collins, who resigned Sept. 30 and is awaiting sentencing to federal prison on insider trading.

“I’m honored to have Senator Schumer’s support,” McMurray said. “He has dedicated his entire career to being a tireless fighter for New Yorkers. Senator Schumer has protected working families by encouraging job-creating infrastructure projects, protecting Social Security and Medicare and authoring a permanent tax credit to offset the rising costs of college tuition. I am eager to taking office and partnering with the Senator to improve the lives of all Western New Yorkers.”

McMurray also has the backing of the New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. The New York State AFL-CIO is a coalition of 3,000 affiliated public sector, private sector, and building trades unions throughout the state representing 2.5 million members, retirees and their families.

“We are announcing our full support for Nate McMurray,” said Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation President Richard Lipsitz, who represents 140,000 workers across the region. “Our Federation is working hard for him to beat Chris Jacobs. Labor is for social security, Medicare, good and fair wages and we want people in Congress who will defend us in this continued struggle. Nate McMurray represents the best possibility to make that a reality.”

McMurray has received over a dozen endorsements from local, statewide, and national labor unions.

“Nate McMurray is the right person at the right time to clean up a congressional district that was tainted with corruption by the previous office holder. Nate is the endorsed candidate of labor for good reason, he comes from humble working class beginnings and he understands our needs.” said Dan Maloney, President of the Rochester Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO.

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Cuomo says state has made ‘phenomenal’ progress in fighting Covid-19
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2020 at 12:03 pm

WNY expected to move to Phase 2 on Tuesday

Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the state’s residents for their efforts in helping to drastically reduce the number of daily deaths and confirmed from Covid-19.

On Sunday, the state had 54 confirmed deaths from Covid-19. That is the lowest in more than two months and down from the peak of 799 deaths on April 8.

The state also had just below 1,000 new confirmed cases on Sunday out of about 50,000 people tested.

In early April, the state was routinely topping 10,000 new cases a day, when testing was more limited.

“The progress is just phenomenal,” Cuomo said during a news conference today.

The governor said the five counties of Western New York – Niagara, Erie, Allegany, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus – should advance to Phase 2 of the reopening on Tuesday. Orleans, which is in the Finger Lakes, moved to Phase 2 on Friday afternoon.

Cuomo said it is an amazing turnaround to be moving to reopening the economy when only 50 days ago the state was fighting biggest outbreak of Covid-19 in the world. New York City also is on track to reopen at Phase 1 on June 8, less than two months after its hospitals were being overwhelmed by people seriously sickened with Covid-19.

“What we have done with this Covid virus is really an amazing accomplishment if you take a step back and it was all done by the people of this state,” Cuomo said. “What we’ve done is unlike anything I’ve seen.”

The governor said the mass gatherings in recent days could derail the efforts to reopen and get back on track.

“We went from an internationally terrible situation to where we are talking about reopening today,” Cuomo said.

He urged the state to stay united and be disciplined.

“Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,” he said.

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Local public health director on state board of county health officials
Staff Reports Posted 1 June 2020 at 11:04 am

ALBION – Paul Pettit, Public Health director in Orleans and Genesee counties, will serve on the board of directors for the New York State Association of County Health Officials.

Pettit is a past president of NYSACHO, serving a term that started two years ago. NYSACHO was organized in 1979 and is a membership association representing the 58 local health departments in New York State.

The NYSACHO general membership meets monthly, providing a unique opportunity for the exchange of ideas and experiences among local public health officials as well as with other federal, state and local partners. NYSACHO strengthens the provision of local public health programs and services.

Dr. Kevin D. Watkins, Public Health Director of Cattaraugus County, is the group’s new president. Watkins has been the Public Health Director for the Cattaraugus County since 2009. He previously served as a primary care physician, research scientist, public health physician, and director of a faith and health outreach association.

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Posted 1 June 2020 at 8:48 am

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Construction starts next week on new Kendall water district
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2020 at 8:44 am

KENDALL – Construction will start next week on a new water district in Kendall, Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata.

Water District No. 8 will serve about 50 homes on portions of Norway, Creek and Kendall roads. It will also close loops with districts 7 and 9.

The town received a $500,000 grant for the district and also a low-interest loan for about $840,000 for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The state Department of Transportation gave the notice to proceed, the last step in the process, Cammarata said.

The system is expected to be operational in early November.

“We’re very excited about this,” Cammarata said this morning. “We hope to have them up and running this year.”

The waterline ensures residents in the district will have safe drinking water and don’t have to worry about the quantity. It won’t run dry.

Cammarata said the town has pushed to expand waterlines, and also is pushing for Water District No. 10 on West Kendall Road.

“Moving forward the town overall is a better position to entice future residents to move into our community if water is available,” he said this morning. “In order to successfully support our school district and our community, water is needed. It is a staple of life.”

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Orleans confirms 5 new cases of Covid-19
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 May 2020 at 4:21 pm

Orleans County has five more confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total who have tested positive in the county to 230, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported this afternoon.

While Orleans has five new cases, Genesee didn’t have any new cases reported today. Genesee has had 188 people test positive.

Two of the new cases in Orleans County individuals are residents of Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina and the other three are community residents. Orchard has now had 42 residents test positive.

Contact tracing has been initiated and all who have had direct contact with the individuals who tested positive will be notified by Health Department staff.

There is currently no further information to release on ages and location. Mapping to include the positive cases from the weekend will be updated on Monday afternoon, the Health Departments said in a news release.

“Now that we are in Phase 2 we ask residents to continue social distancing, mask wearing, and proper hygiene even in the company of whom we trust the most – family, friends, and co-workers,” the news release said. “We also ask residents to be respectful of the business owners and wear masks while you are in their establishment. If you are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition, call the business and ask for curbside delivery. We can all show people that we care and respect them by continuing these practices to keep everyone safe.”

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Cuomo says standard police misconduct policies needed across the country
Posted 31 May 2020 at 4:06 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called for standardized police misconduct policies across America. He called on the federal government to define excessive force by a police officer by one standard all across the nation.

The Governor said federal and state governments should pass laws requiring police misconduct investigations be conducted by independent, outside agencies – not by local prosecutors.

The Governor also advocated for the release of disciplinary records of officers who are accused of misconduct. He also argued every public school should provide the same level of funding for each child so there are not two education systems – one for the rich and one for the poor.

“The real issue is the continuing racism in this country and it is chronic and it is endemic and it is institutional and it speaks to a collective hypocrisy,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’re very good in this country at telling other people how they should live their lives and how they should act, but we still discriminate on the basis of color of skin. That is the simple, painful truth – but this is a moment for truth.

“Our challenge today is to use this moment, use this energy constructively and demand real positive change. And articulate what the change is that we want. George Floyd must not have died in vain. Mr. Floyd’s killing must be a moment in which this nation actually learned and grew and progressed to make this place a better place.”

The Governor also asked Attorney General Letitia James to include last night’s protests and ongoing protests in her review of all actions and procedures used during recent protests.

At the request of local officials, the Governor deployed additional State Police officers to Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany in advance of planned protests in those cities. State Police are at the ready to help any other municipalities in need and the National Guard is on standby.

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NY gives dentists OK to reopen on Monday
Posted 31 May 2020 at 2:49 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York dentists can reopen statewide tomorrow.

Dentists’ offices will be subject to state guidance on best practices for safety and social distancing. The Governor also updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. New cases, hospitalizations, intubations and deaths are all declining as of yesterday.

“The reduction in New York’s new Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, intubations and other metrics represent tremendous progress from where we were,” Governor Cuomo said. “We have gone through hell and back – we are on the other side and it’s a lesson for all of us, and we need to stay vigilant as we reopen different parts of the state so that we don’t backslide. I am also authorizing dentists to resume their practices statewide starting tomorrow as long as they follow health and safety guidelines that the state is laying out and that we have been discussing with them.”

The Governor also confirmed 1,110 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 370,770 confirmed cases in New York State.

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