Genesee’s Covid positive rate third highest in state in past week
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 November 2020 at 10:07 am

Genesee County has one of the highest positive rates for Covid tests in the state in the past week, according to data from the state.

Genesee’s rate of 6.8 percent in the past seven days is topped only by the 7.3 percent in Allegany County and 7.0 percent in Erie County.

Orleans County’s positive rate is about half of Genesee’s in the past week at 3.3 percent.

There are several counties with positivity rates at 5 percent or more in the past week (with the county’s region in parentheses): Cortland (Central NY), 6.4 percent; Oswego (Central NY), 5.1 percent; Monroe (Finger Lakes), 5.7 percent; Wyoming (Finger Lakes), 5.7 percent; Orange (Mid-Hudson), 5.1 percent; Putnam (Mid-Hudson), 6.5 percent; Chemung (Southern Tier), 6.0 percent, Cattaraugus (WNY), 6.4 percent and Niagara (WNY), 6.3 percent.

To see more information on the data from the state, click here.

So far Genesee hasn’t been designated in a focus zone that can result in more restrictions on gathering sizes, and reduced capacity for businesses. Schools also would need to test 20 percent of students and staff weekly in a yellow zone or go to remote instruction in an orange or red zone.

TIER 3: Genesee, with a population over 50,000 and less than 150,000, is listed in the tier 3 by the state for metrics for determining the focus zones.

Here are the criteria from the state for Tier 3 counties in the three different focus zones:

Yellow: Geographic area has 7-day rolling average positivity above 3.5% for 10 days and the geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average

Orange: Geographic area has 7-day rolling average positivity above 4.5% for 10 days and the geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average.

Red: Geographic area has 7-day rolling average positivity above 5.5% for 10 days and the geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average.

TIER 4: Orleans is considered a Tier 4 county (population less than 50,000). The metrics for the focus zones in Tier 4 include:

Yellow: Geographic area has 7-day rolling average positivity above 4% for 10 days and the geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average.

Orange: Geographic area has 7-day rolling average positivity above 5% for 10 days and the geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average

Red: Geographic area has 7-day rolling average positivity above 6% for 10 days and the geographic area has 15 or more new daily cases per 100,000 residents on 7-day average.

The state also is considering other factors in a focus zone:

  • The geographic areas have a minimum of 5 new cases per day on 7-day average for geographic areas (i.e. ZIP code) with 10,000 or more residents, minimum of 3 new cases on 7-day average per day for areas with less than 10,000 residents.
  • The increase in positive cases or positivity reflect community spread and cannot be mostly explained by a cluster in a single institution (e.g. nursing home, factory, college, etc.) or household transmission.
  • The State Department of Health, in consultation with the local department of health, finds that based on the above listed metrics, and other epidemiological factors, such as an upward trend in total and daily hospital admissions from residents of this geographic area, that a zone designation is appropriate.
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Public hearing today on county’s proposed $73 million budget
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 November 2020 at 8:58 am

ALBION – There will be a public hearing on Orleans County’s proposed $73 million budget today at 5:30 p.m.

The hearing will be through Zoom video conferencing, rather than an in-person session due to Covid-19 restrictions. Click here for instructions on being a part of the meeting.

The budget would increase spending by 2.16 percent, from $71,711,638 to $73,262,025, and taxes would go up 1.66 percent or by $299,798 — from $18,009,699 to $18,309,497.

The tax rate would increase by 1.11 percent or 11 cents, from $9,87 to $9.98 per $1,000 of assessed property.

The county faces uncertainty in state reimbursements. It also will be paying 20 percent more in retirement contributions. That’s because the stock market was at a low point on March 31, and that’s the date the state comptroller takes the valuation of the retirement fund to set retirement rates for 2021.

The county also faces a 19 percent increase in health insurance premiums for 2021 due to rising pharmaceutical costs in the county’s health plan.

The county also is in a two-year annual sales tax diversion of $190,274 for “Fiscally Distressed Health Facilities,” which was imposed by the state.

The budget meets a goal of county legislators in maintaining core services while staying within the state tax cap.

The budget also maintains funding to outside agencies. They didn’t face a funding cut, and they didn’t get an increase.

Those agencies and organizations in the budget include: $240,000 to Cornell Cooperative Extension, $190,000 to Orleans Economic Development Agency, $92,500 to Soil & Water Conservation District, $10,000 to be shared among four public libraries, $5,000 to Mercy Flight, $4,000 to Sportsmen Federation, and $3,000 to GO Art!

The tentative budget would eliminate 8 full-time jobs and 12 part-time positions from 2020. The county will down 8 full-time positions from 333 to 325.

The fee for solid waste and recycling service will be $216, which is a 2percent increase from 2020.

The budget also calls for 2 percent raises for the seven county legislators. Their pay will go from $18,496 to $18,886 for the chair, $13,985 to $14,265 for the vice chair, and from $12,329 to $12,576 for the other five legislators.

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Firefighters respond to fire, smoke-filled house in Clarendon
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 November 2020 at 1:03 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

CLARENDON – Many local firefighters responded to 4581 Holley-Byron Rd. to a house that was filled with smoke after a fire in a side wall.

Nobody was home in the house owned by Will Grathouse when firefighters were dispatched to the scene at about 11:30 p.m. on Sunday.

The top photo shows the ladder truck from Holley. There were also personnel from at least Clarendon, Holley, Fancher-Hulberton-Murray, Albion, Barre and South Byron fire departments, as well as Monroe Ambulance, the State Police, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and the Orleans County Emergency Management Office.

Smoke spews from the windows in the top floor of the house.

Firefighters broke windows in the first floor of the house to let out smoke.

Earl Jenks of the Clarendon Fire Company was at the controls for Clarendon’s ladder truck.

Doug Bentley of the Barre Volunteer Fire Company was among the group of firefighters who were at the scene well past midnight.

No other information is available.

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Jacobs: Congress should pass Covid relief bill before heading home for holidays
Posted 29 November 2020 at 5:57 pm

Press Release, Congressman Chris Jacobs

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is calling for Congress to remain in Washington, D.C. until a new Covid-19 relief bill is passed. This comes as the Democratic Leadership in the House released an amended legislative schedule with fewer voting days prior to the holidays.

“The idea that Congress should go home for the holidays and wait until the new year when a new Presidential Administration takes office is reprehensible,” Jacobs said. “I have spoken with restaurants, small businesses, families, and local elected officials – I can say with full authority there isn’t time left.”

Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced new Covid-19 restrictions and business shutdowns throughout Western New York. Similar restrictions have been put in place in numerous other states, and national weekly jobless claims have risen the past two weeks for the first time since July.

“Many small businesses in my district are facing bankruptcy, and they are unsure if they can keep employees or survive a second shutdown without further assistance,” Jacobs said. “My colleagues and I have been trying to free $138 billion in already appropriated Paycheck Protection Program funds for months; however, the Speaker and the Democratic Caucus have refused to work with us. This is aid we can deliver right now.”

“Additionally, local governments are struggling due to revenue losses and Covid-19 expenses. I have co-sponsored the SMART Act to deliver billions in additional funding to these governments – without it, they will have to lay off staff and cut critical public safety, EMS, and educational services our constituents rely on,” Jacobs said.

The SMART Act (H.R. 6954) is bipartisan legislation that would provide $500 billion in aid for state and local governments. One-third of this aid, roughly $161 billion, would be sent directly to local governments.

“We need to get a deal done and there are bipartisan solutions we can pass right now. With cases spiking, employees being laid off, schools closing, and small businesses facing uncertain futures, we have no time for the political games the Speaker has been playing with this aid,” Jacobs said. “The American people elected me, and my colleagues, to work for them, and they need us to act now. We should not be leaving for the holidays until bipartisan, targeted relief is passed and signed.”

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In WNY, Finger Lakes hospitalizations from Covid have quadrupled since Nov. 1
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2020 at 5:39 pm

The number of people hospitalized from Covid-19 has more than quadrupled in both the Finger Lakes Region (which includes Orleans County) and the Western New York Region since Nov. 1.

On Nov. 1 there were 92 hospitalized from Covid in the Finger Lakes and that increased to 371 on Nov. 28. In Western New York, the number hospitalized from Covid went from 90 on Nov. 1 to 386 on Nov. 28.

That is a greater increase than state-wide, which has seen hospitalizations triple from 1,151 on Nov. 1 to 3,372 reported today by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office.

The state was at a low point in hospitalizations from Covid with 410 on Sept. 5. It crossed 1,000 for the first time in the fall surge with 1,023 on Oct. 22.

That is still way down from the Covid peak of 18,825 Covid hospitalizations on April 12. State-wide the hospitalizations from Covid was at 10,350 on May 1, 3,121 on June 1, and 878 on July 1. The hospitalizations have been rising fast this month from the 1,151 on Nov. 1, to 2,124 on Nov. 16, and then passing 3,000 on Nov. 25 with 3,056.

Western New York has the highest rate of positive Covid tests among the regions of the state. Orleans County is in the Finger Lakes Region, which has the second highest average the past 7 days.

Genesee and Orleans Health Department haven’t updated the local stats since Wednesday. They said they will provide new numbers of cases and hospitalizations on Monday.

Gov. Cuomo has been providing daily updates, even on Thanksgiving. Here are the state-wide numbers the past four days:

  • Today: Of the 157,320 tests reported on Saturday, 6,723 were positive (4.27% of total). Total hospitalizations are at 3,372. There were 55 Covid fatalities on Saturday.
  • Saturday: Of the 152,355 tests reported on Friday, 6,063 were positive (3.98% of total). Total hospitalizations were at 3,287. There were 42 Covid fatalities on Friday.
  • Friday: Of the 219,442 tests reported on Thursday, 8,176 were positive (3.72% of total). The 219,442 tests was a new record for most tests in one day. Total hospitalizations were at 3,103. There were 39 Covid fatalities on Thursday.
  • Thursday: Of the 217,721 tests reported on Wednesday, 6,933 were positive (3.18% of total). Total hospitalizations were at 3,056. There were 67 Covid fatalities on Wednesday.

“If you look at New York relative only to New York, you see the numbers going up — not as fast as in other states, but the numbers are going up,” Cuomo said today. “It’s nice that we’re doing better in a national and global context, but it’s irrelevant to one extent because we have to deal with the issues that we have here in New York relative to New York.”

He expects the numbers will continue to go up through the holiday season past Jan. 1.

“This is a new phase for Covid — call it the winter phase or the holiday phase or the surge upon surge phase — and we are spending this weekend talking to health officials and local governments about the plan for that next phase,” Cuomo said. “We’ll be speaking to that tomorrow and this week with more details. In the meantime, everyone needs to stay vigilant: wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain social distance, and above all stay New York Tough.”

Here are some of the recent testing rates for zone clusters in counties near Orleans.

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Medina businesses, homes urged to enter ‘Village of Lights’ contest
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2020 at 12:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA — These homes on Gwinn Street in Medina are lighted up on Saturday night. Medina celebrated its Olde Tyme Christmas on Saturday and wants to continue the festivities with a contest for businesses and residences who decorate for the holidays.

There will be seven categories in the contest, which is open to businesses and homes in the village. Entry forms should be submitted by Nov. 30 with the decorations in place by Dec. 7. Click here to see an entry form and click here to see the rules for the contest. Only decorations on the front face and front lawn of houses will be judged.

Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:

  • Christmas Spirit – Traditional ($50)
  • Christmas Spirit – Innovative ($50)
  • Most Whimsical ($50)
  • Best Use of Lights ($50)
  • Probably Visible from Space ($50)
  • Best Business – Christmas Spirit ($50)
  • Best Business – Community Spirit ($50)
  • Grand Champion – $200.

This house on Gwinn Street already is packed with decorations and lights.

Many of the downtown businesses have their storefronts decorated for the holidays including Della’s Chocolates.

The Book Shoppe also has a display in its front window.

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Artist nears finish of large mural of flowers in Medina
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2020 at 9:20 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Chris Piontkowski of Cheektowaga is nearly done with a mural on a cinder block building on Proctor Place, a one-lane road that starts near Rudy’s Diner. He is shown on Saturday afternoon.

Piontkowski is working on the fourth large-scale mural in Medina since July. The address for the flower mural is listed as 428-436 Main St. It is on the opposite side of a building that includes the “Canalligator” mural.

Piontkowski first applied gray primer on the wall. He then put geometric patterns and then painted local, native species of pollinator flowers.

Piontkowski, 34, said he will be back on Saturday to put the finishing touches on the project.

This is how the wall looked before Piontkowski went to work on it.

The Form Foundation spearheaded the effort for the four new murals. Besides the one by Piontkowski and the Canalligator, Chuck Tingley painted “Fake It Til You Make It!” on the back of 410 Main St. Tingley painted a traveler joined by dog and a cat on a journey.

Julian Montague, an artist from Buffalo, also painted a mural of geometric characters on two walls of a gym at the corner of Pearl Street and West Avenue.

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Sunday Morning Positive Perks from your Sassy Small Town Missus
Posted 29 November 2020 at 8:00 am

Beloved dog turns 17 after an eventful year

Last time my girl Weezie was featured in a post she was turning Sweet Sixteen! It has been quite a year for our little one. She has taken a lick’in but keeps on tick’in. She is tough. If you look up tough in the dictionary it says “able to endure hardship or pain”. And that she has.

By standards, not a perfect shih tzu at birth. I was told she was not worth much as a breed because she was bow legged, with an overbite and a hernia. That was OK because we just wanted to love her. She was given to us free at 6 weeks old.

On the day we met her we went to look at the litter and chose her because she was the prettiest mix of dark and light haired. Her first grooming left her pure blonde. Just the beginning of 17 years of never knowing what to expect from this little stinker. We named her Ellie.

As time went on Ellie turned to Eloisy and it was not soon after that she became Weezie. It just fit her. Of course we have other names for her like Peanut, Stinky and Cujo. Peanut since she is cute as a little peanut, Stinky for obvious reasons and Cujo because she has always been in charge and knows exactly how to put species in their place. The vet told me when she was a puppy it was my fault because I trained her to be the boss instead of me. Because of that she has been the boss of the entire house.

In her 17 years she has been a sibling to 4 dogs and 3 cats. She has outlived 5 of them. None of them have ever got the upper hand with her, except one, an old golden retriever we adopted. For some reason she respected her. At 15 she had a patch to repair one eye and after turning 16 she lost her other eye. I wish I could blame her cantankerousness on her age and challenges but she has always had a lot of attitude and has never been shy about showing her annoyance.

Age has made her very stingy with hugs and kisses too. Even though she doesn’t hear or see well, she still has plenty of energy. Everyday she gets her steps in and will do anything, even be sweet, if she thinks it will score her some watermelon or hamburg & rice. As long as you do not pick her up, she is happy as can be.

Age 16 awarded her her very own ShePen. A little caged in area with her own bed and pee-pee pads so she doesn’t have to feel bad about not being able to get herself outside on her own to tinkle anymore. But when you really love, you will happily make allowances to make that which you love happy. Just seeing her little wiggle as she walks around the yard or hear her little voice as she yells at me, makes it all worth it! As long as she is happy, we are happy too.

If you are a parent to an aging pet you know that they struggle at times, but we do what we can to make life easier. So Happy Birthday to little Weezie, we hope that this year will find you full of the joy and attitude that brings smiles to those who know you best.

To see Weezie as a Puppy visit My Blog live online (click here) and catch up on Weekly Photo Perks and past Sunday Posts. Like and share your comments.

Debbie London

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Photos from the ‘Reverse’ Parade of Lights
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2020 at 9:21 pm

Medina’s popular parade finds a way to continue during Covid-19 pandemic

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – The Grinch joined the display at Parker’s Pit in Middleport during today’s 12th annual Parade of Lights in Medina. This year the event was a “reverse parade” with the floats and displays stationary at the Medina Central School campus.

Covid-19 restrictions prevented a large crowd from gathering in the downtown and on Park Avenue. This time spectators were limited to passing by inside vehicles.

Shelby firefighters, including Zach Petry up high, decorate a fire truck at about 4:30, before the start of the parade at 5. They were one of 20 floats or decorated fire trucks in the parade. That is down from the 35-40 that are usually featured in the parade.

Shelby and Medina used their ladder trucks to hold up this giant American flag at the start of the parade.

There were some complaints on the Parade of the Lights Facebook page about a wait of an hour or more with traffic bottled up in the village. Other commenters appreciated the chance to attend a parade and holiday celebration with so many community events cancelled since March due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Mary Lou Tuohey, left, and her daughter Nicole continued their streak of participating in all 12 parades with Case-Nic Cookies.

Members of the Cobblestone Service Unit of the local Girl Scouts get their float ready for the parade. They have been consistent participants for several years. They were grateful the temperatures were above freezing, unlike in many previous years.

This group was part of the display for Party Tents Plus. They posed for a group photo before the start of the parade at 5. The parade lasted until 8 p.m.

The Surgical Services Department at Orleans Community Health created this display to thank the community for its donations and support.

The Szatkowski family – from left, Wyatt, mom Sara, Lukin and dad Andrew – passed out stickers and collected money for the fourth annual toy drive. This year instead of toys the collection of money will go to Community Action and the Medina Area Association of Churches for their holiday efforts with local children and families. MAAC is doing a toy drive and Community Action is giving gift cards to families.

The Medina Railroad Museum, last year’s grand prize winner, was back for the reverse parade this year. The winners in several categories could be announced on Sunday.

Lynne Menz of the Orleans County Tourism Department used plenty of duct tape on the tourism float.

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A video tour of Medina’s Christmas parade
By Cheryl Wertman Posted 28 November 2020 at 7:16 pm

Photos and video by Cheryl Wertman – While virtual events have become the norm in this Covid pandemc year the annual Medina Christmas parade went on as scheduled this evening but in reverse. The floats were parked in the parking lots of the Medina schools and a steady parade of cars drove by to view them from the Oak Orchard Elementary School to the Wise Middle School and ending at the High School where Santa on a float was there to greet all. Here the Cobblestone Girl Scouts float was the first in line. To view a video of the parade, Click Here.

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Medina native will close Christmas Cottage in Lockport this season
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2020 at 2:13 pm

Chris Parada says he is acting on advice from Health Department

File photos by Tom Rivers: Olivia, 2, meets Santa Claus at the Christmas Cottage in Lockport in this photo from Dec. 20, 2018. Christopher Parada created the cottage and has been portraying Santa at the site the past decade.

LOCKPORT – Christopher Parada, a Medina native who has been portraying Santa at a popular Christmas Cottage in Lockport the past decade, announced today that the site won’t be open to the public this holiday season due to Covid-19 concerns.

Parada and his father Daniel built the cottage at Day Road Park in the Town of Lockport. It opened in 2010 and welcomes about 8,000 to 10,000 visitors in recent years, where people can meet Santa.

Chris Parada and his father Daniel built the 15-by-15 foot cottage, which opened in 2010 at Day Road Park in the Town of Lockport. Parada has dedicated the site to the memory of Charles W. Howard, who ran a Santa School in Albion from 1937 to 1966.

“The mission was to provide a safe and magical Christmas experience free of charge for the community,” Parada posted on Facebook today.

He had a plan in place for the cottage to be open this season for in-person Santa visits. Families would come in one at time. He had a Plexiglass screen made that resembled a “snow globe” to provide added protection from Covid.

But Parada today said the Niagara County Health Department has deemed visiting Santa in-person as a “very high risk activity” because the cottage doesn’t have the proper ventilation and the site is near micro-cluster zones with high Covid spread in Niagara and Erie counties. The Health Department has strongly recommending Parada not open the site to the public this year.

“It’s not worth the risk to all of you or my family with the recent spikes in WNY,” Parada said. “No amounts of hand sanitizer, social distancing or mask wearing can replace the possibility of a child or loved one getting sick. Every family has a story that walks through the door and I enjoy visiting with each one of you and hearing Christmas wishes but it’s also my moral obligation to provide a safe environment and not promote an event that might spread Covid.”

He said the site will remain decorated for the holiday season and people are welcome to stop by for photos with the cottage.

“Maybe on a warm night Santa will be outside waving to cars as you drive by,” Parada said. “Stay safe and healthy this season, we’ll see you next year! Remember to always believe in the magic of Christmas.”

Parada, a 2002 graduate of Medina High School, is active in Western New York theater, and is the executive director of the Historic Palace Theatre in Lockport. He manages the theater and also is a performer, writer and director

He first portrayed Santa in high school. When he was a teen he learned about Charles Howard, the founder of a Santa Claus School in Albion. He operated it from 1937 until his death in 1966. Parada learned about the local community’s connection to Howard from his late grandmother, Elaine Janele, who was the children’s librarian at the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina. She created the Santa Claus story hour at the library.

When Parada and his father built the Christmas Cottage, they dedicated it to Charles W. Howard. Parada has memorabilia from Howard’s school and Christmas Park in Albion on display at the Christmas Cottage in Lockport.

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Medina library closed until Dec. 7 to allow for cleaning
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2020 at 1:47 pm

MEDINA – Lee-Whedon Memorial Library announced it will be closing its building to the public until Dec. 7 due to possible exposure of Covid-19 at the library.

There are also rising number of Covid-19 cases in the community. The building at 620 West Ave. will be off-limits through Dec. 5, with a planned reopening on Dec. 7.

“We will be disinfecting the facility and staff will be tested prior to reopening,” according to a statement from Kristine Mostyn, Library Director, and David Schwert, Board President. “You can still borrow electronic books and movies during this time. We look forward to seeing you in the library soon.”

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Travel Thoughts by Kim
By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 28 November 2020 at 1:28 pm

Let’s go on an adventure together….to Alaska!

Some of the stunning views you’ll see while cruising through the Inside Passage of Alaska.

I know you don’t really want to think about the cold, right now…neither do I! But, I’m still going to take you on an adventure to Alaska via a wonderful cruise I took with a friend in June 2016.

I always dreamed of going on an Alaskan cruise – in fact, when I got married in 1985, we talked about going on an Alaskan cruise for our honeymoon. Since that didn’t happen, this particular adventure was still on my Bucket List. So, when a friend from church asked if I’d go with her, I jumped at the chance!

There are a few different cruise lines that go through Alaska and a few different ways to experience the cruise. We heard that Holland America was the best when it came to Alaska, so that is the line we chose.

As far as ways to experience the cruise, here are the basic ones (there are some other variations, but these are the usual ways): 1) you can do just the “sea” part – a week long cruise with stops at various ports where you can get off the ship and explore.

2) “Land and Sea” – usually two weeks where you tour via land, first – typically parts of the Yukon and Denali and then you do the sea part as described in # 1.

Just a sample of the incredible views from the train ride through the Skagway area countryside and into the Yukon.

3) “Sea and Land” – same as # 2, but the parts are switched so you do the cruise part first and the land part second. There are several other variables, depending on which cruise line and which cruise within the cruise line you choose – I suggest you get books from all the cruise lines and review / compare each of the cruises each line offers.

I can say, though, that based on what I hear from others who have gone and from my own experience, that Holland America is likely the best cruise line when going to Alaska. Of course, that is personal opinion, but many I’ve talked to agree.

Another tip I picked up from talking to others who did the whole shebang is to pick a cruise that does the Land portion first – you do a lot of moving luggage and different hotels and modes of transportation, so it tends to be more tiring and then you get on the cruise ship for a week and it is a more relaxing way to end the trip. Something to think about, anyway.

After giving all the different ways to see Alaska, we decided to do just the Sea version. We gave it a lot of thought and, at the time, we liked only being gone for one week, instead of two or more, and we were happy with the areas of Alaska the trip covered. So, that was our choice, at that time, and it was wonderful. However, I do sometimes feel sad I didn’t get further into the Yukon and Denali, so I would love to go, again, and do the whole experience.

When you go is a big factor, too. If you pick peak season – mid to late summer – it can be more pricey. But, if you go too early or late in the season, you could run into bad weather and some places you might hope to see/do may be closed or inaccessible. We decided to go the end of June and that year it ended up being perfect. No matter when you go, pack for anything! We ran into rain, snow, super cold, and amazing sunny 80 degree days – all in the same week! We were so glad we packed everything from short sleeves to a winter coat!

But – the most important advice I can give you is that this may be one cruise where you consider paying a bit more for a balcony/veranda room. We did and were so glad we did. I’ll get into the specific times it was so well worth the price as this article goes on, but, for now, suffice it to say – I recommend you give it serious consideration and if your budget will allow – DO IT!

No photo will ever do justice to the spiritual beauty of Glacier Bay, Alaska.

Our cruise sailed out of Vancouver and was a round trip that also ended in Vancouver. And the first day was all at sea cruising through the Inside Passage. This was our first hint that we were glad to have chosen a balcony room. For most of this day, we cruised close enough to land to get stunning views from the comfort of our private balcony. We also spent a great deal of time exploring the ship and taking in some of the wonderful activities.

Our first port stop was Juneau – the capital and third largest city in Alaska. We chose an excursion that included whale watching tour and a hike through a rain forest to see Mendenhall Glacier. We saw LOTS of very active whales and even some playful sea lions – it was amazing!

It was my first whale watching experience – I have since gone whale watching in Hawaii and off the coast of Portugal, but the best one is still the one I did in Alaska. Mendenhall Glacier was awesome and the hike through the rain forest gave us sightings of several bald eagles, cute little mouse-like creatures we never did find out what exactly they were, and a huge porcupine sitting in the tree right above our heads just watching us walk by and posing for photos.

The next day was my second favorite day of the entire trip – Skagway. We fell in love with Skagway – a lovely, picture perfect little mining town. It was also my favorite shore excursion. We chose a train ride that took us through the Skagway area country side and two miles into the Yukon (so, we did get to see some of it, even though we didn’t choose the Land and Sea option) and back. If you go and have this train ride as an option, I highly recommend it. I also recommend you pay the extra money to get to ride in the luxury car – so worth it! Instead of the bench seats with two per seat, everyone had a comfortable high back leather swivel seat with unobstructed views of the scenery….and free mimosas – just sayin’! The views were spectacular as the train snaked through the country side along the edge of mountains with valleys, rivers, and waterfalls galore.

This tunnel in Ketchikan is in the Guinness Book of World Records because it is the only tunnel in the world where you can go through it, over it, around it, and when the tide is right, you can also go under it.

The next day was THE BEST day and the one day that absolutely makes getting a balcony room so well worth the extra cost, if you can manage it – Glacier Bay. I hear that not all cruises go through Glacier Bay – some of the bigger ships can’t go in. So, if there is one decision that takes your trip over the top, it is to choose one that includes going through Glacier Bay – seriously!

This is a bay that is full of glaciers and views that will literally take your breath away – I stood there and cried, it was so awe-inspiring. It is a National Park and state law prohibits ships to play loud music or make any loud noises, so everyone was encouraged to make as little noise as possible. It was perfectly silent as we cruised through the glaciers – even the seagulls weren’t making noise. The only noise was an occasional sound like a gunshot and crack and splash as a piece of a glacier broke off and fell into the water (called “calving”) to make small icebergs.

It was eerie, peaceful, reverent, and amazing. And, we got to experience it from the deck chairs on our balcony – not standing on deck with several hundred other people – and we could pop in the room every once in a while to warm up without losing our spot. And, we thought we might miss part of the views because we were only on one side of the ship, but the tour goes around one way and then goes back around, so both sides of the ship gets to see every inch of the bay.

Our last port was Ketchikan – Alaska’s First City and claims to be the Salmon Capital of the World. Ketchikan was an interesting and fun little town, but more commercialized and touristy than the other places we visited. We didn’t take a formal shore excursion in this port – we just explored on our own and took a trolley to a Totem Pole Park that was really nice.

Our last day was cruising through the Inside Passage back to Vancouver – a great way to wind down the trip.

Alaska is amazing! I really do want to go back and do the whole experience – Land and Sea. However you choose to do your visit, I’m sure you’ll find it to be magical.

Visit my blog post for more photos and info from my amazing Alaskan Cruise:

Happy Adventuring!

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Historic Childs: Electricity powered many labor-saving devices in homes (Part 3)
Posted 28 November 2020 at 10:46 am

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director

CHILDS – In the past two weeks, we have looked at how electricity first came to the Hamlet of Childs and the dramatic effect it had on changing how people lived their lives.

It was said, “Electricity is the only servant you will ever need!” Times had changed. In the early-1800s, if you were fortunate enough to have rugs in your home, the homemaker would probably clean them by hanging them over a line outdoors and then swatting them with a carpet beater.

Fast forward 50 years or more and the Victorian home might have the Eureka Pneumatic Cleaner as seen above in the Ward House in the Hamlet of Childs.

Actual operation of this vacuum was cumbersome at best. It was a heavy, two-person endeavor that required someone to pump the handle to create suction and someone else to direct the wand to the area to be cleaned.

Moving forward to the decade known as the Roaring ’20s, we find a much improved cleaner called the Airway as seen here at the Vagg House in Childs.  This upright electric vacuum cleaner was produced by the Air-Way Sanitizor Company beginning in 1920. Company advertising stated this revolutionary machine “could be found in modern homes the world over!”

Housewives throughout time have probably shared a distain for laundry day. Certain chores have been worse than others, but most folks would agree that ironing is a chore they don’t enjoy. Electricity changed that, at least to some degree.

Prior to installing electricity in the home, homemakers would have removed wrinkles from their family’s clothes and linens using a heavy iron made of cast-iron. The iron would need to be heated on a wood or coal stove before it was used. Controlling the temperature of the “appliance” was iffy at best. Certainly many a shirt was scorched in the process.

Electricity added a new level of convenience to the chore. Not only were the new electric irons lighter, they had switches to control the temperature of the iron. An early electric iron is shown above.  This model had another benefit in that the iron itself was cordless. The base unit held the electric cord and when used, it would heat up the iron to a suitable temperature.

If we move forward another 20 years to World War II, we start to see another appliance added to the home to help with ironing clothes, the electric mangle. Relatively speaking, this was a pretty large appliance compared to the simple iron. It consisted of a cloth covered roller inside a freestanding white enamel cabinet that heated up and pressed clothes by applying pressure between the roller and a metal plate. The model shown here was owned and used by Hamlet of Child’s resident, Nellie Vagg, wife of blacksmith Joseph Vagg.

Today, with modern blended fabrics and de-wrinkle settings on clothes dryers, we don’t pay a lot of attention to pressing clothes.  This was not the case during the Baby Boom years when an assortment of electrical appliances were created to help with the task. In the above photo we see two such devices, an electric tie presser and pants creaser.

The last item we will look at today, shown above, is an appliance you probably have not seen very often, if at all.  See if you can guess what it’s used for.  It was usually found in the kitchen, but could have been located in other rooms, too.

If you guessed a DE-FLY-ER Model 1600 by DE-BUG-ER INC., you win the Kewpie Doll!  This appliance was designed to rid your household of flying and crawling insects using invisible vapors. (Don’t breathe too deeply though, the device used benzene hexachloride, a known carcinogen, today!)  The patent date shown here is 1950, and at that date, electricity had finally become available in all of Orleans County.

Our next article of Electricity Comes to Childs (Part 4) will take a look at even more labor savings appliances that found prominence in the all-electric kitchen after World War II.

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