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Month: March 2013

African Childrens Choir performs in Medina

Posted 28 March 2013 at 12:00 am

African Children's Choir

African Children's Choir

African Children's Choir

African Children's Choir

African Children's Choir

Photos by Tom Rivers

First Presbyterian Church in Medina hosted the African Children’s Choir on March 27. The 16-member group from Uganda includes eight boys and eight girls between the ages of 7 and 10. The group performed for a packed crowd of 300 people at the church. They are two months into a year-long tour of the East Coast. The choir has raised money to support 52,000 children in seven African countries since 1984. While in Medina, the children and choir volunteers stayed with host families. The group performed popular children’s songs, traditional spirituals and rhythmic Gospel favorites including “Amazing Grace.”

Orleans may go wireless to provide high-speed Internet

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Municipal leaders in Orleans County have been working for three years to persuade Time Warner to run cable for high-speed Internet in rural pockets without the service.

Time Warner has balked at running the cable in some rural areas, saying the potential for few customers at a $10,000-a-mile cost doesn’t make business sense.

But town and county officials think they have found a way around the problem: Go wireless.

Towers carrying antennas and wireless infrastructure may be the best chance to cover the entire county, Shelby Town Councilman Ken Schaal said.

He called the push for county-wide broadband access a top priority – for economic development and to keep and attract residents.

“We need to stop thinking of ourselves as a bedroom community,” Schaal told local government officials March 26 during the Orleans County Supervisors and Legislators Association meeting. “The Internet is the highway of the future. If we can’t get into that jet stream, we’re screwed.”

Orleans has been working on extending high-speed Internet the past three years, but has been stymied by Time Warner’s reluctance to run cable in the lightly populated areas.

Orleans has since partnered with Niagara County officials in looking at the problem. David Godfrey, a Niagara County legislator, said the current setup puts residents without high-speed Internet at a disadvantage. Students can’t complete some of their homework and research without broadband, he said.

“It’s creating discrimination for students, businesses and residents in the rural areas,” he said about those without the service.

Legislator Lynne Johnson, R-Lyndonville, said residents without broadband often can’t complete job applications online. Many companies only accept applications and resumes through their web sites.

“If you live in a rural area in Orleans County (and are applying for jobs), you might as well stay unemployed,” Johnson said during the association’s monthly meeting.

The two counties had been thinking a first step would be a house-by-house survey to see where the service isn’t available. But Schaal and other local leaders now think the push should be focused on how many towers would be needed in Orleans to blanket the county with wireless high-speed Internet. Wireless providers could co-locate on existing cellular phone towers, water tanks, and other tall infrastructure. New towers may also be needed.

David Callard, the County Legislature chairman, said he supports the engineering study that would look at existing topography and vertical infrastructure, and what may be need to be built. Town and county officials think it may cost $50,000 to have a study done.

Once the study is complete, the county could pursue state funding to help pay for new infrastructure. The state has funded broadband projects in other rural communities. Orleans hasn’t been included in that money because it doesn’t have a study, showing what infrastructure is needed to make the service available to all residents.

The county has been working with Evhen Tupis, a rural broadband consultant, on the project. Tupis said the county should still consider a house-by-house survey, checking for the service availability. Ultimately, wireless service providers will want to know the potential market in the county before they commit resources to Orleans, said Tupis, a Clarendon resident.

“If businesses see an opportunity, they could be enticed to come here,” he said.

Medina welcome center will move to City Hall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2013 at 12:00 am
Medina City Hall

Photo by Tom Rivers – Medina is moving a welcome center from the Chamber of Commerce building to City Hall.

MEDINA – A welcome center offering information about Medina history and attractions is moving from the Chamber of Commerce building to City Hall.

The Chamber has sold its building at 433 Main St. That is prompting the Tourism Committee and Medina Business Association to move the welcome center to the second floor of 600 Main St., the historic City Hall.

Jim Hancock, the Tourism Committee chairman, said the center is looking for volunteers to man the center from Memorial Day to Labor Day. He would people to be at the site from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and 9 to noon on Saturdays.

“We have a loyal crew that volunteers, providing directions and information about Medina,” Hancock told the Village Board on March 25. “But we are in desperate need of volunteers.”

He welcomes people to volunteer for even an hour or two each week.

The Village Department of Public Works will spruce up the second floor space with fresh paint and some historic-looking lights.

Former Mayor Marcia Tuohey urged the village to repair the front stone steps.

“It’s a historic building, the best one we have here in Medina,” she said. “The least we can do is make the steps look good.”

Peter Houseknecht, the DPW superintendent, said he is getting quotes to repair the steps.

Hancock updated the board on other tourism initiatives for 2013. About 550 bike riders are expected in early July for an overnight stay in the village as part of the 400-mile, eight-day “Cycling the Erie Canal” bike tour. Medina will feed the riders dinner and breakfast.

The Tourism Committee also is promoting an Aug. 10 “Blue Grass and the Blues in the Basin,” part of a summer concert series by the canal.

The group also is working with the Business Association for the Old Tyme Christmas celebration and parade of lights on Nov. 30.

State will increase highway funding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2013 at 12:00 am
Municipality 2012-13 CHIPS 2013-14 CHIPS Increase
Orleans County $1,074,237 $1,289,363 $215,125
Albion (town) $47,867 $61,037 $13,170
Barre $119,891 $153,851 $33,959
Carlton $96,236 $122,806 $26,570
Clarendon $82,748 $105,986 $23,237
Gaines $31,468 $40,103 $8,635
Kendall $52,452 $66,309 $13,856
Murray $56,473 $72,019 $15,546
Ridgeway $91,680 $117,136 $25,455
Shelby $87,085 $111,560 $24,475
Yates $69,554 $88,266 $18,711
Albion (village) $78,686 $99,645 $20,959
Holley $21,400 $26,883 $5,483
Lyndonville $13,706 $17,341 $3,635
Medina $109,669 $137,848 $28,179
Total for all $2,033,158 $2,510,161 $477,002


For five years Ed Morgan and other highway superintendents watched the money for road and bridge repairs dwindle in their communities.

The state didn’t increase its share for municipal road and bridge work since the 2008-09 budget. However, the cost of fuel, asphalt and other materials went up, resulting in less highway work on local roads.

“We have been getting more and more desperate,” said Morgan, the Murray highway superintendent.

But that will change with the new state budget, which gives local governments 20.6 percent more state-wide in road maintenance money. State legislators and Gov. Cuomo agreed to a $75 million increase in Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, boosting the CHIPS money from $363 million to $438 million.

In Orleans County, the highway funds will go up 23.5 percent, from $2,033,158 to $2,510,161.

“It gives us about 25 percent more money so we can now do 25 percent more work,” Morgan said.

The money doesn’t go quite as far as it used to because of the rising fuel and road material costs, he said.

Morgan and other highway superintendents showed up in mass in Albany earlier this month, lobbying for the CHIPS increase. He said the highway leaders will keep pressing the case in the future. He wants to see the state to gradually increase the CHIPS each year, rather than going years with the same funding level.

Towns, villages and counties are limited in their ability to make up for frozen state aid with local dollars because the state imposed a property tax cap on localities. That cap aims to prevent property taxes from going up more than 2 percent a year. That has been a challenge locally, Morgan noted, when the state didn’t increase its share for road work.

Cuomo praised the CHIPS funding boost in announcement on March 26.

“This budget is about jobs, jobs, jobs, and by investing in rebuilding our state’s transportation infrastructure we are helping to grow local economies and create jobs in all corners of the state,” he said. “During these difficult fiscal times, this $75 million increase in CHIPS funding is a big victory for our state’s localities that will be able to use these much-needed funds to make repairs to local highways, bridges, and roads, and at the same time support job growth and economic development in their communities.”

Lyndonville academic team wins back-to-back state championships

Posted 26 March 2013 at 12:00 am

Press release

LYNDONVILLE – Nine members of the Lyndonville Academic Decathlon team defended their state title, winning the small-school state championship during March 15-16.

Lyndonville earned 17 medals at the 2013 state competition at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse.

Jamie Tombari won a medal in five different categories, the most by a Lyndonville student. Tombari’s medals came in the essay, history, math, music and Super Quiz categories.

Cole Heideman brought four medals back to Lyndonville, earning recognition in art, economics, literature and music. Jessica Czechowicz was a three-category medalist, winning her medals in art, history and music.

Dakota Froman and Zac Karp each won two medalsFroman in economics and music, and Karp in interview and literature.

Sandra Clemens, Jeremy Foss, Jordyn Smith and Amanda Sullivan won in math, SuperQuiz, literature and essay, respectively.

The team, coached by Paula Reimann, will now compete electronically at the national level on April 4 and 26. Lyndonville finished 16th in the nation last year.

“We have established ourselves as a model program for small school participation at the national and state levels,” Reimann said. “Our students gain study skills, confidence and learning strategies through this program.”

The Lyndonville team has participated for more than 20 years in the United States Academic Decathlon program. Each team consists of students in grades 9 through 12. Participants compete in three groups based on grade point averages: Varsity, Scholastic and Honor.

“I am very proud of this year’s participants, their dedication, and their teamwork,” Reimann said. “I wish to thank the parents, teachers and the community for their support and encouragement of Academic Decathlon.”

Quick Questions with Todd Zinkievich, Medina FD Chief

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2013 at 12:00 am

‘I love helping people. I love making a difference in somebody’s life.’

Todd Zinkievich

Todd Zinkievich, 45, has led the Medina Fire Department since 2003. The department replaced Rural Metro as the primary ambulance provider in western Orleans County in July 2007.

When Zinkievich pitched the plan to the Village Board in 2007, he anticipated running anywhere from 1,500 to 1,700 calls. Immediately, the department exceeded that, pushing 1,800 to 1,900 calls in its first year.

In 2012, the Medina Fire Department handled 2,209 ambulance calls and 311 fire calls for 2,520 total, the most ever for the department.

The department has 13 paid full-time staff, plus about 15 to 18 callmen, and other volunteers.

Zinkievich was interviewed March 11 at the fire hall.

Question: Why do the ambulance numbers keep going up? Are people getting older?

Answer: Yes. We have an aging population. We also have the contract with Medina hospital, transferring their patients from their facility to a higher level of care. Those calls tend to increase roughly the same percentage each year.

Question: So, in terms of the future, this is fairly solid, assuming the reimbursements don’t drop? Maybe that’s the only wild card?

Answer: That would be the wild card in our business. It’s completely beyond our control when the federal government sets the guidelines for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. They always tend to go up, too, based on the rate of inflation. But they could make an about-face and bring them down on us.

Question: Could you talk about the call men, how you determine their pay and their role in the department?

Answer: We have about 15 to 18 call firefighters, which are basically volunteers. They get paid a small stipend. It used to be $100 a year flat rate. Now we have a $200-a-year flat rate, and they can make up to $600 with incentives, which includes call response and training. We encourage them to do duty time with us. They come dressed just like us. You can’t tell us apart. They do time with us. They are very valuable assets to us. We’re always looking for good active callmen.

Question: What is the big benefit of having a paid crew?

Answer: In this day and age volunteerism is dwindling. Back when I joined back in the ’80s, you tended to have families where the mother stayed at home and took care of the kids. The father worked and had time in the evening to be able to volunteer at his local fire department. Now you’re finding more two-income families where mom has to work out of the home. They may work opposite shifts. So when the mom is gone, the dad has to watch the kids. He doesn’t have that time to commit. It’s industry-wide. We see it all over.

The benefit of having a paid staff is knowing you will have somebody to drive that fire truck or ambulance and help you in your time of need – not that it doesn’t happen with other departments. The calls are still getting answered.

Question: What is the big challenge in running a modern fire department in Medina?

Answer: The big challenge is manpower. We are right now stretched to the max. I would love to be able to have a staff meeting and tell the guys we’re going to hire four more guys. But I’m realistic about it. In this day and age adding to your local government is not a popular option.

Question: Do you have 24-hour coverage with the paid staff?

Answer: Yes we do. During the day we have a minimum of three and a maximum of five. At night, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., we go down to two guys.

Question: Is that tricky to schedule with 13 people?

Answer: Yes it is. Scheduling is the absolute hardest part of this job, making sure sufficient manpower available. We rely heavily on our callmen and our off-duty guys. Sometimes they’re not home long and then come in and jump right back on the ambulance. We have to have a commitment from them, knowing it’s not a 12-hour-a-day job. It’s 24-7.

Question: They do 12-hour shifts?

Answer: Yes they do. They work four 12-hour days and then they get four days off. There are times when we have two or three ambulances on the road and we’re spread thin.

Question: Why do you think you’ve been able to keep the ambulance service profitable? I know other departments, including Batavia, got out of that business because they were losing money.

Answer: Our guys do a lot extra when they do ambulance calls. They get signatures and paperwork that a lot of other agencies don’t get. We forward it right away to our billing company (MedEx in Le Roy) and they can act on that bill right away. That helps increase our collection rate.

Question: What do you like about this job?

Answer: Everything. I love helping people. I love making a difference in somebody’s life. Generally when we’re called somebody is in trouble. They’re either hurt or something is on fire. It’s up to us to get there, mitigate it and offer whatever assistance we can.

Question: You go out on calls?

Answer: Yes. Because we’re such a small department I have to run on a lot of the calls. I do, too, because I’ve always been a firm believer that we should spread the workload amongst all of our employees. When you take one person, myself, out of that equation of 13, you’re taking 7.3 percent of your workforce away from it. These guys are working hard and they’re working hard for us, so I’m going to work hard alongside them. I go on my fair amount of ambulance calls. I may be driving the ambulance or in back as a medic.

Question: You have to keep up with all the training?

Answer: Yes. I’m an intermediate EMT. All of our career guys are required to be at least intermediate EMTs. We encourage them to increase their training up to the paramedic level. It takes 18 months. It’s a big commitment to get someone trained to that level.

Hospice friend-raiser leaves with praise

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2013 at 12:00 am
Hospice Cora Goyette

Photo by Tom Rivers – Hospice of Orleans County Director of Development Cora Goyette, left, and Hospice Executive Director Mary Anne Fischer are pictured outside the new hospice residence that Goyette helped raise more than $2 million to build.

ALBION – Six years ago Hospice of Orleans County leaders were looking for a dynamic person who could help the agency raise $2 million to build a residence for the terminally ill.

The agency hired Cora Goyette, who brought with her 14 years in development for Lakeside Health System in Brockport, and an endearing British accent.

Goyette was successful in rallying Orleans residents to support the Martin-Linsin Residence, which opened in December. With that major goal complete, Goyette decided to retire last month. She plans to stay in Albion, but she said she won’t be asking people for money again.

The 8,500-square-foot hospice home on Route 31 in Albion has rooms for eight residents. There is 24-hour-a-day nursing care.

Goyette said the project is the result of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” Mary Anne Fischer, the hospice executive director, praised Goyette for building support for the agency throughout the county.

“She has an innate charisma that draws people to her,” Fischer said. “She’ll tell you it’s not about fund-raising, it’s friend-raising.”

The final tally for donations is about $2.3 million for the project. Fischer said the building is needed in the county because so many elderly residents have family members scattered around the country. Many terminally ill residents do not have a primary caregiver at home, she said.

The Martin-Linsin Residence provides “a home away from home” for residents with complex medical issues, Fischer said.

The eight residential suites were designed to accommodate visitors and allow family members to stay overnight. The site includes a family kitchen, lounge and dining room, spa area with therapy tub, family meeting room, a chapel and an indoor courtyard.

“They tell us it is their home,” Goyette said. “They love it. Their privacy isn’t invaded. It’s been amazing and phenomenal.”

Longtime Medina village clerk retires

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2013 at 12:00 am

Crowley served 35 years ‘with integrity and honor’

Peggy Crowley Medina Clerk

Photo by Tom Rivers – Peggy Crowley, the retiring Medina village clerk/treasurer, was given a framed copy of a New York Times article celebrating Derek Jeter’s 3,000 hit. Crowley, a big Yankees fan, was honored during the March 25 Village Board meeting.

MEDINA – Village Board members and mayors come and go, but Peggy Crowley proved to be a constant in Medina’s village government the past 35 years.

Crowley worked as deputy village clerk for two years before being promoted clerk-treasurer. She was in that role for 33 years, until March 28, her last day in the village clerk’s office.

Her long-time deputy, Debbie Padoleski, will become the new clerk/treasurer.

“She’s definitely all about the village of Medina,” Padoleski said. “She’s a down-the-road thinker who has the ability to see the big picture.”

Crowley has long been the face of Medina, working closely with residents, village department heads and board members.

“She’s always been the power behind the mayors,” said Marcia Tuohey, a former Medina mayor. “She was dedicated.”

Peggy Crowley, Clerk, past Mayors

Photo by Tom Rivers – Medina Mayor Andrew Meier congratulates Peggy Crowley, second from right, on her retirement after 35 years of service in the village clerk’s office. Past mayors, Howard Lake and Marcia Tuohey, attended the March 25 meeting to help honor Crowley.

Howard Lake, another former mayor, praised Crowley for her commitment and competence in the job, especially when the village took on administration of the Pass-Through Project, the reconstruction of Main Street about a decade ago. Crowley took on added and complicated duties, negotiating with the state and federal governments, and contractors on the project. She kept track of the paperwork on the project, and insisted the village receive the proper reimbursements.

“She was fantastic,” Lake said about Crowley’s role with the ambitious public works project. “The village of Medina has some great people that work for them.”

Lake and Tuohey were on hand at the March 25 Village Board meeting, Crowley’s final session as clerk before she retired later in the week. She received a standing ovation from village employees and residents at the meeting.

“Every employee, past and present, owe you a debt of gratitude,” said Andrew Meier, the current mayor. “You’ve performed your duties with integrity and honor.”

Meier presented Crowley, a long-time Yankees fan, with a framed copy of a New York Times article on July 10, 2011, highlighting Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit. The framed article included a capsule of dirt from Yankee Stadium. It was taking from the field after Jeter’s milestone game.

There also was a cake with a Yankees theme that was served after the meeting.
Meier said Crowley has a great sense of humor.

“I’m going to miss her wit the most,” he said. “She has been dedicated to her job and the village.”

Medina Police K-9 gets bulletproof vest thanks to BOCES and community support

Posted 26 March 2013 at 12:00 am
K9 Bulletproof Vest

Kathleen Holler (Empire Emergency Apparatus), Ryan Leffeler (Survival Armour), Sergeant Todd Draper, teacher aide Sharon Librera and student Luke Burdette.

Press Release: Orleans/Niagara BOCES

Medina Police Officer Sergeant Todd Draper and his K-9 partner hold a special place in the hearts of the Orleans/Niagara BOCES students at the Orleans Learning Center.

Sergeant Draper and his K-9 Kye, a Belgian Malinois, visit the center frequently to see the classes and the students have become very attached to Kye. When the students realized that Kye did not have a bulletproof vest to help protect him when he was on duty, the students made it their mission to raise money to get him one.

“Even though the K-9s are considered police officers, vests are not standard for them,” says teacher Theresa Clause. “The students were very upset about that.”

The students have been busy with Mrs. Clause and classroom aides Sharon Librera and Kathy Scarborough making and selling chocolate suckers to staff and students at their center and also to members of the community. They had managed in three months’ time to make $500, but it wasn’t enough to get the vest which range in price from $1,200 to $2,800. After appealing to the community through newspaper stories and posting on the Channel 2 – WGRZ website the outpouring of support for the students’ quest was remarkable.

“We actually had a few people contact us and say they would cover whatever the students couldn’t come up with so Kye would get his vest,” says Mrs. Clause. “We were very moved by people’s generosity.”

A local company, Empire Emergency Apparatus, decided they had to do something too.

“We had an employee who saw it on WGRZ and called me and said can’t we do anything to help,” explained Operations Manager Kathleen Holler. “I have a sister-in-law who worked for BOCES and I know how heartfelt this gesture was for the students and it really touched me. We supply law enforcement and fire personnel with equipment so I went to my boss and said can we do anything. He said let’s give them a vest. I almost started crying.”

She contacted Ryan Leffler, who works for Survival Armor, a ballistic protection company out of Florida and asked if he would be willing to come and measure Kye for a vest. He didn’t hesitate.

“I thought this is fantastic. These dogs put their lives at risk every day and they deserve to be protected. I am glad to be here and very happy to help these students’ with their goal.”

What was the reaction of the students while they watched their friend get fitted for his vest?

“We are so happy,” says Luke Burdette. “When I heard about that police dog that got killed in Herkimer it made me so sad and now I know that Kye will be safe and that is awesome.”

Sergeant Draper says he is very appreciative. “The students got it started with working so hard to raise the money and what a great added bonus to have this company be so generous in providing a vest for Kye. I can’t thank Empire Emergency Apparatus enough.”

Mrs. Clause says they are beyond thrilled how everything worked out.

“After talking to Sergeant Draper we have decided to donate the money we raised to a fund that will help other K-9’s get vests. This has been a great day for everyone. We want to thank everyone who made this possible. You have done a wonderful thing in protecting those who protect us.”

Palm Sunday tradition in Albion

Posted 25 March 2013 at 12:00 am

Palm Sunday Chicken Barbecue

Photo by Tom Rivers

Andrew Niederhofer, left, and Jerry Bentley were part of a 10-person team that cooked 416 chickens on March 24 for the 8th annual Palm Sunday Chicken Barbecue. The event at St. Mary’s Athletic Club in Albion is organized by the Knights of Columbus with the proceeds benefitting Boy Scouts in Troop 164.