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Month: April 2013

Medina reduces tax increase to 4%

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Medina Village Trustee Mark Irwin, left, and Mayor Andrew Meier listen to residents comment on the proposed village budget during a public hearing on Monday. Former Mayor Marcia Tuohey, back left, offered several suggestions.

MEDINA – The Village Board approved a new budget on Monday that will the raise tax rate 4 percent or 63 cents per $1,000 of assessed property, a $4.7 million spending plan that drew criticism from two former village officials.

“Little by little the tax rate can be reduced but you have to have the guts to do the little things,” Marcia Tuohey, a former mayor, told the Village Board during a public hearing on Monday.

The board cut $125,000 from the tax levy from the previous week, to narrow the tax increase from about 9.5 to 4.2 percent. Those cuts included $40,000 each in the police and fire departments, $10,000 from the Department of Public Works and $5,000 for code enforcement. Medina also is taking $30,000 more from a reserve account.

Tuohey suggested more cuts, including less overtime for an officer assigned to the Orleans County Major Felony Crimes Task Force, reductions in the tree budget, no raise for the mayor and taking more money from a contingency fund.

The board agreed to cut $5,000 from the tree budget, which still leaves $5,000 for trees with $4,000 coming from community donations and outside sources.

The Village Board proposed a $3,000 raise for the Mayor Andrew Meier, from $6,000 to $9,000, with $1,000 each for the increase coming from water, sewer and general funds.

Tuohey and former Trustee Owen Toale said the timing of the raise is bad when Meier is asking for cuts in village departments.

“It’s called leadership by example,” Toale said.

Tuohey said the mayor’s raise is “unconscionable” when police and fire will be cut and taxes will go up.

Meier said the mayor’s pay hasn’t been changed in at least a decade, and pales compared to the neighboring town supervisors, who have far fewer employees to manage. He agreed to not take the raise if police and fire have to reduce employees to meet the budget numbers.

The $40,000 in cuts in the two departments haven’t been identified. Meier said department heads will be asked to find the reductions.

Trustee Mark Irwin defended the pay increase for the mayor.

“Nine thousand dollars is frankly ridiculously low compensation,” Irwin said. “It should be more.”

Meier said the village needs to take a long-view in the budget, and that’s why he didn’t support taking more money from contingency. He said Medina needs more revenue from a county sales tax sharing formula. The village’s share hasn’t increased in more than a decade.

The village also needs to keep pressing for relief from town taxes, where village residents pay for some services they do not receive, Meier said. He has asked the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway to exempt the village from road maintenance and plowing taxes because the village already pays for that in village taxes.

Resident Mike Sidari told the board Medina should seek contributions for its ambulance service from the western Orleans municipalities that use the service. The revenue for the ambulance is down about $45,000 from budget for 2012-13. Sidari said the neighboring towns should give something to help make up for the gap.

“I’m with you in principle,” Meier said. “We bear the cost solely and they get it for free.”

The village is getting some relief from a neighboring municipality. Medina provides a police officer as a school resource officer to Medina Central School. The school district is increasing its share of the officer’s pay and benefits from $50,000 to $60,000. That covers about 65 percent of the officer’s total costs, and reflects about how much time the officer devotes to working at the school.

Meier said the county should increase its contribution to the officer assigned to the task force. The county pays $50,000 towards a total cost of about $115,000.

Tuohey, a former County Legislature chairwoman, urged the Village Board to be “hard-nosed” in negotiating with other municipal leaders to ensure the village is getting its fair share.

Meier said the village faces a difficult financial picture with falling tax assessments and rising costs. The total assessed value fell $658,131 to $165.5 million in 2013-14. The village’s overall budget decreased $35,000 to $4,688,975. The amount of money to be collected in taxes is up 3.6 percent or $94,469 to $2,722,442. That is resulting in a tax rate increase from $15.82 to $16.45.

Horsepower in Knowlesville

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

Bradley Martin and a team of six draft horses harrow a field on Knowlesville Road this afternoon. Martin works for a Mennonite-owned dairy farm, part of a growing cluster for Amish- and Mennonite-owned businesses in the Ridgeway and Yates communities. Martin also walked the field, removing big rocks by hand.

Long-time Lyndonville store shuts down

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Sharon Gray closed the Pennysaver Market on Main Street in Lyndonville on Monday night after 35 years in business.

Gray posted a farewell note on the front window, thanking her customers.

LYNDONVILLE – In her 35 years of running the Pennysaver Market on South Main Street, Sharon Gray catered to the community, offering grocery items and then expanding to hardware, videos, a deli, finger foods and pizza.

“She gave her heart and soul to the people of the town of Yates and the village of Lyndonville,” said John Belson, the Yates town supervisor.

Gray on Monday closed the business.

“She will be sorely missed,” Belson said. “She worked with the community, whether it was the Lions Club, the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts.”

He would see local organizations frequently having bake sales at the Pennysaver Market. Gray was a good employer to six local people as well, Belson said.

“She took care of the employees like they were her family,” he said.

Belson said the town will try to help find a new business to use the space.

Dawn Metty praised the Market for serving good pizza, and offering a variety of products.

“It was nice and very convenient,” said Metty, the deputy town clerk in Yates. “I’m sad to see it close.”

Lyndonville resident Fae Woodworth said Gray is well regarded by residents.

“She tried to fill a lot of needs in the community,” Woodworth said. “She was a hard-worker who did a marvelous job. She did a real big service in the community.”

Albion FFA is ready for limelight

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

State Convention runs from Thursday through Saturday

Photo by Tom Rivers – Officers for the Albion FFA pose by a sign in front of the high school. The group includes, from left: Logan London, Mariah Pepe, Elizabeth Bentley, Riley Kelly, Alison O’Hearn (vice president), Jenny McKenna (president), Abigail Maines, Sara Millspaugh and Kellie O’Hearn.

ALBION – About a year ago Allison O’Hearn was on the phone with eight different hotels in Batavia, checking their availability for 1,100 students and their chaperones for this May 2-4.

It was the first of many phone calls and letters for the vice president of the Albion FFA. O’Hearn and Jenny McKenna, the FFA president, have been lining up judges, sponsors, entertainment and volunteers for the FFA state convention this Thursday through Saturday.

The Albion FFA students will be working on the convention right up until students arrive from throughout the state on Thursday afternoon. Today, the Albion students were filling goodie bags with coupons to local businesses, pens and pamphlets about Albion.

O’Hearn also just finalized plans to have modern farm machinery displayed with some antique tractors.

“We’re going right down to the last minute to make this the best state convention and one that they’ll remember,” O’Hearn said at school today.

FFA advisor Adam Krenning also has been a key leader is assembling more than 150 judges from the community for 26 different competitions ranging from speaking to technical and leadership skills. He has led three orientations for the judges.

Krenning also negotiated with managers for the entertainers, including country music singer JJ Lawhorn who will perform in an outdoor tent behind the school, and Ben Glenn, a chalk artist who was featured when the state convention was in Albion in 2007.

The 1,100 FFA students are coming from 71 different chapters, including students from New York City, the North Country, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier and other parts of the state.

McKenna said she is looking forward to a ceremony on Friday night when first-year FFA students will be presented their blue corduroy jackets. That ceremony will shift to the varsity football field, where fireworks will follow.

McKenna also wanted to show off the Albion community and local agriculture. Students can choose to attend tours of the Neal family dairy farm in Albion, Lamb Farms in Oakfield, Western New York Energy’s ethanol plant in Medina, Intergrow in Gaines, Oxbo in Byron, Post Farms in Elba and the Milton CAT plant in Batavia. Students can also look over the Albion FFA chapter’s new 5-acre “land lab” that was established about a year ago.

Students, when they have some down time from competitions and other events, will be urged to discover the historical assets in Albion as well as the businesses.

“This is one of our focuses to say this is our community and this is what we’re proud of,” McKenna said.

Luring fish in Lyndonville

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

Jeff Robinson of Lyndonville spent the morning fishing in Johnson Creek with his daughters Alexa, center, and Brooke. Robinson said it’s a little early for the fish to bite, but he enjoyed the outdoors with his children. In the photo below, Alexa, right, and Brooke wait for a tug on their fishing line.

Season of change at historic cemetery

Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

These flowering plums at Mount Albion Cemetery are in their blossoming glory at the historic cemetery on Route 31 in Albion. Cemetery workers are busy with other improvements at the site, including new wooden signs that will show the layout of the east and west sides of the cemetery. Kenneth Blank, a cemetery employee, carries stones that he added to a freshly poured foundation for the signs this morning.

‘It’s like a perfume factory’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Fruit orchards start spring bloom in Orleans

Photos by Tom Rivers

Ken Nice, co-owner of Nice Farms in Knowlesville, walks through a fruit orchard this afternoon along Knowlesville Road. He is checking how the bees are pollinating the fruit crop. The pink blossoms will bear white nectarines while the white blossoms will be plums. Nice expects a much better year after a freeze in April 2012 wiped out a lot of the local fruit crop last year. Nice said the blossoming trees are a visual and olfactory feast. “It’s like a perfume factory,” he said.

Chase employees out in force in Albion for Kids Day

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

Wendy Hill, an employee at JPMorgan Chase in Albion, peddles a copy of today’s Buffalo News special Kids Day edition this morning in front of Chase’s Albion site on East Avenue. Chase employees are selling the newspapers at several locations in Albion until 11 a.m. Proceeds from the newspaper sales go to Variety Kids of Buffalo and the Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.

Parkway section reopens Wednesday

Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Press release from NYS Department of Transportation

CARLTON A 2-mile section of the Lake Ontario State Parkway closed since the winter will reopen Wednesday at about noon, the state Department of Transportation advised.

The western end of the Parkway has been shut down since Nov. 28. That portion runs between Lakeside Beach State Park and Route 98 in the town of Carlton.

Closing the 2-mile stretch saved an estimated $70,000 worth of maintenance and operating expenses including materials, equipment, and labor, the DOT said. The closure also helped preserve the pavement and the bridges over Oak Orchard Creek.

Some bridge maintenance repairs were made on the bridge over Oak Orchard Creek. The eastbound, right lane over the bridge, will remain closed until further repairs can be made.

During the summer, about 800 cars travel this section of the Parkway every day. The western end of the Parkway is less travelled during the winter months.During the closure, motorists were directed to use Route 18 as a parallel detour route.

Car flips on Salt Works Road

Posted 30 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Press Release: Medina Fire Department

MEDINA – While driving to the Medina firehall early this morning, a Medina firefighter found a car off Salt Works Road at 1 a.m.

The car was flipped on to its roof against a sheared off telephone pole with the driver still pinned inside and power lines down.

The Village of Medina Fire Department and its ambulance were dispatched. The Ridgeway and Shelby fire departments were also responded to the scene with their hydraulic tools.

With the positioning of the patient inside the crushed vehicle and the position of the telephone pole, it took firefighters 40 minutes to safely extricate the driver.

The driver was then treated by the Village of Medina Fire Department paramedics and transported to the helicopter landing zone for transport to ECMC by Mercy Flight WNY.

Also assisting at the scene were crews from National Grid and Lyons Collision. The Village of Medina Police Department is investigating the accident.