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Month: December 2013

Car pulls skier in dangerous pastime

Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian

ALBION – Our photo illustrates a form of skiing that was popular in the 1920s. We do not advise anyone to attempt this dangerous sport.

Here we see the skier holding on to a tow rope, which is attached to the auto. We believe this photo was taken on Gaines Basin Road, looking north in the town of Albion between Allen and Phipps roads.

Carlton Fire Company, National Grid both say they will save cats

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

However, both say they won’t put personnel in danger

Photo by Tom Rivers – Nora the cat was perched on top of a telephone pole with numerous wires and a transformer for about three days before being rescued on Saturday morning in Waterport.

WATERPORT – If a cat is stuck in a tree in Carlton, residents are welcome to call the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company.

Firefighters will try to get the cat as long as the firefighters aren’t in a dangerous situation, Carlton Fire Company President Jim Tabor said.

“In most situations would be more than happy to rescue the cat,” he said. “But when there are live power lines involved we just can’t put our people in jeopardy.”

Some community were upset when Nora, a cat owned by Venita Nauden, was stuck on top of telephone pole in the freezing cold for nearly three days. Carlton firefighters declined to try the rescue. The pole had numerous wires and a transformer attached to it.

“We are not equipped to deal with live power lines regardless of the situation,” Tabor said. “If someone has a motor vehicle accident and there are live power lines involved, we would still need the power company to cut the power before we can perform any life-saving measures.”

Tabor has volunteered in the fire service for 25 years. He doesn’t recall Carlton firefighters rescuing cats, but he said the group would happily try as long as there aren’t power lines in the way.

Jeremy Arnold, owner of JG Tree Service in Holley, uses a bucket truck with a 60-foot-ladder to get to that cat.

National Grid also was contacted by one of Nauden’s neighbors to help get the cat, but the company allegedly declined. Company spokesman Steve Brady said he wasn’t aware of the situation on East Avenue in Waterport.

“I’m not sure what happened in this case, but we have rescued an assortment of animals from our facilities (including, recently, someone’s pet lizard),” Brady wrote in an email. “I can’t say we will rescue every animal or respond to every call – a lot will depend on crew availability, of course – be we have responded to such requests.”

Brady believes time is often the best course for getting an animal to come down.

“We often find that when an animal gets hungry enough, they will find their way back down the pole,” he said. “I know that’s of little solace to the pet owner but it would be quite unusual for animal to be able to climb up and not be able to climb down.”

One of Nauden’s neighbors used a ladder on Friday and nearly got to the top of the pole to get the cat, but Nora wouldn’t get close enough to jump into a basket.

Jeremy Arnold, owner of a tree service in Holley, arrived Saturday with a bucket truck with a 60-foot-ladder. He was able to scoop up the cat and reunite it with its owner.

Big soccer and football wins highlight Medina’s year

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina/Lyndonville scored a victory over league foe Newfane in a monsoon rain storm to capture a sectional soccer championship. Here Anthony Pane (13) and Scott Barber battle for control of the ball for the Mustangs.

Amid a monsoon rainstorm, Medina/Lyndonville claimed its second boys soccer sectional title in the last three years as the Mustangs nipped Niagara-Orleans League rival Newfane 2-1 in overtime for the Section VI Class B-1 championship.

Brennen O’Connor scored the game winner in overtime for Medina/Lyndonville as James Ianni netted the first goal for the Mustangs.

However, for the second time in three years the team’s path to the states was blocked by N-O rival Akron as the Tigers downed the Mustangs 2-0 in the Section VI Class B state qualifiers.

Ianni, Scott Barber, Anthony Pane and Steven Anderson all earned first team N-O All-League honors. Barber also earned third team All-Western New York and fifth team All-State honors.

The Medina football squad outlasted rival Albion 38-31 on the Purple Eagles field to claim the “Doc’s Rock” trophy and a berth in the Section VI Class B playoffs.

Kyle Barna ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass from quarterback Jason Hellwig for another score for the Mustangs. Hellwig also completed a touchdown pass to Dylan Lewis and Munjie Brown added another TD run.

Barna, Hellwig and Brown all earned first team B-North Division All-Star honors. Barna also earned second team All-Western New York honors while Hellwig and Brown both received honorable mention.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Kyle Barna picks up yardage for Medina during the Mustangs win over rival Albion.

In the Class B sectionals, Medina lost 25-0 to Alden in the quarterfinals.

The Medina tennis team posted a perfect 12-0 record to capture the N-O championship for the second year in a row.

Chris Horgan and Ben Howell both earned first team N-O All-League honors for the Mustangs as Troy Fidanza, Arsalan Mustafa and Kristian Synder were all second team selections.

In girls track, Medina’s Holly Heil was a double winner in the 800 and 1500 at the N-O All-League meet.

On the wrestling mats, Medina had a trio of N-O champions in Matt Montesanti, Brennen Callara and Nick Erway. Montesanti went on to win Class C and Section VI titles and placed second at the state championships.

On the basketball court, Medina senior Alba Perez earned first team N-O All-League honors.

In youth sports action, the Medina Colts won the regular season title in the JV Division of the Niagara Orleans Football Association; the Medina II team captured the Genesee Youth Soccer League U19 Division title and the Medina Midget B baseball squad won the Midget B League regular season title.

At Shelridge, Alex Misiti and Melissa Cotter captured club championships.

Misiti, who went on to earn Sherlidge Player of the Year Honors, made up seven shots during the final round to claim the title.

Cotter edged out Melinda Whiting in a playoff to repeat as club champion.

Gary Murphy won the President’s Cup Tourament at Shelridge; Mike Morris and Brian Branka teamed up to win the Shelridge Open and the brother duo of Paul and Tim McPherson claimed top honors in the Men’s Summer League.

Titles by Ram grappler, swim team highlight Roy-Hart’s year

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Roy-Hart’s Drew Hull captured a state wrestling title.

Roy-Hart senior Drew Hull captured the state 145 lb. wrestling championship with a narrow 2-0 victory in the title bout.

Hull, who went 44-0 on the season, advanced to the state championships by earning Niagara-Orleans League, Class C and Section VI titles.

The Rams also had Zach Bickle claim his fourth N-O title and earn the tournament’s Most Valuable Wrestler award.

Following on the heels of a successful merger between the Roy-Hart and Barker football squads three years ago, the R-H and Barker wrestling programs also merged for the new season which began in December.

The Roy-Hart boys swim squad continued to dominate the Niagara-Orleans League capturing a seventh straight title with a 10-0 record.

Roy Phipps was a double winner for the Channel Cats at the All-League meet in the 50 and 100 freestyle events as Jeff Durbin took the 200 free and Lyle Wagner the 100 butterfly.

When the new season began in December, the Channel Cats surpassed the 100 straight victory mark.

The Roy-Hart girls squad had a double winner at the All-League meet as Sarah DiMayo took the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly.

2013’s Outstanding Citizens in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

They performed many good deeds, often when not asked and at no gain to themselves. Orleans Hub would like to recognize some outstanding citizens from 2013.

Good Samaritan helps police catch bank robber

Before he robbed the Bank of America in Albion, Jeremy Rothmund of Rochester twice got away with similar crimes in the town of Greece. His girlfriend had a getaway car near the banks and Rothmund escaped.

But Rothmund didn’t get away on July 2 when he robbed a bank in Albion. An Albion businessman pulled up to the drive-through at about 4 p.m. that day, ready to deposit a check at the Bank of America.

He looked inside the bank window and saw a man wearing sunglasses with a hat on, and an ace bandage wrapped around his chin and neck. The teller indicated to the drive-through customer that the bank was being robbed.

The local merchant then hopped out of his car, leaving it running in the drive-through. He went towards the front door of the bank and the robber said he had a bomb and thrust a box covered in wires into the merchant’s face, telling him, “I don’t care if we both die and go to Hell.”

The businessman, who has requested anonymity, backed off. “I’m not an Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I could tell he was under the influence of something,” the merchant told the Orleans Hub on July 3.

Although he backed off, the businessman knew the robber was likely fleeing to a getaway car. So the merchant followed the robber behind the bank and along the railroad tracks. He watched the robber tear off his mask and get into a blue Ford Focus. The merchant then relayed that description to police.

Ten minutes later Holley police stopped the car at Woodside Court, an apartment complex off Route 31 on the west side of the village.

Rothmund and his girlfriend Elyse A. Hoffer, 22 have both pleaded guilty. Rothmund faces up to 15 years in state prison.

“I just wanted to help and be a good citizen and a Good Samaritan,” said the resident. “It all happened so fast.”

Apple grower helped bring new varieties to market

Photos by Tom Rivers – Roger LaMont is chairman of the New York Apple Growers LLC, a group of farmers that worked with Cornell to grow and market new apple varieties.

Apples are big business in Orleans County. We’re New York’s second-leading apple county behind only Wayne County.

The future of the industry is brighter, and a local grower played a key role in two new apple varieties reaching the market this year. In August, Cornell University and the New York Apple Association unveiled SnapDragon and RubyFrost.

Roger LaMont, an Albion apple grower, served as chairman of a group that formed to grow and market the apples. The new varieties are exclusive to New York growers. They won’t be released to growers in other states, which will give growers in the Empire State an edge. That should lead to bigger returns for the farmers, making their farms stronger financially.

LaMont is nearing retirement. He took the lead on the initiative, wanting to set up the industry for a more viable future. That should make these farms key contributors to the county’s economy for years to come.

Pole vaulter gives back by competing in Lyndonville

Jenn Suhr competes in a pole vaulting competition May 31 at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

Jenn Suhr, the Gold Medal-winning pole vaulter, is married to Lyndonville native Rick Suhr, who is also her coach. The couple has a home in Kendall.

Mrs. Suhr is thankful for the support of her fans in Western New York, but she said many of them have never seen pole vaulting live. When Suhr was prepping for the world championships in August (where she won the silver medal), she helped orchestrate three sanctioned vaulting competitions in Lyndonville, using the White Birch Golf Course for the meets. Her brother-in-law Harold Suhr owns the course. He used the second fairway as a runway for three vault competitions between May 31 and July 4.

Suhr cleared the top outdoor height in the world when she went over 16 feet, 1 inch at the White Birch, giving the course a distinction normally reserved for major sporting arenas in the world.

“We wanted to bring the pole vault out here so people don’t have to travel and spend tons of money to see it,” Suhr said.

Resident rallies to save Clarendon Stone Store

The old Stone Store building, currently an eyesore at the corner of routes 31A and 237 in Clarendon, is being turned into an attractive asset for the town.

The old Stone Store, once a key focal point to community life in Clarendon, had fallen into disrepair and was considered an eyesore. Many residents two years ago were calling for the building to be torn down.

But one local resident convinced the Town Board to call off the wrecking ball. Erin Anheier, chairwoman of the Old Stone Store Preservation Committee, mobilized volunteers to clean up the property and find a buyer for the site, which dates back to 1836.

She helped get the site on the National Register of Historic Places. She also helped get Hillside Cemetery in Holley on that list this past year, designations that bring prestige and the prospect of grants for building improvements.

Joe and Sue Fertitta are rehabbing the Stone Store. They are gutting and renovating the building, and the couple plans to put on a front porch to match the building’s original look. They expect to have the project done next summer, with a tenant living in the upstairs and the first floor available for offices.

“This shows it can be done,” Anheier said. “These buildings can be saved.”

Anonymous donor has helped beautify Medina

This home at 204 West Center St., Medina, was one of 17 houses in the village to receive matching funds for improvements through a grant administered by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce. The $200,000 grant also provided money to 11 businesses for façade and sign upgrades.

It has been a busy year for painters in Medina. An anonymous donor offered matching funds for people who painted their houses or worked on other beautification efforts.

Contractors worked on 28 properties in all as part of $200,000 in matching grants. The grants will continue in 2014. The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce is administering the program.

“It’s just been amazing,” said Kathy Blackburn, Chamber executive director. “We are thrilled with the work that has been done. It’s encouraged others to work on their properties as well.”

The grant in its first year funded projects at 17 homes and 11 businesses. The initiative is aimed to boost the curb-side appeal of the community, and make needed improvements more affordable for property owners. The money has given many neighborhoods a lift.

Kent helps lead the fight for ‘Concerned Citizens’

Adolf Genter, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Orleans County, protests the sale of the county nursing home.

These are apathetic times when it comes to pubic participation in civic affairs. Voter turnout is low. Membership is way down in service clubs, and many political candidates run unopposed.

Gary Kent helped reverse that trend in Orleans County, leading hundreds of residents in a protest against the sale of the county nursing home. Many will say Kent lost the fight because the sale will likely be approved early in 2014 and he failed to be elected to the County Legislature. (Kent was one of six candidates to try to unseat the Republican-endorsed candidates, the most opposition the GOP has faced for the Legislature since it formed in 1980.)

But Kent, a retired social studies teacher, inspired a sustained protest from people of all political parties against the county’s move to sell The Villages of Orleans.

They stood in the rain outside Legislature meetings. They carried petitions. They filed lawsuits. The Concerned Citizens raised money at spaghetti dinners. They tried every route possible in voicing their opposition to the sale. That’s what good citizens do: They engage in the process.

Young mom leads fight against SAFE Act

Gia Arnold speaks at a rally against the SAFE Act in April outside the Orleans County Courthouse.

A new movement took off this year, and it was led by a mother of three young children. Gia Arnold of Holley helped create the New York Revolution, a group opposed to the SAFE Act. The group was born after the State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo in January passed the SAFE Act, legislation that NY Revolution saw as an infringement on the Second Amendment rights.

The group has a following state-wide but it may be it’s most powerful in Orleans County. Arnold attended numerous community events and municipal board meetings, and swayed every elected board at the village, town and county level to pass resolutions opposing the SAFE Act. A top goal is unseating Cuomo as governor in November 2014.

Arnold planned a rally in April attended by about 200 people outside the County Courthouse.

“It’s not just a guns issue,” she said. “It’s more of a rights issue. They are taking away our freedoms.”

Meier will seek re-election to Medina mayor

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

MEDINA Andrew Meier is seeking re-election to village mayor on March 18, and he hopes to work towards a dissolution of the village which he ultimately said would reduce the costs of local government and ensure a brighter future for Medina.

Today is the first day candidates can pick up petitions for the election. They have until Feb. 11 to submit petitions signed by at least 100 village eligible voters.

Meier was first elected in March 2012, running on the Village Party with David Barhite and Pat Crowley. Their trustee positions are also up for election in March.

Meier, 34, is a local attorney and entrepreneur. He was thrust into the mayor’s position on Sept. 11, 2011 when former mayor Adam Tabelski resigned due to an impending deployment with the U.S. Army.

Meier sees a downtown in the midst of a rebirth. But the neighborhoods need revitalization and more investment is needed.

“There is unfinished work,” he said about his decision to run.

He has been railing against the unfairness in local tax rates and distribution of costs for providing services. He believes the villages bear an unfair burden. The village tax rate of $16.45 per $1,000 of assessed property is far more than outside the village in the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway. The village has the added burden of paying town tax rates as well.

Meier may be the only mayor in Orleans County history who has worked for the elimination of his office. That’s what would happen with a village dissolution, if the village government went away and the two towns then provided services in the village.

In that scenario, Meier expects the tax rates would be nearly uniform, which would take away the incentive for people to own property outside the village where the taxes are far cheaper.

A dissolution committee led by Don Colquhoun, the retired director of the Arc of Orleans County, expects to receive a report from a consultant by Jan. 23. The document from the Center for Governmental Research will provide some scenarios for the dissolution and how services could be shifted to the towns.

“We’re working on answering all of the questions in the process,” Meier said.

There will be several public meetings about the dissolution plan as it moves forward. Village residents will have to approve the dissolution in a public referendum for it to proceed. The two towns are not obligated to follow a plan put together by the village and a committee is working on the issue.

Ridgeway and Shelby leaders say if the dissolution is approved, special taxing districts would likely be created for police, fire and other services.

Albion has All-WNY Scholar/Athletes

Contributed Story Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo courtesy of Albion Schools

Five Albion High seniors have earned Section VI All Western New York individual Scholar Athlete honors including from left, Connor Barleben, Arianna Smith, Johnathan Warne, Kelsey Schmitt and Jonathan Trembley.. In order to be eligible for the award the student must be a senior who maintains an overall grade point average of 90% or above for six semesters. The student must also be a starter or an important contributor to the team. Four of the students received Honorable Mention including Barleben (Golf), Smith (Girls Soccer), Warne (Football) and Schmitt (Girls Soccer). Trembley (Football) was named a Section VI All Western New York Individual Scholar Athlete.

2013 Person of the Year: Jodi Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Local resident has built a juggernaut of a company, employing hundreds in job-starved Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers – Jodi Gaines answers questions from the media on Sept. 30, when she announced Claims Recovery Financial Services would be actively recruiting to fill 150 more positions in Albion.

You hear it a lot around here: No jobs for young people so they leave after high school or college in search for more opportunity. Our community is far poorer for it.

One local woman has proven a major force combating the flight of area residents by providing employment in their backyard. Jodi Gaines in a decade has built a company to 600 workers with plans to add 150 more in Albion, with possibly more expansion in the future.

Gaines, chief executive officer and co-owner of Claims Recovery Financial Services, is leading the company in a major growth spurt at a time when Orleans County desperately needs it. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

This year CRFS outgrew its space in Albion and expanded into a site in Medina at the Olde Pickle Factory. The company had the Albion and Medina sites, and added about 80 people in San Antonio, Texas. CRFS was still pinched for room.

In June, JP Morgan Chase announced it would close its Albion site in September, and would lay off 413 workers, leaving a 60,000-square-foot facility to sit empty in a prominent location in the village. The news was a major blow to the community’s psyche.

Gaines saw an opportunity in the Chase site. In September, she announced she was moving the entire Orleans County operation to Chase building and would actively recruit 150 more workers.

“CRFS is primed to do more for Orleans County than ever before,” Gaines said during a Sept. 30 press conference. “We started in Orleans County. We’re staying in Orleans County and the best is yet to come.”

The announcement had the added good news that Roger Hungerford, owner of the Olde Pickle Factory, was buying the site. He immediately set about painting the big building and making other renovations.

“We’re getting local ownership with the building and someone who will invest in the property,” Albion Mayor Dean Theodorakos said.

For the past 25 years the location has employed hundreds of people in the banking industry, first at Anchor Savings Bank, followed by Dime Bank, North American Mortgage Corporation, Washington Mutual and then Chase.

About every five years one of the banking companies was bought by a bigger bank in a very volatile industry. That always created uncertainty and worry in Albion that the new owners would eliminate the Orleans workforce through a consolidation.

Our Congressional representatives, notably former Congressman John LaFalce and more recently U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, used their clout on banking committees to help keep the banking jobs in Albion.

With a local woman running a locally based company, the community can breathe a little easier that Gaines won’t suddenly spring some bad news on us that she is taking her workforce out of state.

Gaines started as a claims clerk in 1989 for the former Anchor Savings Bank in Albion. She stayed in that department as ownership of the facility changed to Dime Bank and the North American Mortgage Company and then to Washington Mutual. WaMu phased out the claims department in 2002.

Gaines was offered a different job to stay with WaMu, but she opted to start her own company in claims, helping banks and investors to recover money with foreclosed properties.

She started the new venture from her kitchen table in Albion. That was December 2002. She had two employees. The company quickly grew, mastering regulations in all 50 states and taking on more clients.

Her employees work with attorneys, county clerks, utility companies and investors from all over the country. CRFS works to recover past-due interest, unpaid principal, unpaid taxes and unpaid insurance on houses.

“This organization prides itself on results and quality each and every day,” Gaines said. “The work ethic of the CRFS managers and employees is why we are now poised for such tremendous growth.”

Gaines was active in the Albion youth soccer program for many years with her son, once serving as a league commissioner. She remains active on the board of directors for the Orleans County United Way.

She is the Orleans Hub’s 2013 “Person of the Year.”

Albion native killed in Kentucky after being hit by taxi cab

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

Joe Allen

LOUISVILLE, Ky. An Albion native was killed early Saturday morning after he was hit by a taxi cab while walking down the side of the road.

Joseph Allen, 26, graduated from Albion in 2005 and then joined the military, serving four years with the Navy before returning to Albion in 2009.

He was killed just before 1:30 a.m. on Dixie Highway just north of Katherine Station Road in Louisville.

“Of course we haven’t ruled out any factors at this point,” Louisville Metro Police Department spokesman Dwight Mitchell told WLKY in Louisville. “Our investigators are investigating. Hopefully we’ll have more information once the investigation is complete.”

Allen of West Point, Ky., was pronounced dead at the scene. He is the son of Dave Allen, a former reporter for The Journal-Register and a lawyer in Medina. Allen is now a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and lives in Fort Knox, Ky.

Joe’s mother, Carmela Allen, lives in Waterport and his sister, Patricia McDonald, is in Medina.

Mr. Allen, in a Facebook message this morning, said his son visited him in March and liked the area and decided to stay. He was working in maintenance at a local factory.

The family will receive friends at the Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Inc., 21 W. Ave., Albion, on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., where prayers will be said Saturday at 9:30 a.m. followed by his Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Family Parish/St. Joseph’s Church at 10 a.m. Burial will be in St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the Veterans Outreach Center, 459 South Ave., Rochester NY 14620.

Attica girls trim Kendall

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 December 2013 at 12:00 am

KENDALL – Coming from behind in the third quarter, Attica went on to defeat Kendall 36-29 this evening in a Genesee Region League girls basketball make-up game.

Trailing 15-14 at the half, Attica outscored Kendall 13-5 in the decisive third quarter to take the lead for good at 27-20.

Toni ReQua had 8 points to lead Kendall as Nicole Browe and Shelby Reis both added 7 and Jaimie Smith 4.

Taylor Kingsbury led the Lady Eagles on the boards with 10 rebounds as Browe had 6 and ReQua 5.

The loss drops Kendall to 1-3 in the league and 2-5 overall.