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Orleans Hub sees big jump in traffic in 2014

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 January 2015 at 12:00 am

2014 Year in Review

Photo by Tom Rivers

Cliff Thom walks down the hallway in the Albion Middle School on Dec. 8 with his son Jacob and wife Tara. All of the classrooms emptied into the hallway and students and teachers applauded for Thom and his family. It was Thom’s first day home after being deployed in Afghanistan since June. The article about Thom was one of the most popular on Orleans Hub in December. Click here to see “Airman returns home and surprises kids at school.”

Orleans Hub saw a big increase in traffic to the news site in 2014. We averaged 4,700 unique visitors each day, compared to 2,100 in 2013 when we first started.
We launched the site on April 1, 2013. Orleans Hub operates out of The Lake Country Pennysaver in Albion.

We had 5,267,498 pageviews in 2014, compared to 1,697,887 for nine months in 2013.

Last year we posted 2,426 news articles and 4,656 news photos, plus 1,109 sports stories and 1,540 sports photos.

We’ve been averaging more than 5,000 daily unique visitors each of the past four months and more than 500,000 pageviews each of those months.

December 2014 was our best month to date with a daily average of 5,650 unique visitors and 541,216 total pageviews for a 17,459 daily average.

Orleans Hub’s sports coverage drew a growing audience in 2014 behind the reporting and photography of Mike and Cheryl Wertman. The above photo shows Kendall’s Will Condo (18) heading the ball away from Keshequa’s Jack Mann (20) during the Eagles Class C2 semifinal loss to the Indians on Oct. 29 at Spencerport. Orleans Hub has a full high sports report each day the local teams are playing.

Hottest story of ’14: Couple that died a day apart after 60 years of marriage

Ed and Floreen Hale’s story went viral around the world

Provided photos – Floreen and Edward Hale married in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Albion on May 12, 1953.

The story about Ed and Floreen Hale’s 60-year marriage and their death a day apart was the most popular story in 2014 on Orleans Hub.

The story was published near Valentine’s Day and showed the couple’s long-term commitment, especially Mr. Hale’s determination to join his wife in the same hospital room for their final days.

Mr. Hale was in a Rochester hospital and made a miraculous recovery so he was well enough to be transported to a hospital in Batavia. His wife Floreen, an Albion native, died on Feb. 7, with her husband by her side. Mr. Hale died the next day.

Floreen and Edward Hale of Batavia were inseparable for 60 years. They are pictured about five years ago on one of their many social outings. Mrs. Hale grew up in Albion.

Orleans Hub talked with his family and posted the article – “A love story to the very end” – on a Sunday evening on Feb. 15. The story quickly gained traction and within a few days went viral around the world. Numerous news sites around the country and overseas linked to the article or wrote their own story.

The traffic to Orleans Hub caused our server to crash – several times. We ultimately had to upgrade to our own dedicated server. We recorded 11,328 clicks for the story, but that number isn’t accurate. We had to move the story off the Hub server to its own dedicated spot that didn’t count the hits.

The Hales were featured in The Daily Mail in London and quickly racked up 61,000 shares on the site, and more than 500 comments. USA Today named the Hales one of their five most inspirational stories of that week.

Albion mourns loss of popular teacher

Photo courtesy of Howard Owens/The Batavian

Wayne Burlison directs the Batavia Concert Band in this photo from June 23, 2011. Besides teaching Albion students, Burlison was involved in many community musical groups.

The death of Wayne Burlison on March 26 was devastating to the Albion community and Burlison’s many friends. Burlison was an elementary music teacher at Albion. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2013 and would die from the disease on March 26 at age 36.

An article – “Albion schools mourn loss of beloved ‘Mr. B’” – about Burlison’s life and impact in the community was the second biggest story of the year on Orleans Hub. That story was posted on March 27 and had 7,447 individual page views last year. That is more than 3,000 from the third most viewed story.

Burlison was the assistant high school marching band director at the school and helped lead the jazz band. In addition to teaching Albion students, Burlison played with several groups, including the Batavia Concert Band, The Hit Men and the Mark Time Marchers in Kendall.

Burlison was also a leader of the Albion Running Club and led a Run for God program that prepared people to run a 5-kilometer race. He played in the praise band at the Albion Free Methodist Church.

He is survived by his wife Lisa and their son Adam, now 8. Mrs. Burlison is a second grade teacher at Albion.

Other top 20 stories in descending order include:

3. 3 in Medina arrested after drug bust

4. Firefighters battle to put out blaze in Carlton

5. Friends raise funds for funeral of 22-year-old Albion man

6. Man arrested after manhunt in Holley

7. Bear is spotted in Kendall

A bear was photographed on Aug. 11 in Kendall, one of many bear sightings throughout the year around the county.

 

8. Teen dies in apparent accidental shooting

9. 3 teens charged after numerous burglaries in eastern Orleans

10. Former tavern being transformed to high-end apartments, restaurant

The community was excited to see and read about the changes at the former Tagg’s Tavern in Holley. The site will open as the Holley Falls Bar and Grill this year, with apartments on the top floor.

 

11. Paratrooper from Medina dies at Fort Bragg

12. Albion doctor has license revoked

13. Kendall’s sectional contest has a special moment, a special goal

14. Section of 104 closed in Ridgeway after suspect barricades self inside

Law enforcement are outside a house on Route 104 in the Town of Ridgeway on Sept. 24 while a suspect is believed to be barricaded inside.

15. Paul Lauricella, 24, killed in Lyndonville accident

16. Albion man wins $300K in Lotto

17. Brothers open new winery in Murray

18. Tractor trailer gets stuck under railroad bridge in Holley

A tractor trailer got stuck under the railroad bridge on Oct. 13 in Holley, an occurrence that Fire Department officials say isn’t uncommon.

19. Handgun recovered after shot fired in Medina

20. Lyndonville teen will audition with ‘The Voice’

Lyndonville teen Salma Huzair will try out for “The Voice” this month. She is pictured in concert in Medina on Dec. 27.

 

2014: Best Submitted Photos from Readers of Orleans Hub

Orleans Hub readers regularly submit photos that help capture events and life in our community. Here are some of our favorite images captured by readers during 2014.

After another big snow, the weather warmed up on March 30, which was perfect for building a snowman. Isabelle Perez, top photo, stands next to a huge snowman she made with her family on Pearl Street in Medina. Her mother Ryin Moriarty took the photo.

“Let me introduce ‘Big,’ the 7-foot monster that is in our backyard!!” Moriarty said in an email.

LYNDONVILLE – Dena Scribner took these pictures on Jan. 13 of ice floating on Johnson Creek in Lyndonville. The ice is jammed in spots along the creek. The ice is on the move after a big thaw following very cold temperatures the previous week. This photo was taken from the Blood Road Bridge.


ALBION – Orleans Hub published many photos of Snowy Owls in Orleans County last winter with the majestic creatures spotted in Barre, Lyndonville and Kendall. In early January an owl was spotted in Albion in a corn field. Jaime Brennan shared this picture taken by her husband on Lattin Road.

ALBION – Peggy Barringer was out hunting the moon on Jan. 15 and took this striking photo of the moon looming over the Orleans County Courthouse and the County Clerks Building.


BARRE – Julie Miller of Barre on Jan. 22 took this picture of a sundog, which resembles a rainbow on a blistering cold day. She took it of a scene on Route 31A, west of Route 98 near Barre Stone Products.

CARLTON – Last winter was reportedly the coldest winter in about four decades. It felt like day after day of brutal, bitter cold. But Orleans County would still shine amidst the snow and ice. Rick Baase of Carlton took this picture on Jan. 28 of the sunrise when it was 2-below zero.


YATES – Fire caused significant damage on Jan. 28 to a house at 1429 Niagara-Orleans Countyline Rd. Ed Bouchane took this photo of the fire that broke out around 3 p.m. Several fire departments responded to the blaze in the Town of Yates.


BUFFALO – Two sisters – Jayne (right) and Emily Bannister from Point Breeze- are pictured March 3 after getting their heads shaved in the Goin’ Bald for Bucks fund-raiser for Roswell Park. They each set out to raise $1,000 for Roswell and far exceeded that, raising about $7,500 combined.

Their father Roger was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in November 2012. He started radiation and chemo in December 2012 and completed those treatments on Jan. 24, 2013. “Mainly, I just want to give back to the place that has helped my dad,” Jayne said.


HOLLEY – Megan Gotte, a registered nurse who lives in Kent, didn’t let a blizzard stop her on March 12 from providing care. Gotte rode her snowmobile to see a patient in Holley, who had to be seen that night. Gotte works as an evening nurse for HCR Home Care. She works with patients in Orleans and Genesee counties.


KENDALL – Rich Miller of Kendall took this photo on March 17 of the moon rising over Lake Ontario at Cleng Peerson’s Point. This is the spot at the north end of Kendall Road where it meets Lake Ontario. Norwegian immigrants settled in this area of Kendall.


KENDALL – The next morning after getting a picture of moon, Miller captured the sunrise on March 18 at the same spot over Lake Ontario at the north end of Kendall Road.

ALBION – Flames burst out of a car in the GCC parking lot at Albion on April 9. Helen Robare was at the scene and took this photo. Albion firefighters arrived quickly to douse the fire.

HULBERTON – A pickup truck driven by a Brockport man burst into flames after being struck by a train on May 19. Jimmie Jo Neary lives near the railroad tracks and took this photo. Lee D. Sietmann, driver of the truck, escaped serious injury when he drove the pickup truck across the tracks when the train was already on the “at-grade” crossing.

LYNDONVILLE – A double rainbow appeared at about 6:30 p.m. on May 30 after it rained in Lyndonville. Guin Panek took this photo at Oak Hill Farms owned by the Bentley family on the north side of Route 63.


MEDINA – After a storm barreled through Orleans County on June 17, knocking down trees and power lines, the sky turned a brilliant orange. Greg Stanton of Medina took this picture from his back yard on East Avenue.

GAINES – A black bear was spotted along Route 279, north of Route 104, on June 23. Cody Weese took this picture of the bear near an airfield. It then went into the hay field to the west.

POINT BREEZE – A big storm raged over Point Breeze on July 27. Steven Wilson of Albion headed to the Bridges, determined to get an image of the lightning. Wilson, an aspiring professional photographer, positioned himself near a closed down bridge by Narby’s. He aimed his camera to the big bridge on Route 18 that stretches across the Oak Orchard River. He wanted to capture the lightning over a local landmark.

BARRE – The leaves started to change colors in late September. Pamela Moore took a photo of the foliage at the waterfowl overlook on Albion Road.

CARLTON – Peg Wiley took this photo on Oct. while kayaking on the Oak Orchard River with her friend Cora Goyette. They are rounding a spot know as Fiddler’s Elbow. “So beautiful on the Oak this time of year,” Wiley said.

BARRE – Katlyn Moore was astonished on the morning of Nov. 19 when a baby Red-tailed Hawk landed on her front porch only about 3 feet away. “It only stuck around for a few seconds and left,” she said. “One of the most amazing things I have seen.”

LYNDONVILLE – After it rained on Nov. 24, a giant double rainbow soon followed in the afternoon. Jason Smith, Lyndonville Central School superintendent, took this picture that also shows the flag pole by the school district.

Medina earns third straight gridiron win over Albion; soccer and tennis titles

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina quarterback Jason Hellwig picks up yardage during the annual rivalry game as Albion’s Clayton Stanton tries to make the tackle. The Mustangs outlasted the Purple Eagles 46-30 to win the rivalry contest for the third year in a row.

Medina capped off the B North Division football season by notching a third straight victory over rival Albion in a free scoring 46-30 contest to retain the Doc’s Rock Trophy and clinch a berth in the Section VI Class B playoffs for the second year in a row.

Quarterback Jason Hellwig threw three touchdown passes connecting with Brett Pecoraro, Ty Hrovat and Brandon Schoolcraft, to lead the Medina attack. Hellwig, Pecoraro and Devin Joy also each rushed for a touchdown.

The Mustangs dropped a 42-6 decision to B North champion Bennett in the quarterfinal round of the sectionals.

Hellwig and Pecoraro both received honorable mention on the All-Western New York football squad.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – In just the third year of the merged program, the Medina/Lyndonville boys soccer team captured the Niagara-Orleans League championship. Here Josh Klotzbach advances the ball against Albion’s Marcos Sanchez.

Also in the fall, the Medina/Lyndonville boys soccer team captured the Niagara-Orleans League championship in the third year of the merged program.

Late season wins over Akron (3-0) and Roy-Hart (4-0) put a lock on the title as the Mustangs won a tight four-way battle for the crown with a 9-2-1 record.

The Medina tennis team captured a third straight N-O championship by posting a perfect 12-0 record.

The Mustang netters were led by first team N-O All-League honorees Ben Howell and Kristian Snyder; second team selections Brian Bogan, Nate Pace and Tristan Sanders and honorable mention pick Carson Zygoda.

The spring season also saw the shared services agreement between the Medina and Lyndonville school districts extended to include merged boys and girls track teams.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman

Ben Howell and his Mustang teammates captured the N-O championship for the third year in a row.

Tigers diamond title highlights Lyndonville’s year

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Lyndonvlle’s Chris Scroger and his Tiger teammates captured the Genesee Region League Division II baseball championship and also set a new school record with a season total of 19 victories.

Posting a near perfect 12-1 record, Lyndonville captured the Genesee Region League Division 2 baseball championship.

Lyndonville, which earned the No. 1 seed for the Section V Class DD playoffs, finished the season with a school record 19 wins against only two losses. The second of those losses was a 12-5 setback at the hands of Arkport in the semifinals of the Section V Class DD playoffs.

The Lyndonville softball squad also had a big spring going 15-4 and finishing second in the Section V Class D1 playoffs. The Lady Tigers defeated Hammondsport 8-2 and Elba 12-7 before bowing 9-2 to Arkport in the title contest.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Tony Recco captured a Section V title and went on to place third at the state championships.

Lyndonville’s Tony Recco captured both the Class B and Section V wrestling titles and went on to place third at the state small schools championships.

The Tiger matmen also had Dustin Joy win a Class B title while Devon Joy placed third at the state qualifier, Jeff Gress Jr. fifth and Tom Follman 6th.

Three Tiger athletes, Steven Anderson, Brian Anderson and James Ianni, were the top scorers on the merged Medina/Lyndonville boys soccer team which captured the Niagara-Orleans League title for the first time.

Soccer, basketball titles highlight Kendall’s year

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Kendall’s Taylor ReQua (10) and her Lady Eagle teammates captured both the Genesee Region League Division I and Section V Class CC titles.

For the second year in a row the Kendall High boys and girls soccer teams both captured Genesee Region League championships.

The Kendall boys posted an 8-0-2 record to retain the G-R title. The Lady Eagles compiled a 13-1-1 record to repeat as G-R Division 1 champs.

The Lady Eagles went on to to capture a Section V title for the first time in 11 years by outlasting Caledonia-Mumford 2-1 in double overtime. That dramatic win, on goals by Maya Rutland and Taylor Rutland, avenged a narrow 1-0 loss to Cal-Mum in the 2013 title contest.

However, the Lady Eagles dropped a narrow 1-0 decision to Avon in the Section V Class C state qualifier.

The Kendall boys were ousted in the Class C2 semifinals by Keshequa in a penalty kick shootout.

Both soccer teams had a player earn major post season honors as Maya Rutland and Jake Adams were named to the All-Greater Rochester and All-State squads.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Kendall’s Isaiah Brown (55) and his Eagle teammates ended the school’s decade long drought by capturing the G-R championship.

The Kendall boys varsity basketball team also ended a decade long title drought as the Eagles captured the G-R Division 1 title. The Eagles closed the regular season with a six game winning streak to clam the crown with a 12-4 record.

On the track, the Kendall girls 400 meter relay team finished second at the state small schools championship. That quartet included Maya Rutland, Taylor Rutland, Jaimie Smith and Taylor ReQua.

At the Section V Class C meet, in addition to the relay win, the Lady Eagles also had Maya Rutland win the 100 and Taylor Rutland the 200.

On the links, Kendall won the G-R League tournament and Evan Gaesser captured the individual title. Gaesser went on to also win the Section V Class C Tournament and placed fifth at the Super Sectionals to earn a spot on the Section V team which competed at the state championships.

On the baseball diamond, No. 10 seed Kendall upset three higher seeds (5-2 over No. 7 Dundee, 8-0 over No. 2 East Rochester and 6-3 over No. 3 Mynderse) before bowing 3-0 to No. 4 Avon in the Section V Class CC championship game.

New track, wrestling title take year’s spotlight at Holley

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Holley’s new track facility opened this past spring. Here Monica Merlau of the Hawks runs a leg of the meet opening 3200 relay during the inaugural competition.

Holley High’s athletic facilities got a big boost when the Hawks new all weather track opened this past spring.

On the track, Holley’s Martin Beadle won the 1600 and steeplechase at the Genesee Region All-League meet. He went on to win the steeplechase at the Section V Class C meet and took second in the 1600 at the state qualifier.

Holley track Coach Art Goldstein was inducted into the Section V Track and Field Hall of Fame.

On the mats, the Holley wresting squad captured the G-R title for the 21st time in the last 25 years. A narrow 35-33 win over Alexander clinched the title for Holley which earlier in the season posted a key 42-29 victory over Byron-Bergen.

At the state qualifier, the Hawks had Beadle and Kevin Avery both place fourth.

Jim Ferris was inducted into the Holley Sports Wall of Fame.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Holley’s Brandon Morrell and his Hawk teammates captured the Genesee Region League championship.

Barker cagers end long title drought, field hockey, X-C teams keep rolling

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Barker’s Bryce Moeller (13) and his Raider teammates ended the school’s nearly 70 year long Niagara-Orleans League basketball title drought by capturing the championship with a perfect 14-0 record.

Ending a nearly 70 year long drought, the Barker High boys varsity basketball team compiled a perfect 14-0 record to capture the Raiders first Niagara-Orleans League title since the 1944-45 season.

The Raiders were led by seniors Jacob Haight and Mitch Luckman, who both earned first team N-O All-League honors, senior Bryce Moeller and junior Christopher Sweeney who were second team selections and senior Hayden Gooding who was an Honorable Mention pick.

Barker in fact compiled a 19-0 record before bowing 62-48 to Silver Creek in the semifinals of the Section VI Class C-1 playoffs.

In the fall, both the Barker field hockey and boys cross-country teams extended their N-O and Section VI title reigns.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Barker’s Melissa Grosshans (23) and her Lady Raider teammates successfully defended their Section VI Class C title with a win over rival Akron. The Lady Raiders also successfully defended their N-O title.

The Barker field hockey team compiled a perfect 14-0 record to claim a ninth straight N-O championship. The Raiders two wins over runner-up Akron by margins of 1-0 and 4-0 highlighted that title campaign.

The Raiders went on to win a seventh straight Section VI Class C title by nipping Akron 2-1 in the finals.

However, the Lady Raiders bid for a return trip to the state final four was ended in the Far West Regional as East Rochester edged past Barker 1-0.

Barker had seniors Gabby Clare and Melissa Grosshans both earn first team All-Western New York honors.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Barker’s Sergio Cruz, shown here in the lead at the All-League meet, helped lead the Raiders to a successful defense of both their N-O and Section VI Class D titles.

The Barker boys cross-country captured the N-O championship for the second year in a row and the sixth time in the last seven years by romping to a 42 point victory over runner-up Albion at the All-League meet held at Lakeside Beach State Park.

Barker junior Sergio Cruz repeated as the All-League meet’s individual winner to lead the Raiders which also had Doug Bachman, Jack Hopkins and Dustin Walters sweep the fourth through sixth spots and Casey Webb and Christopher Sweeney take the eighth and ninth spots.

Barker then successfully defended its Section VI Class D title by besting runner-up Maple Grove.

The Raiders went on to finish a close second (74 points to 80) to Beaver River at the state championships as Cruz earned All-State honors with a top 20 finish. It marked the seventh straight year that Barker has finished in the top three at the state meet.

Albion baseball and volleyball teams enjoy two title seasons

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s Dominic DiCureia gets an out at second base during the Purple Eagles Class A2 title win over Springville. The Niagara-Oreans League champion Purple Eagles went on to also claim the overall Section VI Class A title.

Both on the baseball diamond and the volleyball court Albion High teams captured a pair of championships this past year.

Compiling a 13-1 record, the Albion varsity baseball team captured the Niagara-Orleans League championship for the third year in a row.

Keeping the momentum, the Purple Eagles went on to claim the Section VI Class A crown. Albion first defeated Springville 8-3 for the Class A2 title and then nipped Starpoint 2-1 for the overall Class A championship and a berth in the state playoffs.

The Purple Eagles bid for top state honors though was dashed in the Far West Regional as Section V champion Pittsford Sutherland rallied in the final inning to nip Albion 3-2.

Two Albion seniors, pitcher/shortstop Connor Barleben and catcher John Warne, both earned first team All-Western New York honors and were also named to the Class A All-State squad.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion volleyball players had plenty of reason to celebrate as the Purple Eagles captured both the N-O League and Section VI Class B-2 titles.

The Albion varsity volleyball team made it two straight 12-0 N-O championship years.

The Purple Eagle spikers likewise kept the momentum by registering three straight set victories in a row to claim the Section VI Class B2 title. Albion bested Cheektowaga in the title match.

However, Albion’s bid to gain a berth in the state playoffs was ended as eventual state champion Williamsville South defeated the Purple Eagles in three straight sets for the overall Section VI Class B title.

A trio of Albion players earned Al-WNY honors including junior Kelsee Soule (first team), sophomore Chanyce Powell (second team) and junior Meghan Hurley (Honorable Mention).

The spring season also saw the Albion girls track team’s 400 meter relay team of Kayla Doyle, Abby Squicciarini, Mariah Elsenheimer and Chanyce Powell place first at the Section VI small schools championships and third at the state small schools championships.

This fall the Albion boys soccer team avenged a pair of regular season losses by upsetting rival Medina/Lyndonville 1-0 in the semifinal round of the Section VI Class B1 playoffs. The Purple Eagles then bowed to top seeded East Aurora in the title contest.

This is the first in a series of stories that will appear today and Thursday reviewing the top area school and community sports events from this past year.

2014 Person of the Year: Volunteer Firefighter

Photos by Tom Rivers – Two firefighters battle smoke at a fire on Phipps Road in Albion on Sept. 19.

They will respond within minutes when a house is on fire, cars collide, or residents need help, whether it’s a heart attack, a senior citizen who has fallen or a basement that is flooded.

The 500 active volunteer firefighters make a world of difference in Orleans County and then do it without collecting a dollar for their efforts.

Firefighters were called to a house fire in Eagle Harbor after midnight on April 20, which was also Easter morning.

Orleans Hub frequently posts photos of firefighters in action at fires. But that is only a small fraction of their effort. There are numerous other calls each day for issues ranging from abdominal pain, fire alarm, overdose/poisoning, vehicle fire, “unknown problem/man down,” fainting, sick person, cardiac arrest, breathing problems and many other issues. And that’s only in the past few days.

These calls come at all hours of the day. Firefighters will respond in the middle of night and then go to work on little to no sleep.

Albion Fire Department Captain Jared Hapemen, right, and his brother Jason pump out a basement on West Academy Street in Albion after the ice storm hit the area last December.

There are 12 fire departments in the county and they will repsond to nearly 8,000 calls this year.

They will answer calls when it’s 90 degrees out on a major holiday or they will be out in sub-freezing temperatures for hours on end.

It was 2-below zero on Jan. 3 when fire tore through a farmhouse on East Barre Road in Barre. Several fire departments were on the scene for hours.

All the local fire departments are staffed by volunteers, except Medina Fire Department which has 13 full-time paid staff, as well as two temporary paid positions.

Medina is the primary ambulance provider for the western end of the county, and increasingly handles calls in eastern Niagara and central Orleans. The paid Medina firefighters are also trained to handle the ambulance calls. Those firefighters essentially cover their own salaries with the revenue they bring in through the ambulance calls. They join volunteers on many calls.

Two Carlton firefighters face a house engulfed in flames on Nov. 7 on Kent Road.

There is a lot of talk these days about shared services and local municipalities needing to work together. The local fire departments have been a model of cooperation for decades. They join in mutual aid and work together without egos getting in the way.

They save lives and property. They save taxpayers lots of money.

They make our community stronger through their commitment to caring for neighbors.

Lyndonville firefighter Ashton Lang meets with elementary students on Oct. 7 during a fire prevention program at the school.

They teach children about fire prevention, knowledge that no doubt keeps many fires from ever starting.

Firefighters treat each other like family, looking out for one another especially during a time of need.

When Jon DeYoung, deputy fire chief at Clarendon was battling colon cancer for the second time, firefighters in the East Battalion did a boot drive on Sept. 20.

In the above photo, his son Jon DeYoung Jr. accepts money from a motorist in the boot drive at the intersection of routes 31 and 237. Firefighters collected funds for DeYoung while he was receiving treatments at the Cleveland Clinic.

DeYoung has been a long-time leader for the Clarendon Fire Company, earning respect and admiration in the community, said Fire Chief Bob Freida.

“He’s an outstanding person who wouldn’t think twice about helping someone else in the community,” Freida said at the boot drive.

John L. Miller returned as a Shelby volunteer firefighter on Dec. 11 and also returned to work as an emergency medical technician with Mercy EMS in Batavia. He thanked the firefighting family for helping during his recovery from a serious car accident on Aug. 1.

When John Miller, the EMS captain in Shelby, was seriously injured in an August car accident, Shelby firefighters helped care for his children and provided meals for his family during his recovery. Miller, 36, returned to work and active service with the fire department in mid-December.

“As far as being a fire company, we’re a family at Shelby,” Miller said. “I knew I had a long road ahead of me, but I had a great group of friends with me along the way.”

Firefighters train for all kinds of emergencies. Each year they put in about 10,000 hours of official training for fire and EMS.

The photo above shows firefighters from Barre, Shelby and Ridgeway dousing a live fire training trailer owned by the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control. The trailer simulates a fire at an ethanol tanker.

Firefighters do a lot of other work in the community. In Medina, they collect and deliver toys to about 100 families each holiday season in a project coordinated by the Medina Area Association of Churches.

In above photo, firefighters from Ridgeway, Shelby, East Shelby and Medina all volunteered on Dec. 20 to deliver boxes of toys to families and food to senior citizens.

Firefighters also add energy and a presence to local parades, including the Nov. 29 Parade of Lights in Medina, when several local departments decorated big fire trucks in Christmas lights. East Shelby firefighters, including fire chief Mike Fuller (right), dressed as reindeer for the parade.

Photo courtesy of Rocky Sidari, Albion fire chief

The mutual aid network spreads beyond Orleans County. When Buffalo was hit with two monster snowstorms last month, 60 firefighters spent several days in the Buffalo area, helping stranded motorists and responding to other emergency calls.

Firefighters used all-terrain four-wheelers to check on stranded motorists in Lackawanna in the above photo. They took motorists to a fire hall in Lackawanna.

In all of these ways, and many more, Orleans Hub thanks firefighters for giving so much of themselves to their neighbors.

I’d also like to thank the fire police for letting me get close to some of these scenes. One of the long-time firefighters, Richard Cary of Holley, died unexpectedly on Nov. 27 at age 73. He volunteered for decades with the Holley Fire Department, most recently with the fire police. He is pictured above, center, on Route 31 just west of Holley. The road was closed on April 23 for several hours after an 18-wheel tractor-trailer rolled over.

Cary and all of the firefighters are role models for community service.

Top Stories of 2014

Dissolution in Medina proves contentious topic

New chain stores and other businesses came into Orleans County in 2014, while one manufacturer made a big investment in Medina and another closed its doors.

The Point Breeze community saw a long-time golf course turned into corn fields, while two marina operators, with years of experience, sold to a new operator.

A Carlton man was convicted in a brutal murder of his girlfriend, and the community endured the tragic death of a Medina native, a paratrooper in the Army, in a training accident.

George Maziarz, Orleans County’s representative in State Senate, made a sudden announcement in July that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election. That triggered a scramble for his successor with Ron Ortt, the North Tonawanda mayor, winning the seat.

The most enduring story, the one that dominated headlines all year, was the issue of dissolution. Medina village officials and residents studied the issue for several months. Dissolution will go to a vote on Jan. 20.

Here are Orleans Hub’s picks for the top 10 stories for 2014 in Orleans County:

1. Medina dissolution stirs hope and discord

Photos by Tom Rivers

Neil Sambovski of Ridgeway, an outside-village resident, on May 7 speaks against dissolution of the village because it would drive up taxes for residents in the town.

To lower taxes in the village and raise falling assessments, Medina Mayor Andrew Meier sees dissolution of the village government as the best option. That was also the conclusion of a committee of local residents and a consultant.

“Unless we unify and fix our tax problem once and for all we will miss the boat,” Meier said on April 10 when a Dissolution Committee presented its plan for dissolving the village government. “This is our one bite at the apple, at meaningful reform perhaps in our entire generation.’

But dissolution has been bitterly fought in 2014 by town officials in Shelby and Ridgeway, many village employees and some Medina residents. The two towns put out mailers, hired consultants and established a web site to attack the dissolution plan.

They say dissolution provides too little in savings and too much in unknowns.

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier sees a dissolution of the village and the consolidation of the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway as the best chance to significantly reduce the community’s taxes, which are currently the highest in the Finger Lakes region. He was joined at the press conference on April 10 by Don Colquhoun, chairman of the Medina Dissolution Committee (center), and Nathan Pace, chairman of One Medina.

About 300 people attended a public meeting on May 7 at Wise Middle School, and impassioned groups attended Dissolution Committee meetings and Village Board sessions.

“They’re diverting the tax from people in the village to people outside the village,” Hannah Brant, a village resident with property in the two towns, said during the May 7 public forum. “It’s driving a lot of fear into the community.”

A citizens’ petition finally forced the issue, with the vote set for Jan. 20. Meier and many dissolution supporters see it as the best hope for lowering taxes in Medina, which has the highest tax rate in the Finger Lakes region at $54 per $1,000. Dissolution would chop about $6 off the rate for village residents.

The Shelby and Ridgeway residents outside the village would see their town taxes go up 10 percent in Shelby and 46 percent in Ridgeway, according to a Dissolution Plan that town officials say they aren’t obligated to follow.

Dissolution foes believe the village taxes could be reduced with shared services, more state aid from the county and state, or a change from Medina as a village to a city.

The issue is being closed watched throughout the county, especially in other villages that have combined tax rates nearly as high as Medina’s.

2. Punishing weather knocks out power, closes schools and paralyzes community

On March 12 a blizzard hit, dropping about a foot of snow on the county. This photo shows traffic creeping along Main Street in Albion by the Presbyterian Church and the county courthouse.

It was one of the harshest winters in recent memory, with prolonged stretches of temperatures in the single digits or below zero. We had an official blizzard on March 12.

The National Weather Service frequently put out warnings and advisories about dangerous wind chills, flood watches and hazardous weather. The Sheriff’s Department issued travel advisories. The governor declared a state of emergency. Local schools closed.

When the winter finally relented, the area was hit with a destructive wind storm on June 17 that knocked out power for more than 3,00 homes and forced schools to close for Regents.

Barbara Tice, left, was out on June 18 picking up branches from a fallen tree in Lyndonville. She was joined by friend Jocelyn Munn.

3. Brunner expands, and former Bernz-O-Matic shuts down

Brunner workers use a forge to heat up parts to 2,200 degrees. The company committed to a $13.5 million expansion in 2014, and will likely add 60 workers to the existing workforce of 390.

The community waited for several months to hear the official word on whether Brunner International would expand in Medina or in another state. In June the company made it official: It would grow in Medina.

Brunner committed to a $13.5 million expansion, adding 48,000 square feet to its complex at the corner of Bates Road and Route 31.

Brunner started in Medina 1992 with six employees. Brunner makes brakes and components for heavy-duty trucks and trailers. It has steadily grown in the past 22 years, reaching 390 employees when the expansion was announced in June. It expects to add 60 more workers with the addition.

The company’s presence has helped fill the gap left by Fisher-Price, which laid off 700 workers in Medina in 1995. The expansion announced this year also softened the blow when another manufacturer announced it was closing.

Worthington Industries closed its Medina plant on July 31 on Bernz-O-Matic Drive.

Worthington Industries shut down in Medina on July 31 and shifted the production to a site in Wisconsin. Worthington made torches in Medina and employed 152 people at the former Bernz-O-Matic.

Worthington bought Bernz-O-Matic in 2011. Bernz-O-Matic had operated in Medina since 1969. By shifting the torch production to Wisconsin, Worthington said it can do everything at one site, saving in transportation costs.

4. Chain stores step up efforts in Orleans

The new Dunkin’ Donuts takes shape in Albion on Main Street next to Tim Hortons in this photo in July. JFJ Holdings, based in North Andover, Mass., is the owner of the new stores in Albion and Medina.

Dunkin’ Donuts built two new stores in Orleans County in 2014, with the first opening in Albion on August 23 and the other opening in Medina on Dec. 30.

The chain presence expanded beyond coffee stores. A new 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store opened on Oct. 15 at the corner of routes 63 and 104 in the Town of Ridgeway. The store is owned by Development Unlimited of WNY LLC of Buffalo. It demolished a house and silo at the northeast corner of the intersection.

The Dollar General helps fill a void in the community with the closing of the Pennysaver Market in Lyndonville, Yates Town Supervisor John Belson said.

At least one new chain store is in the pipeline for 2015. A North Carolina company, The Durban Group, is proposing an 8,320-square-foot Family Dollar on Maple Ridge Road in Medina, almost across the street from Tim Hortons.

Critics say the stores, in a county with a shrinking population, will absorb diminishing dollars in the community, making it harder for independent merchants to start businesses or make a profit.

Taras Salamaca, left, and his brother Alex opened Salamaca Estate Winery at the corner of Hindsburg Road and Route 104 in the Town of Murray on Oct. 17. The winery and its tasting room are located in a barn from 1898.

5. Several new locally owned businesses open, including 2 wineries

Several residents see the county as fertile ground for starting a business. Two new wineries – Salamaca Estate Winery in Murray and 810 Meadworks in Medina – both opened in 2014 and are on the Niagara Wine Trail, which now spreads across Orleans to Rochester.

“We really appreciate a small town that embraces its history,” said Bryan DeGraw, Meadworks 810 co-owner. “And from a business standpoint, Medina is in the center of the Niagara Wine Trail. That is an absolutely great place to be.”

Tillman’s Village Inn also expanded, several antique and collectible stores opened in the county, and other businesses grew or opened their doors for the first time.

Bryan DeGraw, back left, talks about mead with people on the Ale in Autumn tasting event on Sept. 27 in Medina. 810 Meadworks officially opened in November, the first downtown meadery/winery in the county.

6. George Maziarz shocks GOP with sudden announcement he is retiring

George Maziarz receives a standing ovation during the Orleans County Republican Fall Rally on Oct. 24 at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Holley.

George Maziarz seemed headed for another two-year term in Albany as state senator. He lined up endorsements and was out campaigning. But in mid-July he announced he didn’t want to continue with the demanding workload, the back and forth travel to Albany and the pressures of public office.

Maziarz’s sudden announcement in July forced Republican Party leaders to find a new candidate. They picked North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, who won a Republican Primary in September over Gia Arnold of Holley. Ortt then cruised to an election win in November over Johnny Destino, who had the Democratic Party endorsement.

The area will lose a lot of clout in Albany with Maziarz’s retirement. He was one of the top-tanking Republicans in the Senate. He served in the Senate since 1995. He also was highly visible in his district, which covered Niagara, Orleans and a western portion of Monroe County.

Maziarz was credited with helping advance many projects in Orleans, including the construction of the $90 million ethanol plant in Medina by Western New York Energy. Maziarz said he tried to direct more low-cost hydropower allocations to projects in the county.

7. Community mourns tragic deaths

More than 100 motorcyclists served as escorts for Sgt. Shaina Schmigel when her motorcade passed through downtown Medina on June 9.

Local residents mourned the loss of friends and neighbors in 2014. There was a big outpouring of support and grief for Sgt. Shaina Schmigel, a paratrooper from Medina who died May 30 during a night-time training drill at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division. She was in the Army for four years, and was promoted to sergeant in January.

“She wanted to go for all she could go for,” said Keith Gilbert, a close family friend from the town of Alabama. “She wasn’t afraid of anything.”

Schmigel was a cheerleader at Medina, a member of the Class of 2010.

The Medina community also mourned the loss of 15-year-old Jacob A. Stahl, who died in an accidental shooting on Oct. 17. Stahl, a 10th grade student at Medina High School, was with a teen-age friend in an upstairs bedroom at Stahl’s home in West Shelby when the incident occurred.

Sheriff’s investigators said Stahl’s death was a tragic accident that resulted from the careless handling of a loaded firearm.

A long-time Main Street merchant in Albion, who also was active in local politics, died in a Dec. 12 fire at his shop, Nayman’s. Francis Nayman was 76 and had battled health issues in recent years. He was still determined to go to his small engine repair business. The fire and death have been ruled accidental with no foul play suspected, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni said.

8. Frederick Miller found guilty of murder

In a crime a judge called one of the most painful and torturous of his career, Frederick Miller of Carlton was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder of his girlfriend.

Frederick Miller will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after killing his girlfriend on March 4, 2013. The case was delayed several times but finally went to trial with the jury convicting Miller of second-degree murder on Sept. 17. That followed a trial when he admitted to stabbing Rachel Miller with scissors. Rachel was still alive after being stabbed nine times with scissors.

She fled their house on Oak Orchard Road in Carlton and Miller broke off a metal Posted sign. Miller struck her three times in the head. Her body was discovered the morning of March 4, 2013 by a passing school bus driver.

“She lived a life of giving,” Rachel’s son Cody Miller said at sentencing. “She never wanted anything but happiness. The world kept taking from here but she fought back by giving.”

His mother worked at The Arc of Orleans County and Rainbow Preschool as a speech therapist.

There were at least two other high-profile cases in court this year, both involving Kendall men.

Carlos Botello, 42, was sentenced to 9 years in prison on April 14 after he faced attempted murder charges of a state trooper. Botello pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder on Feb. 3. He admitted in court that he backed a car towards state trooper Dan Metz and smashed into the trooper’s patrol car on Sept. 3, 2013.

Dennis Buehler, 64, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison on Jan. 6 for second-degree attempted murder and third-degree arson.

Buehler shot his wife and set his house on fire on March 4, 2013, the same day Frederick Miller committed his crime. Buehler was called “an extremely evil person,” by Judge James Punch. Buehler’s wife survived the gunshot wound. The house burned to the ground.

9. New look and owners at Point Breeze businesses

The Harbor Pointe Country Club was transformed from a golf course into corn fields this year.

Businesses don’t change hands too often at Point Breeze. But 2014 saw some long-established businesses get sold.

The most dramatic change was the sale of the Harbor Pointe Country Club on Route 98 in Carlton to Lynn-Ette and Sons. Harbor Pointe had been a golf course for 50 years. Lynn-Ette and Sons turned the course into cornfields.

The Cardone family had owned Harbor Pointe since 1981. The golf business has struggled in the region in recent years, due to the economy and increased competition with many golf courses, Joe Cardone said.

Gatlen Ernst took over two marinas along the Oak Orchard River this year. Ernst, an employee at Lake Breeze Marina for 10 years, purchased the marina in March from Doug and Janice Bennett.

“He’s been a good employee and he had the desire,” Mr. Bennett said. “Everybody likes Gatlen and everybody knows him. It should be a smooth takeover for him.”

Ernst owns the marina business, which he renamed Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina. He purchased the real estate in a partnership with Rod Farrow, a Lake Breeze customer. Farrow is an apple farmer who lives on the other side of the Oak Orchard River.

The two also worked together to acquire Four C’s Marina from Gene Christopher and his family. They had operated that marina for more than three decades.

Gatlen Ernst and his fiancé Danielle Daniels, right, are pictured with the Christophers, from left: Darrick, Gene and David. Ernst acquired Four C’s Marina in August.

In another change in the Carlton business community, Paula Nesbitt and her family purchased Bertsch’s Good Earth Market on Route 98 and renamed the business The Vintage Apple Garden. Dave and Sharon Bertsch and their daughter Heather Tabor and her husband Jim opened Bertsch’s 14 years ago.

10. Snowy Owls, bears create a stir

Provided photo – Vince Flow of Kendall captured this closeup of a Snowy Owl in Kendall.

It was a historic winter for Snowy Owl sightings. They typically stay in Canada for the winter, but there were many owls in Orleans County. Residents and visitors went on expeditions in the rural countryside with cameras trying to get pictures of the owls.

When the weather warmed up, residents started spotting a different creature in the county. Bears were seen throughout the county, including in Albion, about a mile from the village line.

Brittany Kennedy took this photo of a bear on Aug. 11 at her West Kendall Road home. The black bear went up on her porch and sifted through a recycling bin and grabbed a coffee can.

‘Outstanding Citizens’ serve community in many ways

Several residents deserve to be recognized as “Outstanding Citizens” for their efforts to make Orleans County a better place this past year. They did many good deeds for little to no pay, driven by a love for their community and neighbors.

Orleans Hub is pleased to recognize the following:

Leader of Lawn Chair Ladies adds excitement to local parades, community events

Photos by Tom Rivers – Kim Corcoran leads the Lawn Chair Ladies at a local parade.

When the Town of Kendall celebrated its 200th birthday in 2012, Kim Corcoran and some of her friends decided to add some excitement to the local parade. Corcoran and her friends formed the Lawn Chair Ladies and had a dance routine on the parade route. The women, while wearing pink boas, choreographed a number with lawn chairs.

They were an immediate sensation and now perform at many community events during the year. The group has 18 members who practice regularly.

“I didn’t have any hopes beyond that summer,” said Corcoran, the group’s leader. “It’s been really fun getting all of my old buddies together.”

Corcoran grew up in Kendall and was in the marching band. After a 35-year career in New York City in the advertising and publishing business, Corcoran moved back to her hometown in June 2011. She attended the parade at the Kendall Firemen’s Carnival and thought it was missing some excitement that June.

The Lawn Chair Ladies formed to add some pep to the local parade and haven’t skipped a beat since, performing in Kendall, Holley and Brockport, with requests for other events. Corcoran also has been appointed the town historian.

Volunteer event planner adds much to Medina’s cultural life

A giant snowman makes its way down Main Street in a lighted float by MAK Plowing and Landscape in Medina on Nov. 29. Jim Hancock coordinates the parade that includes many businesses, civic groups and other organizations.

Since he retired as director of the Job Development Agency in Orleans County, Jim Hancock has been busy working for free for the Medina community. He heads the Medina Tourism Committee and makes sure a visitor center inside Medina City Hall is staffed during the summer.

He plans an annual concert by the Canal Basin, and has been instrumental in establishing the Medina Sandstone hall of Fame inside City Hall. Hancock visits all of the nominated sites, which stretch throughout New York State and to Erie, Pa.

Jim Hancock, a member of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame committee, discusses the Million-Dollar Staircase in Albany, which was partially built with Medina Sandstone. The Staircase has been nominated for the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame.

Hancock spearheads one of Medina’s most popular events: the annual Parade of Lights on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It has turned into a mega-draw for Medina, filling the downtown and some side streets with thousands of people. The number of glowing floats increases each year. It is a great display of community pride.

Resident does the research and convinces government to name creek for pioneer

Al Capurso is pictured on a pedestrian bridge over Gilbert Creek in the Town of Gaines.

For about two centuries Orleans County residents passed by a creek in Gaines and Carlton. The unnamed waterway has remained largely unspoiled and undisturbed.

Al Capurso wanted it to have a name and to honor a pioneer resident who lived next to the creek more than 200 years ago.

For more than a year he researched the 6.5-mile creek that starts near Brown Road and heads northeast to Marsh Creek in Carlton. Capurso pushed for the waterway to honor Elizabeth Gilbert, the first settler on Ridge Road in Orleans County.

Gilbert and her husband built their cabin in 1807. Mr. Gilbert died soon after they settled, and his wife was left to raise a family and make a life in the wilderness of the Niagara frontier.

It took Capurso a year of lining up local support, and gaining permission from the federal Bureau of Geographic Names. The agency on April 10 formally approved the naming request.

Capurso painted a wooden sign with the name, “Gilbert Creek.” It stands by Ridge Road, next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church.

During the May 24 dedication program, State Sen. George Maziarz praised Capurso for working through the bureaucracy to get the creek named for one of the county’s pioneers.

“There is no better title than a citizen who loves his community, who respects his community,” Maziarz said about Capurso.

Al Capurso’s son Dan unveils the sign for Gilbert Creek by Ridge Road during a dedication program on May 24.

Resident spearheads effort to feed the hungry in Medina area

Bilal Huzair stacks up some frozen pizzas on Dec. 20 during a Foodlink delivery in Medina next to the Old Mill Run Restaurant on Route 63.

About two years ago Bilal Huzair and his family opened the Old Mill Run Restaurant on Route 63, just south of Maple Ridge Road. Huzair met many local residents and had a sense that many were struggling to buy groceries.

Huzair and other members of the World Life Institute connected with Foodlink about doing a food drop-off in Medina the first and third Saturdays each month. Huzair didn’t know what to expect – just how many people would show up for fruits, vegetables and other food.

The program started in November 2013 and quickly drew big crowds with about 200 people standing in line, with many there two hours ahead of time. Another 200-plus are given food, with deliveries by friends and World Life Institute volunteers.

Many of the people in line are senior citizens on fixed incomes. They see their income consumed by medical bills, prescriptions and other bills.

“We didn’t have an expectation,” Huzair said about how many people would seek the food. “We just knew there was a need.”

An anonymous donor has been paying Foodlink for the food that is given out. Huzair manages the volunteers and keeps the program running smoothly.

“These are people who genuinely need things,” he said.

Assemblyman leads veterans on trips to DC

Provided photo – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, lower right, is pictured on Sept. 19 with a group of veterans in Washington D.C. on seventh annual Patriot Trip. About 100 people travelled to the nation’s capitol with Hawley to tour war memorials.

Many politicians say they value veterans, but Steve Hawley may be the only elected official in the country who leads about 100 people each year to Washington, D.C. Veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War can tour the war memorials.

It is a meaningful trip for veterans and their families and Hawley and his staff deserve praise for all of the effort. Hawley has coordinated the Patriot Trip for seven years with about 750 people travelling to the nation’s capital.

“The Patriot Trip is a token of my appreciation for the men and women who have served our country with courage and honor,” Hawley said in September, when the group headed to DC.

Hawley isn’t an Orleans County resident. He is from Batavia. He has kept his district office in Albion, even when redistricting shifted the district south with more of Genesee County. He has shown his commitment to Orleans County residents.

Historian helps awaken Clarendon to celebrated past

Melissa Ierlan, the Clarendon town historian and president of the Historical Society, unveils a historical marker on Sept. 21 for Hillside Cemetery, which last year was named to National Register of Historic Places.

In recent years, Melissa Ierlan has helped save the Old Stone Store in Clarendon, erect historical markers, and get sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ierlan has also been good about forming partnerships and connecting with residents and preservationists. She scored a big win in 2014 by celebrating the life and legacy of Clarendon’s native son, Carl Akeley.

Last spring the Clarendon Historical Society was brainstorming programs for the upcoming year. The group considered famous people from Clarendon’s past to feature. Someone mentioned Akeley, one of the most acclaimed taxidermists in the world.

It just happened to be his 150th birthday on May 19. The Historical Society decided to throw Akeley a big party. They invited author Jay Kirk, who wrote a biographical novel about Akeley called “Kingdom Under Glass.”

Provided photo – Carl Akeley is pictured with a leopard in Africa that he killed with his bare hands after it attacked him.

Prominent taxidermists also joined 150 people at the May 21 bash for Akeley. The celebration would link Ierlan, the Historical Society president, with prominent taxidermists who have long wanted to honor Akeley. The taxidermists gave Ierlan several Akeley mementos, including a gorilla death mask, to display at the Town Hall. The taxidermists also started raising $8,000 for a monument to be set in Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon in honor of Akeley.

Akeley was also a prolific inventor and world traveller. He died of a fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1926, and is buried there.

Ierlan has travelled to New York City with other Historical Society members to see The Akeley Hall of African Mammals, which showcases large mammals of Africa that Akeley killed and stuffed. She and members of the Cobblestone Society Museum are working with a taxidermist to restore a stuffed fox done by Akeley as a teen.

The Historical Society also is working on Akeley’s 151st birthday party in 2015.

Albion couple teaches 4-H’ers about science through Legos, robotics

Erik Seielstad has volunteered as mentor in the Lego program since it started in 2012. He is pictured with Dan Squire, 13, of Medina in this photo from early November.

Four years ago Erik and Marlene Seielstad pushed to start a robotics program through 4-H in Orleans County. High schoolers program a robot to perform tasks, including picking up and shooting a basketball.

“Joe’s Average Slackers” were born, and they have competed in regional events. The Seielstads serve as mentors and their son Morgan is a senior in the program this year.

Many parents pushed the Seielstads to start a Lego team for kids in elementary and middle school, and the Seielstads three years ago agreed to coach the team. The The First Lego League proved popular and expanded to three teams last year and a fourth team this year. There are about 40 kids under the guidance of the Seielstads with some help from parents.

Marlene Seielstad, right, talks with members of the Prehistoric Robots team during a competition at Churchville-Chili on Nov. 15.

The Seielstads have been honored for their volunteer efforts by the FLL regional leaders. Most teams are led by paid staff in school districts.

Mr. Seielstad works as a systems engineer in Rochester. He said the students are all learning math and science skills, as well as teamwork.

“The kids get the opportunity to work together and accomplish things,” Seielstad said during a November practice.

His wife is a member of the Albion Board of Education. She keeps the teams organized and funded. She has numerous businesses backing the robotics and Lego teams.

The Seielstads believed the program could work in rural Orleans County. They have been the drivers of its success.

“I find it overwhelming that this has occurred,” Mrs. Seielstad said. “Our uniqueness is we have people from all over our county, as well as kids from other counties.”

Orleans Hub plans to honor the “Outstanding Citizens” during a reception in early 2015.

Photographer picks her favorite sports photos from 2014

Orleans Hub sports photographer Cheryl Wertman has picked her 16 favorite pictures from 2014, including the top photo of Holley centerfielder Nick Passarell diving for a flyball in a win over rival Kendall.

Wertman also likes this picture of Albion’s Justyn Haines pole vaulting with the American flag in the background.

To see all of her favorites, click here.

2014: Portraits and Personalities

Photos by Tom Rivers

Orleans County residents and visitors found a lot of ways to express themselves – in joy and sorrow – during 2014. Here are some of my favorite photos of people in our surroundings from the past year.

In the top photo, Albion firefighter Carmen Quatro watches the fireworks while standing on top of a fire truck at Bullard Park on July 5. The Albion community was treated to a fireworks show as well as free food and games thanks to the Tonawanda Indian Baptist Church in Basom.

Derrick Bradley, wearing a skunk costume, joins local residents on Feb. 22 as they respond to protestors against the annual “Squirrel Slam” fundraiser in Holley. Friends of Animals in New York protested the event.

Edgar Rosario has his face painted for the “Day of the Dead/All Saints Day” on Nov. 10 at Mariachi de Oro Mexican Grill, a restaurant where his father Francisco Rosario is co-owner. Edgar is pictured near murals inside the restaurant near the bar.

Carl Sargent woke up to another snowstorm on Feb. 10. He was out shoveling that morning on Caroline Street in Albion.

Karalyn Klotzbach walked down Main Street in the parade with her mother Katie Klotzbach and other members of the Panek family during the Strawberry Festival parade on June 14.

Anna Oakley of Kendall rides the Super Trooper carnival ride on July 10 during opening day of the Kendall Fire Department carnival. A full moon is in the distance. The three-day event is a much-anticipated reunion for many residents and former Kendall community members.


Two people embrace after a motorcade passed through downtown Medina on June 9. Several hundred people lined Main Street and saluted as a motorcade passed by carrying the body of Sgt. Shaina Schmigel, 21.

Schmigel, a Medina native, was killed May 30 during a night-time training drill. She was a paratrooper at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division. She was in the Army for four years, and was promoted to sergeant in January.

“It’s important that we support our service people,” said Sherri Luthart of Medina. “I get all choked up about it. She paid the ultimate price for our freedom.”

Ed Salvatore serves up plates of spaghetti at the Albion Exempts Club on Jan. 9. Salvatore, Albion’s mayor for eight years from 1998 to 2006, considered running for the Village Board again for the March election but decided against it.

The Exempts would decide later in the year to stop serving the spaghetti dinners every Thursday.

Dan Geasser, a former Kendall town supervisor, speaks against a tax abatement plan for The Cottages at Troutburg. The Town Hall was packed for the Jan. 15 public hearing on the 10-year tax plan that would save The Wegman Group $227,777 in taxes. The plan would later be approved by the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

Medina Sandstone Society President Bob Waters, right, chats with village resident Roland Howell during a reception at the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame on Feb. 1. The Sandstone Society inducted its first HOF class on Dec. 12. It would add historical images of immigrant quarry workers. The enlarged photos are on hanging inside the main meeting room at Medina City Hall, where the plaques for the six inaugural inductees are displayed.

It looked like a white planet when firefighters, including Dan Strong of Carlton, responded to a chimney fire on Ridge Road in Gaines during a blizzard on March 12.

Jason Clark served as the starter for some of the races during the Pinewood Derby on March 1 at the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Firehall. Clark is part of the Kendall Scouting program and volunteered to help with Holley’s Pinewood Derby. There were 42 participants in all, and the event concluded with a pasta dinner in the firehall.

Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance paramedic Steve Cooley holds Melayla Wenner, a baby he delivered in an ambulance on Feb. 27. Melayla visited the COVA crew on March 7 at the organization’s headquarters, 239 South Main St. Terry Bentley, back right, helped deliver the baby. Jake Crooks, also in back, drove the ambulance.

Jim Pinckney is crowned the Dyngus Day king during the Polish party at the Sacred Heart Club in Medina on April 21. John Weaver, last year’s king, puts on the crown while Dee Lucas puts on the red cape. Pinckney is a retired corrections officer. He joined Sacred Heart Club about 21 years ago and helps mow the lawn, shovel snow, clean the fryers, and with other painting and carpentry tasks. “It’s good to help out because it’s an all-volunteer organization,” he said. “It’s just to help the community.”

Ken Miller of Niagara on the Lake in Canada portrays Gen. James Longstreet, a commander in Northern Virginia. Miller was in Medina on April 25-27 for the Civil War Encampment at Genesee Community College.

Miller goes to about dozen Civil War Encampments each year. Many are in Canada. He is happy to cross the border and join events in the States. “I like to teach and promote Canada’s involvement,” Miller said.

Albion firefighters Dale Banker, in front, and Matt Francis march in the Strawberry Festival parade on June 14 with other members of the Albion Fire Department. Banker in July took over as the county’s emergency management director, replacing the retiring Paul Wagner.

Albion students performed “The Wiz” from March 28-30. This group includes Steven Stauss as Lion, Josh Raymond as Scarecrow and Kyle Thaine as Tinman.

Don Gaines races through the aisle at Pawlak’s Save-A lot on May 16 as part of an 85-second race to fill a shopping cart. Gaines filled the cart with more than $800 of food – mostly with ham and other meat. He announced most of the bounty would be given to Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

Gaines won the shopping spree, an event organized by the Lord’s House, a church in Waterport. The Lord’s House sold tickets for $5 each to give people a chance for the shopping sprint and two other gift baskets. Don and his wife Barbara bought one ticket and hit the grand prize.

Chris Shabazz, a student at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School, is happy to try out some of the new playground equipment on May 22, when the school opened a new playground. After an opening ceremony, students joyfully played on new slides, swings, climbing apparatus and other playground equipment.

Robert Ortt, a candidate for the State Senate, addresses a crowd in Albion on Sept. 8 at a pro-gun and Second Amendment rally. Ortt told about 200 people at the rally outside the Albion Gun Shop that he will work to repeal the SAFE Act. In November, Ortt was elected to the State Senate, filling the spot currently held by George Maziarz, who didn’t seek re-election.

Cliff Thom surprises his daughter Sarah, a third-grader at Albion, on Dec. 8. Thom hadn’t seen Sarah and her two siblings since June 29 when he deployed for Afghanistan. Thom is a senior master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. He is giving Sarah a hug in the cafeteria of the elementary school.

Jim Babcock portrays Sonny and Sandra Monacelli-McNall is Cher in a performance of “I Got You Babe” during a Cabaret Variety Show on Aug. 15 at the Cabaret at Studio B in Albion.

Jim Traufler of Albion is embraced by State Assemblyman Steve Hawley on Nov. 11, when Traufler was presented six long overdue military medals. Traufler, 82, was recognized for his service six decades ago when he was in the Marine Corps in the Korean War.

Traufler was recognized during a Veterans Day ceremony in front of the Veterans Service Agency office on Route 31 in Albion. “It’s something you don’t think about,” Traufler said about the medals. “I’ll put them away and give them to my kids and grandkids.”

Jed Platt of Appleton, dressed in a turtle outfit, slips down on the grease pole on July 26 with teammates Royal Snyder of Lyndonville, right, and Elliott Perkins of Barker. The team, Udder Suckers Reloaded, wasn’t able to get to the top of the grease pole during the competition at the Orleans County 4-H Fair in Knowlesville.