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2015 Portraits and Personalities

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

These are some of my favorite “people pictures” from 2015, showing Orleans County residents at work and play, and sometimes in mourning.

The top photo shows Medina Fire Chief Todd Zinkievich hustling down Eagle Harbor Road in Gaines to help at the scene of a fire on April 13. Zinkievich retired from the position, effective Sept. 28.

Greg Martillotta, the middle school band teacher at Albion, leads seventh- and eighth-grade band members during a March 4 All-District Concert.

The Albion music program has been honored the past seven years with national awards through the North American Music Merchants. NAMM has named Albion a “Best Communities for Music Education.”

Casey Costello, a tenor and recent graduate of Nazareth College in Rochester, sings “Danny Boy” during a Celtic celebration of music and dance on March 15 at First Baptist Church in Albion, part of the Eastman at Albion concert series. Costello was given a standing ovation from the crowd after the song.


Frank Sidari of Albion has his photo taken with Boy Scouts in Troop 164 on March 15, during a celebration of his 90th birthday at St. Mary’s Athletic Club. About 200 people attended the party for Sidari, a long-time volunteer with the troop. Mr. Sidari, a World War II veteran, would die about a month later on April 18.

Some teens shoot hoops at dusk on the basketball courts by the Lyndonville Central School on March 24.

Michael Stephenson, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Medina, leads a sunrise service on April 5 in Boxwood Cemetery next to Glenwood Lake. About 25 Christians from Medina churches attended the service on Easter morning. Stephenson spoke of the power of Christ’s resurrection and the hope that provides for the world.


An employee with Genesee Valley Transportation watches the demolition of the Clarendon Street bridge in Albion on April 7. GVT owns the railroad that passes through Albion. The bridge was built 40 years ago and came down in April after being ripped apart from the shears on heavy equipment from Wargo Enterprises, an Akron company specializing in demolition.

About 200 Santas were in Albion in mid-April for the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference. Many of the conference participants gathered on the steps of the Orleans County Courthouse for a group photo on April 18. They also sang some Christmas carols from the Courthouse steps. Howard started the first Santa Claus School, which he ran in Albion from 1937 until his death in 1966.

Teams of powerful draft horses, with participants from eight states, get ready to compete at 4-H Fairgrounds in the “Pull of Champions.” This team from Michigan waits its turn to pull on April 25. The teams compete in either the lightweight division (3,425 pounds or less for two horses), or the heavyweights for teams that exceed 3,425 pounds.

Union soldiers make a charge on the Confederates during a mock battle April 26 at the GCC’s Medina campus center on Maple Ridge Road. The campus hosted Civil War Encampments the past three years.

John Deere tractors are parked outside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Albion on May 12 during the funeral for John Panek, who helped start one of the area’s largest local farms.

Samuel Glushefski, 8, and his brother Jesse Glushefski, 19, finish the Jim Ferris Memorial Race together in a time of 24:57. Holley hosted the race for the 19th time on June 6. The brothers are from Clarence and attend the Old Paths Bible Baptist Church in Clarendon, where several members ran the race and volunteered at a water stop.

The Turtle (Nikolas Greean, 15, of Albion) and Michael Bonnewell, Albion Central School superintendent, watch the Turtle Race on June 13 from their vantage point on the Main Street lift bridge. Volunteers sold more than 900 turtles for the Turtle Race. Proceeds from the race are used to help pay for the two-day Strawberry Festival.

The bishop of the Western New York Diocese for the Episcopal Church spent several hours in Orleans County on June 17, visiting sites in Albion and Medina. The Right Rev. R. William Franklin is pictured with Robert Waters, a member of the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Medina. They are pictured at City Hall in Medina after Waters showed Franklin the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame. Several Episcopal churches in WNY were built with Medina Sandstone, some nearly 200 years ago. Mr. Waters, a long-time community booster, would die at age 90 on July 29.

Emily Shabazz is excited as she goes to get her diploma during Albion’s commencement on June 26.


Lucas Silvis holds his Holley diploma on June 27 with his mother Robin Silvis, who is a member of the Holley Board of Education.


Bennie Blount, 11, of Medina twirls a sparkler on July 4 before the fireworks went off in Lyndonville.

Ayman Huzair, 21, of Waterport captured first place during the karaoke competition on July 30 at the Orleans County 4-H Fair. Huzair won a $500 prize for his performance, which was a medley of songs from Michael Montgomery, Bruno Mars and Cupid. Huzair welcomed the crowd to join him on stage for the “Cupid Shuffle.” His sisters Salma, 16, and Tamara, 13, both performed, and so did their brother Qasim, 11. The siblings took three of the top 5 spots.

Ed Hilfiker, a member of the Who Dats, performs with the band on July 31 at the main stage of the Orleans County 4-H Fair in Knowlesville.

Phoebe Kirby, left, and Kasey Neal of Albion are delighted with the ride on the Midway on Aug. 1, the last day of the Orleans County 4-H Fair for 2015. About 25,000 people attended the fair during the week.


Jackie Sponaugle of Holley serves as the base for a team called Lyntucky Hicks. Kevin Ginger of Albion is climbing on Sponaugle, trying to be the second person up during grease pole competition at the fair on Aug. 1.


Gary Withey, owner of Fischer’s Newsstand in Albion since 1995, takes care of customer Amanda Harmer on Aug. 17. Withey closed the business on Aug. 30. Fischer’s was part of the community for about a century.

Kirsten Struble, a member of the Albion Cross Country team, and her teammates are enthusiastic boosters on Aug. 22 at Mile 9 in the Metro 10 race in Albion, a 10-mile trek on foot where runners squared off from Rochester versus Buffalo. The cross country team also manned a water stop at the ninth mile on Butts Road. There were about 400 runners in Albion for the debut race, which was won by Rochester.

Susan Rudnicky of Waterport has 40 paintings in watercolors and acrylics in the last show at Marti’s on Main, an Albion art gallery. Rudnicky is pictured on Oct. 1. Kim Muscarella, owner of the gallery, gave artists a place to display their work for the past seven years. She has opted against another season in 2016.

Doug Bower lets out a big laugh on Oct. 24 when he was roasted by Jim Salmon during a benefit at Tillman’s Village Inn. Bower, a plumber in Albion, is co-host of the WHAM Home Repair Clinic with Salmon. Bower provided plenty of material for the sold-out roast, which was a benefit for The Salmon Children’s Foundation. That foundation has donated more than $7,000 to Albion High School graduates in scholarships in memory of Nicholas Kovaleski.


With the sun shining and temperatures at about 70 degrees, many folks were out enjoying the Great Outdoors on Nov. 3. John Paul Simon, 12, (left) and his brother Sharbel, 13, fish in Johnson Creek behind the Yates Community Free Library. They spent much of the day in Lyndonville, fishing and reading at the library while their father, Jim Simon, campaigned for Yates town supervisor.