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Month: December 2015

Looking back at the top stories of 2015

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 31 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Clayton Stanton, left, and Alex Bison celebrate Albion’s Section VI Class B1 championship victory which ended the Purple Eagles 43 year sectional title drought.

For area sports teams the year 2015 was highlighted by the end of several long championship droughts. The year also featured the continuing of several long championship winning streaks and the ending of others. Here’s a look back at this scribe’s list of the Top 10 area sports stories for 2015 along with several Honorable Mention stories that could not be left out.

1. Albion cagers end 43 year sectional title drought

Coming on strong after a so-so (8-6) Niagara-Orleans League campaign, Albion ended a 43 year long sectional basketball title drought by defeating Maryvale 65-57 for the Section VI Class B1 championship at Buffalo State College.

Des Blackmon poured in 20 points and Clayton Stanton 16 to spearhead the attack for Albion which had not claimed a basketball sectional title since 1972.

Tommy Mattison added 9, Austin Loyd and Manny Thompson 8 each and Alex Bison 4 for the Purple Eagles which jumped out to a 21-13 advantage and went on to hold leads of 36-25 at the half and 45-34 after three quarters.

Coach Brennan Meakin’s No. 4 seeded Purple Eagles had advanced to the B1 finals by upending top seeded Burgard 62-54 in the semifinals at Buffalo State.

Stanton and Blackmon each scored 16 points to set the pace for Albion which not only avenged a season opening 54-42 non league loss to Burgard but also earned a spot in the sectional title game for the first time since 1982.

Loyd chipped in with 9, Mattison 8, Thompson 7 and Bison 6 for the Purple Eagles.

Trailing 43-37 late in the third period, Albion rallied back into the lead for good at 48-42 as Bison hit a three to close the third stanza and Stanton scored on a rebound bucket, Blackmon on a three and Thompson on a layup to key an 8-0 run to open the final period.

Albion’s postseason run, however, came to an end in the Section VI Class B state qualifier contest as the Purple Eagles dropped a 72-54 decision to East High of Buffalo at Buffalo State.

Maya Rutland and Taylor Rutland battle for control of the ball for Kendall which repeated as both league and sectional soccer champions.

2. Kendall girls repeat as league, sectional soccer champions

Giving up just two goals along the way, the Kendall girls soccer team posted a perfect 13-0 record to capture a third straight Genesee Region League Division 1 soccer championship.

Keeping the momentum, Kendall, which went 16-0 overall during the regular season, then rattled off three straight postseason victories to repeat at Section V Class C2 champions.

Kendall scored repeat wins over 2014 foes in both of the first two rounds blanking Campbell-Savonna 6-0 in the quarterfinals and Warsaw 1-0 in the semifinals on a goal by Maya Rutland. The Lady Eagles then defeated South Seneca 4-1 in the championship game as Maya Rutland, Taylor Rutland, Tayolr ReQua and Hailee Mitchell all took turns scoring goals.

However, Kendall bid for a spot in the state playoffs was dashed by another familiar foe as Cal-Mum nipped the Lady Eagles 1-0 in the Section V Class C state qualifier contest. The two teams had met for the Class CC title the previous two years with Cal-Mum winning 1-0 in 2013 and Kendall 2-1 in double overtime in 2014.

Nick Passarell slides into home for Holley which captured league and sectional diamond titles.

3. Hawks earn league, sectional diamond honors

Compiling an 18-5 record, Holley earned both the Genesee Region League Division 1 and the Section V Class CC championships.

No. 2 seed Holley captured the CC title by defeating top seeded East Rochester 6-2 at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia. The sectional championship was the first for the Hawks since 2009.

Senior Joey DeFelice had a huge game both at the plate and on the mound for the Hawks. At the plate he had a pair of run producing triples and on the mound he struck out all 10 of the batters he faced after coming on in relief in the fifth inning.

Breaking way from a 2-2 deadlock, Holley took the lead for good by scoring twice in the top of the sixth inning on RBI singles by Lucas Silvis and Nick Passarell. A leadoff single by DeFelice ignited the rally.

The Hawks then tacked on two big insurance runs in the seventh inning on an RBI triple by DeFelice and a run producing single by Silvis.

Holley had advanced to the title contest by nipping G-R League foe Alexander 3-2 in the semifinals on a two out, two-run ingle by Silvis in the bottom of the seventh inning. A single by Josh Porter and a double by DeFelice set up the rally.

Holley’s bid to gain a spot in the state playoffs was ended though as Geneseo bested the Hawks 6-3 in the Section V Class C state qualifier game at Genesee Community College.

Ten stranded base runners and five errors proved costly to Holley which lead only once, at 3-2 in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Jon Bower.

Caitlyn Mason and Casey Webb helped lead the Barker girls and boys track teams to league titles.

4. Barker sweeps N-O track titles

Making school history Barker captured both the N-O League boys and girls track titles by posting 6-0 records.

The championship was the fifth in a row for the Barker boys and the first ever for the Lady Raiders.

Narrow wins over Medina (74-67) and Wilson (72-65) highlighted the Barker boys title quest.

The Lady Raiders season was keyed by a season opening 75-65 win over runner-up Akron (5-1) and a season ending 75-66 victory over third place Albion (4-2).

Catcher Justin Morgan tries to make a tag at home for Medina which captured its first N-O diamond title in 20 years.

5. Mustangs claim N-O diamond title

Endng a 20 year drought, Medina captured the N-O League baseball championship for the first time since 1995 by compiling a 12-2 record.

A season opening 9-2 victory over rival Albion, the Mustangs first win over the Purple Eagles in 14 years, ignited the successful title run.

The Mustangs, in fact, opened the season with six straight wins, then lost two of three but closed string with a five game win streak.

Leading the Mustangs were a quartet of first team N-O All-League selections including pitcher Jason Hellwig, first baseman Matt Riemer, outfielder Brennan Zinkievich and designated hitter Kyle Herman, along with catcher Justin Morgan, a second team honoree.

Tanner Rees in action for Roy-Hart which made it nine straight undefeated league championship seasons.

6. Channel Cats extend N-O reign

The Roy-Hart boys swim team captured a league record ninth straight N-O championship by going 10-0.

The Channel Cats have compiled a 90-0 league record during that stretch.

Roy-Hart’s closest meets were 94-76 and 92-78 wins over Barker which finished in a tie for second place with Medina at 7-3.

The Newfane girls likewise went 10-0 to earn a sixth straight N-O championship. The Lady Panthers have compiled a 60-0 record during that run.

Aleah Foos spikes a return for Albion which claimed a third straight league championship.

7. Albion spikers score N-O title three-peat

Losing just one set along the way, Albion compiled a 12-0 record to claim a third straight N-O League volleyball championship.

First team N-O All-League selections Kelsee Soule, Chanyce Powell and Meghan Hurley led the way for Albion which has gone 36-0 over the past three N-O championship seasons.

Taylor Fry delivers a pitch for Roy-Hart which earned its first outright league softball title.

8. Lady Rams rule in N-O softball

After sharing the title in 2014, Roy-Hart captured the N-O softball championship outright for the first time as the Lady Rams compiled a 14-0 record.

Before this year Roy-Hart’s only N-O titles were co-championships with Albion in 2009 and with Akron in 2014.

The Lady Rams were led by first team All-League selections pitcher Taylor Fry, infielder Ashley Bower and outfielder Kayla Brown along with second team honorees infielders Maddy Glena and Lindsay Yates.

Earning the top seed for the Section VI Class B2 playoffs, Roy-Hart shutout Lackawanna (4-0) and Falconer (7-0) before bowing to Fredonia 8-3 in the championship game.

Monica Benjovsky makes a return for Albion which won a tight five way race to claim the league title.

9. Purple Eagle netters win N-O title

Emerging victorious in a tight five team race, Albion captured its first N-O League tennis championship since 2004 by compiling a 9-3 record.

The Purple Eagles edged out Akron and Medina, which both finished at 8-4, along with Wilson and Barker which both wound up at 7-5.

Albion used a late season 3-2.5 win over Medina to take the lead for good as both teams entered the match with 8-2 records. The Purple Eagles then claimed the title outright when Akron nipped Medna 3-2.5.

First team N-O selections Dyer Benjovsky and Josh Metzler along with second team honorees Monica Benjovsky and Kyler McQuillian led the way for the Purple Eagles.

Tom Follman and his Lyndonville teammates captured the Section V Class B championship.

10. Tiger grapplers claim sectional title

Led by a quintet of individual weight class champions, Lyndonville captured the Section V Class B wrestling title.

Individual champions Tony Recco, Devon Joy, Tom Follman, Jeff Gress Jr. and Chris McDonald led the way for the Tigers which also had Garren Bayne and Dustin Joy place second, Reese Ledford, Cullen Heveron and Dustin Hinkley third and Dawson Joy and Frankie Carrasquillo place fourth.

Recco went on to place first and Gress second at the Section V championships earning both wrestlers a trip to the state meet.

Honorable Mention

– Albion ended Medina’s three year reign in the century plus old football rivalry as the Purple Eagles downed the rival Mustangs 27-14.

– Kendall High senior Evan Gaesser had a big year on the links. In the spring he won a second straight Genesee Region League title, placed third at the state Public High School championships and fourth at the state Federation championships. This fall he accepted a Division 1 scholarship to attend and play golf at LaSalle University.

– The Lyndonville/Medina boys varsity volleyball team made its debut season highlighted by a victory in the opening round of the sectional playoffs.

– The Akron girls field hockey team ended Barker’s long run of nine straight N-O League championships and seven straight Section VI Class C titles.

– The Wilson girls soccer teams captured the N-O League, Section VI Class B and Far West Regional titles before bowing in the state Class B championship game to Schalmont 2-0. The Wilson girls basketball team also had a big year capturing a sixth straight N-O championship by going 14-0. The Wilson boys also claimed the N-O basketball and golf titles.

– The Barker boys cross-country team posted a 14-0 record to capture the N-O championship for the third straight year and the seventh time i nthe last eight years.

– In youth baseball, Barre defeated Sandstone in the Albion Midget League playoff championship game and Roy-Hart defeated Albion in two straight to win the Lockport Midget A League playoff title.

– In youth softball, the Medina 12U Fillies won the Metro Girls Softball League Silver Division playoffs with a 9-4 win over the Hamburg Extreme. The Medina U10 Fillies also captured the Metro League’s C Division championship with a 7-6 win over Hamburg.

– In youth soccer, both the Albion girls U17 and Holley boys U17 teams won Rochester District Youth Soccer Association division championships.

Community Action appreciates holiday donations

Posted 31 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Editor:

On behalf of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee County, we thank all the wonderful people who rang bells for the Salvation Army. The money raised in Orleans County through the kettle campaign stays in Orleans County and especially all the businesses, churches, organizations, and individuals who adopted a child for the holidays.

Without all of you we at Community Action could not have provided a holiday season filled with smiles and joy for our less fortunate neighbors in the community.

Thanks also go out to the many groups that collected food – the Boy Scout food drive, organizations, and especially the wonderful young adults from Albion FFA that delivered 30,000 pounds of food. We share our good fortune with all food pantries, soup kitchens, Nutrifare, Meals on Wheels, and Medina Association of Churches.

We appreciated all the coats, jackets, clothes, scarfs and mittens that were donated so we could provide a warm coat for the winter.

I wish everyone could experience the tears in the eyes of people who received food, toys and coats. Community Action staff work very hard to ensure that all who need us are helped.

Save-A-Lot again donated fruit baskets for our elderly shut-ins. This is a gift they did not expect.

Over the years, we have found out how much our community does when called upon, you are truly not only our Angels but Angels for less fortunate people among us. We at Community Action wish you all a safe and wonderful New Year.

Sincerely,

Annette Grillo Finch
Director of Community Services

Top stories of 2015

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2015 at 12:00 am

With several contentious issues, race for sheriff tops the list

Photos by Tom Rivers – Randy Bower answers a question during a candidate forum on Oct. 20. Bower ran for sheriff against Don Organisciak, center, and Tom Drennan, left. Bower emerged the victor in an upset after Drennan was endorsed by the Republican Party and Organisciak had the backing of the Democratic Party.

There was no shortage of news in Orleans County in 2015. The news was often dominated by three contentious issues.

In January, Medina village residents voted whether or not to dissolve the village. That topic was a big story in 2014. On Jan. 20 it finally went to a vote and it was defeated, 949-527. The village government will stay intact. The issue seemed to fade from the spotlight after the vote.

Two other issues spurned significant citizen involvement throughout the year: the race for a new county sheriff and the proposal for a large-scale wind turbine project in Somerset and Yates.

The wind turbine plan has been met largely with opposition. A citizens’ group, Save Ontario Shores, formed and ran candidates for the Yates Town Board. Two of those candidates, including Jim Simon for town supervisor, were elected in November.

Orleans County generally has quiet elections with most candidates at the county level typically running unopposed. This year three candidates vied to replace Scott Hess, the retiring sheriff. The race was contentious and Randy Bower, a public safety dispatcher the past 30 years, emerged as the winner.

Here are Orleans Hub’s picks for the top 10 stories for 2015 in Orleans County:

1. Sheriff race stirs passions in community

Randy Bower is out in front of his group of supporters on July 4 during the parade at Lyndonville. Bower attended several parades with a big following on supporters on the parade routes.

Scott Hess announced in January he wasn’t seeking re-election as sheriff and would end a 32-year career in law enforcement, including 12 years as sheriff.

Tom Drennan, the chief deputy of the Sheriff’s Department, seemed the likely successor. He was the No. 3 in the Sheriff’s Department, where he worked for 23 years. He also was endorsed by the Orleans County Republican Party in May, gaining the support of the party leaders.

But Randy Bower, a public safety dispatcher, believed he had the vision for the Sheriff’s Department and support of the community to serve as sheriff. Bower mounted a vigorous challenge to Drennan and would defeat him in the Republican Primary, 1,671 to 1,650.

Bower and Drennan both had big groups of supporters in local parades, and they spent a lot of money in the campaign.

They would face each other again on Election Day in November and Bower was the victor getting 47 percent to Drennan’s 42 percent. (Drennan ran under the Indpendence and Reform parties.) Don Organisciak, a retired Medina police investigator, ran as a Democrat and received 10 percent of the vote.

Normally the local election season is pretty quiet and turnout is low. The turnout on Nov. 3 was 38.2 percent.

That compares to a mere 24.5 percent in Erie County, which had a race for county executive in a market with lots of television and radio ads. In Orleans County, the sheriff candidates used door-to-door campaigning, lawn signs and local ads to get the word out.

2. Wind turbine proposal fires up Yates residents

These signs against a wind energy project were distirbuted on April 1 during a meeting at the Barker Firehall.

The Town of Yates generally sees little controversy. But that changed in December 2014 when Apex Clean Energy announced its plan for Lighthouse Wind, a large-scale wind turbine project. Apex wants to build as many as 71 turbines in Yates and Somerset near the Lake Ontario shoreline.

A citizens’ group, Save Ontario Shores, formed in opposition to the project and two of its leaders were elected to the Yates Town Board in November.

The Somerset Town Board and Niagara County Legislature opposed the project after a June survey of town residents showed strong oppisition to the project. State Sen. Rob Ortt, Congressman Chris Collins and the Orleans County Legislature came out against the project in December.

The Town of Yates also surveyed residents about the issue and about two-thirds of the respondents oppose the project.

Apex in November submitted its preliminary scoping statement about the project to the Public Service Commission. Company officials say they will answer concerns and are committed to advancing the project.

3. Dissolution is rejected in Medina

About a year of bitter and divisive debate, village residents went to the polls in droves on Jan. 20 to answer the question, “Shall the Village of Medina, New York be dissolved?”

Dissolution was rejected 949-527 in one of the largest turnouts for a Medina election in recent memory. (There was a village election for trustee position on March 18 and only 311 voters came out to elect Todd Bensley and Owen Toale.)

Dissolution proponents said dissolving the village government would reduce taxes for vllage residents by about 25 percent. But opponents said some of those savings would raise taxes to Shelby and Ridgeway residents outside the village. Resdents also worried the village would lose responsive fire, police and other services.

“We still have a declining tax base, a shrinking population and climbing costs,” said Mayor Andrew Meier, after dissolution was defeated. “Our sustainability predicament remains.”

4. Parents, students opt out of state tests in big numbers

Julie Wantuck, president of the Holley Teachers Association, wore this button in March in protest of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans and actions about education.In Holley, 40 percent of students would opt out from tests in April.

A movement from parents against standardized testing of students in grades 3 through 8 became a phenomenon this spring with widespread “opting out” of the tests.

About 20 percent of students did not take the grades 3-8 math and ELA tests in April, but the “opt-out” rate was higher in Orleans County.

“This year, there was a significant increase in the number of students refusing the annual assessments,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in a statement in August. “We must do more to ensure that our parents and teachers understand the value and importance of these tests for our children’s education.”

Gov. Cuomo would later announce the state wouldn’t test students so much and teachers’ evaluations wouldn’t be so closely tied to student performance on the standardized tests. He called Common Core “deeply flawed” in New York.

The opt out rates in Orleans include: Albion – Math, 29 percent; ELA, 22 percent; Holley – Math, 43 percent; ELA, 40 percent; Kendall – Math, 34 percent; ELA, 30 percent; Lyndonville – Math, 26 percent; ELA, 19 percent; Medina – Math, 30 percent; ELA, 21 percent.

Despite the outcry about the tests and the state linking them to teacher evaluations, local school superintendents urged parents to have students take the tests.

“We appreciate and understand parent’s right to refuse the assessments,” said Julie Christensen, Kendall school superintendent. “However, this is an adult political debate that places students in the middle of the discord and that is unfortunate.”

5. December 2015 was warm, but February was coldest ever

This tractor is pictured in a field of snow along Holley Road in Albion last February when about 2 feet of snow were on the ground.

It was never colder in Western New York for an entire month than February 2015, according to National Weather Service. Buffalo averaged a temperature of 10.9 degrees and never once went above freezing. That average temperature broke the previous record-low of 11.6 degrees in February 1934, according to the National Weather Service.

Rochester was a little bit warmer but the 12.2-average temperature was below the previous record of 12.6 degrees also set in February 1934.

It was a punishing winter with long stretches of bitter cold that closed schools and made travel difficult in Orleans County. Holley in particular was plagued with frozen waterlines that burst and needed to fixed in the dead of winter.

When winter came back later in the year, the weather was the opposite extreme. It was in the 50s on Christmas and several days topped 60 and even 70 degrees in December. There was no measurable snow until close to Christmas and that snow quickly vanished.

6. Pride Pak commits to Medina, first tenant lined up for STAMP

Steve Karr (right), chief executive officer for Pride Pak Canada, in October meets village officials and others working on the company’s new 64,000-square-foot vegetable processing facility. He is pictured with Mauro LoRusso, vice president of finance for Pride Pak (center); Gabrielle Barone, vice president of business development for the Orleans Economic Development Agency (far left); and Marguerite Sherman, village trustee (second from left).

Two big economic development projects were announced within a day of each other in October.

Pride Pak officials attended a Medina Village Board meeting on Oct. 6 and presented the company’s plan to build a 64,000-square-foot vegetable processing plant on Route 31A, across from the GCC campus. Pride Pak is from Canada, and the Medina site will be its first U.S.-based facility.

The company is spending about $15 million for the new facility in Medina and expects to hire 85 to 100 people in 2016. The site could be expand to up to 200 workers.

Just south of Orleans County, for years Genesee County officials have been working to develop a high-tech business park known as STAMP. The first tenant for the site was unveiled on Oct. 7, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo joining leader of 1366 Technologies at the annoucement in Batavia.

1366 Technologies Inc. of New Bedford, Mass., committed to an initial $100 million manufacturing plant at STAMP, which is about 2 miles south of the Orleans County line.

The company has revolutionized manufacturing silicon carbon wafers – considered “the heart” of solar panels. It looked at 300 sites for its new factory and picked the site in the Town of Alabama.

1366 Technologies expects to expand and make a $700 million investment in the area, starting with 600 full-time workers and growing to 1,000. The company will use about 100 acres of STAMP, a 1,250-acre site.

Cuomo said the project will be a “game changer” for the area by providing hundreds of high-paying jobs.

7. Wyoming County man opens fire on police in Clarendon

A vehicle driven by James Ellis hit a telephone pole on Route 31A at about 3 a.m. on March 21 and the vehicle came to a rest in front yard of Christopher and Denise Wing.

In the dark, early morning hours of March 21, James Ellis of Wyoming County went to an ex-girlfriend’s house in Shelby. Ellis had a gun and a friend of Ellis’s ex-girlfriend called 911.

Ellis fled from the property and was chased by police. He would crash into a telephone pole on Route 31 in Clarendon. His vehicle was in a resident’s front yard and Ellis fled to the nearby woods.

When police arrived, he opened fire, hitting Deputy James DeFilipps twice in the abdomen. DeFilipps was wearing a bullet-proof vest. He fatally shot Ellis, ending the threat. DeFilipps was found to have acted with justifiable force by a grand jury.

It was an unusual to have a shootout for law enforcement in Orleans County. DeFilipps, who works the night shift, recovered from a wound to his stomach and returned to work.

Pastor sentenced to 15 years in prison for sex abuse

Roy Harriger is led to the courtroom on April 6 when he was sentenced to state prison.

There were other high-profile incidents in the county this year. The sex abuse trial of Roy Harriger, a former local pastor, attracted media attention from Rochester and Buffalo.

Harriger was convicted by a jury after testimony from family members, including grandchildren, who claimed he sexually abused them.

During his sentencing on April 6, Harriger, 71, was called “a wolf in shepherd’s clothing,” by Orleans County Court Judge James Punch.

Harriger maintained his innocence and many parishioners sent letters to the judge in support of Harriger and his work as a church leader.

The judge sentenced Harriger to 15 years in state prison.

“One could say you were a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but you are a wolf in shepherd’s clothing and that’s much worse,” Punch said.

“The bullying, the use of charisma, the power of your personality were all brought forward to victimize these children and keep them quiet.”

8. Organizations merge to preserve services

Mike Woodward, a member of the Self Advocate All Stars at The Arc of Orleans County, is pictured on the group’s float during a parade in Holley in June. The All Stars won a first place award in the parade.

It was a big year for organizations merging with others. The Arc of Orleans County and Genesee County ARC announced the groups would merge into a single agency serving people with disabilities in two counties. Both have operated independently for about 50 years.

The merger will reduce administration expenses and better ensure services and programs for people with disabilities and their families, said Donna Saskowski, executive director for both agencies.

“We are rural, neighboring, agricultural communities, roughly the same size in area and among New York’s smallest in terms of population,” Saskowski said. “Looking ahead, we feel our similar cultures will allow for a smooth transition.”

The Mental Health Associations in Orleans and Genesee also merged. The Boards of Health in the two counties also formed a single joint board, a first for two counties in the state. Genesee and Orleans share the same ublic health director and other staff.

Leaders from the two counties say they are looking for more cooperation and perhaps consolidation of services. Orleans and Niagara counties have formed the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance to advocate for shared issues such as broadband Internet access.

9. Kendall schools transformed with renovation project

Photos by Kristina Gabalski – Kendall Junior-Senior High School students check out new lockers during an open house in September for the community to tour the renovated school campus.

Kendall Jr./Sr. High School Librarian Sara Baglioni stands in the newly renovated, tech-savy library. Upgrades include a smart board and wired tables for laptops and other electronic devices. New upholstered seating offers space to relax, read and study. “I was completely taken aback with the change and how wonderful it is,” she said.

Kendall Central School received some radical changes to the elementary and junior-senior high schools this year.

The improvements are part of a $25 million capital project.

The work included a new cafeteria in the junior-senior high school, new roofs for both school buildings, as well as energy efficient improvements, heating and ventilation work, and updated security measures.

Contractors also made improvements to parking lots and sidewalks.

“People are walking in and saying ‘Wow,'” Kendall Superintendent Julie Christensen said during the open house.

“They say it is beautiful and amazing. People who went to school here are shocked at the transformation.

“The kids are beaming.”

Community members have gushed about the improvements.

“I haven’t been here in 16 years,” former Kendall student Kate Czeh said.

“I’m getting lost. It’s so different. It’s beautiful. I don’t even recognize it as Kendall.”

10. Orleans County grapples with decline

Photo by Tom Rivers – Wargo Enterprises, an Akron company specializing in demolition, takes down the Clarendon Street bridge in Albion on April 7. The Albion Village Board opted not to replace the bridge due to the costs of the project. The street is now closed off by the railroad tracks.

It was a tough year for Orleans County with decline. One bridge was demolished and wasn’t replaced. The Lake Ontario State Parkway continued to fall into disrepair, making for a bumpy ride that many motoroists are choosing to avoid.

Local officials worry about infrastructure in the county. They have pressed state officials to better maintain canal bridges, in particular. The closed bridges or ones with weight reductions limit school buses, fire trucks and farm equipment from crossing the canal.

Some Medina village officials pushed dissolution of the village government due falling tax assessments and rising tax rates. Some organizations and government services have merged with neighboring counties.

School districts have shrinking enrollments and some districts are sharing athletic teams and extracurricular programs.

The 50 members of the First United Methodist Church in Albion held their final Sunday service at its historic church at the corner of Platt and East State streets on March 29.

The church left the building due to the expense of fixing the roof and building at a cost of about $1 million. The church building has been for sale for seven months with no buyers. The United Methodist congregation has been meeting since Easter at Christ Episcopal Church.

Other churches have small congregations faced with the upkeep of large, historic buildings.

Pat Davis has been coming to the United Methodist since she moved to Albion 25 years ago. She marvels about the architecture of the building from 1860. It’s one of seven churches that are part of the Courthouse Square, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It’s a beautiful church,” Davis said on March 29. “We have to remind ourselves it’s a building and the people make the church.”

Albion man charged with arson, assault after allegedly setting man on fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Frank Carter

ALBION – An Albion man allegedly poured a flammable liquid on a victim who was sleeping in a bed this morning and then ignited the liquid, causing burns to victim’s hands and feet, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni said.

Frank G. Carter II, 50, of 431 West State St., Lot 17 has been charged with attempted arson in the second degree (B Felony), assault in the second degree (D Felony), and reckless endangerment of property (B Misdemeanor). He was arraigned in Albion Town Court and has been jailed on $25,000 bail.

Albion police officers were dispatched at 5:05 a.m. to 431 West State St., Lot 17.
Officers arrived on scene and encountered Carter in the street holding a knife, Nenni said.

Carter was taken into custody. Albion police officers units then located the victim, an adult male, who resides with Carter. The victim had burns to his hands and feet and was transported to Medina Memorial Hospital by COVA ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.

Carter is to return to Town Court on Jan. 6 at 9 a.m.

Minimum wage boosted to $9 an hour starting today

Posted 31 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that three increases in the minimum wage in New York will take effect today. Workers in the fast food industry, tipped positions, and all other industries will each receive a higher wage beginning Dec. 31 as the governor continues to push for a $15 statewide minimum wage.

“No one who works full time should ever be condemned to a life of poverty,” said Governor Cuomo. “As we prepare to ring in the New Year, we are making a fundamental difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of workers across this state. I am proud to mark these milestones in the fight for fair pay for workers in fast food, tipped industries, and others – but too many home health care workers, airport workers and so many others continue to be left behind. That’s why we will continue fighting for a $15 minimum wage so that all workers can afford a decent life and a decent opportunity in New York State.”

The following minimum wage increases will take effect today:

Overall Minimum Wage: In the third of three annual changes secured by Cuomo in 2013, New York State’s minimum wage will be $9.00 per hour.

Tipped Hospitality Workers: All tipped workers in the hospitality industry (food service workers, service employees and service employees in resort hotels) will be moved to the same category and rate for tipped cash wage. Effective Dec. 31, 2015, the tipped cash wage amounts will increase from their current rates of $4.90, $5.00 and $5.65 to $7.50 per hour.

Fast Food Workers in fast food chains: In New York City, the minimum wage for workers in fast food chains (30 or more locations nationally) will be increased to $10.50 on December 31, 2015. For fast food chain workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage will be increased to $9.75.

Minimum Wage Enforcement

Failure to comply with increased minimum wages can result in fines, charges and civil or even criminal punishment.

The Department of Labor, which enforces the minimum wage law, has fact sheets, frequently asked questions and additional resources for all employers and employees on its website: www.labor.ny.gov/minimumwage.

“The Department of Labor works with employees to help them understand their rights and also works with businesses to ensure they know their responsibilities,” said Acting State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon. “I strongly encourage anyone with questions to use our Department’s resources to make sure they’re being paid the right wage, or paying workers properly and won’t be penalized.”

The Department will also provide one-on-one support and a streamlined reporting process to help businesses understand and come into compliance with the new rate.

A business in need of assistance or a worker with questions or who is looking to file a complaint should call: (888) 469-7365.

Mat tourney place finishers

Contributed Story Posted 31 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Contributed Photo

Barker/Roy-Hart had a quintet of grapplers place in the top three at Wednesday’s Akron Wrestling Tournament including from left, Sam Dauphin (3rd place), Kirk Fay (2nd), Cameron Swick (1st), Tyler Choate (2nd) and Brent Bachman (2nd). Swick also won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award and Fay the Fastest Pin award. Barker/Roy-Hart also had Ryan Ulrich place 4th.

Yates officials were slow to move on survey that confirms public opposition to wind project

Posted 31 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Editor:

The most recent articles in The Hub were eye opening. The first story on the Town of Yates hiring a law firm and an engineering company as their last piece of business before the new council arrives next week demonstrates the arrogance of the current council.

I wrote questions to the PSC that I was told would be answered by mail from Apex. That did not happen. I asked if the firm of Hodgson Russ had worked with Apex in the past? I asked if Mr. Spitzer had worked with Apex in the past. Mr. John Belson, Yates town supervisor, stated at a public meeting that they had worked with the firm on zoning issues sometime in the past but gave no dates as to when that was. I would like to know if either of the firms hired have done work at sometime with Apex? Did Apex encourage the Council to hire these two firms?

At a Town of Yates meeting in July this year 2015, Mr. Belson stated that his total contact with Apex was a 15-minute meeting. What is strange is that Apex had been operating for more than a year, laying the groundwork including signing leases.

Apex certainly did not keep the Council informed of what they were doing. Large crowds were appearing at Town meetings to get some answers and they got nothing. Not one member of the Council demonstrated any curiosity to what was happening in their jurisdiction. Home rule, what is that? The plan seemed to be, let’s wait until it is too late to stop this project and then we will tell you what we think.

Mr. Bradley is disappointed with the County Legislature and local State and Federal officials for taking a position without consulting with them. I could say, how does that feel? That is exactly how you treated the taxpayer.

The Town of Yates could not read the tea leaves but all of the local officials were getting the message loud and clear. A good example of foot dragging is the survey results just announced. That survey was announced in July or August. The council set up a committee, spent money on an outside firm to develop 10 questions. This took months and wasted money to confirm what three other surveys had already concluded.

Apex would like us not to develop an opinion on this project until it cannot be stopped. The existing Town Board also seems to be committed to this project but is unwilling to say that. This project will forever change the Town of Yates.

When and if the government subsidies stop, the landowners receive no compensation, the town and school district receives no tax money, what will happen to all the wind turbines? Apex will be long gone but someone will be left to declare that they are bankrupt.

I wish the new Town Council good luck and hope they will communicate much better with the people. Thank you.

Ray Watt
Town of Yates

Boarded up windows turned into art

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The windows on the upper floors of 39 North Main St. have been boarded up for years.

On Monday, the windows were turned into art. Adam Johnson, owner of the building, installed 16 of the painted boards that are 8 ½ feet high. The boards were painted by local high school art students, except for one. The window in the top right was painted by Jasmine Almeter of Holley, a former Johnson employee.

His daughter Corinne Johnson painted the two to the left of Almeter’s on the third floor. Corinne, 16, is a junior at Holley Junior-Senior High School.

Albion students painted all eight on the second floor. Lyndonville students did the top three on the left, and Kendall students did the two in the middle on the third floor.

This painting depicts Grace Bedell, the Albion girl who wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, encouraging him to a grow a beard in his first presidential race. Lincoln took her advice.

The Albion students tried to use historic and community themes in the paintings.

These windows highlight the former Santa Claus School in Albion and the current Strawberry Festival, a two-day event the second Friday and Saturday in June.

These windows highlight the Pratt Opera House, the Erie Canal and the historic Mount Albion Cemetery.

Johnson delivered the boards to Albion, Holley, Kendall and Lyndonville schools in early fall. He left the artwork up to the students and teachers.

He saw similar efforts in the cities of Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse, where art helped rejuvenate older buildings.

Johnson is working to turn the first floor of the building into a restaurant, with a goal to have it open by the Strawberry Festival in June. He was going to partner with J.J. Heideman, owner of BAD-Ash-BBQ, on the project, but the two decided against the effort. Heideman continues to run BAD-Ash from a trailer and attends many community events and parties.

Johnson said he has a different concept for the restaurant. In the meantime, he is pleased with the effort by the art students with the windows.

Lew-Port cagers down Medina

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Mike Wertman – Medina’s Daryl Haynes drives against Lew-Port’s Jernard Jackson during the Mustangs loss to the visiting Lancers this afternoon.

A late rally fell short as Medina dropped a 77-68 decision to visiting Lew-Port this afternoon in a non league boys basketball game.

Trailing by as many as 15, 69-54, early in the final period, Medina came battling back with a 14-3 run to slice the deficit to just four at 72-68.

A three off a turnover by Daryl Haynes capped off that rally which was also highlighted by a rebound bucket by Tyler Ames, a jumper by Jared Zinkievich and a layup by Hayes.

However, the Mustangs could get no closer as the Lancers used three free throws by Jernard Jackson and two by Colton Stallard to put lock on the win.

Jackson finished with a game high 29 points as Anthony Dipasquale added 17 and Quran Brewer 14 for the Lancers.

Ames netted 18, Haynes 16, Zinkievich 15 and Justin Morgan 13 for the Mustangs as Jalin Cooper added 3, Mason Lewis 2 and Johnny Salone 1.

Medina did grab a 15-10 lead midway throw a sea-saw first period after two baskets by Zinkievich and one by Ames.

Lew-Port though countered with a 15-4 run to close the period and rally into the lead for good at 25-19. Jackson scored 11 to spearhead that Lancers rally.

The Mustangs did rally back into a 38-38 tie late in the second quarter after back-to-back rebound buckets by Zinkievich and Ames followed by a three by Haynes but could not regain the lead. Morgan had opened the period with back-to-back threes to get the Mustangs rolling.

Lew-Port regained a 43-38 lead at the half by closing the period with a three by Jacob Euote and a tally by Jackson.

A three and a layup by Haynes did help to keep Medina within three, 55-52, late in the third period but Lew-Port again answered with a key 7-0 run including a three and a two by Brewer to open up a 10 point, 62-52, advantage at the three-quarter mark.

The Lancers extended the lead to 15, 69-54 early in the final period after another three by Brewer, an advantage the Mustangs could not quite overcome.

Lew-Port improves to 8-1 while Medina slips to 4-5.

Barker/Roy-Hart matmen place 4th at Akron Tournament

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 December 2015 at 12:00 am

Barker/Roy-Hart placed fourth out of 20 teams today at the Akron Wrestling Tournament.

Cameron Swick, who earned a first place finish and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler Award led the way for Barker/Roy-Hart.

Brent Bachman, Tyler Choate and Kirk Fay all placed second, Sam Dauphin third and Ryan Ulrich fourth for Barker/Roy-Hart. Fay also won the tournament’s Fastest Pin Award with a pin in just nine seconds.

Lyndonville competes at Letchworth Tourney

Lyndonville went 3-7 at the Letchworth Tournament as the Tigers defeated Wayland-Cohocton, Attica and Perry.

Dustin Joy went 10-0 for the Tigers as Jeff Gress Jr., Tommy Follman and Dustin Hinkley were all 9-1, Garren Bayne 7-3. Reese Ledford and Chase Stinson 6-4 and Cullen Heveron 5-5.