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Month: March 2016

Mustangs prep for N-O track season

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Mike Wertman – Leading the Medina/Lyndonville track teams into the upcoming Niagara-Orleans League season is this contingent of veterans. In front are Jalin Cooper and Holly Heil. In back are Emma Gardner, Chase Pecoraro, Daniel Heil and Martha Gardner.

A small group of top five All-League meet place finishers anchors the lineup for the Medina/Lyndonville track teams which are prepping for the Niagara-Orleans League season.

Sophomore Jalin Cooper, who won the 200 and placed second in the 100 at the All-League meet, heads the boys squad’s group of All-League place finishers which also includes senior Chase Pecoraro (3rd in 110 hurdles and pole vault), junior Emmanuel Sones (4th in high jump) and sophomore Daniel Heil (5th in 3200).

The Mustangs underclassmen dominated lineup also looks to juniors Dustin Hinkley (middle distance) and Adam Cefelli (middle distance); sophomores Jack Hill (distance), Connor Miller (jumps) and Jake Bensley (distance) along with freshmen Johnny Salone (jumps, middle distance), Ronnie Koonce (sprints), Daryl Haynes (jumps) and William Brazzell (jumps).

Senior Holly Heil, who won the 400 and placed second in the 800, leads the girls All-League place finishers which also includes senior Emma Gardner (3rd in discus) and junior Chelsea Donley (4th in 400 hurdles).

The Mustangs are also looking to senior Stella Russo (sprints), juniors Martha Gardner (distance) and Abby Newman and freshmen Je’ne Brown (sprints, jumps) and Maddie Williams (sprints, jumps).

The boys team went 4-2 in N-O competition last spring and the girls squad 1-5.

The Mustangs are scheduled to host rival Albion in the N-O opener on April 14.

Schedule:
April 14 – Albion, 4:15 p.m.
April 19 – at Wilson, 4:30 p.m.
April 26 – at Roy-Hart, 4:30 p.m.
April 28 – Barker, 4:15 p.m.
May 3 – Akron, 4:15 p.m.
May 10 – at Newfane, 4:30 p.m.
May 18 and 19 – All-League meet at Roy-Hart

Stained glass windows get repairs at St. Peter in Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Jody Geary, an employee with Bovard Studio, Inc. in Iowa, works on one of 16 stained glass windows at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church of Medina. Geary is putting in aluminum framing to allow for ventilation of the window.

Geary said without ventilation heat is trapped between the window and a protective cover. That heat corrodes lead.

Some of the window sills also have rotted wood that will be replaced.

Bovard Studio arrived in Medina on Tuesday to start working on 16 windows at St. Peter, 1355 West Ave. Bovard has four crews working around the country. The crew in Medina will finish the job next week. They were in Wichita Falls, Texas, before coming to Medina. The next job is near Chicago.

Alfredo Reyna is supervisor of the three-man crew in Medina. The windows are all receiving onsite restoration, including a coating of a mixture of linseed oil, turpentine and Portland cement, which fills some gaps in the lead.

The glass will be polished and a Plexiglass protective cover will be replaced with 4-inch plate glass. The new cover will allow more light, making the windows brighter when viewed inside the church.

This window will be brighter after restoration work to be completed next week.

For more on Bovard Studio, click here.

Collins picked by Trump for House Leadership Committee

Staff Reports Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, made national news on Feb. 24 when he was the first member of Congress to publicly announce an endorsement for Donald Trump for president.

Now Collins has been tasked by Trump to convince more members of the House of Representatives to support Trump’s candidacy.

The Trump campaign announced today that Collins and Duncan Hunter of California will serve as co-chairs of his campaign’s U.S. House Leadership Committee.

“Congressman Hunter and Congressman Collins are conservative stalwarts,” Trump said in a statement issued by his campaign. “I am honored to have the support of these two well respected members of Congress who share my vision of securing our borders, strengthening our military, treating our veterans with the respect and care they deserve and putting Americans first again.”

Collins praised Trump on Feb. 24 for his successful career as a businessman and entrepreneur.

“Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that he has both the guts and the fortitude to return our nation’s jobs stolen by China, take on our enemies like ISIS, Iran, North Korea and Russia, and most importantly, reestablish the opportunity for our children and grandchildren to attain the American Dream,” Collins said. “That is why I am proud to endorse him as the next President of the United States.”

Governor announces budget agreement with minimum wage hike

Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office
ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie today announced an agreement on the 2016-17 state budget.

The budget holds the growth in state spending to 2 percent for the sixth consecutive year, continuing to reverse a decades-long trend where state spending outpaced the rate of inflation or personal incomes.

The budget also includes a number of landmark policies that will strengthen opportunity for working and middle class families and a record $24.8 billion in education aid.

The budget will also grow the economy with a $4.2 billion middle class tax cut when fully effective and critical statewide infrastructure investments – including a new $55 billion State Transportation Plan that commits $27.14 billion for Department of Transportation and Thruway programs and $27.98 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Spending

The budget agreement includes spending in the following categories:
Total State Operating Funds: $96.2 billion; 2.0 percent growth
School Aid: $24.8 billion; 6.5 percent growth
Medicaid: $18.5 billion; 3.4 percent growth under the cap
Higher Education: $7.2 billion; 2.0 percent growth

Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

“In a time defined by vitriolic hyper partisanship and when people have lost faith in their government’s fundamental ability to address the critical challenges of our time – in particular, the growing income inequality in our country, New York State has once again come together to get things done. Many have proposed the big changes we sought – minimum wage, meaningful paid family leave, a balanced budget that caps spending and cuts taxes – but almost all have failed. Today, I am proud to announce that with this agreement, we have succeeded.

“After decades of out-of-control spending, we have in the last five years returned fiscal responsibility to Albany by capping government growth at 2 percent, cutting taxes, and investing in the successful programs that are rejuvenating our upstate economy. We’ve restored New York to a position of national leadership on issues of social justice.

“We’re continuing that progress this year in the fight for economic justice – so that everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, has the chance to succeed. We believe that people who work hard should be able to earn a decent living and support a family with dignity. With a statewide $15 minimum wage and the nation’s only 12-week paid family leave program, we are going to prove that the economy can and should work for all.

“We’re cutting taxes for the middle class, making record investments in education with $1.4 billion in new funding, turning failing schools into community schools, and ending the GEA in New York once and for all because we believe that our tomorrows can be better than our yesterdays. At the same time we are prioritizing infrastructure and transportation to not only restore what is, but also imagine and realize what can be.”

Details on some of the most significant parts of the budget are as follows:

Minimum Wage

For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage would rise to $11 at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2018.

For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage would rise to $10.50 by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2019.

For workers in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage would increase to $10 at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after, reaching $15 on 12/31/2021.

For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage would increase to $9.70 at the end of 2016, then another .70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on 12/31/2020 – after which will continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the Director of the Division of Budget in consultation with the Department of Labor.

Further, the bill provides a safety valve to the increases. Beginning in 2019, the state DOB Director will conduct an annual analysis of the economy in each region and the effect of the minimum wage increases statewide to determine whether a temporary suspension of the scheduled increases is necessary. That analysis is submitted to the Department of Labor by the Division of Budget.

It is estimated that more than 2.3 million people will be affected by the increases in the minimum wage.

Paid Family Leave

The budget agreement includes the longest and most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation. When fully phased in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid family leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.

Benefits will be phased-in beginning in 2018 at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped to 50 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, and fully implemented in 2021 at 67 percent of their average weekly wage, capped to 67 percent of the statewide average weekly wage. This program will be funded entirely through a nominal payroll deduction on employees so it costs businesses – both big and small – nothing. Employees are eligible to participate after having worked for their employer for six months.

Middle Class Tax Cut

The budget lowers Personal Income Tax rates for middle class New Yorkers. With the middle class tax cuts of 2012, rates were lowered from 6.85 percent to 6.45 percent for taxpayers in the $40,000-$150,000 income bracket, and to 6.65 percent in the $150,000-$300,000 income bracket. Under these new reforms, the rate will drop even further beginning in 2018 and will continue to drop all the way to 5.5 percent when the cuts are fully phased in.

These new lower tax rates will save middle class New Yorkers nearly $6.6 billion in just the first four years, with annual savings reaching $4.2 billion by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the state’s lowest middle class tax rates in more than 70 years. When the tax cuts begin, they will benefit 4.4 million filers, growing to 6 million filers when fully phased in.

Support for Schools and Education

The budget provides $24.8 billion in School Aid, the highest amount ever, and $5.3 billion more than 2011-12. While total state spending has been held to 2 percent annual growth and most state agency budgets have been held essentially flat, School Aid is increasing by 6.5 percent for the 2016-17 School Year and will have increased by nearly 27 percent since 2011-12.

The increases of the last five years are as follows:

2011-12 School Aid: $19.64 billion
2012-13 School Aid: $20.35 billion ($805 million increase, 4.1 percent)

2013-14 School Aid: $21.23 billion ($992 million increase, 4.9 percent)
2014-15 School Aid: $22.24 billion ($1.13 billion increase, 5.3 percent)
2015-16 School Aid: $23.5 billion ($1.35 billion increase, 6.1 percent)
2016-17 School Aid: $24.8 billion ($1.5 billion increase, 6.5 percent)

School Aid supports almost 700 school districts, and 2.8 million students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12. New York schools already spend more per pupil than any state in the nation, at an average of $19,818, almost double the national average of $10,700.

In addition to traditional School Aid, the budget maintains $340 million in annual funding for the Statewide Universal Full-Day Prekindergarten program and continues the $2 billion Smart Schools program. The Budget fully eliminates the outstanding $434 million Gap Elimination Adjustment. Foundation Aid is increased by $627 million (4 percent).

Infrastructure Spending

The budget contains the largest state transportation plan ever approved, with over $55 billion of transportation investments statewide, including $27.14 billion for State Department of Transportation and Thruway programs and $27.98 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority programs. The plan aligns capital programming for DOT and MTA over a 5-year period (SFY 2016-20) and includes additional commitments for priority projects and programs that extend over a sixth year.

The $27 billion DOT capital program includes: $21.1 billion for capital improvement of highways, bridges, rail, aviation infrastructure, non-MTA transit, and DOT facilities throughout the state. This includes the launch of three new initiatives – BRIDGE NY, PAVE NY, and the Extreme Weather Infrastructure Hardening Program to further improve conditions on state and local roads and bridges, as well as provide resiliency to roadways that are particularly susceptible to weather events.

It also includes $4 billion for capital investment for a sixth year, and $2 billion in Thruway Stabilization funding that will support capital improvements on the entire Thruway system and the New New York Bridge, allowing the Authority to freeze tolls on the system until at least 2020.

The $27 billion MTA Capital Program includes: $26.6 billion for improvement of capital facilities operated by the New York City Transit Authority, Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad and MTA Bus and major initiatives including $1.5 billion for Phase II of the Second Avenue Subway. Specifically, the budget authorizes a record $8.3 billion of State support for the program.

Orleans employment picture improves in February compared to year earlier

Staff Reports Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

There were 300 more people working in Orleans County last month compared to February 2015, and also 200 fewer people unemployed, according to the latest data from the state Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate in Orleans fell from 7.9 percent in February 2015 to 6.6 percent last month. There were 16,900 people working in the county and 1,200 unemployed.

Although the unemployment rate has dropped in Orleans County, it remains above the state average of 4.8 percent, which is the lowest in New York since November 2007. In the rural GLOW counties, the unemployment rates include Genesee at 5.5 percent, Livingston at 5.8 percent, Orleans at 6.6, and Wyoming at 6.8 percent.

Tompkins County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.7 percent. Three counties are at 8.0 percent or higher, including Lewis at 8.0 percent, and Hamilton and Bronx, both at 8.1 percent.

Smith to play football at Ithaca College

Contributed Story Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Contributed Photo – Kyle Smith

Albion High senior Kyle Smith has made a commitment to continue his academic and football career at Ithaca College.

Smith was a four year starter and captain his junior and senior years for the Purple Eagles. He played quarterback all four years and defensive back his junior and senior years as well.

“Kyle is the kind of kid you want in your program and has worked so very hard to get what he has achieved. Every workout, practice and film session was done to maximize his growth as a player and it worked out in his favor,” said Albion Coach Gary Parisi. “Coach Welch liked Kyle on film, met him and is planning on using him as a slot receiver.”

Smith has received many awards in his football career including The Richard Diminuco Award his junior and senior years for being an example of what Albion football is all about. This year he also received the Sportsmanship award in Section VI “B” North and All-League.

“You don’t replace a kid like Kyle and what he has done for the school and community, you just move on,” said Parisi.

Distance Learning comes to Wise Middle School

Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos courtesy of Medina Central School – Fourth grade woodwind students show Mrs. M from the Cleveland Institute of Music the answer to her question as part of the new distance learning effort at Medina.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – The Medina Central School District has installed a Polycom Video Conferencing System in the middle school library. This allows for the school to conduct distance learning “field trips” over the Internet using a high definition camera and microphone set.

Band students took advantage of this opportunity and participated in sessions with the Cleveland Institute of Music. The Cleveland Institute of Music set up a fictitious television talk show called “Classical Instrument Montage” where Wise Middle School students were the studio audience.

“It was an impressive program,” said 4th and 5th grade band teacher Jeanette Sheliga. “The students were highly engaged asking and answering questions along with making music with the host. The program included a live performance as well as integrated pictures and videos teaching them about the history of the instruments of the orchestra.”

Fourth grade brass players practice buzzing with the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Brian Richards, Medina’s manager of Network and Information Systems, explains that, “The district’s Office 365 subscription gives each staff member a Skype account. We have recently purchased a portable classroom sized Video Conference Camera for use with Skype conference calls, allowing virtual field trips in any classroom in the district. The use of these systems provides us with educationally enriched virtual field trips, without ever having to leave the classroom.”

Fifth grade students Skype with scientist Dr. Lowman.

Percussion students in grades 4 – 6 perform a requested rhythm.

Wise’s 5th grade class also took advantage of the new distance learning capabilities. The 5th graders completed their ELA module about the biodiversity of the rainforest.

Part of this module included reading the book called ‘The Most Beautiful Roof in the World,’ written by Kathryn Lasky. Lasky’s book focused around the scientific work of Dr. Meg Lowman while she researched various rainforest canopies. On March 15th, 2016, the 5th grade students had the opportunity to Skype directly with Dr. Lowman.

Throughout the module, students created questions for Dr. Lowman coming up with over 100 of them and narrowing them down to about 25. Students were able to pick Dr. Lowman’s brain about the rainforests that she has been to, her books, her life, and many other interesting things.

Fifth grade teacher, Jason Klein, said “Students really enjoyed the whole process and are looking forward to other distance learning opportunities in the future.”

Rochester man arrested for allegedly selling cocaine in Orleans County

Staff Reports Posted 31 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Trevis D. Baker

ROCHESTER – A Rochester man was arrested on Wednesday after an investigation into the sale and distribution of heroin, crack cocaine and cocaine from Rochester to Orleans County.

The Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force, the Greater Rochester Narcotics Enforcement Team (G.R.A.N.E.T.), the Rochester Police Department and the Albion Police Department K9 Unit executed a search warrant at 504 Chili Ave., Rochester.

Police seized more than 3 ounces of cocaine, more than an ounce of crack cocaine, five bundles of heroin, a loaded semi-automatic 380 pistol, more than $8,000 in U.S. currency, scales, packaging and other drug paraphernalia.

Trevis D. Baker, 36, of 504 Chili Ave. was arrested on numerous drug charges. Baker is a New York State parolee, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force said this afternoon.

Police seized a pistol, drugs and about $8,000 in cash after executing a search warrant at Baker’s residence.

He was arrested on five counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree (Class B felonies). He faces additional drug and weapons charges in Monroe County, as well as possible federal charges, the Task Force said.

Baker was arraigned in Clarendon Town Court by Justice Thomas DiFante, and remanded to Orleans County Jail without bail due to a lengthy criminal history, the Task Force said. Baker is due back in Clarendon Town Court at 11 a.m. on April 5.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Department also assisted in the investigation.

Reward offered for information leading to arrest of Middleport robber

Posted 30 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Press Release, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office

MIDDLEPORT – Niagara County Sheriff’s Office is attempting to identify the above individual, who was involved in a robbery at the Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union (5 State St. Middleport).

The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’5″ to 5’8″, stocky build, with short dark hair and scruffy facial hair. He was last seen wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, blue Levi jeans, a white baseball hat, dark-colored thick-rimmed glasses and what appeared to be a gold cross necklace.

Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

Any information, please contact Investigator Tracy Steen of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office at 716-438-3337 during normal business hours or Niagara County Dispatch at 716-438-3393.

Mustang stickmen bow in double OT

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Medina’s Tyler Valley drives toward the East Aurora goal during the Mustangs double overtime loss to the Blue Devils this afternoon at Vets Park.

A late scoring drought proved costly as Medina dropped a 12-11 double overtime decision to visiting East Aurora this afternoon at Vets Park in the Class C Division season opener.

Medina tied the game at 11-11 with 4:40 to go in the fourth quarter on a goal by Jake Cotter but could not score again.

Neither team could score in the first four minute overtime. However, East Aurora finally broke the deadlock as Gish netted the game winner for the Blue Devils late in the second overtime period.

Cotter finished with a total of 5 goals for the Mustangs as Brendan Luthart and Tyler Valley both scored 3.

Medina had jumped out to a 6-3 first period lead as Luthart scored 3 goals, Cotter 2 and Valley 1.

East Aurora though came battling back to first cut the deficit to one at 7-6 at the half and then to knot the contest at 8-8 at the three-quarter mark.

The Mustangs regained the lead twice in the fourth period, first at 9-8 on a goal by Valley, and then at 10-9 on a tally by Cotter but could not hold the advantage as East Aurora quickly answered with the equalizer both times.

The Blue Devils took a 11-10 lead but 4:58 remaining but Medina quickly answered with the equalizer just 18 seconds later as Cotter tallied what proved to be the Mustangs last goal.

Medina next visits Wilson at 5 p.m. Friday.

Mason Lewis brings the ball up field for the Mustangs.