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Month: November 2019

County approves $650K in bids to build 4 new radio towers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 November 2019 at 9:53 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature has approved $656,757 in construction bids for four new radio towers.

The Legislature last week accepted a $557,707 bid from Upstate Tower Construction in Bethesda, Md., to erect the four radio towers.

The Legislature also approved a bid for $99,050 to the Orleans County Highway Department to do the site work for the four towers. The project was rebid and the proposal from the Highway Department helped reduce the cost.

Three of the towers will be 180 feet high and they will be located by the Public Safety Building on Route 31 in Albion, Millers Road in Yates near the water tank, and at the Kendall Central School near the bus garage.

The other tower will be 150 feet high and will be near the Holley water tank on Route 237.

The towers are part of a $6 million project to upgrade the emergency communication system in the county. The state awarded Orleans a $5,897,141 grant for four new towers, accompanying communication shelters, technology to connect separate radio systems and new radio channels. The project will strengthen communications between multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

Because the towers are under 200 feet in height, they won’t be lighted, said Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director.

The new towers and equipment are part of an upgrade to the emergency communications system, which serves firefighters, law enforcement, highway employees, probation and some other municipal workers in the county.

The system currently has poor coverage in the Holley area, along Lake Ontario and some other isolated locations in the county, especially in buildings with thick walls.

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10 stops are featured on museum’s Christmas Tour of Homes

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 November 2019 at 9:08 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Harriette Greaser’s house was built in 1893 at the corner of East State and Platt streets and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

ALBION – The Cobblestone Society and Museum has lined up 10 fabulous stops for their annual Christmas Tour of Homes from 2 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 7.

Participants can choose to drive themselves or take advantage of a tour bus option. Seating on the bus is limited, so tickets should be purchased early.

“Each of our stops will be a pleasure to behold,” said Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Museum. “We are pleased to partner with others in our community to showcase the richness of rural life in Orleans County at Christmas.”

Sites on this year’s tour include the Cobblestone Church at Childs; Fairhaven Treasures; the homes of Mark and Brenda Radzinski, Roger and Ingrid LaMont and David and Army Sidari; the DAR House; Waterman Park; First Presbyterian Church of Albion; the Queen Anne Manse of Harriet Greaser’s; and the Pullman Universalist Church.

Pat Morrisey and Toni Plummer will host tours of the Cobblestone Museum Church. In 1833, the First Universalist Society was organized at Fairhaven (now Childs) and a building committee consisting of John Proctor, Joseph Billings and William W. Ruggles was selected. Built in the Federal style, the Universalist Church represents the oldest cobblestone church in North America.

In 1960, the New York Convention of Universalists declared the Childs church abandoned and had considered selling it. To avoid potential use by commercial interests, the Cobblestone Society Museum was formed and purchased the building. It was during that time, in the 1960s, that the museum carefully repaired and restored the interior and exterior.

The interior of the church is arranged to look as it would have in the 1880s.

Fairhaven Treasures is at the southeast corner of routes 98 and 104 in the historic district at Gaines.

At Fairhaven Treasures, across the street from the Cobblestone Church, Ray Burke and Carol Culhane will welcome visitors. Burke purchased the home, built in the 1830s (the same decade as the Cobblestone Church) and he and Culhane have turned it into a Christmas paradise and gift shop.

The stately home is of brick construction with two parlors and a grand foyer. The name for the shop harkens back to an early era when the hamlet of Childs was called Fair Haven. The home boasts six fireplaces and open hearth cooking is still on display in the kitchen.

Visitors will be enchanted to look through an original guest book from Charles Howard’s Santa Claus School.

Mark and Brenda Radzinski’s home at 12799 Oak Orchard Rd. was originally built in 1890 and has been renovated with several additions before 1960. Visitors will see a large collection of handmade vintage Christmas quilts and enjoy a tasty treat during their visit.

Roger and Ingrid LaMont’s home at 3027 Densmore Rd. was built in 1912-1913. This Queen Anne/Victorian home features grand porches and an elegant suite of living areas. Continuously owned (and nearly continuously occupied) by the LaMont family for three generations, the home boasts many original lead windows and numerous antique furnishings. The front sitting room commands a view of a seven-foot tall custom-designed stained glass window gracing the stairwell. Other features include three sets of pocket doors leading to the dining room with original light fixtures, a living room with tiled fireplace and an updated kitchen. Many photographs and items displayed throughout the home reflect the rich history of this seven-generation farm family.

David and Amy Sidari will welcome guests to their home at 3300 Oak Orchard Rd. (Route 98), Albion. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt visited this home numerous times when the Ryans lived there. The Ryans invited the entire town to a buffet when Roosevelt was governor in the late 1920s.

In 1930, while touring the state to speak to Democratic women, Eleanor had dinner with the Ryans at their home and that same evening gave a speech at the Orleans Chapter DAR House.

The DAR House is part of the Christmas Tour of Homes on Dec. 7. The house was first built in 1840 on North Main Street at the Linwood Street intersection. The house was enlarged by Orson Tousley in the mid-1800s. The Greek Revival building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Orleans Chapter DAR House is located at 249 North Main St. The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890, during a time that was marked by a revival in patriotism. Women felt the desire to express their patriotic feelings and were frustrated by their exclusion from men’s organizations formed to perpetuate the memory of ancestors who fought to make this country free and independent. As a result, a group of pioneering women in the nation’s capital formed their own organization and the Daughters of the American Revolution has carried the torch of patriotism ever since.

The Orleans DAR was organized in 1925, but by 1928, membership had grown so rapidly that holding meetings in private homes was no longer an option. Realizing the need for a meeting space for the chapter, Emma Reed Webster purchased this brick residence from the Church Family in 1929. the beautiful period woodwork is left intact, and the house is graced with period furniture, antiques and a large collection of artifacts.

South of the Erie Canal on Main Street, between eastside buildings, is Waterman Park, where a Santa mural was designed and painted by Stacey Kirby Steward, an Albion graduate. This 24-foot-long mural was a project initiated by Albion Rotary Club to commemorate the life and work of Charles W. Howard, as well as to highlight Albion’s extraordinary downtown and Courthouse Square.

Howard founded the world’s only Santa Claus School in Albion in 1937 and served as Santa in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for nearly 20 years. He is known for dedicating his life to establishing a high standard for Santas everywhere. He died in 1966, but his school continues today in his name in Midland, Mich.

The First Presbyterian Church of Albion, located at 29 East State St., will highlight its sanctuary restoration and Christmas décor.

Harriette Greaser is pictured with the staircase made of golden oak at her home on East State Street, which is the former manse of the First Presbyterian Church in Albion.

When Elizur Kirke Hart died in 1873, he left $50,000 to the Presbyterian Church, directing that a new edifice be erected. According to legend, he also stipulated that he wanted the new church to have a steeple taller than the one on the local Baptist Church. Hence, the most dominating landmark at the Courthouse Square is the Presbyterian Church spire, reaching 175 feet in height. It is also the highest point in Orleans County.

The church is constructed entirely of brown Medina sandstone, quarried locally in 1874. The Gothic Revival style emulates European cathedrals of the 13th century. Stained glass windows in the Tiffany style were installed 100 years ago, replacing the original stained glass. Solid walnut woodwork is a treasure in itself.

Next door at 31 East State St., is the Harriette Greaser’s Queen Anne Presbyterian Manse.

The home was financed by Presbyterian Church members with large contributions by the Hart family. Two houses were moved off the lot to make way for construction of the manse. The church owned the home for 93 years, and it was sold to Philip and Harriette Greaser in January 1987.

The manse was one of the first to have all-electric lighting in Albion. Downstairs woodwork is golden oak and staircase panels are quartered-sawn oak. The kitchen is red birch, while the upstairs is cucumber wood, a type of poplar with a green line running through the boards. The wood ceiling in the kitchen is maple.

The Pullman Universalist Church at 10 East Park St. is the final stop on the tour. The building was designed in the style of Old English Gothic with Richardsonian Romanesque features. Designer Solon S. Beman found rough-hewn locally quarried pink Medina sandstone complimentary to the simple forms and heavy proportions of the Richardsonian style.

Built by George Pullman, inventor of the Pullman sleeping car, in honor of his parents, the main entrance is made of a series of stone moldings, with oak plank doors and decorative wrought iron hinges.  The church can seat 300 (400 with the wide eastside doors opened to the parlor).

The church sanctuary contains 41 stained glass windows by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York City. The church houses a Johnson pipe organ with stenciled gold leaf pipes from the Tiffany Studios.

Self-drive tickets for the tour are $15 for Cobblestone Society members and $20 for others.

Bus tour tickets are $40 for members and $45 for all others.

Tickets are available by calling the museum at (585) 589-9013 or logging on to the website at

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Former dentist office in Medina turned into hostel, catering to cyclists

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 November 2019 at 8:06 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Andrew Meier and Chloe Palov stand in front of the Bunkhaus Hostel which Meier has created out of the former dentists’ offices of William Bellavia and Peter Igoe on West Avenue. Palov has settled in Medina to run the Bunkhaus.

MEDINA – For a girl who hails from Washington, D.C. and spent the last 10 years living in Roanoke, Va., relocating to the quaint village of Medina is quite a leap of faith.

But that is just what Chloe Palov has done.

“In the spring of 2017, I wanted a change,” she said. “I wanted to go somewhere new. I got out the atlas and literally just put my finger on a spot.”

In 2015, Andrew Meier was looking to pick up a new property and the former dentist office of Dr. William Bellavia and later Dr. Peter Igoe was near his building on West Center Street. The upstairs had already been converted into two apartments, and Meier felt because the downstairs had been outfitted for a dentist’s office, with many small rooms, finding a suitable commercial tenant might be a challenge.

It was at that time Palov came to town and reserved a room upstairs.

“I was only going to stay a few weeks, but I fell in love with the place,” Palov said. “The charming village, the canal, the shops. It was like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. After I had stayed several months, I moved downstairs in the home. Then I asked Andrew why he didn’t turn the whole downstairs into a hostel. Andrew was not familiar with a hostel, but I had traveled all over the world and stayed in hostels.”

She suggested the small rooms would be perfect for bunks.

On Dec. 31 of 2017, Palov had to go back home to take care of some family business and while she was there she decided to take a job driving tractor trailer cross country. She had already made the commitment to go to truck driving school when she got a text from Meier in February 2019.

“I’m getting ready to open the hostel,” Meier told Palov. “Can I convince you to come back to Medina and run it?”

“I’d already had enough of over-the-road driving and I had taken a job driving city bus in Roanoke,” Palov said. “By the end of July, I returned to Medina. It was a 10-hour drive and I arrived on Aug. 1 with my cats. When Andrew brought me into this house and showed me what he had done, it absolutely bowled me over. He took my little idea and expanded it. What a huge transformation it was.”

“Through the lens of a hostel, the small rooms made perfect sense,” Meier said.

Palov has now lived in every space in the house.

Bunkhaus manager Chloe Palov shows one of the rooms in the hostel with two bunk beds.

“When I greet guests who arrive, I feel like I’m welcoming them into my home,” she said. “This is where I want to put down my roots.”

Unlike a hotel, Palov explained a hostel is a facility where guests share amenities, such as a kitchen, bath and living area. Palov provides cereal, coffee and fruit and guests are free to bring in any other food they want to cook. There is also a laundry for their use.

“I’ve stayed in many hostels, and you meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life,” she said. “When you stay in a hotel, the only people you ever meet are those in the elevator.”

Meier said Palov provides what people want in a hostel and don’t often get.

“She’s a wonderful addition to the community,” he said.

The Bunkhaus provides a good night’s sleep, and it’s “wallet friendly,” Palov said.

She explained hostels started in Europe.

The Bunkhaus hopes to cater to people who ride the Erie Canal and give them a comfortable and affordable place to stay.

One of the first guests to stay at the Bunkhaus was a rocket scientist from John Hopkins.

Meier and Palov hope the Bunkhaus will be attractive to the many bikers who come through Medina while riding the towpath. The former waiting room for the dentist’s office is now space where bikers can safely leave their bikes for the night.

Guests are asked to strip their beds in the morning and put the dirty laundry in the hamper.

Meier is planning to add one more room which will accommodate a queen-size bed. In the spring, he also plans to put in a patio with a privacy fence.

“We hope people will see us as part of the revitalization of Medina,” Palov said. “I sensed the resurgence two years ago when I was here, and I want to be part of that.”

Palov is also a published author in 11 languages. She writes thrillers under the name C.M. Palov.

Palov is happy to give anyone a tour of the Bunkhaus. She can be reached at (585) 735-6031. They also have a Facebook page and a website at

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Holley girls look to keep momentum

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 29 November 2019 at 7:54 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Leading Holley into the upcoming season will be this group of veterans. In front are Olivia Radford, Tia Hofforth and Halee Passarell. In back are Megan Harrington, Alexis Clemons and Jade Hofforth.

Looking to keep the momentum generated last year, Holley is prepping for the season opening Kendall Tournament.

Holley will face Kendall in the December 4 tourney opener.

Anchoring the lineup for the Lady Hawks will be the veteran group of seniors Olivia Radford, Jade Hofforth, Megan Harrington and Alexis Clemons along with junior Halee Passarell and freshman Tia Hofforth.

“We made good strides last year and we’re looking to improve on that,” said Coach Sal DeLuca whose Lady Hawks went 6-14 last year having snapped a long losing streak with a pair of wins in the season opening Kendall Tourney.

Holley’s graduation losses included Madison Marsh, Sarah Klatt and Julia Smith.

December: 4 and 7 at Kendall Tournament vs. Kendall on the 4th at 7 p.m.; 11 – Oakfield-Alabama, 7 p.m.; 16 – Barker, 7 p.m.; 17 – Byron-Bergen, 7 p.m.; 19 – at Pembroke, 7 p.m.
January: 6 – at Attica, 7 p.m.; 8 – Alexander, 7 p.m.; 10 – Lyndonville, 7 p.m.; 14 – Kendall, 7 p.m.; 16 – Notre Dame, 7 p.m.; 21 – at Barker, 7 p.m.; 22 – at Lyndonville, 7 p.m.; 28 – at Wheatland-Chili, 7 p.m.; 30 – at Elba, 7 p.m.
February: 4 – at Alexander, 7 p.m.; 6 – Pembroke, 7 p.m.; 12 – at Byron-Bergen, 7 p.m.; 14 – Attica, 7 p.m.; 18 – at Oakfield-Alabama, 7 p.m.

New store in Middleport features ‘everything Christmas’

Photos by Ginny Kropf: The outside of the Christmas Treasure Box is all decked out for the holidays, inviting shoppers to come in and see the shelves full of holiday decorations.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 November 2019 at 7:42 am

Whether its stars or Santas, penguins or elves, angels or snowmen, it can probably be found at the Christmas Treasure Box, a new Christmas store which Brenda Dunn opened in Middleport.

MIDDLEPORT – Brenda Dunn loves Christmas, so when she closed the scrap yard she had run across the street, it was an easy decision to open a Christmas store.

“I wanted to try something new,” Dunn said.

With help from her daughter, Valerie Vercruysse of Lyndonville, Dunn opened the Christmas Treasure Box in October, in a building across from the scarp yard which used to house a garage and auto parts store.

The store boasts “everything Christmas,” Dunn said.

From life-size Santas and snowmen to figurines, ceramics, lighted canvases, angels, penguins, moose, giant snowglobes, reindeer and garland, the Christmas Treasure Box is filled with holiday decorations.

“And we’re getting more all the time,” Dunn said.

Vercruysse makes wreaths on the walls, as well as themed gift baskets. They also sell Yankee candles and items made by local crafters, such as crocheted potholders and woodcrafts.

Many items are one of a kind, Dunn said.

They will also have gift wrapping.

The Christmas Treasure Box is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday until Jan. 4. It is a short drive from Medina, just over the Orleans County line.

Dunn plans to tweak things for next year, with longer hours, when they open for the season in October.

Valerie Vercruysse, left, of Lyndonville and her mother Brenda Dunn of Middleport show off some of the unique Christmas items for sale at the Christmas Treasure Box which Dunn recently opened at 9985 Rochester Rd., near the Orleans County line.

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Parade of Lights will have a new champion on Saturday

Photos by Tom Rivers: Spectators line up on Main Street to watch the Parade of Lights last year in Medina. The Lyndonville Fire Department was among the participants.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 November 2019 at 9:40 am

45 entrants on Saturday don’t include a previous grand champion

MEDINA – There are 45 community organizations and businesses signed up for Saturday’s Parade of Lights in Medina. None of the entrants are recent grand champions.

Takeform, the two-time defending champ, decided instead to puts its energy into helping decorate Rotary Park. The Albion FFA, the grand champion in 2016, and Matt Mundion of Matt C.M. Contracting, who won from 2013-2015, also won’t be in the parade.

“We’ll definitely have a new winner,” said Jim Hancock, the parade chairman.

Takeform, the grand champion of the Parade of Lights in 2017 and 2018, won’t have a float in Saturday’s Parade of Lights. The Medina company instead has helped decorate Rotary Park for the holiday season.

The 45 entrants matches the number from last year. This year there will be 17 new entrants in the 11thannual parade, which Hancock believes is a record.

“There are some I’m anticipating some big things from,” he said.

The parade starts at 6 p.m. from the Olde Pickle Factory and heads down Park Avenue to Main Street in the downtown. The parade route has been extended down Main Street to near the American Legion and Hartway Motors. Five Star Bank is making its parking lot available for people who need handicapped parking spots.

This year’s parade includes music at Rotary Park by Prime Time Brass from Churchville at 5 p.m. and the Community Tree Lighting ceremony at 5:30, followed by a fireworks display by Young Explosives at about 5:45.

The Albion FFA was the grand champion of the 2016 parade when the FFA made a float with more than 10,000 lights. The Albion FFA is taking a break from the parade this year. The FFA won the grand champion award in 2016.

Matt Mundion of Matt C.M. Contracting was grand champion in the Parade of Lights in 2015 with the “Medina Express,” a train with four units. Mundion was the grand champion of the parade for three years.

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DWI arrests fall in latest multi-agency patrol on night before Thanksgiving

Posted 28 November 2019 at 8:47 am

Joint Press Release by Albion, Medina and Holley Police, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office & New York State Police

On November 27, from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. the Albion Police Department hosted and supervised a multi-agency Orleans County Wide DWI Saturation Patrol.

This detail combined the law enforcement efforts from every law enforcement agency in the county along with the Orleans County Probation Department, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol.

The agencies involved consisted of the Albion Police, Medina Police, Holley Police, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, with logistical support provided by the Orleans County Probation, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol.

The detail results are as follows:

DWI Arrests: 3 – 2 in the Village of Albion (Albion PD) both DWI drugs; 1 in the Town of Murray (Sheriff’s Office)

Traffic Stops: 76

Tickets Issued: 21

Penal Law Arrests: 2 Criminal Possession of Controlled Substance / 4 Unlawful Possession of Marijuana

Agency Break Down:

Albion PD – 29 stops

Medina PD – 19 stops

Holley PD – 8 stops

Orleans County Sheriff’s Office – 26 stops (2 tickets for aggravated unlicensed operation, 1 for aggravated DWI, 11 tickets altogether)

NY State Police – 12 stops

The Albion Police Department and the other law enforcement agencies are committed to making the roadways safe for all those who travel upon them.

This is the sixth year a saturation patrol was conducted and the ninth year a focused detail was done. Compared to previous years, this year’s detail had a comparable number of vehicle stops as previous years, but the percentage of intoxicated or impaired drivers has decreased again from previous years. The data from this year’s detail indicates that less than 4 percent of the motorists stopped were intoxicated, whereas in previous years we have seen data as high as 20 percent of the motorists stopped were intoxicated.

This is positive news in our efforts to reduce accidents caused by intoxicated drivers. The reduction of DWI arrests is a positive and motivating factor when these types of details are conducted.

Many believe that law enforcement want to make more DWI arrests during these details, however we prefer the opposite. Law enforcement stopped many people and found the overwhelming majority to be responsible and not under the influence of alcohol. We also encountered several intoxicated passengers with sober designated drivers.

Intoxicated drivers do not follow jurisdictional lines, so we decided that we would not either. The Albion Police Department and its partners are planning similar details for the future. We will continue to use every resource and tool available to create a reduction in offenders and arrest those who continue to endanger others by driving while intoxicated.

The commitment and dedication by the officers, deputies and troopers who worked the detail undoubtedly saved lives in Orleans County by making arrests and sending a clear message to deter others from drinking and driving.

Kendall girls will open with tournament

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 28 November 2019 at 7:49 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Leading Kendall into the upcoming basketball season will be this group of returnees. In front are Katie Pearson and Elizabeth Snyder. In back are Autumn Woodward, Brittney Marks, Lizzie Sutphen and Alezya Brown.

Anchored by a good group of six returnees, Kendall will open the girls basketball season by hosting the Lady Eagles annual tournament on December 4 and 7.

The opening round on the 4th will have Barker vs. Lyndonville followed by Holley vs. Kendall.

The Lady Eagles will be led by the veteran group of seniors Brittney Marks, Katie Pearson, Lizzie Sutphen and Autumn Woodward along with sophomores Elizabeth Snyder and Alezya Brown.

“With our experience we’re pretty solid,” said Coach Jeff Parizek. “Our biggest challenge, as it was last year, is to score consistently.”

The Lady Eagles roster also includes juniors Ciera Kupferschmid and Karlee Robb along with sophomores Julie Coble and Julia Sczepanski.

December: 4 and 7 – Kendall Tournament vs. Holley on the 4th at 7 p.m.; 9 – Rochester Prep, 6 p.m.; 12 – Elba, 7 p.m.; 17 – Wheatland-Chili, 7 p.m.; 19 – at Notre Dame, 7 p.m.
January: 6 – Northstar, 6 p.m.; 8 – Lyndonville, 7 p.m.; 10 – Byron-Bergen, 7 p.m.; 13 – at Pembroke, 7 p.m.; 14 – at Holley, 7 p.m.; 18 – Young Women’s College Prep, 1 p.m.; 24 – Attica, 7 p.m.; 28 – at Alexander, 7 p.m.; 30 – at Oakfield-Alabama, 7 p.m.
February: 4 – at Lyndonville, 7 p.m.; 6 – Notre Dame, 7 p.m.; 10 at Young women’s College Prep, 5:30 p.m.; 12 – at Wheatland-Chili, 7 p.m.; 14 – at Elba, 7 p.m.

Schumer sees potential in WNY, upstate as major hemp growing region

Photos by Tom Rivers: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm on Route 98 in Albion to discuss the emerging industry and the need for federal government to improve regulations for sampling and testing hemp. Terry and Gina Miller hosted Schumer’s visit to their farm, which is north of Albion and Gaines near the Carlton town line.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 November 2019 at 8:17 pm

Senator says federal government needs to establish regulations to help farmers and processors in emerging industry

Gina Miller said there need to be more standards from labs in testing hemp. Right now, she said the results vary wildly among labs in testing the same plants.

ALBION – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited an Albion farm today that is part of an emerging sector in the state’s agricultural industry. Terry and Gina Miller are growing hemp, one of about 500 farms in the state with a permit to grow the plant.

Schumer said the soils and growing conditions in Western New York and the Finger Lakes have proven to be conducive to growing the plants that are about 5 feet tall.

The industry faces uncertainties in the regulations from the federal government. The senator is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend a comment period about the regulations. The USDA has set a deadline for Dec. 31 for comments on the regulations. Schumer is seeking a 60-day extension for comments.

Schumer also wants to the USDA to consider some of the challenges faced by growers and processors working with hemp.

“It’s like the Wild West right now,” Terry Miller said about dealing with the regulations.

Schumer is urging the USDA to establish clear standards that ensure the safety of the public but aren’t overly burdensome to farmers and processors.

“Industrial hemp has a real future for our New York farmers,” Schumer said at a news conference at Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer shakes hands with Terry Miller, owner of Miller’s Organic Hemp Farm. Miller grew the crop on a quarter-acre of land this year.

Hemp is popular for the CBD oil that comes from the hemp plant. CBD is used to deal with pain, inflammation and anxiety.

Hemp, Schumer said, also is used for cosmetics, construction projects and in car doors.

Schumer is asking the USDA to listen to concerns from growers and producers, and to make improvements to the final regulations.

Schumer, at the Albion farm today, expressed his concern over USDA’s proposed Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program, which was published on Oct. 31. The U.S. senator said he’s been approached by farmers, producers and stakeholders from across the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region. They tell him the proposed regulations for sampling and testing of hemp are imprecise, and are not fully reflective of farmers’ challenges.

Chris Van Dusen of Holley is president of Empire Hemp Co. in Batavia. He said hemp is a proven product that helps people with pain.

Miller said growing the hemp plant proved a challenge.

“No one expected the harvest to be this laborious,” he said.

Schumer argued that given the new nature of this industry and the economic potential it holds, USDA should extend the comment period and improve the regulations.

“When it comes to an industry as promising as industrial hemp in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, the feds need to get it right the first time, and not rush to any reckless regulatory decisions,” he said. “Regulating this rapidly-emerging industry is a must, but any rules must be part of a well-thought-out process that carefully considers the needs of all stakeholders—from farmers and growers to producers and manufacturers.”

Schumer explained that the proposed rule, which is a necessary step to support domestic industrial hemp production, potentially includes regulations that could have harmful effects on hemp production in Orleans County and the entire nation. The comment period for the proposed Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program began on October 31 and is set to end on Dec. 31.

Schumer noted some provisions under the proposed Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program final rule that have concerned farmers and producers, specifically related to the timeframe for sampling and testing of industrial hemp, the lack of available places to do this testing, the guidelines for THC level testing, and the restrictiveness for retesting if the threshold for THC exceeds allowable levels.

Hemp is a demanding plant to grow, peaking at about 5 feet tall.

For example, Schumer said under the rule, producers would have a 15-day timeframe for the harvesting, sampling and testing of crops. However, since this testing typically takes 5-6 business days alone, the proposed final rule creates a tight turnaround and affords farmers very little leeway in the prescribed timeline.

Furthermore, Schumer explained the short 15-day window may be further hindered by the potential scarcity of DEA-registered laboratories in state, to perform testing in a timely manner.

Additionally, Schumer said the current draft regulations do not afford any provisions for growers to salvage or retest crops that initial tests exceed the established .03 THC threshold. Crop insurance, which is often difficult to procure, still affords no protections for most farmers in these circumstances. Other concerns highlighted by Schumer pertain to the sampling methodology to determine accurate THC levels.

The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Schumer noted it had strong bipartisan support and was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation:

•  Removed industrial hemp from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act

• Empowered states to be the principal regulators of hemp

• Allowed hemp researchers to apply for competitive grants from the USDA

• Made hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance

The Millers created this display board of their first year growing hemp. Garland Miller, Terry’s father, helped grow the crop. He is shown in the photo, second from the upper right.

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be utilized for food, oil and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use.

However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants were considered “controlled substances” under federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was the primary regulator for hemp production.

Schumer argued that this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential. With the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 passed by Congress and signed into law last year, this unnecessary roadblock has been lifted, and industrial hemp’s significant potential to become a cash crop in Upstate New York will be unleashed, he said.

“This has tremendous, tremendous potential,” Schumer said at Miller’s farm. “We can be one of the industrial hemp centers of the USA. I’ll do everything I can to get the USDA to be reasonable.”

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Kids receive basketballs in honor of the late Justin Swanger

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 November 2019 at 5:30 pm

Provided photos

ALBION – The family of Justin Swanger on Tuesday handed out 24 basketballs to boys who participate in a basketball program run by a group of the local churches through PACT – Pastors Aligned for Community Transformation. Matt and Sharon Sugar oversee the program at the Albion Middle School.

Swanger was a high-scoring 3-point shooter for the Albion varsity basketball team. He died in his sleep at age 22 on Nov. 28, 2014. Tuesday was near the fifth anniversary of his passing.

His mother, Paula Canne, attended the open shoot basketball program on Tuesday and gave the boys basketballs in honor of her son.

Paula Canne, wearing the Albion basketball jersey, gives away basketballs on Tuesday.

Justin’s basketball coach Tim Archer and Sheriff Randy Bower both spoke about their experiences with Swanger, who was a hard worker and was well liked for sense of humor.

He was a key member of the Albion basketball team. He had a scrappy playing style and a knack for hitting long 3-pointers. He graduated with the Class of 2010.

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