Search Results for: Fancher Memorial

Donor for Fancher memorial repairs wants it to be long-lasting tribute for 10 who died in World War II

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 March 2021 at 10:01 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: The four-sided clock at the Fancher Curve is a memorial to 10 young men from the community who died in World War II. The memorial was dedicated on Aug. 14, 1949. This photo is from November 2016.

FANCHER – Fred Fiorito remembers the big crowd of people when the Fancher Memorial was dedicated on Aug. 14, 1949.

He was only 10, and he has never forgotten seeing the Gold Star mothers in mourning. The memorial on the “Fancher Curve” on Route 31 is a four-faced clock in a stone monument made of local sandstone.

Fiorito moved away from Fancher when he was 20. He enjoyed a career as a chiropractor in New York City. He would come home a few times each year to see family, including his brother Ted Fiorito. Fred noticed the memorial gradually deteriorate.

Sometimes the clocks didn’t work. The mortar was crumbling. The site wasn’t a great showcase or memorial for the 10 who in World War II. Those 10 include John Christopher, Joseph Christopher, Cosmo Coccitti, John Kettle, Jr., Leonard Licursi, Martin Licursi, Richard Merritt, Camille Nenni, Floyd Valentine and Richard Vendetta.

“I knew some of those families,” Fiorito said. “The monument’s condition was distasteful.”

Last May near Memorial Day, Fiorito was home recovering from an injury. He thought back to his childhood and the memorial.

“That memorial was built out of love for the guys in the area who left and didn’t come back,” Fiorito said by phone. “Those 10 guys who gave their lives gave them for you, me and everybody.”

Fiorito decided to call the Murray Town Hall. He left a message on Town Supervisor Joe Sidonio’s answering machine, offering to make a donation to get the memorial looking better.

This photo from the Holley Standard shows the memorial in August 1949.

“I just want to see it brought back to where it was many years ago when it was first done,” Fiorito said. “I feel a connection to my home and it will always be my home, and that monument is very important to me.”

Fiorito has offered $10,000 to upgrade the memorial. He is pleased Sidonio has “enthusiastically” embraced the project and wants to have the improvements in place by Aug. 14, which would be the 72nd anniversary of the memorial’s dedication.

Dan Mawn, president of the Murray-Holley Historical Society, has been a key coordinator in the project. He connected with Neal Muscarella, an Albion mason, to replace the green mortar on the monument.

Mawn, who is retired from the Holley Electric and Water Department, will put in new movements for the clocks, and new electrical service.

“It is a project that is very worthwhile,” Mawn said.

Sidonio and Mawn also want to upgrade the landscaping at the site, and make the flagpoles look better.

“We want to create a better sense of place for the monument,” Sidonio said.

A photo from the memorial’s dedication showed several rifles stacked on top of the monument. Sidonio and Mawn wondered if those rifles were part of an original display on the monument, and if the rifles had been removed or taken.

They looked at the top of the monument and there aren’t any brackets or other evidence that the rifles were being held in place on the memorial. They must have been temporarily put there.

The former Holley Standard reported on the monument on Aug. 11, 1949, previewing the dedication ceremony three days later. The newspaper declared the project “an example of community enterprise and cooperation.”

A bronze plaque lists the names of the local soldiers who perished in the war: John Christopher, Joseph Christopher, Cosmo Coccitti, John Kettle, Jr., Leonard Licursi, Martin Licursi, Richard Merritt, Camille Nenni, Floyd Valentine and Richard Vendetta.

The monument designed by local resident Pat DiLaura with stone donated from quarry owned by Art Nenni

Local quarrymen worked to get out the stone including Gene Nenni, Oresto Nenni, Americo Belli, Richard DePalma of Holley, and Richard Raneri, Tony Passarell and Angelo Manella of Albion. Gene DePalma graded the site of the monument

Lee Colavito and Dan Fiorita did the mason work, Thomas Friedo of Fancher did the electrical work, hooking up the four electric clocks and the lighting at the base of the monument.

Fred Fiorito said the monument is a one-of-kind memorial that was created by the local residents in honor of the 10 local soldiers. The project utilizes the talents and resources of the local community.

“Even though I moved 400 miles away and I’ve been away a long time, my heart is still there,” Fred Fiorito said. “I just couldn’t stand to see the monument left the way it is. It honors 10 boys who stood up and never came back.”

Work starts on restoring Fancher Clock, a World War II Memorial

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2021 at 1:37 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

FANCHER – Neal Muscarella, a mason from Albion, chips away old and loose mortar today on the Fancher Clock, a World War II Memorial at the curve on Route 31 on the east side on Murray.

Muscarella will be putting in new mortar and it will be the color green like the original. Muscarella said this is the only sandstone structure that he has seen with green mortar.

The four-sided clock at the Fancher Curve is a memorial to 10 young men from the community who died in World War II. The memorial was dedicated on Aug. 14, 1949.

Murray town officials are pushing to have the restoration done in time for the anniversary of the clock’s dedication.

Neal Muscarella removes the mortar between the sandstone blocks.

Fancher native Fred Fiorito has donated to cover the costs of restoring the monument. Fiorito is a retired chiropractor who lives in Mount Vernon, outside New York City. He grew up on a farm at the intersection of Fancher and Telegraph roads.

He was only 10, and he has never forgotten seeing the Gold Star mothers in mourning during the clock’s original dedication.

Fiorito in trips home over the years has noticed the memorial’s gradually deterioration. Sometimes the clocks haven’t worked. The mortar has crumbled.

Fiorito wants the site to be a well cared for showcase for the 10 local residents who died in World War II. Those 10 include John Christopher, Joseph Christopher, Cosmo Coccitti, John Kettle, Jr., Leonard Licursi, Martin Licursi, Richard Merritt, Camille Nenni, Floyd Valentine and Richard Vendetta.

Provided photo: Dan Mawn, president of the Murray-Holley Historical Society, removes one of the clock faces. The clocks will have new movements put in, and a new electrical service. They will be programmed to automatically adjust for Daylight Savings in March and also for way the clocks “fall back” an hour in November.

The four clock faces also will have new metal rings so they can slide in more easily into the monument and have better structural support.

The project also is expected to include upgraded landscaping and improvements to the flagpole.

Generous donation will address deteriorating condition of Fancher Clock, a WWII Memorial

Posted 29 March 2021 at 3:40 pm


Photo by Tom Rivers: The four-sided Fancher clock is a memorial to 10 soldiers from the Fancher area who died in World War II.

In May of 2020 I received a phone call from Dr. Frederick Fiorito of Mount Vernon NY. Dr. Fiorito grew up in Fancher on a farm at the intersection of Fancher & Telegraph roads. Over the years he would return to the homestead visiting family and friends. In doing so he took note of the deteriorating condition the Fancher Clock has endured in the more than 70 years since its dedication.

In conversations with Fred and his brother, life-long fireman Ted Fiorito, I received a personal history lesson in the significance and purpose of the “Fancher Clock”. The monument is a memorial for the 10 sons from the Hamlets of Fancher, Brockville and Hulberton who went off to WWII and didn’t return.

John Christopher, Joseph Christopher, Cosmo Coccitti, Floyd Valentine, John Kettle Jr., Leonard Licursi, Martin Licursi, Camille Nenni, Richard Merritt, Richard Vendetta. It is the amazing story of a community coming together to honor their memory and sacrifice.

The Fioritos vividly remember the Gold Star Mothers each dressed in black in the back seat of black vehicles with gold stars on the windows. That vivid experience remains to this day and the failing condition of the memorial troubles them.

It is my honor to announce that Dr. Fiorito has generously donated funding for its restoration to memorialize the men for future generations.

Without hesitation, I have enlisted Holley/Murray Historical President Danny Mawn and Murray Town Historian Marsha DeFilipps to research and develop our implementation plan. As expected, they have produced historical documents and photos to help us determine what necessary actions to take. Danny has already spent countless hours on site, with contractors and researching as only he can do.

I’m proud to say we are beginning the first phase of its restoration this Spring and hope to move to competition for a rededication ceremony on August 14, 2021 the day it was dedicated some 72 years ago.

This gift is an expression of the Fioritos love of their hometown and the importance of memorializing those sons we lost in that war. This gift is gratefully accepted with profound appreciation.

Their belief in community and willingness to give will make our Town of Murray a better place for all of us to live and will keep the memory of our soldiers alive.

With Fond Sincerity,

Joe Sidonio

Town of Murray Supervisor

Light on top of Fancher clock starts small fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 July 2020 at 11:21 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

FANCHER – The clock at the Fancher Curve on Route 31 briefly was on fire tonight. The light on top of the clock is used to illumine the American flag at night. That light also attracts a big collection of bugs.

There were so many bugs on the light that the bugs were fried by the light, causing a small fire on top of the clock, said Fran Gaylord, a deputy fire coordinator for the county and a past Holley fire chief.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 10:43 p.m. with reports the town clock was on fire. Gaylord said a firefighter climbed up and removed the bulb, which stopped the fire. Once a new bulb is put in, the light should be working again, Gaylord said.

The clock in Fancher is a World War II memorial to 10 soldiers from the Fancher area who were killed in the war.

Return to top

Fancher monument honors 10 who perished in WWII

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 June 2013 at 12:00 am

FANCHER – In August 1949, the Fancher community gathered to dedicate a monument on the triangle along the Route 31 curve.

The memorial honored 10 soldiers from the Fancher community who died in World War II. The monument includes a plaque noting the ultimate sacrifice by John Christopher, Joseph Christopher, Cosmo Coccitti, John Kettle, Jr., Leonard Licursi, Martin Licursi, Richard Merritt, Camille Nenni, Floyd Valentine and Richard Vendetta.

I’ve driven by this monument hundreds of times. I was happy about a decade ago when the four electric clocks were repaired. This evening I stopped to find out the meaning behind the memorial.

It didn’t realize it was dedicated to WWII veterans, or that the small community of Fancher had lost so many in the war.

Click here for a link to an article in The Holley Standard from Aug. 11, 1949, previewing the dedication of the monument.

New leader of Community Action has plans to move agency forward

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 October 2020 at 10:01 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Renee Hungerford, left, new director of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, compares notes with Annette Finch, director of Emergency Services at CAOG.

ALBION – The new director of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee brings a ton of credentials and a world of ideas to the table.

Renee Hungerford of Waterport was recently hired to replace former director Ed Fancher, who worked for Community Action for 32 years and passed away on May 27.

After Fancher’s death, CAOG’s board chair, Veronica Barhite, stepped up as interim director while the search for a new one began.

“We tried to find an interim, but in all of New York state, there were no interim directors available,” Barhite said. “So I offered to be that person. It has been a learning experience.”

The job was advertised and Bruce Schmidt was named head of the Search Committee.

“We were sent the resumes the end of August,” Barhite said. “But we knew right away who we wanted. Renee rolled right to the top of the list.”

Hungerford grew up in Cheektowaga and graduated from Maryvale High School. She got a degree in music performance at the University of Buffalo, a degree in business management at Bryant & Stratton and a bachelor’s degree in information systems at American Sentinel. She received her master’s in health informatics from Kaplan University, now Purdue Global.

She married in 1989 and has three grown children, ages 28, 25 and 22.

She had divorced and came to work at what was then Anchor Bank in Albion, where she met Mark Hungerford in 1993. Anchor became Washington Mutual, and then Chase Bank. Renee was vice president of business analytics at Chase when the company wanted her to move to Columbus, Ohio, but she decided to pursue her degree in informatics, because of her interest in medicine. She completed that in a year, she said.

“Many times during my career I have been offered the chance to relocate, but always refused for all the right reasons,” Hungerford said.

She had started dating Mark in 2005 and they were married in 2009.

Her career next included five years at Oak Orchard Health as director of informatics, quality and population health, during which time she took course work in data science.

Veronica Barhite, left, chairman of the board of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, chats with the agency’s new director, Renee Hungerford of Waterport. Barhite stepped in as acting director after the death of Ed Fancher Memorial Day weekend.

When Covid hit, Hungerford began working from home, and it was on one of those days she happened to see an e-mail about the opening at Community Action.

She started to call, then put the phone down, but she kept thinking about it.

“I was drawn to this,” she said.

She went to the kitchen to make a sandwich, then dropped down on the stairway and decided, “I’m going to apply for this.”

She figured she’d apply and forget about it, so she quickly sent off her resume. Then she realized she hadn’t included a cover letter and she wrote one the next day and sent it along.

“I didn’t think anything would come of it,” she said.

Hungerford called a friend and told her, “This really matters.”

Then she was called for an interview, and then a second one. She began work within the week.

Her start date was Oct. 5 and the first week was spent touring all the facilities and meeting all the directors in the area.

“In 30 years, I had no idea of the extent of things Community Action does,” she said. “The highlight was going to the Main Street Store. What a great place.”

“We are over the moon excited about Renee,” Barhite said. “She’s a perfect fit, with her variety of education and experience. She is a very visionary person. She’s looking at all the possibilities we can do to help people. The whole area needs a shot in the arm, and she’s it.”

Hungerford plans to fast forward Community Action into utilizing more technology.

She was amazed to discover that for some of the employees, this is the only place they’ve ever worked.

“They’ve never used the new technology, but there’s going to be more of it,” she said. “A lot of walls are going to be broken down, and we will start a technology upgrade next week. I have a lot of ideas.”

Hungerford was also amazed at the amount of buildings Community Action has throughout Orleans and Genesee counties.

“Technology can help us all work as a team,” she said.

Hungerford said Community Action doesn’t simply give handouts to those in need.

“It’s about making them self-sufficient,” she said. “They will not only receive food, they may also learn how to prepare it. They will not only learn how to apply for a job, but get the clothes for it. It will be the whole person package.”

Finch took Hungerford to the Eastern Orleans Community Center in Holley, and she was impressed with the site. Finch said they have a new generator at the Holley Center, meaning it can now be used as a warming center in the event of a power outage.

One of Hungerford’s plans is to cross-train everybody, so if someone is on vacation, another employee can step into the position.

“What touches me is Renee’s vision for this agency,” Finch said. “I’ve been here 43 years and this is the fourth executive director I’ve worked with. It’s scary, because I didn’t know what to expect. We wondered how much things were going to change. But I can see her heart is here. This agency is going to go places.”

Return to top

Murray ‘Team’ let many issues linger with no push for resolution

Posted 17 June 2021 at 11:39 am


In the old days we called it the “Good Old Boys Club.” Today we call it the “Team.” The “Team” does work well together … But, what do they work well on?

We experienced “Team Murray” under the previous administration and what did that get us? A continued 50% water loss paid for by a hidden tax.

We have also experienced the “Team First” approach. The “Team” amended the Town’s benefits package to unlawfully provide financial compensation to an outgoing “Team Official” on the eve of his departure. Fortunately, Mr. Sidonio at his first meeting brought it to light and prohibited that “team first” action.

Joe includes every citizen equally and fairly. Joe encourages and welcomes public comment which is a fundamental basis for his platform.

Isn’t it strange under the “Team” approach there was rarely a dissenting opinion or vote? Do we want a town board that is always in agreement? A healthy town meeting has discussion and debate and in the open. In this small town every voice is important.

If the “Team” works so well together, what have they really accomplished? Why is the “Team” opposed to monthly work meetings? Did the “Team” work to reduce taxes, were they the driving force all these years to address the water loss or refinance the district debt? What contributions are they making to the Fancher War Memorial restoration and rededication? Or are they simply riding the back of Supervisor Sidonio’s hours and hours of hard work to claim victory for their “Team”?

It’s obvious to me that Supervisor Sidonio is working very hard to improve our Town.

I suggest the “Team” get on board. The train left the station and the days of old are long gone.

Brian Fauci


Murray town employees most responsible for recent successes

Posted 15 June 2021 at 10:47 am


This is not a letter I wanted to write, but I feel that it is important to set the record straight. In true fashion, I am telling it like it is. It is interesting that Murray Town Supervisor Joe Sidonio chooses this moment in time to finally thank the Highway and Water crew.

Dennis Mandigo and myself took over as Highway and Water Superintendents when Ed Morgan retired last year. It would have been nice to have had the Supervisor’s support at any time last year, when it was needed.

The same Highway & Water crew he praised in his letter is the same crew that he belittled all of last year. When the Water crew found a significant leak under Ridge Road in September, Supervisor Sidonio felt the need to take their pipe and have it analyzed, presumably to verify that it was legitimate and not a fake.

During our time as Highway & Water Superintendents last year, Dennis Mandigo and myself saved $180,000 of our Highway Budget, therefore reducing budget spending. The long-term debt was a refinancing of the water districts brought to the Town Board by our previous accountant, Bob Fox.

The discretionary highway spending of $92,000 is still in the budget for the highway to spend, it was simply moved to the General Fund. We do not have live streaming, but did had Zoom meetings, which was a necessity brought on by Covid-19.

The Fancher War Memorial is being restored, thanks to the request and generous donation of Fancher’s own Fred Fiorito.

Lastly, the Water Department Crew, led by Dennis Mandigo, reduced the almost 50% water loss to less than 25%. Although the Board members offered support, the Supervisor did not. Our fine crew accomplished that on their own.

Residents are being deliberately misled. The Supervisor now thanks the same Town Board that he ridiculed last month. Accomplishments listed are from team efforts, not for one person to take credit for. Thank you to our Town Board members – Lloyd Christ, Paul Hendel, Mike Mele and Randy Bower – along with the fine employees, residents and professionals that we rely on to get things done.

Mr. Sidonio is right about one thing; the job of Supervisor is more than just paying bills. It is about having a vision for the entire town, not just what one person wants for themselves. It is about being professional and treating employees and residents with respect. It is about being a good role model and representative for the Town. It is about listening to other people’s ideas. Randy Bower has all of these qualifications.

Search Randy Bower in this very paper to see for yourself and you will see that he is more than qualified on every level.

I do believe in Murray and I believe our residents will elect a Supervisor we can be proud of. Please vote Randy Bower for town supervisor during early voting and Primary Day on June 22nd.

Louise Passarell

Town of Murray

Passarell is the Murray Town Assessor and the Highway and Water Clerk

Conservative Party leader says Sidonio deserving of re-election

Posted 7 June 2021 at 4:47 pm


Every now and then you endorse a candidate that makes you proud and actually does what they say they are going to do and that candidate is Murray Town Supervisor Joe Sidonio. His record for his first 2-year term actually makes me jealous that I can’t brag like this for my own town.

Joe is not a republican conservative, he is a conservative republican. He is conservative socially and most important a conservative fiscally. He actually looks for ways to save the taxpayers money while not turning a blind eye to practices that are ethically challenged and self serving to the politically connected within the governmental body. It’s very easy to go along to get along but that just makes you a democrat.

So with a record like Joe’s why on earth would anyone want to challenge that? Unless you are: against reducing budget expenses and property taxes by 1.6 percent, against eliminating Golden Parachute benefit packages for departing elected officials and saving over 70,000 dollars, against reducing water taxes over 70,000 dollars, against refinancing long-term debt saving 631,000 dollars, against acquiring a Moody’s Bond Rating of A1, against reducing the town wide water loss from 50% down to 30%, against reducing discretionary highway spending by 92,000 dollars, against a comprehensive plan and zoning plan that are near completion, against a new town website with live streaming capabilities for open government and transparency, against initiating monthly work meetings with community involvement, against restoring and rededicating the Fancher War Memorial.

Is Joe’s opponent going to pledge to top these monumental accomplishments if he wins or turn things back to the tax, spend, wink and nod days of old? What exactly is he running on? Is he going to be conservative enough to save the taxpayers money like this? Or will it be like firing Trump and getting Biden? With 2 weeks left before the election the voters of Murray deserve to know. The public has heard nothing.

The smart voters of Murray I believe know that they elected one of the best Town Supervisors they ever had in Joe Sidonio. Your town is heading in the right direction. You would be foolish to change and go backwards.

Re-elect Joe. He is a proven leader and no matter how much heat the establishment turns up on him he won’t quit on you. He will even “take one for the team” if he has to. Vote for Joe Sidonio on June 22nd in the Primary election. Promises made, promises kept.

Paul Lauricella

Orleans County Conservative Party Chairman

Murray town supervisor sees many successes benefitting local taxpayers

Posted 3 June 2021 at 9:25 am


I’d like to thank the residents of Murray for your confidence in me and the privilege to serve as your Supervisor.

The job is very demanding. To do it right requires a commitment of time, lifestyle, and family sacrifice. It takes vision, leadership and compromise. An understanding of governmental accounting, business, community and the greater good.

In my first year we’ve accomplished a lot. Despite the pandemic we brought about difficult but necessary changes while taking on the toughest issues. The record speaks for itself.

  • Reduced budget spending and property taxes by 1.6%
  • Eliminated Golden Parachute benefit packages for departing elected officials saving over $70,000.
  • Reduced water taxes over $70,000.
  • Refinanced long-term debt saving $631,000.
  • Acquired a Moody’s Bond Rating of A1
  • Reduced the 50% town wide water loss to 30%
  • Reduced discretionary highway spending $92,000
  • Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Amendments are near completion
  • A new Town website with live streaming capabilities for open government and transparency.
  • Initiated monthly work meetings with community involvement
  • Restoring and rededicating the Fancher War Memorial is underway.

I set the Town on an aggressive re-boot from day 1. I am proud of these accomplishments and must commend everyone for their contributions in making these achievements a reality.

Thank you to EFPR Financial Solutions for accounting upgrades and help refinancing debt.

Thank you to HV Audit for analyzing our water billing program and providing reliable water loss data.

Thank you to our amazing Comprehensive Plan Committee who have volunteered this past year to create a vision statement, master plan and zoning amendments for our future.

Thank you to our Highway and Water Crew for all you do. Working long periods of time in adverse weather conditions with little rest. With your grit and determination, we have significantly reduced our water losses. I’m confident you will rectify our remaining deficiency and lead the county by example.

Thank you to our Town Board for your service.

A very special thank you to Town Clerk Cindy Oliver who from the outset has welcomed me, tolerated my strenuous agenda and has been a constant delight to work with. Chief of Staff, nothing would get accomplished without you. Thank you.

Thank you to the Murray Republican Committee for unanimously endorsing me for Murray Supervisor for a 2nd term. It is a privilege to serve our Community.

We have more to do. A lot of big tough issues yet to address. Economic recovery, business development, renewable energy, sustainable employee health care, and the sad reality that so many of our children are living in poverty.

The job of Supervisor is so much more than paying bills once a month. You have to live it and breathe it. You have to do it for the greater good. You have to work hard and expect others around you to do as well.

I’d appreciate your support in the June 22nd Republican primary. I’d like to give it my best for another term.

Believe in Murray.

Joe Sidonio

Murray Supervisor

Crews stop leak of liquid fertilizer in Clarendon, working on cleanup at Route 237 site

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 July 2020 at 8:42 pm

Provided photos from Orleans EMO: The Monroe County Fire Bureau Hazmat Team works to contain the leak on an overturned tanker.

CLAREENDON – Emergency response crews have stopped the leak of liquid nitrogen fertilizer after a tractor trailer rolled over at 3:30 p.m. on Route 237 in Clarendon.

The crews are expected to be there for a while longer on the cleanup, the Orleans Emergency Management Office said.

The spilled product poses no significant health risk and is primarily an eye and skin irritant. Air quality monitoring is being done in the area of the scene, with no adverse readings are being indicated at this time, said the Orleans EMO.

The Clarendon Fire Company and Monroe Ambulance were dispatched to the accident in the area of 4602 Holley-Byron Rd. Upon arrival Clarendon firefighters reported a tractor trailer on its side with liquid nitrogen dumping from the top hatch of the trailer, and the driver out of the vehicle sitting on the side of the road.

The driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital by Monroe Ambulance.

The tractor trailer was carrying approximately 6,100 gallons of liquid nitrogen fertilizer at the time of the accident. As of 5:45 p.m., Monroe County Fire Bureau Hazmat Team was able to stop the leak. At this time, crews are working to drain the remaining liquid nitrogen from the tank, before the truck and trailer can be removed, the Orleans EMO said.

The accident shut down a section of Route 237 between Church Street and Hinds Road.

The NYS DEC Spill Response Team is on scene and monitoring the situation and assessing the potential environmental impact.  Holley-Byron Road (Route 237) remains closed at this time between Church Street and Hinds Road in the Town of Clarendon.

At this time the following agencies have been involved with the response: Clarendon, Holley, Fancher-Hulberton-Murray, Barre and Albion Fire Departments, Orleans County Emergency Management, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Monroe Ambulance, Monroe County Fire Bureau, NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Police, National Grid, A.D. Call and Son’s, and Kerhaert’s Towing.

“It was quite a team effort,” said Dale Banker, Orleans County EMO coordinator. “Great work by all.”

Albion, Kendall and Brockport are standing by to cover jobs in the eastern and central portions of the county. Crews will be on scene for quite some time this evening as cleanup efforts continue, the Orleans EMO said.

Return to top

‘We have lost a true pillar of the community’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 May 2020 at 7:56 am

Ed Fancher, who served many local organizations, dies at 54 from cancer

Photos by Tom Rivers: Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, speaks during a forum on May 15, 2015, addressing about 40 human service professionals about challenges for low-income residents in the community.

ALBION – The death on Sunday of Ed Fancher from cancer has many in Orleans County and the region reeling.

Fancher, 54, was executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee the past 15 years.

He was an integral part of other service organizations including the Albion Rotary Club, the Iroquois Trail of the Boy Scouts of America, the Albion High School Alumni Foundation. Fancher was dependable, and a calming influence.

Ed was also a volunteer for Holy Family Parish and Hospice of Orleans. His wife Chris is a social worker and has been the volunteer coordinator at Hospice for many years. Her husband was often by her side.

“We have lost a pillar of the community,” said Charlie Nesbitt, a Rotarian with Fancher and former state assemblyman. Nesbitt also served on the Alumni Foundation’s board with Fancher.

“Ed took integrity to the highest level,” Nesbitt said. “When he said he would do something, it could be depended on every time. He has left a huge hole that will be difficult to fill. The great hope is that his example is taken up by others influenced by him.”

Nesbitt helped start the Leadership Orleans program. Fancher was in the first class in 2018, and welcomed the program under the Community Action umbrella.

He worked for the agency that serves low-income families for 32 years, starting as fiscal director after a four years as a U.S. Marine.

Rotary members Ed Fancher and Becky Dillenbeck prepare the ham dinners on March 17 for the annual St. Patrick’s Ham Dinner. Proceeds support projects from the Rotary Interact Club at Albion High School.

“He was a man with so much compassion for the staff and the people we serve,” said Annette Finch, director of community services for the agency since 1990 and a Community Action employee for 43 years. “He showed great leadership and was respected by all. He will be greatly missed and has left us with a desire to do our best for the community.”

The Albion FFA in recent years has delivered about 30,000 pounds of produce to Community Action in mid-December, to be distributed to local food pantries. Fancher for several years was an eager volunteer, helping to unload a flatbed trailer full of heavy boxes of apples, cabbage and other food.

He was there on Dec. 14, when the FFA set a new record with 40,000 pounds to produce to be unloaded. Fancher, weakened by cancer, had to back up from carrying boxes. He watched as the truck was unloaded and thanked the FFA students for putting so much effort into the food drive.

“I just feel general amazement at the generosity of the farming community and the students who pack the truck,” Fancher told the Orleans Hub. “On behalf of the families we serve, thank you.”

Community Action, with a mission of helping people become self sufficient, expanded its programs and services during Fancher’s tenure. It runs the Head Start program, provides emergency assistance, weatherization and energy services, the CATS transportation, and Main Street Thrift Store (which serves as an employment training center).

Two years ago it added the Leadership Orleans. The agency offers ACT – Helping Youth ACT Responsibly, which focuses on helping students to delay initial sexual encounters and make responsible decisions.

It runs a community center in Holley and helps train child care providers.

“Ed was always a gentleman, and was truly appreciative of all the staff and programs provided in both Orleans and Genesee Counties, through Community Action,” Jan Albanese, the ACT director, wrote on the Community Action website. “It is with heavy heart that we must inform community partners and friends that we have lost an integral part of Community Action this past weekend.”

Service organizations

Ed Fancher is honored as a Paul Harris Fellow, the highest award given in the Rotary Club, in this photo from Jan. 9, 2016. Fancher’s wife Christine and Don Bishop, left, also were part of the award presentation at Terry Hills Golf Course in Batavia.

Fancher was a key member of the Albion Rotary Club. He was the current club treasurer. He was a past president. He lived the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self.” He did many thankless tasks without complaint or reluctance, including setting up and tearing down the hot dog stand at the Albion Strawberry Festival. He prepared the hams for the St. Patrick’s Ham Dinner, adding a touch of brown sugar with pineapple on top.

He was treasurer of the club’s annual fishing derby, keeping track of several hundred registrants, paying out prizes and the bills, and getting up early every day of the derby to update the leaderboard.

He also was treasurer the past 12 years of the Iroquois Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which serves scouts in five counties.  He joined the board at a time when his son Kyle was a Scout in Troop 164 in Albion. When Kyle aged out, his father stayed on as a volunteer with the Council.

“Ed was very committed,” said Jim McMullen, the Scout executive for the Iroquois Trail the past 14 years. “He was an integral part of our board and our operation.”

Fancher has been honored by the Scouts as a “Citizen of the Year” and also presented with a Silver Beaver Award, the highest award the local council can give to a citizen.

“It broke my heart,” McMullen said about Fancher’s death. “He was such a fighter. We have lost such a lovely person.”

Provided photo: Ed Fancher was an enthusiastic volunteer serving popcorn at Albion homecoming football games.

For 20 years Fancher was a key leader in the Albion High School Alumni Foundation, an organization that distributes nearly $100,000 in scholarships annually. Fancher was a mainstay in the organization, willing to take on any task, from handling the finances to making popcorn at the homecoming games.

“Ed embodied our motto, ‘Making a difference for a lifetime,’” said Sue Starkweather Miller, the Foundation’s vice president and a long-time friend. “This is a huge, huge loss for our community on so many levels. It just breaks my heart.”

Steve Hicks, the Alumni Foundation president, said Fancher has impacted the lives of many students and families in the community.

“Our Foundation has suffered a great loss with the passing of Ed,” Hicks said. “Not only did he serve as Vice President, President and Treasurer across nearly 20 years, but he was one of the visionaries that helped build our Foundation into what it is today.

“Ed is the gold standard for how we should treat one another, and what we should strive to be. His kindness and compassion went far beyond our organization and touched our community in more ways than I can count. His impact was most felt by those who needed it most. For decades children opened Christmas presents, families shared thanksgiving dinners, graduates bought school books and paid tuition, in no small part thanks to the time and efforts of Ed Fancher.”

Fancher graduated from Albion in 1983 and served four years as a member of the Marine One Presidential Helicopter Squadron during the Reagan administration. The Rotary Club would often sing the Marines’ Hymn at Fancher’s request.

“From the Halls of Montezuma

To the shores of Tripoli;

We fight our country’s battles

In the air, on land, and sea;

First to fight for right and freedom

And to keep our honor clean;

We are proud to claim the title

Of United States Marine.”

Fancher has three grown children and three grandchildren. He was a faithful Buffalo Bills fan, even during the drought years when the team missed the playoffs for 17 straight seasons.

Funeral services will be held privately due to public health guidelines for public gatherings as a result of COVID-19. A link (click here) to view the Mass of Christian burial will be available at 10:45 on Friday.

Memorial contributions may be made to Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, 409 E. State St., Albion NY 14411; or to Hospice of Orleans, P.O. Box 489, Albion NY 14411; or to Holy Family Parish, 106 S. Main St., Albion NY 14411; or to Albion Alumni Foundation, P.O. Box 345, Albion NY 14411.

Return to top

Firefighters pay tribute to Clarendon fire chief at funeral

Photos by Tom Rivers: Firefighters from Holley and Clarendon served as pall bearers for Jon DeYoung’s funeral today. They are shown placing his coffin in a Clarendon fire truck. A caravan of fire trucks and firefighters then followed from Holley to Mount Albion Cemetery for DeYoung’s burial.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 March 2020 at 11:02 pm

Jon DeYoung led fire company while getting chemo, radiation treatments

Jon DeYoung

HOLLEY – Jon DeYoung’s friends and family, and many local firefighters said goodbye today to the long-time Clarendon volunteer firefighter, who served as fire chief and continued to answer numerous calls while undergoing chemo and radiation.

DeYoung, 55, died on March 10. He fought cancer for seven years.

He inspired many in the community with his dedication to the fire company, and also for his steadfast support of his three sons – Jeremy, Jon Jr. and Tyler – while they played sports at Holley and then when they followed his example in becoming volunteer firefighters in Clarendon.

“Everything in his life had to do with making a real connection to real people,” said the Rev. Aleka Schmidt, who led his service today at Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes in Holley.

She praised DeYoung for living out four tenants – courage, honor, commitment and duty.

DeYoung was known by many in the community as a dedicated firefighter. He was also a devoted family man, who loved to hunt, go camping and spend time on the golf course. (He had more fun finding other peoples’ lost golf balls than actually playing the game.)

The ladder trucks from Clarendon and Bergen were extended to make an arch at Mount Albion Cemetery.

When his sons played baseball, DeYoung would take them to the field early and throw them batting practice. He was eager to help the coaches with the team, and offered lots of encouragement to all the players.

His sons also played soccer, basketball and ran cross country. DeYoung would bring a bike to games and meets, and ride along the 3.1 mile cross country course at different check points to cheer on the runners.

He made all the games, while working full-time in Rochester as a tool-and-die designer for Acro Industries, and responding to hundreds of fire and EMS calls.

“He was a superhero, a magician,” said his son Tyler, 25. “I don’t know how he did it.”

His brother Jon Jr., 28, is a captain in the fire company. He said his father had a drive to help other people.

Jeremy, 30, is a life member in the fire company. He said his father enjoyed being a mentor to the firefighters and Holley’s young athletes. He was patient in teaching skills and providing motivation.

The flag was lowered at the Clarendon fire hall in honor of Jon DeYoung, and his helmet and turnout gear were set by a memorial for firefighters.

DeYoung was well regarded among the fire departments in the county, especially in the eastern battalion – Holley, Clarendon, Fancher-Hulberton-Murray and Kendall. DeYoung didn’t see those departments as rivals. He saw them as one unit, said Bob Freida, a past Clarendon fire chief and one of DeYoung’s close friends.

Today at the funeral, firefighters from Holley and Clarendon served as pallbearers. Freida said DeYoung would have appreciated that, without any one department being singled out.

He supported a firefighter youth group for children, with the hope they would eventually join a fire company. That youth group mostly includes students in Clarendon, Holley and FHM fire districts.

Dan Campbell, past fire chief, and another close  friend for DeYoung, shared the firefighter’s prayer at the funeral home. Campbell also said DeYoung had a great sense of humor and was a fun person to be with.

“No words can do justice to his sacrifice,” Campbell said during the service today. “We lost one of our bravest. Jon battled this disease the past seven years and never gave up.”

Several fire trucks from the eastern battalion as well as Barre were part of the funeral processional for 10 miles to Mount Albion Cemetery.

DeYoung was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in April 2013. In October 2014, he had surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to remove his colon, prostate, bladder and stomach. That kept the cancer away for more than three years. It was back in December 2017.

That meant more chemo and radiation. Through it all, DeYoung kept going to fire calls.

Last April 27, the Fire Company’s Board of Directors presented DeYoung with the Firefighter of the Year award.

At that time, DeYoung was fighting cancer for the fourth time, and continued to put on the turn-out gear and respond to many of the fire calls and accidents. He also attended committee meetings and training sessions.

“Regardless of everything going on he stays very active and is at the fire scenes, the trainings and all the committees,” Freida, president of the fire company, said then. “He is truly doing the job as fire chief. We wanted to recognize him for his determination and fight to continue to give back to his community.”

Despite having a rough day with his illness, DeYoung made sure to attend the banquet last April so he could present the Chief’s Award to his son, Jon DeYoung Jr., who worked three years to get new rescue tools for the fire company.

DeYoung also was able to recognize his other sons for milestone anniversaries of service to the fire company. Jeremy in 2019 reached the 15-year milestone as a volunteer firefighter while Tyler reached 10 years.

“As the Chief and father of these young men I couldn’t have been more proud,” DeYoung posted on his Facebook page after the banquet.

Firefighters including Troy Kingdollar, front left, and Bob Freida, front right, served as pallbearers for DeYoung. They are shown at Mount Albion Cemetery.

Freida was one of the pallbearers at the funeral today. He presented a folded American flag to DeYoung’s wife of 31 years, Brenda, a former EMT.

Freida and DeYoung both have about 35 years as volunteer firefighters. They are buddies and long-time leaders for the fire company. DeYoung was fire chief seven years, and was the deputy chief during Freida’s eight years as chief.

“He was just a good, wholehearted person,” Freida said. “No matter what you threw at Jon, he was always there.”

Freida said the two responded to many difficult calls together – serious car accidents and fires.

Bob Freida has a black stripe on his badge to symbolize the mourning among firefighters at the funeral today.

“I truly consider him a brother,” Freida said.

An Orleans County dispatcher gave the last call for DeYoung today at about 11:30. It was the final call for DeYoung and badge number 171.

“Thank you for 35 years of unwavering dedication to your family and community,” the dispatcher said in a message broadcast at the funeral home. “Your legacy will never be forgotten.”

DeYoung grew up in a firefighting family. His father, the late Richard DeYoung, was a firefighter in Rochester and then joined the Clarendon Volunteer Fire Company. His son Jon joined 35 years ago when he was 20.

Jon was the fire chief right up until Jan. 1. He was succeeded by his brother, Jim.

Jon was a long-time leader for the fire company. He could be counted on to do the training needed to respond in many emergency situations, from interior firefighting, motor vehicle accidents and extrications, to medical calls. He knew what to do and kept a calm head.

DeYoung lived on Brown Schoolhouse Road, 2.8 miles away from the fire hall. He was determined to get to as many calls as possible, even when he was camping with his wife Brenda in Byron at Southwoods RV Resort, where he made many friends.

If it was a major holiday, and the family was sitting down for dinner, DeYoung would still respond to the fire call. When his sons became teen-agers and young adults, they joined him on those calls.

He knew all families of firefighters sacrifice when there is training, committee meetings, parades and fire calls.

In one of his last public acts, DeYoung attended the most recent fire company banquet on Feb. 15. This time he was in a wheelchair. He insisted on being there so he could present the Fire Chief’s Award to his wife of 31 years. He wanted to acknowledge Brenda’s support behind the scenes for so many years and for her love and care in his cancer fight.

Return to top

Many local businesses, volunteers helping Hospice with bouquet sale

Posted 4 March 2020 at 7:56 pm

Provided photos: Sylvia Goodstine and Rosalind Starkweather volunteered selling bouquets for Hospice at Tractor Supply in Medina.

Press Release, Hospice of Orleans

The Annual Hospice of Orleans Spring Bouquet Sale is in full swing taking on tremendous support from volunteers, area businesses, schools, churches and municipalities.  The sale runs from March 2 through March 8.

Last year this fundraiser raised well over $8,000 to support Hospice services for residents of Orleans County and organizers are hoping to exceed that figure this year. With a goal of selling 2,100 bouquets, Hospice of Orleans has already pre-sold and delivered approximately 1,700 bouquets to the community as of today.

This week volunteers will be selling bouquets all week at Medina Memorial Hospital from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers will also be stationed at the Arnold Gregory Complex in Albion and Tractor Supply in Medina from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Bouquets are also on sale at the Hospice office weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Julie Noreck sold flowers for Hospice at Medina Memorial Hospital.

The area businesses, schools, churches, and municipalities participating in the bouquet sales include the following:

• ABCD at Holley, Albion Bus Garage, Albion District Office, Albion Elementary School, Albion High School, Albion Lions Club, Albion Middle School, Antiques & Rusty Relics, Arc of Genesee/Orleans, Arnold Gregory Complex, Arnold’s Auto Parts

• Baxter Healthcare, Canalside Chapter, Case-Nic Cookies, Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Clarendon Town Clerk, Clifford Wise Intermediate Middle School, Cloverhill Adult Residence, Community Action, Concordia Lutheran Church, Country Lane Vet

• Dance Reflection, Eagle Harbor United Methodist Church, E-Z shop, First Presbyterian, Five Star Bank – Albion, GCASA, George’s Fancher Rd Service, Garden View Bed & Breakfast, Gotta Dance, Heads up Salon, HH Dobbins, Hoag Library, Holley Central Bus Garage, Holley Elementary School, Holley HS, Holy Family Parish

• JPs, Kendall Elementary, Kendall Jr/Sr High School, KeyBank – Medina, Lake Country Pennysaver, Lifetime Assistance, Inc., Lyndonville School District, Lynn Burgess’ Salon, M&T Bank – Lyndonville, Medina High School, Morton Baptist Church, Oak Orchard Elementary/Medina Central Schools, Office for the Aging, Orleans Correctional Facility, Orleans County Clerk’s Office – Stewart Title Insurance, Orleans County Courthouse, Orleans County Dept. of Social Services, Orleans County Mental Health Department, Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, Orleans YMCA, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

• Relco, Roush’s CPA PC, Sam’s Diner, St. Mark’s – Kendall, St. Mary’s Church, Takeform, The Villages, Tim Hortons Albion, Tompkins Bank of Castile, Toshiba Business Solutions, Velocitii and WNY Energy.

Return to top

‘Outstanding Citizens’ in 2019 dedicated themselves to a better community

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 December 2019 at 9:54 pm

Each year since the Orleans Hub started in 2013 we’ve honored a group of Outstanding Citizens who stood out the past year for extraordinary contributions to improve the community.

Orleans County is fortunate to have so many citizens who give of themselves without seeking any fanfare.

4 Boy Scouts lead effort to build war memorial in Kendall

Photo by Tom Rivers: These four Boy Scouts – Jayden Pieniaszek, Noah Rath, Brian Shaw and Ryan Barrett – join local veterans for a group photo on Sept. 29 at the new Kendall War Memorial, which the Scouts worked on together for their Eagle Scout community service project.

Four Boy Scouts in Kendall teamed to build a war memorial in Kendall. Each Scout took a different phase of the memorial as part of their Eagle Scout service project.

The memorial was dedicated on Sept. 29 with about 500 people attending the ceremony. It culminated a year-long effort by the four scouts – Jayden Pieniaszek, Noah Rath, Brian Shaw and Ryan Barrett.

The Scouts first presented the plan to the Kendall Board of Education in the fall on 2018. The plan quickly gained momentum in the community and was complete within a year of that initial meeting.

The Scouts thank the community for supporting the project. The Scouts include, from left: Jayden Pieniaszek, Noah Rath, Brian Shaw and Ryan Barrett.

Ryan Barrett led the first phase, which included putting in the foundation for the wall, a stone memorial and three flag poles. Two of the poles are 30 feet high and one for the American flag is 35 feet.

Jayden Pieniaszek led the second phase which includes construction of the brick wall, which is 39 feet long, 3 ½ feet wide and 4 feet tall.

Noah Rath headed up phase three which includes the medallions for each five branches of military. Rath also had the electricity set up so the memorial and sidewalk can be lighted up at night.

Brian Shaw coordinated phase four which includes final grading and planting of cedar trees behind the memorial, which provides a buffer for the neighbors and also enhances the site. Shaw also led the work for the plaques on the memorial for the different wars where Kendall soldiers served.

The four scouts were praised for their work in creating an enduring memorial that is a new focal point for the town.

“This remarkable memorial would not be possible without these four Eagle Scouts,” Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata said during the dedication service on Sept. 29. “Because of them we can, from today and going forward, have a lasting tribute to all those who have served. From the soldiers that shivered and starved through the winter at Valley Forge to the doughboys crouched in the muddy trenches of France to the platoon who patrolled the hazy jungles of Vietnam and the young man or woman patrolling the mountains of Afghanistan, we remember and never forget them.”

Kendall Scoutmaster proves excellent motivator for scouts

Photo by Tom Rivers: Ken Spohr, Kendall Scoutmaster, stands next to State Sen. Robert Ortt and salutes while the flags were raised during a Sept. 29 dedication for a war memorial. The project was led by four scouts in Troop 94 where Spohr is the scoutmaster.

It was an ambitious project: build a war memorial for the Kendall community and coordinate different phases of the project by four Boy Scouts.

Ken Spohr was up for the challenge. He offered guidance to the Scouts, but let them lead each phase, their community service project to become an Eagle Scout.

Ryan Barrett, Jayden Pieniazek, Noah Rath and Brian Shaw were able to turn an idea into a completed war memorial within a year. The project was dedicated on Sept. 29 with about 500 people at the ceremony.

“Ken is definitely one of the most outstanding people I’ve met,” said Ryan Barrett, one of the Scouts who worked on the project. “He is the anchor of our group. He is the light that shines on our path.”

Spohr tracked the donations and expenses for the project. He drove the Scouts to community presentations, as well as one in Albany at the State Capital.

He also has many connections with businesses and organizations, and he was able to point the scouts to people who could handle the masonry, and other work with the memorial.

When the four Scouts presented their plan for an ambitious memorial, Spohr didn’t flinch. He was a calm influence and constant encourager.

“His commitment to this project and all of us boys is incredible,” Barrett said. “He has been the unspoken hero behind this project.”

Spohr also motivates the troop for other community service projects, including a food drive for the local food pantry. He also recently agreed to take many pies in the face during a fundraiser for the troop.

“He does it all to ensure the future of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Kendall is secure,” Barrett said.

Bellavia, after receiving Medal of Honor, becomes ambassador for Orleans County

Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead: President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia on June 25 in the East Room of the White House. Bellavia is a Lyndonville graduate and continues to live locally. He is the first living veteran from the Iraq War to receive the nation’s highest military medal.

David Bellavia received the Medal of Honor on June 25 in a ceremony at the White House. He is the first living veteran of the Iraq War to receive the nation’s highest military honor.

Bellavia, 44, has been in high demand since then, traveling the country to give speeches about his service, and his acts of valor on Nov. 10, 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq. That day, his 29th birthday, he led an infantry squad clearing houses of insurgents, saving the lives of the members of his unit.

Bellavia praised his experience in the Army. He encourages people to enlist and serve. He said military service brings together people of varying backgrounds, beliefs and skin color, uniting them in a common goal.

In his message, Bellavia speaks of his upbringing in Lyndonville, where he played on the soccer, basketball and baseball teams, and performed in the school musicals and with the band. He has become an ambassador for the county and small-town America.

David Bellavia shows the Medal of Honor to Lyndonville fourth-grader Christopher Atkins. Elementary students lined the hallway for Bellavia when he visited the school on Nov. 21.

Bellavia also has given several speeches in Orleans County since October, receiving a standing ovation each time. He spoke at his alma mater on Nov. 21 and told the student body they live in the greatest small town in the world, a place where people are engaged in service to others.

At Lyndonville, they can be in multiple school activities – several sports, the band, the musical and more. They know their classmates and the kids in the grade levels above them and below them.

It’s a great place, but Bellavia didn’t realize that when he was in school.

“I spent my childhood just wanting to get out of here,” he told the students. “You get out in the world and you realize I have the best hometown in the world.”

Bellavia, in his local appearances, gives everyone a chance to hold the Medal of Honor. He said he feels like the community raised him and shaped him.

Bellavia enlisted in the U.S. Army as an infantryman in 1999 and worked about two years in recruiting for the Army while his infant son received medical care in Syracuse. Bellavia, during a June 11 news conference, said he appreciated that compassion from the Army.

In 2001, Bellavia had a decision to make. He could change his military occupational specialty, submit a hardship discharge, or remain as an infantryman. He chose to stay in the infantry after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bellavia’s unit in 2003 deployed to Kosovo for nine months and then was sent directly to Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. From February 2004 to February 2005, Bellavia and the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, were stationed in the Diyala Province along the Iranian border. His task force took part in the battles for Najaf, Mosul, Baqubah, Muqdadiyah and Fallujah.

“I’m forever grateful to the United States Army,” Bellavia told reporters at the Army Recruiting Station in Cheektowaga. “They gave my life purpose and direction. They gave my life meaning and value. I’m a better human being because of my service and I think most of the people I served with can tell you the same thing. I encourage any man or woman that wants to become an individual in their community to serve the United States military.”

Ridgeway woman led effort for banners of Hometown Heroes in Medina

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mary Woodruff, organizer of the Hometown Heroes, is shown on May 19 with a banner of her brother-in-law, the late John McElwain, a local electrician who was very active in the Medina Lions Club. The YMCA hosted a reception for families and sponsors of the banners to see them before they were displayed in downtown Medina before Memorial Day.

Downtown Medina has been enjoying a renaissance with new businesses and millions of dollars of private investment in recent years. In 2019, the downtown became a display for Hometown Heroes, with 38 banners of soldiers from the community, going back to World War II.

Mary Woodruff saw a similar effort in the Alfred community. Her father-in-law, Burr Woodruff, was one of the soldiers honored in Alfred. She thought the display was reminder of the sacrifices of soldiers and families from Small Town, America.

“I want people to feel patriotism and restore pride in the USA,” she said. “When you see a vet, say thank you.”

She did the research and pushed for Hometown Heroes’ banners in Medina. She convinced the Medina Village Board to back the effort, and lined up support from Ridgeway and Shelby town offices as well.

She had a short window to get the local approvals, and then send the information and photos to the company that made the banners. In all, there were 38 banners the first year. Woodruff is planning to add more in the following years.

“I was extremely pleased,” she said when saw the banners after they were delivered in May. “I had goosebumps.”

The banners are $200 and the families or sponsors can keep them after about three years. Before they were displayed in the downtown on village-owned poles, there was a reception with all the banners in the Orleans County YMCA, which is a former armory where many of the local soldiers trained.

Many of the families were moved to tears seeing the faces of grandfathers, fathers, brothers and friends on the double-sided banners that are 5 feet tall by 2 ½ feet wide.

Woodruff, a retired social studies and math teacher at Roy-Hart, also is a member of the Ridgeway Town Board.

Joe Cardone, the Orleans County district attorney, thanked Woodruff for organizing the banners of the Hometown Heroes. He attended the reception on May 19. His father, the late Vincent Cardone, served in the Army during World War II and is on one of the banners.

“It’s not every day you can look into our past and see the faces of the people who contributed so much to our community and country,” Cardone said.

Clarendon firefighter committed to training new generation in fire service

Photo by Tom Rivers: Clarendon Assistant Fire Chief Bob Freida is one of the mentors of a First Responders Youth Group that is a combined effort of the Clarendon, Holley and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray fire departments. Freida is pictured with three of the youth group members, from left: Nate Smith, 13; Teanna Church, 13; and Homer Mathes, 12.

Bob Freida has been involved in the volunteer fire service since he was 16, starting as an explorer with the Clarendon Volunteer Fire Company. Freida, now 50, worries about the declining number of firefighters and the increasing demands on those volunteers, particularly with EMS calls at all hours of the day.

Seven years ago when he was fire chief at Clarendon, he teamed with the leaders of the Holley and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray fire departments to start a First Responders Youth Group where students would learn some of the basics of firefighting and could be connected to their local fire department. The program is run as an activity through the Holley Central School.

Freida has stayed an active mentor in the program, which meets every Monday evening. Some of the youth group members have become adults and joined their local departments. One member, Dalton Major, is in college and wants to become a career firefighter.

The youth group has maintained a steady core of about 10 to 15 students. Freida has been a constant, a dependable mentor for the group. He teaches them teamwork and some firefighting skills. He also will join the students in parades and on trips, including one to New York City to see the Sept. 11 memorial site.

“I love doing it,” Freida said about his role with the youth group. “I want them to be kids and have fun. At the same time there needs to be some professionalism.” Freida has struck the right balance. The past two Mondays the students were on break and there wasn’t a schedule youth group meeting. But the students insisted on a meeting, and Freida obliged.

Bob Freida and the First Responders Youth Group participated in four local parades during the holiday season, including this one from Medina. Freida said he tries to give the students interesting activities, including a trip to New York City to see the memorial from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Freida also was among the fire officials who wanted to find a solution to improved response time to fire calls during the day on Wednesdays, which tend to have the highest call volume during the week. Nearly every Wednesday this year, Freida has been at either the Holley or Clarendon fire hall from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., ready to jump in a fire truck for a call.

He also led a committee the past 2 ½ years to upgrade two Clarendon fire trucks. A new squad truck arrived in November. That will be Clarendon’s primary EMS vehicle. A new combination pumper-rescue truck is due to be delivered in January.

Freida ran for town highway superintendent in November. He didn’t win. The next day after the election he was back at the fire hall to volunteer for a 10-hour shift. He hasn’t let the election defeat sap his enthusiasm for community service.

Dave Smith of Holley has a son, Nate Smith, in the youth group. Dave, a past fire chief at FHM, said Freida is committed to developing a new generation of firefighters and maintaining quality service to the residents.

“He puts a lot of time and sweat into this building and these kids,” Smith said Monday during the youth group meeting at the Clarendon fire hall. “We couldn’t do it without him.”

A generous gift ensures Lyndonville veterans will forever have wreaths on graves during holidays

Photo by Tom Rivers: Steve Goodrich, commander of the American Legion in Lyndonville, and Anna Stelianou are pictured earlier this month at the grave of her parents, Ary and Konstantina, who emigrated to Lyndonville from Greece after WWI. Anna Stelianou provided the funding for an endowment to pay for about 400 wreaths to be set at veterans’ graves each year in Lyndonville.

Anna Stelianou wanted to do something to honor veterans – every one of them in Lyndonville. She read about the Wreaths Across America program. Medina has been doing that at Boxwood Cemetery since 2013. Each year, a wreath at $15 each can be set on a veteran’s grave in December.

Stelianou liked the idea. She saw Steve Goodrich, commander of the American Legion in Lyndonville, while they were each pumping gas. She told him about an idea. She wanted to purchase a wreath for every veteran’s grave in Lyndonville. That adds up to 402.

Goodrich said that would be a nice tribute. He thought Stelianou was making a one- or two-year commitment. The annual cost is about $6,000.

Stelianou said she wanted to do it – forever. Goodrich and Stelianou then met with the Lyndonville Area Foundation and she gave the funding. The anticipated interest on the donation is enough for an endowment to pay for the wreaths for long into the future.

Stelianou said she is doing it in appreciation for the community’s kindness to her parents, Ary and Konstantina. They emigrated to Lyndonville from Greece after WWI. Stelianou also donated the money for the program in honor of her five brothers who served in WWII and the Korean War.

Stelianou said the community looked after her parents and their children, especially during the lean years of the Great Depression. Farmers in particular made sure the family had enough food to eat.

The Stelianou couple ran a small store on Main Street serving lunches, candy and ice cream. Anna Stelianou said the Lyndonville community welcomed her parents and helped them achieve the American dream.

With the funding available for the wreaths, Goodrich worked with Wreaths Across America to arrange for the delivery and the placement of the wreaths. He had identified all the veterans’ graves about five years ago. At the time, he was researching the veterans’ graves for when the Legion organizes placing American flags on each veteran’s grave just before Memorial Day. He was prompted to research the grave sites after a discussion with Peter Stelianou, Anna’s brother and a long-time Legion member. Peter served in World War II. He was 94 when he passed away on Nov. 8, 2018.

Orleans Hub wants to recognize both Anna Stelianou and Steve Goodrich for making the wreaths possible in Lyndonville.

Gooodrich and Stelianou are both pleased to see the wreaths at six Lyndonville cemeteries. They stand out in the snow, and are a physical reminder that a local resident served the country in the military.

“For me, every single one of them is hallowed ground,” Goodrich said about the 402 veterans at Lyndonville cemeteries. “People like to put down the small towns, but this is the history of our country. They went out and did amazing things. You can see it right here.”

Albion man promotes participation in the great outdoors

Provided photo: Dan Conrad is pictured with his daughter Ryleigh. Conrad started DC Outdoors, and has helped connect many community members to fishing and hunting.

Dan Conrad said he just wanted to create a forum where hunters and fishermen could encourage each other and share some tips. He started a Facebook page, DC Outdoors in October 2018.

That group quickly gained members and created a community of people who enjoy the outdoors. It now has 2,500 members and counting.

“I just wanted a nice family-oriented page,” Conrad said. “I thought it could be a place where people could post pictures of deer and fish.”

Conrad noticed the strong camaraderie in the group and decided the members could do more than post on social media. DC Outdoors on July 13 held its first fishing derby, with 60 kids participating. DC Outdoors members served as mentors and provided the equipment. Charlie Miller and Joe Rotoli were the leaders of that effort, Conrad said. DC Outdoors also lined up prizes and food that were donated by businesses and the community.

During the fishing derby, Conrad and the DC Outdoors members noticed a lot of trash at Point Breeze. So the group had a trash pickup in August, filling 8 garbage bags.

Conrad and the group have also collected Christmas presents that were given out by the Hands 4 Hope ministry, where Conrad is a volunteer. Conrad even wore the Santa suit to help collect the presents as part of a fundraiser at Oak Orchard Lanes in Albion.

Conrad, 37, said he enjoys community service. This year he joined the Albion Lions Club and the Hoag Library board of trustees. He also volunteers at the Warrior House in Shelby, taking veterans out hunting. He also started a new job as a UPS driver.

“It makes me feel good,” he said about volunteering.

Benefactor pays to have World War I cannon restored at Medina park

Photos by Tom Rivers: A World War I cannon is unloaded on May 1 after being restored over 14 months at Altoona, Pa.

The World War I cannon at State Street Park was rotting away. The paint flaking off and the metal corroding.

Local veterans and community members were alarmed about the deteriorating condition. They thought it sent a disrespectful message to veterans, to have a prominent display in shabby condition.

George Bidleman

But it would be a big price tag to restore the cannon – $40,000. Local veterans in 2018 began an appeal. They expected it would take years to come up with the money.

They went to George Bidleman, owner of Orleans Ford in Medina. They hoped for a contribution. Bidleman thanked the group for their service to their country, and for their continued involvement in the community with the American Legion and VFW.

Bidleman told them he would pay the entire restoration cost. They didn’t need to do a collection effort that would take years.

The cannon was hauled away in March 2018 and returned to Medina on May 1, in time to be rededicated for Memorial Day. Seed Artillery Reproduction and Restoration, in Altoona, Pa. The company completely stripped and disassembled the cannon, and needed to fabricate some new parts. The big 15,000-pound gun was reassembled and painted with historic accuracy.

“It’s absolutely stunning,” Bidleman said when the cannon returned on May 1. “It’s beautiful.”

Bidleman is notoriously low key and doesn’t want publicity for his good works. He serves on the United Way board and he and his employees support that organization.

He has expanded his car business to include the Chevrolet Buick GMC dealership in Albion with Sam LaNasa.

George Bidleman, left, watches the cannon be delivered to its spot in front of State Street Park on May 1.

The B.L. 60 Pounder British field gun has been a fixture at State Street Park since 1935. There are only 10 of the cannons like this remaining, with five in Europe and five in the United States, said Jim Freas, a past commander of the Butts-Clark Post for the American Legion in Medina.

“We have one of them,” Freas said. “It’s priceless.”

Glenn Whitmore, commander of the American Legion Post in Medina, said Bidleman’s donation was a big relief to the veterans’ organizations.

“When George stepped forward we couldn’t believe it,” Whitmore said. “His heart is bigger than he is.”

Orleans Hub will have an awards celebration in early 2020 for the Outstanding Citizens.

Return to top