Chamber honors businesses, community leaders during awards event

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 23 October 2021 at 6:57 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Orleans County Chamber of Commerce award winners gathered for a group photo after their recognition Thursday night at White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville. Seated, from left, are Lora Partyka from Partyka Farms, Legislator Ken DeRoller, Natasha Wasuck from Lockstone, Attorney Lance Mark, Rachel Kaiser from Wildwood Lake KOA Campgrounds, and Ellen Eaton from Takeform. Standing, from left, are Jeff Partyka from Partyka Farms, Jim Minner from Virtual Polymer Compounds, Justin Bruce from Bent’s Opera House, Marco Rivas with Oak Orchard Community Health, Robert Batt as Business Person of the Year, Rob Kaiser from Wildwood Lake, and Jim Nowaczewski from HeBrews Coffee.

LYNDONVILLE – Representatives, employees and friends of this year’s Orleans County Chamber of Commerce’s business award winners gathered at the White Birch Golf Course Thursday night to celebrate the successes of these nominees.

Winners recognized were Takeform, Business of the Year; Partyka Farms, Agricultural Business of the Year; HeBrews Coffee, New Business of the Year; Bent’s Opera House, Phoenix Award; Oak Orchard Health, Community Service; Lockstone, Small Business of the Year; Robert Batt, Business Person of the Year: Virtual Polymer Compounds, Employer of the Year; Wildwood KOA Campgrounds, the Hidden Gem; Ken DeRoller and John DeFilipps, Service to the Community; and Lance Mark, Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chamber director Darlene Hartway welcomed guests, saying, “We are here to spotlight just a few of our successful businesses.”

Marc Shurtz, head of Orleans Community Health, presents the Business of the Year Award for Takeform to Ellen Eaton, director of Human Resources.

She said the year started off again as a trying one for businesses, still having to deal with restrictions and constraints with the Covid pandemic. She commended the businesses who took adversity and turned it into the positive.

Chamber president Bryan DeGraw added his praise for the local businesses and individuals who have done, and continue to do so much for this county. He acknowledged major sponsors – Bank of Castile and Apex Clean Energy/Heritage Wind, Platinum sponsors; Takeform, Mark &Graber and Baxter, Gold sponsors; Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes, Silver sponsor; and Ontario Shores, Hinspergers Poly Industry and Albion Agencies/Seaway Insurance, Bronze sponsors.

DeGraw recapped the year, saying it started slowly, still dealing with Covid, and the decision was made to cancel the annual legislative luncheon and the spring Home and Garden Show. In June, they resumed Chamber After Hours events, with a tour of Orleans County’s first robotic dairy at the VanLieshout Farm in Barre. In July, they finally held the legislative luncheon. He shared the joy of having the Orleans County 4-H Fair return, with record-breaking attendance. In August, the Chamber hosted their annual Wine and Garden Walk at Robin Hill Preserve in Lyndonville.

He added the Chamber is looking forward to serving, representing and enhancing business growth in Orleans County.

The first award of the evening was Business of the Year, which was presented to Takeform by Marc Shurtz, representing the 2019 winner, Orleans Community Health. Ellen Eaton, director of Human Resources, accepted the award.

Hartway explained Takeform makes industrial signs, with customers who not only include local and regional businesses, such as Medina Memorial Hospital, but others as far-reaching as the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. She said Takeform saw their most successful year to date in 2020.

Mark Zambito, right, presents the Phoenix Award to Justin Bruce, general manager of Bent’s Opera House. Orleans County Chamber director, Darlene Hartway, looks on at left.

Chamber board member Dave Gagne presented the Agricultural Business of the Year Award to Partyka Farms in Kendall. Accepting the award with Lora were her husband  Jeff and sons Scott and Steven. The Partyka farm which was started with 150 acres has now expanded to 800 acres.

New Business of the Year was awarded to Jim Nowaczewski, who opened HeBrews Coffee in Medina during the summer after opening a site in Albion in November 2020. The award was presented by Michelle Waters from the Tree House, the previous winner.

Hartway said some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.

“Jim is one of those people,” she said. “His hard work and determination brought him to where he is today.”

The Phoenix Award is presented to an individual or individuals who have successfully repurposed an existing facility for their business in Orleans County. This year’s winner is Bent’s Opera House in Medina.

Mark Zambito, the 2019 award winner and Chamber board member, presented the award to Justin Bruce, general manager of Bent’s. Bruce said Roger and Heather Hungerford were not able to attend, but said the restoration was undertaken with the ultimate goal that the project would grow Medina, grow Orleans County and grow Western New York.

Elisa Chambery from Supportive Care of Orleans presented the Community Service Award to Oak Orchard Health in Albion. Marco Rivas, chief compliance officer, accepted the award on Oak Orchard Health’s behalf.

Rob and Rachel from Wildwood Lake KOA Campgrounds receive the Hidden Gem Award from Orleans County Chamber president Bryan DeGraw.

The Small Business of the Year Award is presented to a business with 50 or fewer employees, which has sustained significant success throughout the year. This year’s award was presented by Gagne to Natasha Wasuck from Lockstone in Albion. Wasuck and her husband John Hernandez have turned a former auto repair site into a wedding and events venue by the Erie Canal.

Robert Batt, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, was named Business Person of the Year. The award was presented by DeGraw. Batt was recognized as an individual who has had outstanding accomplishments within his own business and has made notable contributions to the local business sector.

The Hidden Gem Award goes to a business that has made a positive contribution to tourism in the county, Hartway said. Chamber board treasurer Rachel Hicks presented the award to Rob and Rachel Kaiser from Wildwood KOA Campgrounds.

Kelly Kiebala, director of Orleans County Job Development Agency, presented the Employer of the Year Award to Virtual Polymer Compounds in Medina. Representing the company was Jim Minner.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual with a long-term record of outstanding business achievements. Hartway presented the award to Medina attorney Lance Mark. Mark has lived in the county for 43 years and watched it evolve, he said. He called it a great, great county and predicts “The best is yet to come.”

Dean Bellack, left, presents Ken DeRoller with a Service to the Community Award.

The final award of the evening was Service to Community, and was presented by United Way director Dean Bellack to two individuals – both county legislators – Ken DeRoller and John DeFilipps. DeFilipps was unable to attend, and his award was accepted by legislator Bill Eick.

Bellack called DeRoller a “doer.”

“He is an asset to anything he associates himself with,” Bellack said.

DeRoller said it has been a pleasure to serve Orleans County. He called it, “A great place to live, play and work.”

Hartway said “service to the community” is an understatement when it comes to these two men.

“They have both made significant and lasting contributions to our community,” she said.

The evening ended with a basket raffle fundraiser.

Arc direct support professional wins state-wide award for care

Posted 22 October 2021 at 10:07 am

Photos courtesy of Arc GLOW: Staff and residents of Arc GLOW celebrate Sheila Taylor as one of four state-wide Thomas A. Maul Award winners on Thursday. The award recognizes a Direct Support Professional who consistently demonstrates excellence, creativity, and commitment to people who have intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Press Release, Arc GLOW

Sheila Taylor, Direct Support Professional, has been selected to receive the Thomas A. Maul Direct Support Professional Excellence Award for the NYSARC, Inc, as a representative of Arc GLOW.

Sheila Taylor

Selected from thousands of nominations, only four in the state can win this prestigious award. The Thomas A. Maul Direct Support Professional Excellence Award is an annual award which recognizes a Direct Support Professional who consistently demonstrates excellence, creativity and commitment to providing supports to people who have intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Taylor has been at the Turtle Rock IRA in Lakeville, Livingston County since it was built 13 years ago. This particular home houses aging individuals, and she is known for is known for going above and beyond in her position supporting aging people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

Residential Director, Deb Tuckerman, commends Sheila for setting the bar for other staff.

“She sets that bar very high because of her commitment and dedication to the people she supports,” Tuckerman said. “Staff and the people in the home often comment on how they look up to Sheila, and many refer to her as a mother figure. Sheila consistently role model’s kindness, a strong work ethic, person centeredness, and empathy. She is the ideal DSP, who reliably puts her heart into her work every day.”

Working with aging individuals, she is a crucial part in home life supporting their personal care, and helping them get through end of life situations. Tuckerman reflects back on a moment in particular earlier in the year.

“When Shelia found out a housemate passed away, she came directly to the IRA to talk with an individual who she knew would be especially sad,” Tuckerman said. “Sheila demonstrates that The Arc is not just a job for her – it’s an important part of her life.”

Arc GLOW, formerly The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming and Arc of Genesee Orleans, are family-founded agencies dedicated to helping people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities meet their full potential and find fulfillment in learning, personal relationships, employment, volunteerism, recreation, the arts, and more.

Big bass may been a record-breaker for Hartland boy

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 October 2021 at 1:39 pm

Photos courtesy of Justin Drees

Jackson Drees, 13, of Hartland holds a large-mouth bass he caught on Sunday at the Red House Lake at Allegany State Park.

The state record for a large-mouth bass is 11 pounds, 4 ounces. It was caught 35 years ago by John Higbie from Otsego County’s Buckhorn Lake.

Jackson didn’t weigh the fish because his scale was in his tackle box on the other side of a bridge. He didn’t want the fish to die so he let it go back into the water.

Jackson was camping with his family over the weekend. He down to the lake with his brother Lucas, 16, while their parents packed up the camper. Jackson called his father on the ohone, and was out of breath.

“I feared something had happened I asked what is wrong,” Justin Drees said. “He was able to gasp out, ‘I just caught my personal best fish. Dad this is a monster, a dinosaur. It’s mouth is as big as my head.”

Jackson is an eighth-grader at Royalton-Hartland.  He plays JV baseball and modified football for Roy-Hart but his passion is fishing, his father said.

“He fishes every day,” Mr. Drees said. “He takes a fishing pole to school with him every day and in the time after school before football practice, he walks over to the canal to get some casts in!”

Waterport woman, a champion wood cutter, to be inducted into Paul Smith Hall of Fame

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 11 October 2021 at 9:17 am

Mary Dooley competed for 30 years in sawing, cutting and axe throwing

Photo by Tom Rivers: World champion wood cutter Mary Dooley of Waterport tried her hand at hatchet throwing at 810 Axes in Medina, when it opened in July 2019.

A Waterport resident and swim teacher at Medina High School has just received notification she has been inducted into the Paul Smith’s College Hall of Fame.

Mary Dooley was informed of her honor in a letter which read:

“The past and present success of PSC and its students were made, in part, by your personal and significant contributions. You and many others, some living and some dead, will be inducted and honored at a special ceremony in the near future.”

Dooley and a classmate were the first female members to compete with the college’s Forestry Club Men’s Woodmen’s Team in 1972. Dooley captured the coveted Tall Tale contest with her tale of coach Gould Hoyt’s fascinating introduction to women entering the woodsmith’s arena.  Paul Smith’s fielded the first all-women’s team in North America, of which Dooley was a member. The team would go on to dominate the Eastern collegiate circuit early on and continue to post record accomplishments today.

Dooley said she probably inherited her competitive nature from growing up the second youngest in a family of seven.

She went on to compete for more than 30 years in sawing, cutting and axe throwing, and is a many-time world champion in crosscut log sawing and member of the winning women’s team at the 2009 Olympics at Sydney, Australia.

Dooley’s love of the woods probably began as a child when her parents visited the Adirondacks every summer, she said.

She grew up in Rochester, one of seven children, whose parents she said made sure they excelled. At Paul Smith’s College, she received an associate’s degree in forestry. She also attended Cornell, where she learned to be a farrier.

Then she took a job as a logger and horse teamster in the forests in Wyoming, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. She worked in environmentally endangered areas and lived in logging camps with all men.

Provided photo: Mary Dooley, left, and her partner compete in crosscut sawing at the New York State Lumberjack Association meet in Old Forge.

After several injuries, Dooley decided she had enough and moved back to Western New York, where she took a job with Terry and Sue Williams of Royalton, owners of the Olympic champion Abdullah.

It was there she met her first husband, Wayne Bruning, who had a farm on Chestnut Ridge Road.

They were married in 1980 and had four children. In 1991, when the oldest was 9, their twins were 6 and the baby was 3, Wayne was killed when a farm wagon overturned on him.

Dooley was left with a farm to run, 60 cows to milk and four small children to care for.

She would get up at 4 a.m., milk the cows and then get the kids dressed for school. At the time, she had a baby sitter so she could go to work at Zwicker’s Aquatic Club on Dysinger Road. She hired someone to milk for her at night, and on weekends, she played catch-up, she said.

Wayne had been friends with Carlton Plummer of Waterport, also a farmer, and he came to check on Dooley after Wayne died, she said. In 1993, they were married and she moved to his home.

When Plummer asked what she wanted for a wedding present, she replied, “A competition saw.”

“I still have it,” Dooley said.  “I earned a couple of world championships with it, some of which still stand.”

Paul Pfenninger of Chili was her sawing partner for 15 years, and their world record still stands. She still has five world records standing in Jill and Jill and Jack and Jill sawing.

She has been a world champion in sawing, chopping and axe throwing.

Carlton died in November 2019, and at 67, Dooley has retired from the competition circuit but continues to teach swimming at Medina High School, a job she said she loves. While working at Zwicker’s, she coached the USA Swim Team in Lockport, and in 1996, she started coaching in Medina. She has been teaching swimming in Medina since 1998.

“Being able to swim every day is like a fountain of youth,” she said. “It’s the next thing to being outside.”

4-H educator in Orleans earns State Special Service Award

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2021 at 4:03 pm

Kristina Gabalski

KNOWLESVILLE — Kristina Gabalski, the 4-H youth development director for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County, has been recognized with a state award for her work with local 4-H’ers.

Gabalski was presented with a “Special Service Award” on Monday during a virtual annual conference of the New York State Association of Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Educators. The awards ceremony was held this week as part of National 4-H week.

The Special Service Award recognizes members of the professional association who have developed a new technique in programming, worked successfully with new audiences and have been innovative in utilizing resources, people and situations.

“Kristina was nominated by a group of individuals including other educators, youth and volunteers,” said Robert Batt, Extension director in Orleans County. “In her time as the 4-H Educator for CCE Orleans, Kristina has increased the outreach of the program including focus on bringing horticulture, art and wellness activities to youth.”

He cited projects this past year that included the flagpole freedom garden at the fairgrounds, offering workshops such as ichiban pumpkin decorating, soil painting and bringing special attention to showcasing youth’s 4-H work.

“Kristina serves on several state and regional committees and advocates both to bring program into our county but also to find opportunity for youth to explore outside of the area,” Batt said.

To find out more about 4-H and youth programs in Orleans County, contact the Extension at 585-798-4265 or or visit the CCE website.

Orleans/Niagara BOCES names employees of the year

Photos courtesy of Orleans/Niagara BOCES

Posted 23 September 2021 at 3:14 pm

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – The Orleans/Niagara BOCES recently named its employees of the year for the 2020-2021 school year. Employees are nominated by their peers and a committee selects an awardee in each of these categories: Administrator, Clerical, Continuing Education, Custodial/Maintenance, Staff Specialist, Substitute, Teacher Aide and Teacher.

Rob Robinson is the Administrator of the Year. He is the Assistant Principal who has worked at the Niagara Career and Technical Education Center for the past five years. Robinson said his favorite part of his job is helping people see that they have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

On learning he was named an employee of the year, he said, “I work with hardworking and amazing administrators, so I’m surprised and honored to receive the administrator of the year award.”

Sabrina Stabler is the Clerical Person of the Year. She started her position as secretary to the Principal at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center in July of 2020.

“I love being able to help out the students, teachers and other staff members and being a small part of making the school run,” she said. “I never realized how many moving pieces that need to run smoothly for a school to operate so it is really humbling and exciting to be part of that every day. Although I do not work in the classrooms, I enjoy getting to know students who visit the office and the opportunity to support them, their teachers and my fellow coworkers through my job role. Hearing the student success stories makes me remember that all the work we do, however big or small, is all worth it!”

Stabler said she is honored and excited to have been awarded Clerical Person of the Year.

“I have really enjoyed my time at BOCES so far and have been able to learn from my coworkers and develop new skills that I know will help me in my life, both at work and out of work,” she said.

Linda Redfield Shakoor is the Continuing Education Employee of the Year. She has worked as an English as a Second Language (ESL)/Civics teacher since 1994. She also coordinates the day/evening ESL/Citizenship program with four other teachers at the World Life Institute Education Center in Waterport under the supervision of Susan Diemert.

Redfield Shakoor said her favorite part of her job is getting to know the primarily agriculture adult students, their lives, their work and their challenges. She said winning an Employee of the Year award was a huge surprise.

“When our District Superintendent, Dr. Godshall, presented it to me directly in front of my colleagues it was an incredible surprise,” she said. “Especially, as a part-time teacher I never dreamed I would have such an award with so many deserving teachers in our program.”

Bobby Heschke is the Custodian/Maintenance Person of the Year. He has been a courier at Orleans/Niagara BOCES for 33 years.

“My favorite part of my job is being able to drive around and meet all the good people in the school districts we serve and of course our BOCES employees,” he said.

Heschke  said he was very surprised to win the award.  “I work with a lot of good people presently and a lot of great people who have since retired. I am very honored to receive this and I really enjoy working here.”

Paul Nawotka is the Staff Specialist of the Year. He has worked at BOCES for 19 years as a Safety Risk Analyst. When asked his favorite part of his job, he answered, “There are too many to list, but the interaction that I have with the people that I work with and the districts that I serve are my favorite.”

He said the award was unexpected.  “I am so very thankful, but it is really a team effort and I’d like to thank the other members of the Safety Risk Department, both current and former members.”

Carol Hausrath was named the Substitute of the Year. She has been a teacher for over 50 years and has been subbing with Orleans/Niagara BOCES for almost 20 years.

“I started in the Home Hospital Teaching program and subbed at the Niagara Career and Technical Education Center and the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center,” she said. “I have been at the Royalton-Hartland Learning Center for the last few years, which I absolutely love.”

Hausrath said her favorite part of what she does is working with children.  “They just melt my heart.”

When she received news about her award she was stunned.  “I opened my letter and thought it was just a letter from BOCES with information and then I said to my husband, I won Substitute of the Year. It is the best thing that has happened to me in my educational career!”

April Matson is the Teacher Aide of the Year.  She is currently working at the Royalton-Hartland Learning Center and has been working with BOCES for 30 years.

“My favorite part of my job is working one-on-one with the students,” she said. “I really enjoy watching the students grow year-to-year.”

Matson said she was honored to win the award. “I work with a great group of people.”

Matt Anastasi was named the Teacher of the Year. He teaches Building Trades at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center. He has taught that program for 20 years. When asked his favorite part of his career, “There is no better feeling than seeing the light inside a student get turned on and seeing how much they get inspired to continue learning and working in the field.”

Anastasi said he was absolutely shocked to win Teacher of the Year. “I have been motivated by past recipients and have even been mentored by some of them early on in my career. This was a great way to remember my 20th year teaching, but also a motivator for the rest of my teaching career.”

Orleans deputy recognized by State Senate as ‘Woman of Distinction’

Staff Reports Posted 18 September 2021 at 9:10 am

Ashleigh Stornelli picked by Rob Ortt for the honor

Ashleigh Stornelli

State Sen. Rob Ortt has chosen a deputy with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office to be the “Woman of Distinction” representing the 62nd Senate District.

Ashleigh Stornelli is a road deputy with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office. She also has worked as the school resource officer at Kendall Central School.

“Her daily interactions and honest conversations help her make positive connections with students, faculty and staff,” Ortt said.

He noted Stornelli is certified in mental health and crisis intervention. Stornelli grew up in Lyndonville and graduated in Lyndonville’s Class of 2010. She played soccer, basketball, and track at Lyndonville, and then earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice at Genesee Community College.

Stornelli in 2014 joined the Army National Guard as a 32B — Military Police Officer. She graduated from the 42nd Military Police Company in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in February 2015, and was stationed at the 222nd Military Police Company in Rochester for six years. “During her time in service, she learned the value of loyalty, duty, and personal courage,” Ortt said. “She chose to live by these standards and continue a career in law enforcement in her civilian life.”

In 2015, she was accepted into the Erie County Community College Police Academy and graduated with the 126th Basic Academy Class. The following year she started with the Holley Police Department, participating in community events and holiday festivities. She also began interacting with students in the school district, working to develop positive relationships with students and staff.

In May 2018, she joined the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office. She is active in the yearly Veterans and Memorial Day ceremonies and attends festivals and other celebratory events, according to her Woman of Distinction profile.

Ortt praised Stornelli for dedicating her life “to protect and defend those in need, always there to provide encouragement and support.”

She is the second woman from Orleans County picked by Ortt to receive the award. He previously chose Annette Finch, director of community services at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, for the recognition in 2017.

5 from Orleans named to President’s List at Southern New Hampshire University

Staff Reports Posted 15 September 2021 at 8:59 am

MANCHESTER, NH – Five students from Orleans County have been named to the summer President’s List at Southern New Hampshire University.

Full-time students who have earned a minimum grade-point average of 3.700 and above are named to the President’s List. Full-time status is achieved by earning 12 credits; undergraduate day students must earn 12 credits in fall or spring semester, and online students must earn 12 credits in either EW1 & EW2, EW3 & EW4, or EW5 & EW6.

The students from Orleans County who are on the President’s List include:

  • Kristina Murphy of Holley
  • Patrick Woodhams of Albion
  • Joshua Metzler of Albion
  • Ashley Adams of Holley
  • Kelsey Smith of Knowlesville

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with an 89-year history of educating traditional-aged students and working adults. Now serving more than 150,000 learners worldwide, SNHU offers approximately 200 accredited undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, available online and on its 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH.

GCC to induct 4 into Alumni Hall of Fame on Sept. 16

Posted 14 September 2021 at 11:56 am

Press Release, Genesee Community College

Provided: Top row left – Timothy S. Whitcomb; Top row right – Robert W. Hirsch; Bottom row left – Jim H. Tuttle; Bottom row right – David M. DiMatteo

BATAVIA – The Genesee Community College Foundation will proudly induct both the 2020 and 2021 honorees into its Alumni Hall of Fame in Batavia on Thursday, September 16, at 4 p.m. after missing last year’s ceremony due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eager to honor the work done by these four individuals, GCC will induct Timothy S. Whitcomb, Jim H. Tuttle, David M. DiMatteo and Robert W. Hirsch into its Alumni Hall of Fame, forever marking their contributions to their communities and the pride they have brought to Genesee Community College.

Timothy Whitcomb, GCC class of 1989, is the Sheriff for Cattaraugus County in Western New York and has served in this role for 30 years. Sheriff Whitcomb is also a Board Member and PTP Director for Law Enforcement Operations at TTMPT (Talk to Me Post Tour); an independent not-for-profit group of committed and concerned retired police officers and police professionals, and actively speaks nationwide as on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sheriff Whitcomb earned a master’s degree in Counseling Education from St. Bonaventure University and is a certified police instructor in the areas of Interview and Interrogation, the Investigation of Sex Crimes, and the Law Enforcement Response to School Violence. Sheriff Whitcomb is a graduate of the 206th Session of the Federal Bureau Investigation’s National Academy. He has also recently been certified as a SWAT Team fitness specialist.

Sheriff Whitcomb has been an adjunct professor for both St. Bonaventure University and Jamestown Community College. He has served as President for the New York State Sheriffs’ Association and is a past President of the State of New York Police Juvenile Officer Association.

Jim Tuttle, GCC classes of 1971 and 1982 graduated from Genesee Community College with his AAS degree in Criminal Justice and enlisted in the United States Army. Mr. Tuttle re-enlisted in the Army Reserves several times continuing to serve the United States of America for a total of 21 years and eventually returned to earn an Associate degree in Business Administration in 1982 and later to serve on the Alumni Council.

Mr. Tuttle continued his education and earned a bachelor’s degree in Hazardous Studies from SUNY Empire State College. He served as a police officer for the City of Batavia for 30 years, retiring as a Lieutenant.

Mr. Tuttle met his wife while working as an EMT at St. Jerome Hospital in Batavia.

Mr. Tuttle has demonstrated his compassion for others and the community by serving four years as a Town of Pembroke Supervisor, GCC Alumni Council member, GCC Alumni Homecoming Committee, GCC’s Cougar Classic Golf Committee and on the Advisory Board for Genesee County Stop DWI.

David DiMatteo, GCC class of 1984, has been a practicing attorney in the region for over 32 years. A 1982 Notre Dame high school graduate, he began his college education pursuits at Genesee Community College, graduating GCC in 1984, he continued his education at Le Moyne College, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology then completing his legal studies at the University of Buffalo Law School in 1989. Upon graduating he took a position in Warsaw, where he found his own general law private practice in 1993.

He works with municipalities in Erie, Genesee, Livingston and Wyoming counties addressing siting or prohibiting siting of windmills and a variety of solar projects, writing and adapting local law, and creating and financing water districts. He has worked with the NY State Senate to facilitate legislation for local communities.

Mr. DiMatteo has a farm in Wyoming County where he raises Black Angus cows and horses. He also enjoys hunting locally as well as in Africa, Alaska and the Arctic Circle. Mr. DiMatteo and his wife enjoy their farm with their three children and their new granddaughter.

Robert Hirsch, GCC class of 1997, earned his leadership certification from the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, a master’s degree in Education from Buffalo State, a bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Education from SUNY Brockport, his coaching certification and an associate degree in History and Education from Genesee Community College.

Mr. Hirsch began his career at Warsaw Central School (WCSD) where he taught history and coached the wrestling team for over a decade. The wrestling program he built there included eight LCAA titles, seven Section V championships, over 50 sectional champions, eight individual state champions, and a team NYS title in 2007. Beyond the wrestling mat, Mr. Hirsch encouraged his wrestlers to be involved in community service; he himself served a total of 18 years as the Director of Recreation for the towns of Freedom and Arcade where he organizes the annual Summer Olympics for children.

Mr. Hirsch also coached the NYS Women’s Wrestling National Team which earned Mr. Hirsch the title of 2014 Wrestling Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling. Mr. Hirsch went on to coach the Alfred State wrestling team to win the Northeast Championship and placed second two other times. Coaching four NCWA All-Americans, one National Champion and MVP of the tournament, including an eleventh-place team finish, Mr. Hirsch lead the Alfred State Wrestling team through their NCAA III transition in 2019. During this time Mr. Hirsch was the RTI Director at Alfred Almond Central School. Mr. Hirsch is currently the middle/high school principal at Franklinville Central School.

Mr. Hirsch resides in Arcade with his wife and their two beautiful daughters.

Each year, candidates are nominated by friends, family, colleagues or other associates for their impactful contributions to their profession and distinguished service to the community and/or Genesee Community College. The GCC Alumni Hall of Fame, which is located on the second floor of the Conable Technology Building, boasts honorees from a wide variety of industries and backgrounds.

The complete list of Hall of Fame members is available by clicking here.

Brockport moves up in rankings among regional universities in the north

Posted 13 September 2021 at 3:37 pm

Press Release, Brockport State College

BROCKPORT – SUNY Brockport has again been recognized for excellence by U.S. News & World Report. Brockport ranked No. 73 among regional universities in the north in the publication’s 2022 Best Colleges rankings, which were released Sept. 13.

Brockport jumped 10 spots from its ranking a year ago.

“I would like to thank our outstanding faculty and staff for all they do each day to make SUNY Brockport a great place for our students to learn,” said Brockport President Heidi Macpherson. “We will continue to provide our students with an exceptional experience both inside and outside of the classroom.”

SUNY Brockport was also recognized in the following categories:

  • Top Public Schools, Regional Universities North: No. 20
  • Best Colleges for Veterans, Regional Universities North: No. 29
  • Social Mobility (measures the extent schools enrolled and graduated students who received federal Pell Grants), Regional Universities North: No. 35
  • Best Undergraduate Nursing: No. 251
  • Best Undergraduate Computer Science Programs: No. 274

Medina grad wins $3 million prize for research fighting neurological disorders

Posted 9 September 2021 at 4:23 pm

Press Release, Scripps Research

Jeffery Kelly, a 1978 Medina graduate, is making progress with research in fighting amyloid plaques. (Photo from Scripps Research)

LA JOLLA, CA – Pioneering biochemist Jeffery Kelly, PhD, has been awarded a $3 million Breakthrough Prize for demonstrating that nervous system and heart diseases can be caused by protein clumping-associated toxicity, and for inventing a medication to slow progression of such diseases.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Kelly is a 1978 graduate of Medina High School. He is the son of Janice Kelly-Mack and the late John W. Kelly. He heads The Kelly Laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, one of the world’s largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. The SRI employs about 3,000 people in La Jolla, Calif. and Jupiter, Fla. Kelly works out of the La Jolla campus in San Diego.

The 2022 Breakthrough Prizes in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics are recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious science prizes. Kelly’s award, one of three life science prizes announced today, recognizes transformative advances in the understanding of neurological disease.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive the Breakthrough Prize and to be included in the terrific company of this year’s other recipients and those of years past,” says Kelly, the Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research, a professor of molecular medicine, and a Scripps Research trustee.

Scripps Research President and CEO Peter Schultz, PhD, notes that Kelly has been a leader in the field of protein misfolding and aggregation, helping illuminate its role in neurodegenerative disease progression.

“His breakthrough was in translating our knowledge of protein folding diseases to a human therapeutic through rational, structure-based drug design to prevent protein aggregation,” Schultz says. “The impact of this work on patients with transthyretin cardiomyopathy has been transformational.”

In its announcement Thursday, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation noted that Kelly’s work impacts scientific understanding of Alzheimer’s and beyond. A hallmark of the brains of people with Alzheimer’s is the presence of abnormal beta-amyloid plaques.

Proteins are built from genetic instructions within the cell. As they are built, they fold into origami-like shapes that are key to their function. Mistakes in folding, or ability to maintain a fold, can create misshapen clumps inside or outside cells. This process contributes to degenerative diseases, as with alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s and beta-amyloid in Alzheimer’s.

Kelly has spent much of his career asking whether neurodegenerative disease could be stopped by preventing the clumping of a normal protein into amyloid plaques. These toxic substances can wreak havoc beyond the brain. Kelly notes that around 40 diseases have been named after the amyloid structure, including a rare inherited or sporadic condition called transthyretin amyloidosis. It leads to progressive damage to the eyes, heart, and peripheral, autonomic and central nervous systems.

Through painstaking work, Kelly designed molecules that stabilize proteins in their correct shapes, much like a stick jammed into the spokes of a wheel can stop it from turning. In this way, Kelly and colleagues created a first-in-class treatment for transthyretin amyloidosis, including cardiomyopathy, a stiffening and thickening of heart muscle. They also raised hope for treating other protein clumping diseases.

His drug tafamidis, sold under the brand names Vyndaqel® and Vyndamax®, was initially approved in more than 40 countries for treatment of polyneuropathy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and additional regulators recently approved tafamidis for treatment of the heart condition transthyretin amyloid cardiomyopathy.

“Through the fashioning of small molecule drugs that can stabilize proteins against abnormal protein aggregation, I think we learned two really important things,” Kelly says. “One is the process of protein aggregation really does drive neurodegeneration. The second is that treating these patients early is absolutely critical.”

To that end, Kelly is now teaming with other experts at Scripps Research on a strategy to aid early diagnosis and improve the body’s ability to clear toxic protein clumps.

“There are 40ish proteins that have the propensity to aggregate and lead to either peripheral and/or central nervous system degeneration,” Kelly says. “It has taken us 25 years to develop a drug to slow one of these, so everything we do in the lab is now focused on developing drugs that have the potential to treat multiple amyloid diseases.”

Kelly earned his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of North Carolina and went on to Rockefeller University for postdoctoral work. He joined Scripps Research in 1997, and served as dean of the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences from 2000 to 2008.

89.1 The Point named national finalist for best special broadcast

Staff Reports Posted 8 September 2021 at 1:44 pm

BROCKPORT – 89.1 The Point was a national finalist (top four in the nation) for College Broadcasters, Inc (CBI) Best Special Broadcast in the 2021 National Student Production Awards competition for their coverage of the Election in late 2020.

The Point is the college station at Brockport State University. The station’s coverage area includes Orleans County.

Notable contributions to the award include host Derick Abbey and political correspondent Shay Gauthier, with research and production elements from Matthew Delaney, Peter Buffone, Karl Schmidt, and Gio Battaglia.

Other finalists in the category include Gannon University (WERG), Montclair University (WMSC), and Husson University (WHSN). Winners will be announced late October.

Several from Orleans named to Dean’s List at RIT

Staff Reports Posted 9 July 2021 at 7:51 pm

ROCHESTER – Rochester Institute of Technology announces its spring 2021 Dean’s List, which includes several students from Orleans County. Undergraduate students are eligible for Dean’s List if their GPA is greater than or equal to 3.40 for nine credit hours of traditionally graded coursework and they have registered for and completed at least 12 credit hours.

The following are on the Dean’s List from Orleans County:

  • Elijah Sones of Albion, who is in the business administration-accounting program.
  • Rebecca Powley of Kendall, who is in the echocardiography program.
  • William Gregoire of Albion, who is in the mechanical engineering technology program.
  • Conner Hollenbeck of Albion, who is in the mechanical engineering technology program.
  • Ricky Daniels of Albion, who is in the chemical engineering program.
  • Alex Lane of Holley, who is in the computing security program.
  • Keaton Freitag of Kendall, who is in the game design and development program.
  • Jessica Smith of Lyndonville, who is in the film and animation program.
  • Gillian Gallets of Holley, who is in the industrial design program.
  • Jacques Gregoire of Albion, who is in the game design and development program.
  • Noah Heinsler of Waterport, who is in the film and animation program.

Founded in 1829, RIT enrolls about 18,600 students in more than 200 career-oriented and professional programs, making it among the largest private universities in the U.S.

GCASA for 4th straight year named among ‘Best Companies’ to work

Posted 22 June 2021 at 6:14 pm

Press Release, GCASA

For the fourth consecutive year, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has been selected as one of the 2021 Best Companies to Work for in New York.

The annual listing of businesses honored through the Best Companies to Work for in New York program was created by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group.

This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in New York, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses.

The 2021 Best Companies to Work for in New York list is made up of 72 companies, including the not-for-profit GCASA, which offers services in the areas of substance use prevention, treatment and recovery.

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said he was proud to be honored for a fourth year, recognizing his staff “as amazing individuals who help people in our communities every day.”

“Our employees give back in so many ways and are deserving of having a great place to work,” he said. “We try to be family-oriented and give staff flexibility in creating their own schedule which is a highly-rated perk we offer. This year, we are improving our in-house training and education opportunities and addressing some salary inequities compared to other regional organizations in our category.”

To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be a for-profit, not-for-profit business or government entity;
  • Be a publicly or privately held business;
  • Have a facility in the state of New York;
  • Have at least 15 employees working in New York; and
  • Must be in business a minimum of 1 year.

Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Companies to Work for in New York. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part was worth approximately 25 percent of the total evaluation.

The second part consisted of a survey to measure the employee experience. This part was worth approximately 75 percent of the total. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings.

Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in New York and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.

Kim Corcoran, GCASA’s director of Human Resources, said the agency’s staff is committed to providing the best possible services to its communities.

“GCASA is extremely honored to be recognized once again,” she said. “Along with an employer-completed survey, 125 staff were asked to respond to a survey to include areas regarding GCASA’s leadership, corporate culture and communication, work environment, pay and benefits, supervision, and overall engagement. This is quite a tribute to our staff and reflects the positive environment fostered by our leadership.”

All honorees will be celebrated at an online event at 5:30 p.m. July 28. For more information about the event, click here.

To learn more about attending the event or sponsoring contact

For more information on the Best Companies to Work for in New York program, click here.

Medina native named to Dean’s List at Slippery Rock U.

Staff Reports Posted 7 June 2021 at 3:18 pm

SLIPPERY ROCK, PA – Destiny Satkowski of Medina is on the Dean’s List for the spring 2021 semester at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.

The Dean’s List consists of SRU undergraduate students who earned an adjusted semester grade-point average of 3.5 or higher, based on a schedule of at least 12 newly attempted and earned credits.