County contributes $3K to Cobblestone Museum, $1,500 for first time to Oak Orchard Lighthouse

Photos by Tom Rivers: A volunteer kept the Oak Orchard Lighthouse open on the evening of June 23, 2022 for people to climb to the top and learn about information at Point Breeze. The 35-foot lighthouse is a replica to one that toppled in 1916 after a storm.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 December 2022 at 9:00 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature opened up the county wallet last week and approved some funding for the Cobblestone Museum and the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum.

The Cobblestone Museum will receive $3,000 and the Lighthouse $1,500 with the funds coming from the county’s bed tax, the 4 percent tax on lodging.

The county has used the bed tax to fund tourism efforts, with the thinking that would bring more visitors to the county who would spend more at local businesses.

County Legislator Bill Eick of Shelby, who moved the resolution for money for the two organizations, said they both welcome visitors to the county and are key assets to the community.

The Cobblestone Museum has received $3,000 before in contingency funds from the county during a year-end meeting. This is the first time the Oak Orchard Ligththouse is getting money directly from the county since soon after the 35-foot-high structure was built in 2010.

Editor’s Note: Peg Wiley, one of the leaders of the effort to build the lighthouse, said the county provided $5,000 soon after it was built to help cover some of the contingencies related to the project.

The Cobblestone Museum has asked to be a line item in the county budget with an annual commitment from the county but that hasn’t happened.

The museum is working on developing a new visitors’ center at the corner of routes 98 and 104 that will be used to promote sites throughout the county.

The museum has raised $800,000 towards the project. Legislator Don Allport of Gaines cast the lone vote against county funding for the two organizations. He said he sees the Cobblestone Museum’s fundraising success as a sign it doesn’t need any help from the county.

He also said the county helped with the lighthouse at Point Breeze when it constructed in 2010.

“They’ve raised close to a million dollars,” he said about the Cobblestone Museum. “The $3,000 was supposed to be one time and it’s become a permanent part of the county budget.”

Eick said the Cobblestone Museum and Lighthouse are both iconic sites in the county, and are attractions.

“This is just to help them out,” Eick said.

The Cobblestone Museum, a National Historic Landmark, is working to development a visitors’ center at the corner of routes 104 and 98 in Gaines. The project would include a new addition to the historic brick house, and will give year-round access to the museum.

The Lighthouse hasn’t been able to raise its usual funding to help with the costs of operating the site.

“They have bills that have to be taken care of,” Eick said.

Chris Manaseri, vice president of the Lighthouse Museum’s board of directors, said the organization also is receiving $1,500 from the Town of Carlton and $600 from the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association. This is the first time the Lighthouse organization has asked for financial assistance from the town and county since soon after the site was constructed.

“Our organization has operated for a dozen years entirely on donations and grants,” he said.

The organization has about $5,500 in annual expenses with insurance, accounting, reporting and WiFi access.

“We’re very thankful to the town, the county and the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association for supporting this icon in the community,” Manaseri said. “This will help us to use this year to adjust some things.”

For many years Dick Anderson spearheaded successful fundraisers.

“He was the face of the lighthouse for many years,” Manaseri said.

Anderson passed away on Oct. 3 at age 84. Many of the fundraisers since 2020 were cancelled because of the Covid pandemic.

Manaseri said the Lighthouse Museum doesn’t want to seek annual funding from the town and county, but finds itself in need of some assistance right now.

The group has a dedicated core of volunteers who keep the site open on the weekends during warm-weather months.

“We draw a lot of attention on weekends,” he said. “Often we have 50 people on the weekends who climb the ladder inside the lighthouse and ring the bell.”

The Oak Orchard Lighthouse is a landmark at Point Breeze.

The Cobblestone Museum welcomes the $3,000 from the county, said Doug Farley, the museum’s director.

“I am very pleased that Orleans County is providing a $3,000 tourism appropriation for the Cobblestone Museum,” Farley said. “For our part, we are very committed to increasing tourism in the county as demonstrated by our recent purchase of our Visitors Center which will provide year-round tourism promotion and provide important tourism services to the traveling public.”

The Cobblestone Museum is a caretaker of artifacts from throughout the county. The site is the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County.

The Holland Land Office Museum, a National Historic Landmark in Batavia, receives $38,554 in direct support from Genesee County.

The Orleans County Legislature on Nov. 30 passed a $93.7 million county budget for 2023. That budget provides funding for the following agencies or organizations in the county: $240,000 for the Cornell Cooperative Extension; $200,000 for the Orleans Economic Development; $95,000 for Soil & Water Conservation District; $10,000 to be shared among four public libraries; $5,000 for Mercy Flight; $4,000 for the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council; and $1,000 for the Sportsman’s Federation.