Some things are worth celebrating

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Editorial – $100K donation, 200th anniversary of farm and several other jobs well done

Good deeds and major milestones deserve some recognition, so let’s consider a few recent examples in Orleans County.

Maurice Hoag and his wife Courtenay gave another $100,000 to Hoag Library. They had already given $250,000 to the new library, which opened in 2012. That was enough to have the building named in their honor.

Mr. Hoag, the valedictorian of Albion’s Class of 1961, worked in the chemical engineering field. He lives in the Baltimore area but comes back to Albion for class reunions.

Photos by Tom Rivers – A plaque at Hoag Library notes the contributions from Maurice and Courtenay Hoag.

In July, the library received a surprise check from the Hoags. They asked that the money be used to pay down the mortgage on the new library.

That will reduce the debt payments and get the building paid off sooner. It could free up funds for programs, staff and supplies, or reduce the library tax.

The Hoags also pay for generous scholarships for two Albion college students pursuing chemical engineering.

Mr. Hoag hasn’t forgotten his hometown. His gifts are appreciated.

George LaMont (right), a desendant of Josias LaMont, unveils a historical marker in honor of the man who started the LaMont farm in 1815. About 200 people attended a celebration on Aug. 15 for the farm.

A local family celebrated 200 years of growing fruit last month. Josias LaMont started the farm that would span six generations.

Roger and George LaMont are both semi-retired from farming. They have made a big impact on the industry and with many local causes.

Roger was co-chairman of the fund-raising effort for the new Hoah Library. George was instrumental in starting the Oak Orchard Community Health Center, which has expanded from care for migrant workers to the entire community. Both men have been key leaders in the apple industry.

They helped establish Lake Ridge Fruit Company, an apple packing and storage business that serves many local apple farms on Route 104 in Gaines. Roger helped organize growers in a partnership with Cornell to breed new apple varieties and make them available to only NY growers, giving New York farmers an advantage over growers from Washington.

The family has done so much for the industry a future apple variety should be named the LaMont.

Matt Ballard, former director of the Cobblestone Musuem, is pictured with a World War I exhibit he helped organize.

Matt Ballard served as director of the Cobblestone Museum for about 18 months. He was a key leader at Orleans County’s only National Historic Landmark, putting on professional exhibits about medicine in the 1800s and the local involvement with World War I.

Ballard resigned last month to take a full-time position with Roberts Wesleyan College. He will continue to work part-time as the Orleans County historian.

Ballard is only 27 and brings a passion and expertise to local history. He certainly raised the profile of the Cobblestone Museum in the community and region, and partnered with several local groups on heritage projects, including refurbishing a fox “stuffed” by legendary taxidermist Carl Akeley, a Clarendon native. The museum owns a fox that Akeley worked on when he was 16.

Ballard feels so committed to the Cobblestone Museum he has agreed to stay on in a volunteer role as a board member. He has proven an asset to the county, especially with preserving and promoting our proud heritage.

This statue of Mary is part of the Catholic parish in Holley.

A church in Holley is marking its 150th anniversary in the next 12 months. St. Mary’s Catholic Church has been a focal point in Holley since 1866. The parish has one of its biggest community events on Sunday with the annual St. Rocco’s Festival in Hulberton.

The church members have been good stewards of a church built in 1905 of Medina sandstone. It replaced an earlier wooden structure. The congregation also has had an infusion of young families in recent years with the leadership of Father Mark Noonan, the parish priest. It looks like the parish will stay strong for years to come.

Gary Withey tends to a customer during the final days of Fischer’s News Stand.

Many Albionites are sad to see a long-established business close. Fischer’s News Stand sold its last newspaper, magazine and Lotto ticket on Sunday.

Gary Withey and his late wife Denise became owners of the business in January 1995. They kept it going long after news stands in other much larger communities shut down.

Best of luck to Mr. Withey in the future.