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Gaines officially turns 200 on Feb. 14

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2016 at 12:00 am

GAINES – The Town of Gaines has long marked the year 1809 as the birth of the town. That’s when several pioneer settlers started to arrive, making a new home in what was then a wilderness.

The town marked its centennial in 1909, its 150th anniversary in 1959 and a bicentennial in 2009.

However, Town Historian Al Capurso said the town didn’t officially exist until Feb. 14, 1816. That’s when the State Legislature recognized the Town of Gaines.

The first official Town Board meeting was soon after the state’s move to recognize Gaines. Capurso shared the tidbits with the Town Board on Tuesday. He noted that this Valentine’s Day will mark the town’s 200th official birthday.

Capurso shared other news with the Town Board. He is part of a committee working on the new Orleans County Heritage Festival the second weekend in September. Capurso said the event, which includes assistance from Genesee Community College, will highlight transportation, architecture, historic gems and historic cemeteries in the county.

He would like the Gaines Cemetery on Ridge Road, behind the Gaines Congregational Church, to be included on the cemetery tour. Capurso said that is the first cemetery in the county and includes two Revolutionary War soldiers.

At least one new historical marker will go up in Orleans County this year, with the Orleans County Department of History and the Orleans County Historical Association splitting the estimated $1,200 cost, Capurso said. He expects historians will vie for sites for the marker around the county. He would like one on Route 279, just south of Route 104 in honor of James Mather, one of the early Gaines settlers.

Capurso also has been leading the effort to preserve a former cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, just north of the Erie Canal. Capurso said a variance has been approved to allow the site as a meeting house for the Historical Association. Attorneys are working on getting the title for the property for the Historical Association.

In other action at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting:

The board discussed options for water accessibility for employees in the building. The Town Hall only has sinks in the two bathrooms. There isn’t a utility sink.

Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said that makes it difficult to fill a coffee pot or wash a dish.

“I think it’s unreasonable that we have something like this,” Culhane said. “We wash a dish in the bathroom sink because there is no sink.”

She thought water from the Culligan company, which would include 5-gallon jugs of water and a water cooler, would solve the problem temporarily. Culligan would charge $6.25 a month for the cooler, plus $7.99 per jug.

Town Councilman Richard DeCarlo wants to explore running a waterline in the building and creating a utility sink.

The board will look at options for either bottled water, Culligan or a waterline.

Ultimately the Town Hall needs some renovations for security and handicapped accessibility. Those changes could include a sink for the employees, Culhane said.

“But that’s down the road,” she said.

The board approved spending $2,709 to Star Electric of Pavilion to add phones and upgrade the phone system for the Town Hall, where the phones haven’t been updated in more than a decade.