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Officials say canal plan in Orleans County comes at perfect time

Photos by Tom Rivers: Ed Flynn, director of planning at LaBella Associates, leads a meeting last week at Hoag Library, where the public was invited to rank priority projects for better utilizing the Erie Canal.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 January 2020 at 7:34 pm

State has many millions available for canal communities with a strategy

ALBION – An effort by several Orleans County municipalities to develop a waterfront plan for better utilizing the Erie Canal couldn’t come at a better time, local officials said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing for a $300 million “Reimagine the Erie Canal” program, which is in addition to regular pots of funding from the state for canal projects and other economic development.

The state wants to see a plan for the projects, with assurances the money will be well spent and will make an impact in the canal communities.

Construction of marinas in Albion and Holley were given red stickers, considered a top priority. Community members at a meeting last week also want to see better signage on the canal pointing people to local businesses and attractions. Boaters and kayakers also could use more amenities, such as launches and docks.

“The timing is incredible,” said County Legislator Ken DeRoller, who is a committee member for the Canal Corridor Local Waterfront Revitalization Program Plan. “We’re hitting a sweet spot.”

The committee had a meeting last week at Hoag Library, asking community members to help prioritize projects and areas of focus on the canal.

The county received a state grant for $62,000 to develop the plan and hired LaBella Associates as a consultant for the project. Each municipality along the canal in the county has a representative on the committee, except Medina, which has developed its own plan. The county committee members are representatives from the villages of Albion and Holley, and the towns of Albion, Murray, Gaines, Ridgeway and Shelby.

Ed Flynn, director of planning at LaBella Associates, told the local officials he believes the collaborative approach will stand out when the state considers which projects to give money.

“Orleans County is unique in developing a plan,” he said.

LaBella created poster boards with images and descriptions of potential projects. People at the meeting were given five stickers and asked to put them by projects. They were given two red stickers for highest priority projects, then one each for green (second highest), yellow (third highest) and blue (fourth highest).

LaBella will tabulate the results and give and report during the next meeting, which hasn’t been set.

DeRoller said the lack of a canal waterfront plan has hurt the communities’ chances in getting state grant funding in the past. But that should change now that the canal towns and villages are identifying projects.

“This plan is so imperative to give us leverage,” DeRoller said. “The attractiveness is we’ve never had a plan before so we’ve been kind of left out.”

The plan so far has identified four goals to boost the canal in the county.

Goal 1: Leverage the Canal’s Recreational Resources

(The county and corridor communities should capitalize on the canal’s wealth or land and water-based recreational resources.)

• Attract, develop and grow boating and kayaking facilities

• Provide rental facilities for bikes and kayaks

• Promote year-round sporting competitions to encourage use of recreational opportunities

• Upgrade trail surfaces for bikes

Goal 2: Stimulate Tourism along the Canal

Adding more events would draw visitors and also get local residents more enthused about the canal. Some ideas include launching a barge and bridge festival, where bridges and barge would be closed off for events, such as community dinners, brewfests, wine events, musical performances and food festivals.

(Attraction of local, regional and national visitors will promote the long-term sustainability of the Canal Corridor.)

• Provide full-service marina facilities along the canal

• Increase amenities for boaters and kayakers

• Hold year-round events on and near the canal

Goal 3: Accelerate Revitalization of Corridor Communities

(Investments in villages, downtowns and anchors along the corridor will improve the economy and quality of life for Orleans County residents and benefit businesses and tourists.)

• Provide financing and incentives to targeted businesses that will improve the vitality of village and hamlet centers

• Incubate locally based new businesses along the canal

• Redevelop sites on and near the canal

• Provide financing for agricultural siphoning and facilitate its deployment

• Provide directional and directory signage for businesses in village centers and hamlets

Goal 4: Promote the Corridor’s identity, sense of place and history

Public art projects that feature oxen and mules, two animals critical to the early success of the canal, would promote the canal and could be a fun community project drawing visitors.

(The corridor’s unique character and culture should be promoted, protected and leveraged to advance revitalization of Orleans County and corridor communities)

• Develop branded signage compatible and complaint with canal sign standards for mileposts, history, gateways and directions

• Provide informational signage at key points to tell the corridor’s natural and man-made history

• Revitalize historic and cultural buildings and sites

• Increase access to natural and agricultural areas

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Mobile Dental Unit headed to Medina, now offering vision screenings, too

Posted 27 January 2020 at 4:57 pm

(Editor’s Note: The tour by the Board of Education has since been pushed back to March due to scheduling conflicts.)

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health

MEDINA – The Medina Board of Education on Thursday will tour Oak Orchard Health’s Mobile Dental Unit, which will be at Oak Orchard Elementary to provide services to their students.

For the past 15 years, the Medina School District has collaborated with Oak Orchard Health to provide oral health services to students and their families. Since 2005, the Oak Orchard Health Mobile Dental Unit has traveled throughout Orleans County to various schools, providing dental cleanings and exams, dental treatment, and education to children and adults.

The Mobile Dental Unit travels to these schools on a rotating basis with visits lasting from two to eight weeks. OOH is excited to announce that they now provide vision screenings in addition to our dental services on the Mobile Dental Unit.

The Mobile Dental Unit visits the school district every year for a couple of months to provide cleanings, dental exams, x-rays, and fluoride applications for cavity prevention. If needed, they also provide fillings, extractions, sealants and stainless steel crowns.

A simple vision screen can help identify if a child has vision issues and needs further evaluation. To date, 45 students have used the new vision screening service.

For more information about this service or to schedule an appointment, contact Denise Beardsley, Mobile Dental Unit coordinator, at dbeardsley@oochc.org or call her at 585-267-9236.

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Pack 35 in Medina competes in annual Pinewood Derby

Posted 27 January 2020 at 11:50 am

Photos courtesy of John Dieter, Cub Master of Pack 35

MEDINA – Cub Scouts of Pack 35 in Medina competed in their annual Pinewood Derby on Sunday. There were 17 Webelos and Cub Scouts from the pack in the annual event to determine the fastest car made the Scouts.

In picture for top winners from left to right are Nate Surdel (First Place), Mason Berry (Third Place), and Sam Gray (Second Place).

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Ridgeway Fire Company installs officers, honors dedicated members

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Firefighters salute as Charles Smith rings the bell in memory of Royce Caleb, a 55-year-member of the Ridgeway Fire Company, and his wife Bev, who both died in 2019.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 January 2020 at 11:04 am

Harriet Petrie gets a hug from Ridgeway firefighters Tyler Luckman and Jason Bessel, after presenting them with a set of New York hooks and Haylo LED safety flares, in memory of her late husband Larry.

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company installed new officers and recognized dedicated members at its annual banquet Saturday night.

David Green of East Shelby was master of ceremonies, and began the evening by introducing distinguished guests, which included local law enforcement, politicians and representatives from other fire companies.

First Assistant Chief Kristin McAdoo presented training certificates to those firefighters in attendance, followed by presentation of awards for years of service. Service awards went to Dave Monagan, 50 years; Robin Gardner and Brian Withey, 40 years; Dell Stork, his son Ron Stork and Guy Scribner, 30 years (Dell also served 30 years in the Medina Fire Department); Francis Woodward, Tom Rushing and Kristin McAdoo, 25 years; and Matt Natale, 10 years.

Chantelle Blackburn chose April Fearby as recipient of the President’s Award.

“She’s here all the time and does things we didn’t even know needed to be done,” Blackburn said. “She deserves this award more than anyone.”

Fearby presented tokens of appreciation to several members who assisted her throughout the year.

Joshua Klotzbach, who was chosen Firefighter of the Year, was not able to attend because he was serving in the military with the National Guard.

Ladies Auxiliary president Tracey Hendrick announced Harriet Petrie as the Auxiliary Member of the Year.

“She is always here and really took over the reins,” Hendrick said.

Firematic officers of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company for 2020 were sworn in Saturday night by Orleans I, Dale Banker (standing at rear). From left are Zachary Blackburn, EMS lieutenant; Chantelle Blackburn, EMS captain; Tyler Luckman, firematic captain; Matthew Natale, second assistant chief; Kristin McAdoo, first assistant chief; Jason Bessel, deputy chief; Donald Marchner, safety officer; Michael Kelly, fire police captain; and Rick Harmer, fire police lieutenant. Partially visible standing at rear is installing officer, Dale Banker, Orleans I.

Orleans I Dale Banker was the installing officer, who swore in the following officers:

Executive officers – Donald Marchner, president; April Fearby, vice president; Chantelle Blackburn, secretary; Samantha Raduns, treasurer; Zachary Blackburn, sergeant-at-arms; and trustees Paul Wengrzycki (three years), Kyle Morgan (two years) and Francis Woodward, one year.

Firematic officers – Patrick Kelly, chief; Jason Bessel, deputy chief; Kristin McAdoo, first assistant chief; Matthew Natale, second assistant chief; Tyler Luckman, firematic captain; Kyle Morgan, firematic lieutenant; Donald Marchner, safety officer; Michael Kelly, fire police captain; Chantelle Blackburn, EMS captain; and Zachary Blackburn, EMS lieutenant.

Officers of Ridgeway Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in at their annual banquet Saturday night. From left are Harriet Petrie, chaplain; Joelle Brown, secretary/treasurer; Melissa Harmer, vice president; and Tracey Hendrick, president.

Officers of the Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in by Ridgeway town clerk Karen Kaiser. They are Tracey Hendrick, president; Melissa Hansler, vice president; Joelle Brown, secretary/treasurer; and Harriet Petrie, chaplain.

April Fearby thanks those who helped her during the year, after being named recipient of the President’s Award during the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company’s annual installation dinner Saturday night. Seated at left is first assistant chief Kristin McAdoo.

Charles Smith conducted a service paying tribute to 55-year member Royce Caleb. He and his wife Bev, who was a member of the Auxiliary, died during 2019.

Smith rang a bell three times, which signifies a firefighter has fallen.

Tracey Hendrick recognized Auxiliary members for their years of service. They were Effie McAdoo, 25 years; Donna Lockwood and Joleen Bessel, 10 years.

As has been customary each year since her husband died, Harriet Petrie has presented a gift in his memory to the fire company. Saturday night she gave firefighters Jason Bessel and Tyler Luckman a pair of New York hooks and a set of Haylo LED safety flares.

Don Palmer, a member of the fire company for 35 years, stood up to thank the department for allowing him to remain a member, in spite of the fact he cannot see.

“Even though I am totally blind, they accept me, and for that I say thank you,” Palmer said.

The Rev. Dan Thurber closed the evening with a prayer, saying how thankful he was, as a resident and pastor of the church just down the road, to have the Ridgeway Fire Company protecting them.

Executive officers of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company who were installed Saturday night are, from left: Zachary Blackburn, sergeant-at-arms; Chantelle Blackburn, secretary; Samantha Raduns, treasurer; Francis Woodward, director for one year; Donald Marchner, president; April Fearby, vice president; and Paul Wengrzycki, director for three years.

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Medina kicks off winterguard season with competition in Orchard Park

Posted 26 January 2020 at 4:18 pm

Photos and article courtesy of Medina Mustang Band

MEDINA – Medina opened its winterguard season on Saturday, competing in Orchard Park. The varsity guard is shown in the top photo.

Winter guard is a hybrid art form that combines elements of music, dance and military-like precision marching in a competitive arena into a total entertainment package. Winterguard started about 30 years ago and involves the manipulation (spins, tosses, flips) of equipment (rifles, flags, sabers) while moving around the performance space.

Medina is sponsoring two guard units this season – junior varsity and varsity. Both guards performed in competition for the first time this season at Orchard Park.  It was a large show with 26 guard units from around Western New York and Canada.

The junior varsity guard competes at Orchard Park.

The junior varsity guard consists of 16 students in grades 5-9. Their show this year is “Reach for the Stars” and is about how each one of us has a big dream, places it in a star and sends it into the sky. In life you add more stars in the sky and reach for the ones you realize in life.

There were four guards in the junior varsity class and Medina took third place with a score of 50.66.

The varsity guard consists of 15 students in grades 9-11.  This year their show is “Metamorphosis”  about the decision to conform to what is around us or become the person you truly want to be. In the varsity class, Medina took third place with a score of 55.83.

Medina’s next competitions are Feb. 8 in Victor,  Feb 15 in Batavia,  Feb. 29 at Marcus Whitman,  March 7 in Lancaster,  March 14 in Medina for its home show,  and March 21 in Jamestown. The championships are March 28 at Gates-Chili.

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Local state assemblymen decry criminal justice reforms

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2020 at 10:04 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: State Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport, says New York State is less safe today due to bail reform and other criminal justice changes. He is speaking on Friday at Tillman’s Village Inn during the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Luncheon, which was attended by about 100 people.

ALBION – Jan. 1 was the start of a series of criminal justice reforms that have made Orleans County and the state less safe, State Assembly members Steve Hawley and Michael Norris said on Friday during the annual Legislative Luncheon organized by the Chamber of Commerce.

The state’s bail reform no longer allows local judges to set bail for many crimes. In most cases, defendants are arraigned and given an appearance ticket for the next court date. The courts also now need to send defendants a reminder about the court date by text, email, a phone call or mail.

The state has also passed new discovery laws where law enforcement and the district attorney’s office need to turn over records in a case within 15 days after the arraignment, down from the previous 45 days. Those records include police reports, radio transmissions, body-worn and dash-cam video, laboratory test results and volumes of other materials and data related to prosecution.

Republicans in the State Assembly are pushing for the new rules to be “rescinded immediately,” Hawley, R-Batavia, told 100 people at the Legislative Luncheon.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley said many legislators are pressuring the governor and State Legislature to rescind the criminal justice reforms.

The Assembly Republicans are planning news conferences around the state about the issue, and will highlight people given appearance tickets who then committed more crimes, when then should have been in jail.

“We’re not going to let the pressure up,” Hawley said. “This is wrong. This isn’t American.”

Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport, said the criminal justice reforms were enacted after the State Senate flipped to a Democratic majority last year. That party now controls the Senate, Assembly and has a Democratic governor.

“We need to send a message to the governor that upstate matters and we deserve a voice,” Norris said the luncheon. “In upstate, it can feel like we’re at the bottom of the barrel.”

Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke said the criminal justice changes have cut the county’s jail population nearly in half, to about 40 inmates right now. The jail usually was in the 70s for inmate population.

Bourke attended a four-day law enforcement conference last week. He said many of the leading law enforcement officials in the state believe there will be some balancing out with the changes, with the jails filling back up when people are sentenced for their crimes.

Nathan Pace, an attorney from Medina, served as moderator for the luncheon. He said jail often can provide critical support for people charged with crimes, getting them connected to mental health and drug addiction treatment. Now, more people will be given court appearance tickets, with the judges not having the discretion to set bail for many crimes.

“These dramatic reforms led by the governor, the State Assembly and State Senate are affecting our county,” Pace said. “The new reforms are so dangerous to our society. They are intended solely to protect the accused.”

Hawley said the criminal justice reforms are the latest push from Albany that he finds vexing. He opposed the SAFE Act with gun control, free college tuition for children of undocumented immigrants, driver’s licenses for undocumented, and voting rights for felons when they are released from prison.

“The beat goes on with this governor,” Hawley said. “I’m not sure his father would be so proud right now and he was pretty liberal.”

Hawley said he is also very concerned about the impact on businesses with the rising minimum wage. That is now $15 an hour in New York City and is moving to $12.50 in upstate. This year it’s $11.80 in most of upstate, including Orleans County, and will go to $12.50 on Dec. 31. It was $9.70 on Dec. 31, 2016.

“The effect on businesses, I think, will be devastating,” Hawley said. “It’s urban areas telling suburban and rural areas what to do with their businesses.”

Norris said the higher minimum wage will reduce businesses’ ability to invest in equipment and make other changes to stay competitive. He expects there will be fewer cashiers at stores, and higher prices for consumers.

“It impacts small businesses and their ability to move forward with that crippling wage,” Norris said.

The state also adopted overtime and collective bargaining rights for farm workers. They are now eligible for overtime after 60 hours in a week. Hawley said he expects it will result in less hours for farm workers, ultimately resulting in smaller paychecks for them.

Norris said state continues to have an out-migration that leads the country, with about 70,000 people annually fleeing the state’s borders, that is nearly double the Orleans County population of about 40,000 people.

The annual Legislative Luncheon is a chance for the business community to hear directly from state and county elected officials.

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Merged lodge strengthens Masons in Medina, Middleport

Photos courtesy of Scott Mason: Members of Medina Masonic Lodge No. 336 and Middleport’s Cataract Lodge No. 295 pose for the first time as the newly consolidated Towpath Lodge.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 January 2020 at 8:19 pm

MIDDLEPORT – Jan. 15 will go down in history as a date two local Masonic lodges will not forget.

On that date, Middleport’s Cataract Lodge No. 295 and Medina’s Masonic Lodge No. 336 consolidated to become the Towpath Lodge No. 1193.

Like many service organizations in this day and age, members are aging and membership is declining. The Medina lodge faced the reality several years ago when it gave up its vendor space at the Orleans County 4-H Fair because they no longer had manpower to run their sausage booth (which they built and took down each year for decades).

After selling their lodge building on West Center Street in Medina, they began to explore other options.

Herb Koenig, right, installing master for ceremonies Jan. 15 in which Medina and Middleport Masonic lodges consolidated to become the Towpath Masonic Lodge, introduces the new master Matthew Flammger. At rear is the Most Worshipful James Sullivan of Lockport, who presented the charge to the brethren.

The Cataract Lodge was founded in 1853, and the Medina Lodge in 1854. The merger of these two lodges will insure they continue for many years to come.

This is the second merger Medina has gone through, having merged with the Yates Lodge when it closed in 2007.

As talks of the merger between Medina and Middleport progressed, a committee was formed to choose a new name. Scott Mason of Medina, former secretary of Medina Lodge and newly-installed secretary of the Towpath Lodge, suggested the new name, which is fitting for both villages.

Herb Koenig of Gasport, a 65-year-member of Cataract Lodge and four-time master, said the new merger expands their membership base.

“I like the name of our new lodge,” he said. “It links Medina and Middleport. We’re getting to know people from Medina we didn’t know before.”

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Members of the newly formed Towpath Masonic Lodge are installed during ceremonies Jan. 15. Here, secretary Scott Mason, standing at left, takes the oath after being escorted to the Bible by installing marshal Kevin Luckman Sr. Waiting to be installed are, seated from left, junior warden Eugene Flammger, his son and master Matthew Flammger, senior warden Robert Donovan and, treasurer Allan Kropf (behind Donovan). Seated at right is Tim McGee of Albion, a member of Albion’s Renovation Lodge and the Towpath Lodge, and his wife Myrna, who were among the evening’s visitors.

Koenig was emcee for the installation ceremonies and was also the installing officer.

“This is a very special occasion, and I’m honored I was asked to be installing officer,” he said.

After welcoming guests and members, Koenig explained the history of Freemasonry, whose roots he said are lost in antiquity.

Robert Donovan of Medina, Senior Warden of the new Towpath Masonic Lodge, stands by the roster of previous masters of Medina’s Masonic Lodge No. 336, dating back to 1854.

“Our recorded history extends backward well over 600 years,” he said.

He continued to explain that Freemasonry is a moral institution, and is not just social or merely ritualistic, but is also educational and patriotic. It is neither a secret society, a religion or a substitute for religion, although Masons do have a few signs and words of recognition which they like to keep to themselves.

As the installing master for the evening, Koenig called each officer to come forward and be sworn in. One by one, they were escorted in front of the Bible by the installing marshal, Kevin Luckman Sr.

New officers of the Towpath Lodge are Worshipful Master Matthew Flammger of Middleport, Senior Warden Robert Donovan of Medina, Junior Warden Eugene Flammger of Middleport, Treasurer Allan Kropf of Medina, Secretary Scott Mason of Medina, Senior Deacon Pritchard “Jim” Anderson of Middleport, Junior Deacon Jack Hansler of Medina, Tiler Fulton Rogers Jr. of Medina and trustees Doug Hedges of Lyndonville (three years), Herb Koenig (two years) and Alan Kozody of Medina (one year).

In addition to Koenig and Luckman, others who participated in the installation ceremony were David Pynn of Lockport, installing chaplain; Right Worshipful John Krupp, chaplain of the Sutherland Lodge in North Tonawanda, who gave the charge to the wardens; Very Worshipful Joseph Daniels from Red Jacket Lodge in Lockport, who gave the master’s charge; and the Most Worshipful James Sullivan of Lockport, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from 2012 to 2014, who gave the charge to the brethren.

Sullivan presented a decree from the Grand Lodge, dated Dec. 18, 2019, granting approval of the consolidation. He also conveyed wishes from the Grand Master, the Most Worshipful William M. Sardone.

Sullivan believes Masonry is on the upswing in New York state. For the first time in many years, he said there is positive growth in membership.

“There are so many good things in our fraternity,” Sullivan said. “We have a new program called Coats for Kids, and we are asking members throughout the state to bring slightly used coats for children. One thing Masons do is take care of our wives, our children and our families.”

From left, the Right Worshipful John Krupp from the Sutherland Masonic Lodge in North Tonawanda, newly installed senior deacon Pritchard “Jim” Anderson and treasurer Allan Kropf salute during the installation ceremonies of the Towpath Masonic Lodge.

The Masonic fraternity also has a Brotherhood Fund, to which members donate annually. Frank Berger of Medina has been a member of the Medina Lodge since 1960 and chair of the Brotherhood Fund for 25 years. He said they have 11 different benevolences to which members may designate their donation.

Matthew Flammger in his first address as master of the new Towpath Lodge, said he had been thinking for the past few weeks about this new beginning for both lodges.

“It’s strange this has happened at the dawn of a new decade,” he said. “We have a new name and a new lodge. I look forward to being able to give the charter of Lodge No. 1193 to the next master who will lead us into the future. It is an unforgettable experience to be the first master of Towpath Lodge.”

Matthew is no stranger to Masonry. His father, Eugene Flammger, is a member of Middleport’s lodge, as was his grandfather, the late Gordon Flammger. Matthew has been master of Cataract Lodge since 2015.

Matthew Flammger of Middleport kneels before the Bible as he is sworn in as the first master of the newly consolidated Medina and Middleport Masonic lodges, to be known as the Towpath Lodge. Standing near him is Kevin Luckman Sr., installing marshal.

Matthew can expect cooperation from Masons in other local lodges to perform his official duties, including James Horncastle, master of Albion’s Renovation Lodge No. 97.

Horncastle was among representatives from several other lodges who witnessed the consolidation and installation. He said he became a Mason for friendship and brotherhood.

“For a number of years, I never had a direction in which to put my energy,” Horncastle said. “I wanted to do something for myself and my community, and I began looking for a way. I had been to the homes of several of the Masons and they had visited mine, so I already knew some of them. I wanted to be a part of the sense of community this organization engenders. Matthew was one of the first people I met when I joined Masons and I wanted to see him installed.”

Horncastle said he looks forward to working with the newly combined lodges, helping with their fundraisers and degree work.

“I know 30 or 40 years from now, I can look at their charter and say I was there,” he said. “It’s a part of history.”

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Big sale today in Holley to benefit 4 families affected by fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2020 at 9:42 am

Provided photos

HOLLEY – The former St. Mary’s school in Holley on South Main Street is hosting a sale today with proceeds going to the four families affected by a Jan. 5 fire in Holley.

That blaze destroyed a 4,000-square-foot house at the corner of routes 237 and 31. The house had four apartments that were home to 11 residents, including five adults, three elementary school children, a high school senior and a baby.

Heidi Causyn, pictured, IS the lead organizer of today’s benefit from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. People are encouraged to bring their own bag. They can fill a grocery size bag and pay $5 for the items. Larger bags – up to 13-gallon garbage bag – that are filled are $10.

The sale also includes blankets, pillows, and baked goods.

“Bigger items that won’t fit in a bag we will make deals on them,” Causyn said.

The community responded in a big way with donations for the sale today, Causyn said.

Causyn also set up a GoFundMe (click here) with the funds to be shared among the four families.

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County officials see lots of progress in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 January 2020 at 9:48 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson said the county has stayed under the tax cap while tackling several important infrastructure projects.

GAINES – Orleans County is seeing progress on many fronts, Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson told about 100 people today during the annual Orleans County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon.

The county has stayed under the state-imposed tax cap while maintaining services to residents and tackling infrastructure projects, including bridge and culvert replacements. The county last year also completed an $11 million addition to the County Administration Building, with the state paying more than $3 million of the project.

Johnson said the state and Gov. Cuomo have been attentive to the county, repaving some of the neglected Lake Ontario State Parkway, authorizing $10.7 million to overhaul seven canal bridges, and most recently approving $17 million for projects along Lake Ontario.

“There is so much good happening in Orleans County,” Johnson told the crowd at Tillman’s Village Inn. “There are so many reasons to stay in Orleans County. Orleans County is a great place to live, work and play.”

The $17 million in funding announced on Oct. 23 is part of the first round of funding under the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative and improve public land and infrastructure, including roads, a new sewer system in Kendall and Hamlin, and an improved Yates Town Park.

County Legislator Ken DeRoller said the local communities have an opportunity to use state funds for projects along the Lake Ontario shoreline and also in better utilizing the Erie Canal.

The state also awarded Orleans a $5,897,141 grant for four new radio towers, accompanying communication shelters, technology to connect separate radio systems and new radio channels. The project will strengthen communications between multiple jurisdictions and agencies. Three of the towers will be 180 feet high and they will be located by the Public Safety Building on Route 31 in Albion, Millers Road in Yates near the water tank, and at the Kendall Central School near the bus garage. The other tower will be 150 feet high and will be near the Holley water tank on Route 237.

The governor also announced $300 million will be available to Erie Canal communities to better utilize and promote the canal.

Johnson also noted the Leadership Orleans program is equipping about 25 people a year to better understand the needs and strengths of businesses, non-profits and government agencies in the county. The third class of the year-long program just started.

A new hotel on Maple Ridge Road in Medina also will open this year. Cobblestone Suites and its 58-room hotel should keep visitors in Orleans longer.

The Orleans Economic Development Agency also is working with a business that could add 200 jobs in Albion, Johnson said.

The Legislature chairwoman said the county continues to pursue grants to expand high-speed internet. It has been a nearly decade-long quest to expand high-speed internet. She is optimistic for good news the service will be expanded in the county.

The Legislature also is interviewing candidates to serve as the county’s chief administrative officer. Chuck Nesbitt served in the role for 14 ½ years before leaving last month for a job in the private sector.

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Medina will try again for $10 million state downtown revitalization grant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 January 2020 at 11:11 am

Courtesy of Village of Medina, DRI application: The Village of Medina wants to improve public access to the Medina Waterfalls by constructing an elevated platform from the towpath. That project was part of Medina’s application for $10 million in DRI funding.

MEDINA – Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making $10 million available again to 10 downtown districts around the state.

Medina has tried for the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, but has been denied. Last year it was a finalist but missed out on the grant to Seneca Falls.

Medina Mayor Michael Sidari said Medina will try again for the funding.

“Absolutely we definitely are,” Sidari said today. “We’ll see what else we can do to make it a better plan.”

Sidari said the Medina team working on the project will look at the winning applications from other communities in recent years.

The new application will likely be due in June. The governor announced Seneca Falls as the winner last Nov. 6.

Medina has hired Bergmann Associates to help with the application.

The state has been approving $10 million annually for a downtown in each of the 10 regions of the state. NY considers Medina and Orleans County to be in the Finger Lakes region/

This will be the fifth round of the DRI, where communities submit applications and the state decides the winner. Previous $10 million grant winners in the Finger Lakes region include the City of Geneva in 2016, the City of Batavia in 2017, the Village of Penn Yan in 2018 and Seneca Falls last year.

Medina put together an application last year with projects that that would have improved the downtown business district, the waterfront by the canal, created public access by the water falls, expanded housing opportunities, and added tourism amenities and attractions.

The governor’s budget also includes about $750 million to fund projects identified by the Regional Economic Development Councils. That program is now in its 10thyear.

“Our targeted economic development approach is working all across the State, creating new jobs, revitalizing communities and boosting local economies,” Governor Cuomo said. “This significant investment will be used to fund more rounds of the successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative and Regional Economic Development Councils and continue our State’s unprecedented growth.”

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