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Leadership Orleans celebrates graduation of first class

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 December 2018 at 3:24 pm

Provided photos

LYNDONVILLE – Leadership Orleans on Friday graduated the first class of the program with a celebration at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville. Pictured in front, from left, include: Kelly Kiebala, chairwoman of the steering committee; Kaitlyn Delamarter, executive director of United Way of Orleans County; Lisa Tombari, executive assistant for Talis Equity: Kathy Hodgins, director of treatment services for GCASA; Nadine Hanlon, clerk of Orleans County Legislature; and Jackie Gilbert, owner/vice president of Darrell’s Place.

Second and back row, from left: James DeFilipps, deputy for Orleans County Sheriff’s Office; Doug Farley, director of Cobblestone Society & Museum; Patrick Weissend, vice president and branch manager of Tompkins Bank of Castile; Nick Nesbitt, owner/manager for Nesbitt Fruit Farms & Nesbitt Bros. LLC; Steve Hicks, financial advisor with Brighton Securities; RJ Linder, credit representative for Farm Credit East; Brett Kast, orchard manager for Kast Farms; Robert Batt, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County; Eddie Moss, director of computer services for Orleans County; Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee; Josh Mitchell, funeral director with Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes; Mike Ryan, manager of operations for RTS Orleans; Tim Hollenbaugh, service manager/sales for Bentley Brothers, Inc.; Eric Watson, president of Watson Enterprises; Jessica Root-Olinger, manager for Dale S. Root Trucking LLC; Heidi Truschel, community relations manager for the Arc of Genesee Orleans; and Skip Helfrich, Leadership Orleans director.

Eddie Moss, director of computer services for Orleans County, speaks on behalf of the class and thanked supporters of the program.

The debut class comes from a cross section of the community, including law enforcement, government department heads, farm owners, agency directors and other business leaders. The program picked residents who have demonstrated leadership abilities, interest in community affairs, and a commitment to Orleans County’s future.

Each month the group learned about a different sector of the community, including government, arts and culture, volunteerism and non-profit organizations, community health, tourism and recreation, agribusiness, economic & workforce development, and education.

The class met Thursday for a retreat to recap the year. This brainstorming session includes Marlee Diehl, front left, and Nadine Hanlon, and Nick Nesbitt, back left, and RJ Linder.

Charlie Nesbitt, left, and Skip Helfrich, Leadership Orleans director, welcome people to the graduation program. They acknowledged sponsors and supporters of the program.

Nesbitt also received a special recognition for helping with recruitment and fundraising for the first class. Peggy Marone, director of Leadership Genesee, also received a special recognition award for helping to develop the curriculum and build the organizational structure for the program in Orleans County.

The second class of 25 participants will start next month.

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Many activities in Albion downtown for Hometown Holiday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 December 2018 at 10:37 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Albion Merchants Association is hosting its seventh annual Hometown Holiday in the downtown today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Debbie Grimm, left, and Grace Kent are getting crafts ready for children in the Village Office at 35-37 East Bank St.

The Village Office also will have Mr. Scribbles, coffee with a cop and a coloring contest. There is free coffee and doughnuts this morning and free pizza at noon while supplies last at the Village Office.

Other businesses are also hosting activities, including cookie decorating, a sing-a-long, letter writing to Santa, crafts with Mrs. Claus, Christmas trivia and a reindeer raffle with 28 items up for raffle.

Anita Finley is ready for people to enter the coloring contests. There will be prizes for children 5 and under, ages 6 to 9, and ages 10 to 12. Finley’s husband Todd is owner of the Oak Orchard Canoe. They are members of the Albion Merchants Association.

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Contractors begin $1.5 million canal rehab project in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 December 2018 at 4:40 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Contractors this week started construction on the Albion waste weir. This is a spot behind Community Action of Orleans & Genesee. A waste weir is used to drain the Erie Canal. This waste weir was built in 1910.

The project costs $1.46 million and is scheduled for completion in July 2019, said Steven Gosset, spokesman for the State Canal Corp. and New York Power Authority.

Cold Spring Construction of Akron has been hired to do the work.

Cold Spring Construction had an excavator in the canal to work on the project on Wednesday.

This file photo shows the waste weir located off State Street behind Community Action, west of Brown Street in Albion.

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Tasty Treats at Hoag Library helps raise money for new sign

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 December 2018 at 8:52 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Mary Anne Braunbach, president of the Friends of Hoag Library, serves chips in a spinach artichoke dip on Thursday evening during the Tasty Treats event at Hoag Library.

The popular fundraiser supports the library, including a new sign and flagpole that will be installed over the winter. That sign will have electronic messages to promote programs at the library. A state library construction grant for $47,000 will cover half of the cost.

Corinne Johnson, assistant manager at 39 Problems in Albion, serves some of the tasty treats prepared by the Albion restaurant, which is owned by her parents, Adam and Tina Johnson. 39 Problems prepared the spinach artichoke dip, sliders with smoked prime rib, and peanut butter pie.

Johnson, left, is joined by Gloria Nauden, Eileen Allen and Mary Anne Braunbach in serving the food.

The event included several raffles with many of the items and gift certificates donated by local businesses.

Gloria Nauden and Mary Anne Braunbach get the chips and dip ready for the crowd.

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Community welcome for East Shelby church’s old-fashioned Christmas on Sunday

Provided photos: The Morse family donated a 35-foot high Christmas tree, which has been decorated inside the East Shelby Community Bible Church.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 December 2018 at 8:07 am

A seamstress works on her handicraft last year at the Old Fashioned Christmas sponsored by East Shelby Community Bible Church. This year’s event on Sunday will follow an old-fashioned church service at 10:30 a.m.

EAST SHELBY – The East Shelby Community Bible Church will sponsor its annual Old Fashioned Christmas from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The festive day will have a very special feature this year. The celebration is designed to give visitors the true meaning of Christmas and will follow an old-fashioned Christmas service at 10:30 a.m. in the historic church, with a giant Christmas tree donated by Stephen and Patricia Morse of Medina.

In 1992, the Morse’s daughter got a sapling with a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Her folks planted it in the garden at the front corner of their house, where it has been growing all these years.

The Morse’s have become dedicated followers of the East Shelby Church, where they sit in the front pew every Sunday. They decided to donate the 35-foot tree for the church’s Christmas celebration, where it sits proudly, all covered with festive lights and ornaments.

The day will feature a Christmas concert by the church’s band, known as the Band of Renown, followed by swag and garland making, demonstrations of old-time handicrafts, Dickens-style Christmas caroling in the miniature village of West Jackson Corners, horse and buggy rides, sampling of foods cooked over an open fire, kids’ crafts and hot chocolate and other Christmas treats.

A visit from Santa at 4 p.m. will conclude the day.

Pastor Erik Olsen leads the signing of Christmas carols during last year’s Old Fashioned Christmas celebration in West Jackson Corners, the miniature village built by the East Shelby Community Bible Church. This year’s celebration will take place from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the church at 5278 East Shelby Rd.

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DEC report recommends cleanup at former Bernzomatic in Medina

Staff Reports Posted 6 December 2018 at 7:15 am

This aerial map shows the former Bernzomatic facility on the east side of Medina.

MEDINA – A report about contamination at the former Bernzomatic site in Medina recommends cleanup of the property.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is reviewing the Remedial Investigation Report for the former Bernzomatic. The report was submitted by Irwin Industrial Tool Company, c/o Newell Brands Inc., which used to operate a manufacturing plant at the site.

The report lists the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in surface soils; metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in groundwater; Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in sub-slab vapor; and metals in sediment.

The DEC said the data indicates that past manufacturing operations at the site appear to have resulted in the release of VOCs, metals, and PAHs. All impacts are contained on-site with the greatest concentrations found in the former machining area, according to the DEC.

The DEC will complete its review, make any necessary revisions and, if appropriate, approve the investigation report, the agency said.

Irwin Industrial Tool may then develop a cleanup plan, called a “Remedial Work Plan.” This plan describes how contamination will be addressed, with the DEC and the state Department of Health overseeing the work. The DEC will present the draft cleanup plan to the public for its review and comment during a 45-day comment period.

The DEC will keep the public informed throughout the investigation and cleanup of the site, the agency said.

The site is located at 1 Bernzomatic Drive in the Village of Medina. The property includes two connected buildings, approximately 160,000 square feet in size, paved parking lots, and a man-made pond on the southwest corner of the site.

The western building consisted of assembly, packaging, and warehouse/storage. The eastern building was used for machining, parts washing, and materials storage. Industrial use at the site began in approximately 1915 and included canneries, food processing, machining and manufacturing. The site was recently purchased and the proposed reuse is for warehousing and manufacturing.

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Cooperative Extension honors ‘Friends’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2018 at 5:47 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Marsha Cook, left, receives an award as an outstanding 4-H leader from Kristina Gabalski, 4-H program leader. The meeting was held at the new Lures Restaurant & Bar at the Bald Eagle Marina on South Lakeland Beach Road.

KENDALL – The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County held its annual meeting on Tuesday night and honored many supporters of the agency.

John Curtin was named “Friend of the Extension” for donating 4.5 acres of woodlots by the fairgrounds near Wood Road. The Extension may use the wooded area for a nature trail, outdoor camping and perhaps other uses,” said Robert Batt, the Extension executive director.

Having the land creates many possibilities for the agency, Batt said.

The Extension also named Brett Ross a “Friend of the Master gardeners.” Ross grows thousands of day lilies on East Shelby Road near the Millville hamlet in Shelby. He donates many varieties of day lilies to the Master Gardeners’ plant sale in September, said Katie Oakes, the Master Gardener coordinator. Ross and Curtin were unable to attend the annual meeting on Tuesday.

There are 15 master gardeners who led about 300 people in classes and workshops the past year. The master gardeners were also at numerous community events.

The 4-H program named an outstanding 4-H leader. Marsha Cook of Albion has been the leader of the Super Kids Club the past five years. She has been helping in 4-H for more than decade. Her son Brandon, 18, is aging out of 4-H but daughter Hollee, 7, will be involved for several more years.

“It’s good the kids,” Cook said about 4-H. “There’s more to life than textbook learning.”

She likes the hands-on projects through 4-H. Cook is an active fair volunteer, including in the weeks leading up to the fair helping to make sure the grounds are in tip-top shape, said Kristina Gabalski, the 4-H program coordinator.

“Marsha is always ready to step up and help wherever she might be needed in the 4-H program, including help with the annual holiday workshops in advance of the Holiday Fair,” Gabalski said.

Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, thanks supporters of the agency. He also led a trivia contest at the annual meeting.

Several 4-H leaders marked milestone anniversaries of service this year, including: Kayla Sucy and Marsha Cook for five years; Merri Mathes for 10 years; Barb Kurzowski for 20 years; and Sara Johnson for 30 years.

“Their guidance, care and dedication have helped shape so many young lives,” Gabalski said about the 4-H leaders. “There would be no way to provide 4-H programming to the youth of Orleans County without them.”

There are 454 youth, ages 5 to 19, enrolled in the 4-H program, with 89 leaders and volunteers.

The 4-H’ers had more than 3,000 exhibits at the Orleans County 4-H Fair, which was attended by over 24,500 people during the fourth week of July.

There are now three schools – Kendall, Medina and Lyndonville – with afterschool 4-H clubs.

The Extension also elected five people as members of the board of directors.

• Ben Flansburg is president and co-owner of BCA Ag Technologies, a precision farming company that specializes in GPS and precision control of agriculture equipment. He also is active with the Barre Volunteer Fire Company.

• Jose Iniguez is a fruit grower and co-owner of Fish Creek Orchards in Waterport.

• Christopher Oakes of Medina is the production manager for LynOaken Farms in Lyndonville.

• Joseph Sidonio of Holley is a Marine veteran and self-employed n the mining and quarrying industry. His daughter Amelia is active in the 4-H Rabbit Raisers and the Senior Council.

• Zach Welker of Medina breeds, shows and markets registered Holstein genetics in addition to helping as Sk Herefords, where his wife Alana is a partner. Welker is a co-leader and barn superintendent of the beef/dairy club, and a board member for the Animal Welfare/Market Auction Committee as well as the Fair Committee.

Three board members who are finishing their terms and leaving the board were commended for their service. They include Kathy Harling, Patrick Woolworth and Tim Kirby.

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EDA has to shut down revolving loan fund

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2018 at 4:02 pm

Agency pushes to get out final loans before March 31 deadline

New York State is closing the revolving loan funds administered by local development corporations, including one through the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

The economic development agencies throughout the state have until March 31 to approve funding through the accounts.

The Orleans EDA has approved many loans for small businesses the past 17 years since the fund was created. The state first approved $320,000 for the Orleans EDA to loan to small businesses in 2001.

Jim Whipple, the EDA chief executive officer, said the agency has a great record of repayment. The loans are offered at 75 percent of the lowest prime rate. They go to new small businesses that would typically have a hard time getting financing from a bank.

“We’re hoping the state comes up with another of doing these,” Whipple said today. “Ours has been very successful. It is very helpful to start-up businesses.”

The EDA would only makes loans available to business owners who completed a Microenterprise Assistance Program that offers advice and expertise for running a small business. About 500 people have completed MAP the past 20 years.

Three recent graduates have the local OK for loans through the revolving loan fund. That includes $35,000 for Heather Collella, who operates DC hauling; $40,000 to Richard T. Gallo Sr., who operates Gallo’s Hauling; and $15,000 for Bonnie Heck, owner of Herbalty Cottage in Medina.

Those loans were approved by the County Legislature last week and need state approval for a final OK.

The County Legislature last week agreed to have the county administer the fund’s repayments and income in the future.

Whipple said additional loans may be approved before March 31.

He is optimistic the program will return through the Orleans EDA.

“We’re going to be out of the loan business, but we will be back,” Whipple said. “I guarantee it.”

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Village of Albion replacing 2,500 water meters for $300K

Photo by Tom Rivers: Marty Zwifka, a Village of Albion Department of Public Works employee, holds one of the new water meters. Zwifka is about halfway through replacing 2,500 meters in the village.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2018 at 10:22 am

ALBION – The Village of Albion is replacing about 2,500 water meters that will give an accurate account of use by village water customers.

The new water meters replace ones that are about 20 years old. Many of those older meters lose their precision as the years go by, leading to water use measurements that aren’t accurate, village officials said.

Albion borrowed $300,000 to buy the new meters, with the money to be paid back by water customers through the water fund.

“We want to ensure to the people that we’re giving them the best product possible,” said Marty Zwifka of the Department of Public Works. “We want to ensure people are getting what they pay for.”

Zwifka has replaced just over half of the meters. It takes about 15 minutes for him to swap out the old ones with a new Zenner meter which has an automatic Internet reader.

The DPW gets a daily report from the meters and any big uses are highlighted. That can help alert the DPW and a village water customer if there is a leak.

The village had more than one water meter manufacturer before. The new meters are all standardized.

The village is saving about $140,000 by having Zwifka, an in-house employee, replace the meters, rather than contracting out the service.

Zwifka replaced a few meters in late 2017, and has been doing about 15 a day since March.

Village water customers who haven’t changed meters yet are encouraged to call the Village Office at (585) 589-9176 and schedule an appointment with the village clerk’s office.

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County approves $125K study for possible regional water system

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 December 2018 at 4:50 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Barre has a water tank that serves water users in Barre and Albion.

ALBION – Orleans County and many of the local municipalities will work together with a consultant on a study of the water infrastructure in the county and the possibility of creating a regional water system.

The County Legislature last week approved spending $125,000 for the Wendel firm to complete a water efficiency study. The county expects to receive about $75,000 in state funding for the project, with the county paying $30,000 and other municipalities kicking in $20,000.

“The county wants to maximize the water resources in the county,” Chuck Nesbitt, the county chief administrative officer, told local municipal leaders during a recent meeting about the study.

The study will take an inventory of all the water infrastructure in the county, as well as the personnel devoted to maintaining water lines and running water plants.

The study may show the need for new transmission lines to move water to spots in the county that would be ideal for economic development.

County and municipal officials expect the study will show potential cost savings and efficiencies that will reduce costs and increase capacity. There may be opportunities for sharing services with water meter reading, water billing, and potentially water distribution system repairs.

During meetings with village and town officials, county leaders said this isn’t a precursor to a takeover of the village and town water systems. They would each keep their own infrastructure. One scenario could have a water superintendent overseeing the systems in more than one jurisdiction and a water department focused on fixing leaks and maintaining the system.

Currently each town has a highway superintendent who also functions as the water superintendent. Many of those superintendents are nearing retirement and may not be easy to replace, especially with the licenses needed to serve as water chief.

Gerald Summe, executive vice president of Wendel, met with the Albion Village Board on Oct. 10 and urged the board to participate in the study. The board approved contributing $2,000 to the cost.

“Manpower and skill sets is probably one of the biggest challenges you’re seeing,” Gerald Summe, executive vice president of Wendel, told local officials during a recent meeting.

Creating a regional water system in the county would improve the chances for state and federal funding to maintain and upgrade water treatment plants, and also the transmission lines, Summe told the local officials.

“If you work together you put yourself in a better position to get grants,” he said.

The Village of Albion is currently the main water provider in central Orleans with its water plant in Carlton, using water from Lake Ontario. Albion provides about 1.7 million gallons of water daily for 15,000 customers.

The Village of Lyndonville has a smaller water plant with about 2,200 customers and 400,000 gallons daily. Holley uses water from a well, and is supplemented by the Monroe County Water Authority. The MCWA is the primary supplier in eastern Orleans, with Albion serving a portion of Murray.

The Niagara County Water District is the water supplier for the Village of Medina and most of Shelby and Ridgeway.

The 10 towns have a series of water districts all with varying debt service rates. If the municipalities went to regional system, the debt would stay with each district. There could, however, be more customers to spread out the costs for upgrades to a local water treatment plant and for running new transmission lines to get water where it needs to go.

One scenario could have a single administrator of the water system, while the towns and villages share staff for maintaining the water systems.

Summe said there are significant grants available to help upgrade the water systems in Orleans County. But the first step is doing a study to provide an “economic justification” for the funding.

The Albion Village Board voted to contribute $2,000 to the study. Board members said they would welcome more grants to help upgrade its water plant.

Wendel said it’s likely the state will contribute about $47,500 in a grant through the Local Government Efficiency Program and $25,000 through the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA).

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