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Chimney fire damages cottage by lake in Yates

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2020 at 11:11 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

YATES – Firefighters put out a chimney fire this morning and make sure there aren’t any hot spots in the cottage by Lake Ontario.

Lorrie and Ed Thering are thankful there wasn’t more damage to their cottage on Fisher Lane. Mrs. Thering called to report the fire at 8:58 a.m. Her husband arrived on the scene and was able to fill buckets of water from mud puddles, helping to contain the fire.

There are strong westerly winds this morning. If it had been easterly winds, the fire likely would have spread through the house, Mr. Thering and firefighters said.

The Therings are putting an addition on the cottage, hoping to make it a year-round residence. The site has been in Mrs. Therings family for about 70 years.

There was a big turnout of firefighters from Lyndonville, Ridgeway, Shelby, Medina and Carlton. That isn’t the normal situation on a Thursday morning, but many of the firefighters are home from work right now due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Therings are hopeful they can have the room repaired soon.

Kyle Morgan of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company carries a ladder back to a fire truck.

Donato Rosario of the Medina Fire Department removes some of the metal roofing.

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Albion village budget would keep tax rate the same

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 April 2020 at 9:01 am

ALBION — The Albion Village Board has put together a $6,872,286 budget that keeps the tax rate at $17.80 per $1,000 of assessed property.

The budget would increase the tax levy, what the village collects in taxes, by $17,252, or by less than 1 percent (0.6 percent). The tax levy would go from $2,730,417 in 2019-2020 to $2,747,669 in 2020-21.

The board held a public hearing on the budget Wednesday. Residents could only comment through the Zoom online option because the village hall is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. No one commented on the budget during the hearing.

The board is scheduled to adopt the budget at 6 p.m. on April 22. The fiscal year starts June 1 and runs to May 31, 2021.

Mayor Eileen Banker is pleased the budget doesn’t increase the tax rate. She is concerned state and county revenues that are in the budget may not come through at the budgeted amounts. That includes road paving and maintenance funding from the state (CHIPS) and some of the local sales tax revenue distributed by the county.

If those revenues don’t meet expectations, the village will likely have to make some adjustments.

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Albion’s music program makes it 13 straight years of national recognition

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gary Simboli leads the high school choir during its year-end concert last June. The choir has more than 150 students and performs at many community events throughout the year. Albion has earned national recognition for its school music program for the 13thstraight year. It is one of 754 districts across the nation named a “Best Communities for Music Education” by the NAMM Foundation.

Posted 8 April 2020 at 5:21 pm

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – The Albion Central School District has been named a Best Community for Music Education for 13 years in a row!

This designation comes from The NAMM Foundation for Albion’s outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Albion answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities and support for the music programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

This award recognizes that Albion is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

“Making music is the artistic synthesis of all academics,” said High School Choral Director Gary Simboli. “When presented in a public forum, not only does it allow students to demonstrate their skills in real world settings, but it also enriches the lives of those giving and receiving the performances.”

The pep band enlivens the crowd during the homecoming football game on Oct. 5. Albion runs an active music program in the elementary, middle and high schools. The high school puts on two full-scale musical and students also perform in several different instrumental and choral groups. In all, high school musicians perform numerous times during the school year.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores that their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well.

Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children that in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound; young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit

The High School performed The Big Bad Musical in November, one of two musicals scheduled for the high school drama program. The middle school also typically does two musicals. In this photo Chase Froman, sitting, stars as the Big Bad Wolf and Aubrey Boyer is Sydney Grimm, a flashy reporter for a cable news channel, EFN – Enchanted Forest News. In back from left are the Wolfettes, from left: Olivia Morrison, Hannah Coolbaugh, Hannah Brewer and Sydney Mulka.

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Albion waives community service requirement for Class of 2020

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 April 2020 at 8:33 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Caden Crosby, a senior at Albion High School in 2018, helps a plant a bur oak tree on Nov. 1, 2017 as part of his community service requirement for all students at Albion.

ALBION – The school district requires all graduates of Albion Central School to complete at least 30 hours of documented community service.

Some students complete the community service during their freshmen or sophomore years, and often exceed 100 hours of service. But many students also tend to wait until late in their senior year to complete the 30 hours.

There are some students to graduate in June who haven’t reached the 30 hours of community service yet. The Albion Board of Education on Monday decided to give them a waiver on reaching that threshold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many organizations where students could do their community service are currently closed to the public.

Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, said the district values service learning and isn’t making the decision lightly about the service requirement. Students who met the requirement and also reached 100 hours will be noted in the commencement program.

In other action at Monday’s meeting:

• The board accepted a bid from P-A-Z Masonry of Albion to construct two dugouts each for softball and soccer. P-A-Z submitted the low bid of $66,100. Thompson Builds of Churchill submitted a bid for $81,531. The project includes a concrete pad for the dugouts which will be cinder blocks with a roof. One of the soccer dugouts also includes a small room for a sound system.

• The board agreed to allow online view of tax bills, where property owners could also print the

school tax bills and receipts. Derek Vallese, the district’s business administrator, said Albion receives many requests from individuals, attorneys, and tax preparers for public access to tax bills and receipts.

Vallese said Albion is the only school district in the county that does not have this service available. Currently an individual has to call the tax collector and request a copy of the tax bill or the receipt.

Vallese said the tax bills are public information. Albion won’t charge to view the bills. The district will grant “view only” access to the tax bills.

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Albion school district has served 13,000 meals since March 18

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 April 2020 at 10:47 am

Packets of school work, on-line learning while school buildings off limits to students

Photos courtesy of Albion Central School: Cafeteria workers at Albion prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for students. From left include Leslie Merrill, Jenn Gonzalez and Kelly Rosato.

ALBION – The school district has served more than 13,000 meals since March 18, and also is doing weekly packets of school work or on-line assignments for students who are home from school.

This is the start of the fourth week of students being out of the school buildings due to health concerns over the coronavirus. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has closed schools in the state until at least April 29.

The cafeteria staff at Albion prepare the meals which can be picked up outside the elementary school or taken to drop site at the Barre Center Presbyterian Church parking lot, Elk’s Club parking lot, Oak Orchard Estates, Lydun Drive Extension – Canal Town Commons and the Carlton Rec Hall.

Two school bus drivers deliver the meals with staff helping at the drop sites.

Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent, praised the efforts of the district staff to prepare and distribute so many meals to students. The meals are available free of charge to all students in the district.

The district is providing a bagged lunch with sandwich, fruit, vegetable and milk as well as a breakfast for the next day.

(For more on the program or to sign up, click here. There won’t be any meals distributed next week.)

Albion police officer Chris Goglowski and Kevin Beaumont, assistant elementary school principal, greet students and families picking up meals at the school.

The district has also been keeping students engaged with remote learning. Bonnewell said packets are prepared each week for students in elementary and middle schools. Older students receive assignments on-line.

The district has sent 150 Chromebooks or laptops for students without computers at home. Some students don’t have high-speed internet at home. In that case, students are sent homework. They are also encouraged to use public WiFi outside the school or Hoag Library, or maybe piggyback with permission off a neighbor’s WiFi.

“I certainly want to thank our teachers, our teacher assistants, teacher aides, secretaries and administrators who are making all of that work,” Bonnewell said about the packets prepared at the elementary and middle schools.

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Albion Pre-K applications due May 1

Staff Reports Posted 7 April 2020 at 9:28 am

ALBION – The school district is accepting applications until May 1 for universal prekindergarten during the 2020-21 school year.

Applications are available by calling the District Office Registrar at 589-2051 or the Elementary School’s main office at 589-2030 to request an application be mailed. Or click here to be directed to the three parts to the application that can be filled out online.

Children are eligible for the Albion UPK program if they are 4 years old on or before December 1, 2020 and if they reside in the Albion Central School District.

There are two sessions each day: AM session (9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and the PM session (1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.). Parents may not choose which session (AM or PM) the child attends.

Parents will be notified by mail in early May of their child’s status for the UPK program.

There are 80 available slots for students. If there are more than 80 applicants, a random lottery will take place. In the event of the need for a lottery, students not “drawn” will be added to a wait list and will be contacted if openings occur during the school year.

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Albion school budget for 2020-21 doesn’t increase taxes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2020 at 10:24 pm

Tonight’s Albion Board of Education was done online through the Zoom. The district also presented the meeting for the public live through YouTube. Top row from left include Mary Leto, assistant superintendent for instruction; Michael Bonnewell, district superintendent, Derek Vallese, district business administrator; Second row from top: Board of Education members Chantelle Sacco, Elissa Nesbitt, Margy Brown and David Sidari. Third row from top: Board members Kathy Harling (president), Wayne Wadhams, Greg Boose and Linda Weller. Bottom row: Board member Joyce Riley.

District anticipates some mid-year state aid reductions

ALBION — The Albion Board of Education tonight adopted a $36,841,032 school budget, up 3.62 percent or $1,285,522 from the $35,555,510 in 2019-20. The budget keeps the tax levy at $8,449,094 in property taxes, the same as in 2019-20.

This is now the 12th time in the past 14 years the school district has either kept taxes flat or reduced them.

“It’s best at this time to try not to hit up the taxpayers for any more money if we don’t have to,” said Derek Vallese, the district’s business administrator.

The budget is usually voted on by the public the third Tuesday in May, but the election has been pushed back to at least June 1. The governor hasn’t given a directive yet on the specific date for the school elections or the village and library elections except to say they will be later than in May. He moved them back due to concerns about the coronavirus.

The school district’s fiscal year starts July 1. That is also when the new terms start for members of the Board of Education. Three spots are up for election.

The district was able to prevent a tax increase after the state was able to maintain its aid (using $650,000 from the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act).

Albion also will use money from its fund balance and may dip into some reserves to help stave off a tax increase.

The budget comes with some uncertainty in the state aid. Gov. Cuomo said the state will be forced to look at its revenue during the state’s fiscal year and if revenues are off target the state will likely have to reduce its funding to local governments, including school districts. The first revenue review for the state will be on April 30.

“He is certainly in a difficult position, one we can all understand,” said Michael Bonnewell, the district superintendent. “We know the numbers, but the governor has been very clear that he will continually to watch the budget and make adjustments as necessary.”

Bonnewell said the district could absorb some drop in state aid because Albion has “a history of putting money away for a rainy day.”

The state aid also includes $250,000 for a Covid response. With students out of school until at least April 29, some students are expected to need academic intervention services next school year to help catch up. The district is expecting it will need to hire more staff to help students after this prolonged time out of school. (The district has been sending home packets of schoolwork and offering other assignments online.)

“We know coming back from this is going to require some extra energy, which means extra resources,” Bonnewell said during the meeting tonight.

The budget also includes funding for a superintendent’s search with Bonnewell to retire on June 30, 2021.

Albion also is budgeting $85,200 for its share of a grant program to replace school doors and add more security cameras. That expense depends on Albion receiving a COPS grant that covers 75 percent of the cost. The Albion Police Department is applying for the grant with the school district paying the local share.

The grant for a maximum project cost of $500,000, which would be a local share of $125,000. The estimated cost for the work would put the Albion share at $85,200.

• BUS PROPOSITION — The budget vote (when it happens) also will include a proposition to spend up to $525,000 from a bus purchase reserve fund for five new busses. That is a $20,000 increase from last year. Vallese said the cost of steel has gone up, increasing the expense for busses.

• HOAG LIBRARY — Voters also will decide a proposition for Hoag Library to receive $713,000 to be collected by the school district. That is down from the $714,920 in 2019-20.

• BOARD OF EDUCATION — The Board of Education election isn’t a simple matter. The district sought advice from its attorney and the New York State School Boards Association. There are two expired terms that are currently filled by Greg Boose and Joyce Riley who were appointed in July and took the oath of office on Aug. 5. They are filling less than a year of the terms vacated by Steve LaLonde and Marie Snyder.

The election includes those two seats as well as a full five-year term for a seat currently filled by Chantelle Sacco.

The candidate with the most votes will serve immediately following the election until June 30, 2025. The candidate with the second most votes will serve from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2025. The candidate with the third most votes will serve immediately following the election until June 30, 2022.

Petitions for candidates will be available at the district office.

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Kendall accepting PreK and kindergarten registrations for 2020-21 school year

Posted 6 April 2020 at 6:48 pm

Press Release, Kendall Central School

KENDALL – Kendall Central School is accepting PreK and kindergarten registrations for the 2020-21 school year.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in the Kendall universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) or kindergarten program and would like a registration packet mailed to you, please email Registrar Terri Kroth at with your name, address, phone number and the program your child is eligible for.

Parents are asked to mail the completed registration packet back by April 30. The mailing address is Kendall Elementary School, Attn: Registration, 1932 Kendall Rd, Kendall, NY 14476.

Copies of birth certificates, proof of residency, immunization records and any applicable custodial paperwork will be collected at a later date.

If you have any questions and cannot email, please feel free to contact Elementary School Principal Heather Eysaman at (585) 659-8317, ext. 1401.

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Hoag Library boosts WiFi signal, continues to provide services

Posted 6 April 2020 at 8:56 am

Press Release, Hoag Library

ALBION – Hoag Library is still working diligently to serve its community during this COVID-19 closure.

With the growing number of community members needing reliable internet, Hoag Library recently installed a signal booster to increase WiFi access. Residents can use the WiFi from the library parking lot, green space, and garden area (west side of the building) with plenty of room to maintain social distancing.  A library card or password is not required – simply join the network named “Hoag- Guest.”

Hoag Library also encourages patrons to take advantage of the free digital services included with a library card, such as ebooks, audiobooks, emagazines, research databases, and more!

Explore your family history with AncestryNY, NYS Historic Newspapers, and HeritageQuest; answer home improvement or gardening questions with the GaleOnefille database; keep the kids busy with TumbleBooksLibrary and Kids InfoBits; and find reading recommendations with NovelListPlus. All these resources, and more, can be found at

Those wishing to explore all of Hoag Library’s digital services, but do not have a library card, can email Reference questions and all other inquiries can also be sent to this email.

Hoag Library continues to share relevant information on the website and Facebook, including video storytimes with Children’s Librarian Teresa Gaylard. Librarians can be contacted to provide limited remote services using the email above.

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Local United Way pursuing outside funding to help community during pandemic

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 April 2020 at 8:18 am

When Dean Bellack offered his services as director of United Way of Orleans County, he couldn’t have envisioned the challenge ahead with the ensuing coronavirus pandemic.

Dean Bellack

“During a hard time such as this is when charities step up to the plate,” Bellack said. “When you think of United Way you should think of human relief. We are in a time when our lives have been altered, and it is our job is to bring dollars, partnerships and help to those who need it.

Bellack referred to the Buffalo community which just raised $5 million in the past two weeks from corporate donors, philanthropic organizations and community foundations. Being able to help out in a time of crisis improves an organization’s stature and that benefits them in the future when they try to raise money, he said.

Unfortunately, as much as United Way of Orleans County would like to step up and offer assistance now, the allocations for the year have been set, and United Way needs to focus on honoring those allocations. He said the community donations to United Way were up this past year, allowing them to provide funding to all their partner agencies.

However, with the hardships placed on businesses, corporations and individuals with the coronavirus  pandemic, United Way worries whether people will be able to meet their pledges so that United Way can meet its obligations to its agencies. Because of that concern, Bellack is pursuing other funding opportunities.

Bellack’s goal is to position United Way of Orleans County to the place in people’s minds where their mindset is, “When I want to help people, I give to United Way.”

He said that not only means dollars, but also uniting agencies for that purpose, which is a process he has already begun.

The Western New York Fund just announced a connection to the United Way, and Bellack has asked for some specific assistance for food banks and soup kitchens, and the Ministry of Concern and Community Action for housing. This funding will come to Orleans County because of the United Way partnerships.

United Way of Orleans County is registered on the United Way Worldwide network and has the potential to get help from the federal bill which was just passed. The bill designates billions for charity, Bellack said.

Another source of funding which Bellack is pursuing on behalf of United Way of Orleans County is a grant from BlueCross BlueShield’s 2020 Blue Fund. The fund will consider grant requests that address at least one or more health focus areas, such as behavioral health, cardiovascular health, health-care workforce development and healthy children.

Each grant request will be between $100,000 and $300,000.

Bellack has met with the YMCA, Community Action, Ministry of Concern, Praising Kids Childcare, Iroquois Trail Council, The Arc, OCAL’s, and Cornell Cooperative Extension to invite them to join in applying for the funding. This is the first time these agencies have applied together under the United Way.

“Our community and our non-profits are uniting to change our impact,” Bellack said. “The agencies involved in this process are excited and are planning future collaborations going forward.”

“I believe that bringing these agencies together will give us a bigger impact on this and bring in more dollars to Orleans County,” Bellack said.

Bellack and the board want the community to know they are working very hard to remain visible, fulfill their commitments and provide assistance in the future.

The annual Day of Caring scheduled in May has been canceled, but will be rescheduled in the late summer or fall. As of now, the June 5 golf tournament is still a go, but may be rescheduled if necessary, as it is a major fundraiser for United Way.

Bellack’s final comment is, “United Way is neighbors helping neighbors. Please help your neighbor. Help them go to the store. Help them with a meal. Please be generous in what you can do. If you are able to donate, give where your heart leads you.”

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