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Kendall student wins oratorical contest in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2019 at 6:23 pm

Provided photo: Pictured from left include John Pera, county commander of the American Legion; William Barnosky of Albion, third place; Lauren Miller of Kendall, second place; Ethan Kuhn of Kendall, first place; and Gary Befus, contest chairman for the Legion.

MEDINA – Medina High School on Saturday hosted the 83rd annual oratorical contest through the American Legion in Orleans County.

Ethan Kuhn of Kendall won first place and Lauren Miller of Kendall was second. William Barnosky of Albion placed third.

Students presented an 8 to 10 minute prepared oration on a US Constitution topic of their choosing.

Kuhn and Miller both advance to the District level contest to be held in Kenmore in January.

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Lee-Whedon in Medina hosts Santa for Pajama Storytime

Posted 10 December 2019 at 2:23 pm

Photos courtesy of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library

MEDINA – Lee-Whedon Memorial Library hosted some very special friends on Friday night.  The Santa Pajama Storytime program celebrated its 37th year as children, along with family and friends, eagerly awaited an evening with Santa.

The children were treated to a movie titled “What is Christmas?” Then, to everyone’s delight, sleigh bells began to ring as Santa arrived to entertain everyone with special songs and activities. Next, over 100 people settled in as Santa read, The Broken Ornament by Tony DiTerlizzi.

Santa reads, The Broken Ornament, to children and families.

The evening culminated with each child visiting with Santa and everyone was encouraged to make crafts, read books and visit with friends and family.

Families also contributed to the local food bank as part of this annual event.

Kendall Oliver Farewell shares her list with Santa.

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Albion Town Board sets 15-ton weight limit for Gaines Basin Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2019 at 12:25 pm

ALBION – The Town Board on Monday gave final approval to set a 15-ton weight limit on Gaines Basin Road. The weight limit includes the section of Gaines Basin from the south entrance of Walmart, going south to the Barre townline, which is between West County House Road and Route 31A (West Lee Road).

Town Highway Superintendent Michael Niedert pushed for the weight limit because he said many big trucks and tractor trailers were using Gaines Basin to bypass going through the village.

Neidert said routes 98 and 31 are better suited for the heavy truck traffic.

The town had a public hearing on the weight limit in November. Albion previously didn’t have a weight limit for the road. Neidert said keeping the heavy trucks off Gaines Basin Road will help the road to last longer without needing major maintenance.

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Book Shoppe in Medina has new owners

Photos by Tom Rivers: Susan Phillips, left, welcomes the new owner of The Book Shoppe, Gloria Fierch. Gloria and her husband Fred Fierch became the new owners of the store on Dec. 2. Phillips will remain at the store until the end of the year, helping with the transition.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2019 at 11:20 am

Susan and Roland Phillips ran the store for 21 years

MEDINA – The Book Shoppe on Main Street in Medina has new owners after 21 years of Susan and Roland Phillips leading the popular spot at 519 Main St.

Gloria and Fred Fierch on Dec. 2 became the owners of the store. The couple owned Pizza Place II in Middleport for 28 years, until selling that business nine years ago.

“Susan has made this an institution in Medina for 20 years,” Mr. Fierch said. “We plan on changing nothing.”

The Fierchs have stayed active in their retirement, with Gloria leading a Silver Sneakers exercise class at the Orleans County YMCA the past several years.

Fred has written two local books about Medina and Middleport history. He also is retired as a social studies teacher from the Orleans/Niagara BOCES, where he taught at sites in Medina, Sanborn and Niagara Falls.

The two missed the hustle and bustle of owning the pizza business. They wanted that excitement, but not quite at that level.

They have been long-time customers at the Book Shoppe. When the business was listed for sale, Mr. and Mrs. Fierch moved to buy it.

They have been at the store since last week, with Phillips introducing them to customers and helping with the ownership transition. She will stay at the store until late December, helping through the holiday rush and them ordering more books and toys for a new year.

“This has been fun,” Mrs. Fierch said at the store on Monday. “I’m enjoying the people and the total atmosphere. I just love being in Medina on Main Street. I want to continue the traditions of the book store.”

Gloria and Fred Fierch are shown in the arch leading to the children’s section at The Book Shoppe. They owned the Pizza Place II in Middleport for 28 years. They sold that business nine years ago and wanted to become more active in the community by owning the book store in Medina.

Mrs. Fierch has heard from customers that the book store is highly valued by the community. Besides the latest best sellers, The Book Shoppe gives prominent display of books by local authors. The store has a separate section for children’s books and toys.

The Book Shoppe sells toys that aren’t electronic and don’t make noise.

“They’re toys that children can use their imagination on,” Phillips said.

She is grateful for the 21 years of support from many loyal customers. Phillips said it has been exciting to watch the rebirth of Medina’s downtown, with many new businesses opening in recent years, and many building owners completing major restorations to the historic structures.

The Medina downtown has become a big attraction, and Phillips said the book store increasingly sees more customers from Buffalo and Rochester who enjoy shopping in Medina.

Phillips worked at the store for two years, when it was owned by David and Caroline Stefaniak. Phillips and her husband Roland became the owners in 1998.

She is pleased to see the new owners have a passion for business and being part of the community.

Phillips has watched many of her customers’ children grow up to be adults, and then bring their own children to the store. (The Book Shoppe hosted many Harry Potter parties, when new books of the popular series were released.)

Phillips was praised for making the store a welcoming environment, with the strong scent of gourmet coffee greeting customers. She also gift wraps books and presents for her customers.

“I want to say thank you to all of my great customers for all of the great years we had together,” she said.

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Kendall’s community Christmas tree is lighted up for the holidays

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2019 at 10:29 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

KENDALL – The Kendall community last Wednesday had a tree-lighting celebration for this Christmas tree at the town gazebo across from the elementary school on Kendall Road.

These photos, taken this evening, also show the new war memorial that was dedicated on Sept. 29. The war memorial was led by four Boy Scouts who each took charge of part of the memorial for their Eagle Scout project.

The 39-foot-long brick wall features granite plaques highlighting the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and the War on Terror. Alternating the granite plaques are concrete medallions representing the five branches of the military.

Three flag poles stand tall behind the brick wall. The center American flag pole is 35 feet high, with two 30-foot flag poles representing the State of New York and Orleans County standing on either side. The memorial is lit from dusk to dawn.

There is a bench by the memorial. The bench includes a quote by Joseph Campbell: “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

The war memorial project was led by four Boy Scouts – Ryan Barrett, Noah Rath, Jayden Pieniaszek and Brian Shaw.

The tree-lighting celebration last Wednesday included a supper with Santa at the elementary school cafeteria. The Kendall Community Band also performed at the event.

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Medina school district invites community to see campus improvements

Staff Reports Posted 9 December 2019 at 6:23 pm

MEDINA – The Medina school district invites the community to come in and see the improvements that have been made to the school district as a result of capital improvement project.

Many areas have had improvements, such as windows, auditorium seating, bathrooms, cafeterias, the pool and other parts of the campus.

The district will be hosting tours at each of the buildings on the following dates: (The public is welcome to stay for the event that follows.)

• December 11 – Wise Middle School – 5:30 p.m. (Before Grade 4/5 Holiday Concert)

• December 17 – Oak Orchard Elementary School – 5:30 p.m. (Before Family Fun Night)

• December 18 – High School – 6 p.m. (Before HS Holiday Concert)

A’Cappella Choir concert set for Dec. 15 at St. Mary’s

The Medina High School A’Cappella Choir, under the direction of Rachel Trillizio, also has been diligently practicing for one of the choir’s biggest concerts of the year.

The annual Christmas concert for the community will be held on Sunday, Dec/ 15, at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on the corner of West Avenue and Eagle Street.

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Cobblestone Museum, businesses would like speed limit reduced in Gaines hamlet

Photos by Tom Rivers: Grace Denniston, a trustee with the Cobblestone Museum, walks on the edge of Route 104 near the Cobblestone Museum during an Oct. 19 Ghost Walk at the museum.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2019 at 12:03 pm

‘Five to Revive’ designation could help bring resources to historic district

GAINES – The recent “Five to Revive” designation by the Landmark Society of Western New York should bring attention to the historic district in Gaines, where there are cobblestone and brick buildings from before 1850.

The Cobblestone Museum is hopeful the designation will galvanize local and state officials to look for ways to make the district more pedestrian friendly, while also promoting the area as a tourism destination.

The routes 98 and 104 intersection is a busy spot in Orleans County. Not only are there several businesses and a museum in the hamlet, but motorists pass through on their way to other destinations.

The museum would like to see sidewalks in the district, better signage, historic-looking street lights and a reduced speed limit.

“This area has so much history,” said Doug Farley, the museum director. “The (Five to Revive) will do nothing but help us if we promote it right.”

Mark Tillman, owner of Tillman’s Village Inn, would like to see a reduced speed limit, and more ambitious marketing plan for the historic cobblestone district. The businesses and museum do a lot of their own marketing, and would benefit from a bigger collective push about the historic district, he said.

The district is highlighted by three cobblestone buildings – a church, a residence and a schoolhouse – that were designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1993. This is the only site in Orleans County ranked as a National Historic Landmark.

This ranking means the sites have national importance, including such nearby sites as the George Eastman House and Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, and the Darwin R. Martin House and U.S.S. The Sullivans in Buffalo.

Farley said the historic district is at a main crossroads in the county, with routes 98 and 104. The museum is exploring having a visitor’s site at the district and would welcome the county as a partner in the project, Farley told county legislators last month.

The Five to Revive has been critical in bringing attention and funding to the former Holley High School (being renovated for $17 million into apartments and the village offices) and the chapel at Hillside Cemetery.

Farley said the historic district is not well marked with signs and he is concerned about the 45 mile per hour speed limit.

“The cars travel past us at a very high clip,” Farley told the county legislators.

There isn’t much parking in the hamlet for larger tractor trailers and trucks. Many park on the edge of Route 104 near the Crosby’s convenience store.

The museum will often bring out traffic cones and have road marshals during events to make it safer for pedestrians.

Carol Culhane, the former town supervisor, manages Fairhaven Treasures at a brick building owned by Ray Burke at the routes 98 and 104 intersection. She said a reduced speed limit should be a top priority.

The speed limit drops to 40 mph near the Gaines Town Hall to past the intersection with Gaines Basin Road. Culhane would like the speed limit to go down to 35 in the historic district. But she said it isn’t an easy process to petition the state Department of Transportation and get DOT approval for a reduction in speed.

“To lower the speed limit would be wonderful,” she said. “But the state is very particular. It is a very long, arduous journey to get them to change that.”

The museum buildings are spread out on Route 104, with several buildings also on Route 98, south of Ridge Road. The museum could use more parking, and the sidewalks would make it safer for the visitors on foot, Culhane said.

Farley urged the local elected officials to work with the museum, businesses and residents in the district to develop a plan to better promote the district, and make it safer for pedestrians.

“We certainly have a wonderful historic product here that we can be proud of,” he said. “The sky is really the limit if we put on our thinking cap with the resources we have.”

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Kendall’s FIRST LEGO team earns big award at UR competition

Staff Reports Posted 9 December 2019 at 9:39 am

Students created website for town libary

Provided photos

Kendall’s FIRST LEGO team, only in its second year, won the “Innovative Solution Award” on Sunday during a regional competition at the University of Rochester with 44 teams.

Team members include Madison Hults, Alek Odalovic, Dominic Dellaquila, Caleb Schumacher, Caleb Schneider, Robert Henry, Cody Johnstone, Alex King, Seth Pray and Carter Alt. The student coach is David Elliott, and adult coaches are Jackie Nielsen and Wendy O’Hearn.

The team also won the “Champions” award in November during a qualifier tournament in Churchville-Chili. That award recognizes the team that most embodies the FIRST LEGO League experience by fully embracing their Core Values of discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork and fun, while also achieving excellence in both the robot game and innovation project.

Kendall started the program last year. For this year’s competition, students were tasked with finding a problem with a local building or public space. The Kendall students first believed that there wasn’t a town library, but after completing some research, they discovered there is a small one located in the Kendall Town Hall.

They visited the library and met Eileen Grah, the librarian, along with town officials Barb Flow and Tony Cammarata. They discussed with them the importance of a library and book access for kids in Kendall, especially over school breaks. Through these discussions, they discovered that one problem the library faces is lack of exposure. Many students and their parents are unaware of the library’s existence as a resource in our community. There is no way to know what books are in the library since they do not have a public database.

Students decided that the best way to raise awareness of the library and increase patronage was to create a website for the library with a searchable database of books. The students learned how to code a website in HTML, CSS and Javascript, and they created the following website The team hopes this website will be a helpful tool in promoting literacy in Kendall.

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Knowlesville church building for sale with deconsecration service on Dec. 14

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Knowlesville United Methodist Church has been put up for sale by the congregation. The church needs a new furnace and the building isn’t handicapped accessible, prompting the decision to sell the building.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 December 2019 at 8:14 pm

KNOWLESVILLE – The decision to sell the former Knowlesville United Methodist Church, now called the United Methodist Church of Abundant Harvest, was not an easy one, but one members understand was necessary.

According to the Rev. Garry McCaffery, who just became pastor July 1, said after the furnace went out, the decision was made at a church conference the end of June to sell the building.

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Ruth Higgins, left, a lifelong member of the Knowlesville United Methodist Church, Lorraine Luckman, also a longtime member, and Kathy Leuscher prepare vegetables in the kitchen of the recreation hall which the church owns.

The church had already come to the conclusion four years ago more could be done with two congregations meeting as one, and they began holding services with the Millville location for the United Methodist Church of Abundant Harvest, the Rev. McCaffery said.

The Knowlesville church had purchased the recreation hall from Ridgeway Fire Company across the road about 25 years ago, so they are able to hold church events there.

Because the church is not handicapped accessible, and so many of their members are aging, attendance has been dwindling. The cost of making the church accessible, coupled with the need for a new furnace, made the decision to sell the most logical one, although not easy to accept for some of the longtime members.

Nancy Smith and her brother Ron Schompart are lifelong members of the church. Smith recalled growing up in the church and how active their youth group was. Its leaders included Smith’s aunt and uncle, Verona and Don Pritchard, then Butch and Charlene Seitzer and lastly, Nelson and Rose Schlegel.

She especially remembers the hay rides, the active women’s group, the Mother and Daughter, and Father and Son banquets.

“The year I was a senior, we did a skit, pretending we were the Beatles,” Smith said.

There were also dances, pot luck dinners and scavenger hunts. Later, the church started an Apple Festival, making apple butter and other homemade apple treats, an event which they still carry on.

Smith said she was upset they were selling the church, but understands it’s for the best.

Ruth Higgins, who started attending the church when she and her husband moved to Knowlesville in 1977, has been one of the most active members. She feels selling the church is the only chance the congregation has with the building.

“The church used to be the center of people’s lives, but not any more,” Higgins said. “I actually liked worshiping in the Fellowship Hall. It was kind of cozy.”

The Knowlesville congregation now has adult Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. in the Recreation Hall, then travels to Millville for worship at 11 a.m.

“Selling the church gives people the opportunity to say goodbye to one chapter of God’s work in our lives and to receive and open the next chapter,” the Rev. McCaffery said.

The church is planning a ceremony of deconsecration for the Knowlesville church building at 2 p.m. Dec. 14 in the Fellowship Hall.

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Lyndonville community decorates 76 Christmas trees at Veterans Park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 December 2019 at 10:02 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville community turned on the lights on Saturday evening for the 76 Christmas trees that are decorated at Veterans Park on Main Street, next to Johnson Creek near the dam.

The village started the tradition in 2013 with 26 trees, and it has grown each year since. Community members and organization pay $30 to decorate a tree. The fee covers the cost of the tree, materials for the sign, lead cords, replacement cords and adapters as needed. Participants provide lights and decorations.

(Click here to see a video of Santa flipping a switch to light up the trees.)

Chris Borner walks with her granddaughter to look at the trees at the park. Many of the trees are decorated as memorials or tributes to family members.

The lights were turned on at about 5 p.m. after Santa arrived and flipped a switch to light up all the trees.

Lorna Klotzbach, Don Gramlich and the Atwater family teamed up to provide horse-drawn carriage rides.

Claire, 4, of Lyndonville pets a sheep as part of a petting zoo that also included goats and a donkey.

There were many activities throughout the day, including a basket raffle, craft sale, beef on weck, caroling, a community breakfast and Christmas Choir LaLaPalooza.

Lyndonville Lions Club members served up hot dogs. Roy Holland is at left and John Belson, the Lyndonville mayor, is working the grill.

Here are a few more photos of the trees, which will be lighted up until after Jan. 1.

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