GCASA planning 25-bed women’s residence in Albion

Posted 3 March 2021 at 7:17 pm

Organization moves ahead with expanded services, key capital projects

By Mike Pettinella, GCASA Publicist

ALBION – The Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is excited about the construction of a 25-bed women’s residence to be located in Albion.

John Bennett, GCASA executive director, said the agency is hoping to have its state Department of Health contract within weeks, with construction bids to go out in November.

“Ten of the units will have the capacity to house women with children,” Bennett said. “It’s sorely needed as there aren’t that many programs around that offer services to women and their pre-school age children, which is a significant barrier for women to receive the intensive-type treatment they may need for addiction.”

He said that there are only two programs west of Albany that assist women and children in this way.

“Our percentage of female population has gone up over the years. I think when we wrote the grant it had gone up over 12 percent in a three- or four-year period – up to the mid- or high-30’s,” he advised.

Editor’s Note: Mayor Eileen Banker said the apartments will be built close to the Orleans Community Health site east of the village near Butts Road.

Return to ‘in-person’ status

As more people get vaccinated and, hopefully, as the Covid-19 infection rate continues to subside, Bennett is increasingly optimistic that all of the agency’s services soon will be returning to “in-person” status.

“The Recovery Station (on Clinton Street Road in Batavia) is open to the public two days a week and our residential program is fully open because we had limited beds for a while,” Bennett said. “We’re starting to do more in-person counseling and actually look to resume in-person group (sessions) by springtime.”

Bennett also mentioned that transportation of clients is starting to pick up and, “as always, our peer recovery advocates are available at all times to help those in need.”

GCASA has expanded its programming through the awarding of grants and is looking forward to embarking upon significant capital projects to provide essential services.

Making room for a detox center

One of the major projects slated for the Genesee County campus on East Main Street is the construction of a 20-bed detoxification facility.

“Work has finally started on the new detox center which will be attached to the existing Atwater Home residential building. This project will have 16 detox beds and four swing beds for a total of 20 beds,” Bennett offered. “The four swing beds can be used as transition beds from detox to another residential setting and/or as overflow for Atwater.”

Bennett said the detox center originally was scheduled to open in December of this year but in all likelihood won’t open until the beginning of 2022.

Supportive living gets a boost

Last month, it was announced that GCASA will receive $250,000 from the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative for an additional 10 units (beds) to go toward operating costs of its supportive living program. This means that the agency will have 15 units in Genesee County to go along with its two units in Orleans County.

ESSHI funds are earmarked for operation of the program, Bennett said.

“The home that we are renovating for this is 99 percent completed and ready to be used for the ESSHI grant,” Bennett said. “This five apartment unit will become permanent housing for individuals who have substance use disorder in the family. It can be a family member who has SUD or the individual who needs housing.”

Bennett underscored the demand for suitable housing for the population that is served by GCASA.

“Having adequate housing, jobs, daycare, food and balanced sober recreational activities can have a huge impact on the outcomes for persons and families dealing with SUD,” he explained. “By building more permanent housing, GCASA is addressing the social determinants of health that can make a difference in person’s recovery.”

Renovations at The Recovery Station

Bennett said GCASA has received several bids to complete the Phase II renovations of The Recovery Station (the old Bohn’s Restaurant). This project will create office space for eight employees of the Genesee Prevention Education department – who will relocate from the East Main Street office — as well as a laundry room, new bathroom and small meeting room.

“A final Phase III project for The Recovery Station will be completed at a future date and will include rebuilding the commercial kitchen, creating storage and two small additional offices,” he said. “This has been an amazing reuse of an old commercial building.”

Another project focuses on renovation of the kitchen space at GCASA’s childcare center on Harvester Avenue, said Bennett, adding that childcare will resume within the month or as soon as the renovations are complete.

Hotline is there in a crisis situation

He mentioned the GCASA peer hotline is available “24/7 for people in crises.” Calls coming into 585-815-1800 will trigger response from the agency’s trained peer recovery advocates.

In closing, he said that the addition of these new programs and projects has increased the organization’s size by close to 40 percent over the past five years.

“All the credit goes to our staff, who have tirelessly worked through this pandemic to serve our communities,” Bennett said, noting that most GCASA employees have been vaccinated.

Upscale Overstock gets a boost in move to downtown Albion

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Lynn Palmer, owner of Upscale Overstock, displays some of sports clothing and memorabilia she has in her store in Albion.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 2 March 2021 at 12:15 pm

Upscale Overstock at 50 North Main St. offers a selection of clothing from newborn to extra large men’s. Here, owner Lynn Palmer holds a toddler’s party dress.

ALBION – When Lynn Palmer decided to open her own business, one of the first things she did was enroll in the Microenterprise Assistance Program run by the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

She graduated from the 10-week class for small business owners in 2019 and opened Upscale Overstock in Medina at the end of the year in 2019.

Palmer was just getting her feet on the ground when the pandemic last March and she was forced to close her doors to the public. She continued to promote the store’s merchandise through a Facebook page and people could pick up the items from the front window.

The store was able to reopen for in-store sales in late May when the state eased some of the Covid restrictions. One of her most popular items early pandemic were masks made by her daughter Samantha.

She shifted to the Albion location at 50 North Main St. on Jan. 18 and Palmer said the prominent spot on Main Street has been good for her business.

The store offers all new merchandise of every kind, including men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, kitchen items and small appliances, professional sports clothing and memorabilia, toys, games, gift items and bed and bath items, including linens.

Upscale Overstock sells general merchandise that was often in the big box stores. When those stores look to change merchandise and switch to a new season, overstock stores like Palmer’s often acquire the items. They are still new, but haven’t been used.

She tends to receive a shipment each week with one or two pallets of overstock items that are all new merchandise.

In addition, Palmer also displays a section of craft items made by her daughter, which include handmade tee shirts, custom-made signs, string art and adult’s and children’s masks.

Palmer plans to feature a fun promotion every month, with March’s being a pot of gold hidden somewhere in the merchandise. The first person to find the item gets 10 percent off their order.

The store is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Palmer also works at Walmart but she said it is her goal to some day be able to spend all her time in her own business.

Information is available on the Upscale Overstock Facebook page or by calling (585) 283-4132.

Albion will put in 4-way stop at Linwood, Ingersoll

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 March 2021 at 10:48 am

ALBION – The Village Board last week putting in a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Ingersoll Street and Linwood Avenue. There is currently a stop sign going north-south at the intersection.

Soon there will be stop signs going east-west at the intersection north of the Erie Canal on the east side of the village.

The Village Board had a public hearing last Wednesday on the new four-way stop. Mayor Eileen Banker said some residents in that neighborhood have complaints that traffic is too fast in that area.

“This will slow people down,” she said.

In other matters during the meeting last week:

• The Village Board received a letter from the American Legion asking if there would be a Memorial Day parade this year. Last year’s parade and community observance was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The village is waiting to see if the restrictions will be further eased by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Department of Health.

“I’d hate to not have it,” Banker said about the parade. “We’re waiting on the governor. That’s what it’s come down to right now.”

• Adam Rush, chief operator of Albion’s water plant, said the village will be seeking bids to replace a 1 million gallon water tank on Route 98, near Watt Farms Country Market in the Town of Gaines. The current tank is about 60 years old.

Engineers said it should be removed and replaced with a new concrete tank. Rush said the estimates are for $1.2 million to replace the old tank with a new one.

A state grant is expected to help with some of the costs of the project.

• Village Clerk/Treasurer Linda Babcock notified the board by letter she is eligible to retire in the fiscal year. She has served in the position since 2007 and has worked for the village since 1986. She said she expects to retire in April 2022.

Albion Merchants want to bring farmers market to downtown Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 March 2021 at 9:07 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: Dennis Stymus looks over his display of vegetables on Oct. 27, 2014 at the former Orleans County Farmers Market, which was located at the Save-A-Lot parking lot. That market was in operation for 10 years before closing in 2014.

ALBION – The Albion Merchants Association is proposing to bring a farmers market back to Albion.

A market operated on Saturdays at the Save-A-Lot parking lot on Route 31 until 2014. The Merchants Association wants to bring the market to downtown Albion on Sundays.

The Merchants Association filed a special events permit with the village, seeking to run a farmers market on Sundays from June 13 to Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Merchants want to use the village-owned lot at 19 North Main Street. This is the space next to the First Presbyterian Church.

In the application, the Merchants said the market would include vendor tents, food trucks and possibly music.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Mayor Eileen Banker said during last week’s Village Board meeting. “I would encourage that.”

The board wants to check with the Presbyterian Church to see if the congregation has concerns about any music from the market and possibly set a timeframe for when there shouldn’t be music at the market so it doesn’t interfere with the church service.

The village also wants to hear from the church leaders if the parking lot is used by the congregation on Sundays.

Interested vendors can email for more information.

Company in Albion will be featured on Shark Tank tonight

Posted 26 February 2021 at 12:35 pm

Saint-Gobain ADFORS will tout the product, FlexScreen

Press Release, Saint-Gobain ADFORS

Photo courtesy of Saint-Gobain ADFORS: The FlexScreen product is manufactured by Saint-Gobain ADFORS. The company, which is headquartered in Grand Island, does not currently make the product at its Albion location on Route 31.

ALBION – Saint-Gobain ADFORS will be featured on tonight’s episode of Shark Tank, airing on ABC at 8 p.m.

The episode is part of the Shark Tank Update segment on FlexScreen, which originally was featured on the Shark Tank’s Episode 10 in Season 11. Since this initial appearance, Saint-Gobain ADFORS has partnered with FlexScreen to exclusively sell FlexScreen products within the retail and dotcom channels.

FlexScreen, the ‘Shark Tank’ winning industry disruptor, is innovative in design, strength, and ease. Built with high-performance spring steel and damage-resistant frames, FlexScreen offers residential and commercial consumers the most efficient and effective method for installing window screens.

Saint-Gobain ADFORS is headquartered in Grand Island, with a manufacturing facilty located in Albion NY and is the industry leader in retail for insect screen.

The Shark Tank episode can be watched the following day streaming at and on Hulu.

About Saint-Gobain ADFORS

Saint-Gobain ADFORS is a division of the Saint-Gobain Group that is focused on the construction and industrial markets. ADFORS offers solutions based on a complete range of textile and coating technologies using fiberglass yarns, synthetic fibers, and natural fibers.

ADFORS is the reliable and innovative global leader in technical textiles, offering the most adapted solutions. The Saint-Gobain Group is established in 66 countries and is the market leader in each of its core businesses.

Albion police chief to retire on March 31

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2021 at 1:36 pm

Roland Nenni has led Albion PD for nearly 10 years

Photos by Tom Rivers: Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni speaks during a press conference on Dec. 11, 2020 with District Attorney Joe Cardone when they announced arson and reckless endangerment charges against an Albion resident after homemade fireworks badly damaged three houses in the village.

ALBION – Roland Nenni, Albion police chief for nearly 10 years, will retire on March 31 after working in local law enforcement for 29 years.

Nenni started his career in Holley in 1992 and joined the Albion Police Department in 1994. He also has served as the Holley police chief about five years in an intermunicipal between Albion and Holley. Albion will continue to provide leadership for the Holley PD until June 1.

Nenni also has served as the SWAT commander for Orleans County and teaches at the Rural Police Academy at GCC.

“I gave it everything I had and I’m proud of that,” Nenni said today. “I took the job very seriously.”

The Albion Village Board accepted his resignation letter on Wednesday evening. Mayor Eileen Banker praised Nenni for his commitment to the department. “He gave the job 150 percent,” she said.

Nenni pushed for community policing, working with about five different neighborhood watch groups in the village and co-leading the annual National Night Out at Bullard Park. That event drew about 1,000 people for games and activities with local law enforcement officers and agencies.

He pushed for close connections with the community before that was a mandate in police reform from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Certain officials in government have given us a black eye and insisted on us doing things we’ve already been doing,” Nenni said.

Nenni is a Holley resident and former Holley fire chief. He said the experience as fire chief proved to an asset in incident command as police chief.

In his role as Albion police chief he pushed the department of 13 full-time officers (which includes the chief’s position) to be trained and prepared to respond to many different calls, including medical and mental health.

Albion and Holley Police Chief Roland Nenni, left, and Albion Lt. David Mogle helped direct traffic during the Flag Day parade in Holley that passed through the intersection of routes 31 and 237. They are shown on June 14, 2019. Mogle is the second-in-command of the Albion PD.

The Albion and Holley patrol cars all have Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) because Nenni said the officers are often the first on the scene in medical emergencies and the AEDs can save someone in cardiac arrest.

The police chief secured grant funding for the AEDs. He also was successful getting grants for traffic enforcement, child car seats, pedestrian crossing safety and awareness, and other public safety initiatives. He has been recognized for his work by AAA.

The Albion PD on Oct. 1, 2016 also was the first local police department in Orleans County to use body cameras on all officers.

Nenni said he tried to empower the Albion officers, with each being a trainer in a different aspect of police work. All were trained to field training officers.

He has worked closely with the Albion school district to have a school resource officer and to quickly respond to any threats at the district.

Nenni has a reputation for being very detailed and writing lengthy event action plans, whether for local festivals, parades, food distributions and even 5Ks races.

“I’ve never been a wing it guy,” he said. “I like to be prepared for when the ‘what ifs’ happen.”

The police chief, 49, said he is proud of the officers. In Albion, he hired all but two who are currently in the department.

“The sign of an outstanding leader is the performance of the people,” he said. “We’ve had really great officers.”

In retirement, Nenni said he would like to teach more at the Rural Police Academy.

‘Super cute’ Valentine’s story goes viral

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2021 at 1:33 pm

Families thrilled heartwarming article has lifted people’s spirits during pandemic

Photos by Tom Rivers: Cooper Traxler, 6, gives his date Natalee Olsen a ride in a Power Wheels toy car at the McDonald’s drive-through on Sunday for Valentine’s Day. Lt. Steve Fox of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office provided an escort while they were driving to keep them safe in the loop around the store.

ALBION – The article on the Orleans Hub on Valentine’s Day about the two 6-year-olds hitting the drive-through at McDonald’s in a toy car has gone viral, and been featured by many news sites in Western New York and beyond. The Fox News station in New York City put together this article today (click here) and is putting it on their national platforms.

The parents of Cooper Traxler and Natalee Olsen reached out to the Orleans Hub about the special Valentine’s Day planned for the two kids who became best friends in kindergarten.

The Traxlers appreciated someone donating a Power Wheels car after Cooper’s mom Jamie posted on Facebook that he wanted to take his date through the drive-through and order their meal like adults. The car was left in Cooper’s dad’s truck with a note from a “Hopeless Romantic.”

The families asked the Sheriff’s Office to provide an escort for Cooper and Natalee to make sure they were safe in the drive-through. Deputy Jeff Cole and his K-9 Otto rode in front of the two in their toy car with Lt. Steve Fox behind.

After Cooper and Natalee made a loop around the McDonald’s in the toy car, they went inside to eat their cheeseburger Happy Meals. Cooper decorated a table and had flowers and a gift basket for Natalee.

“I just thought that with all the negativity going on, this story would be truly heartwarming and cute to cover,” Mrs. Traxler said.

Cooper Traxler and Natalee Olsen settle in their decorated booth at McDonald’s. Cooper wants to be a K-9 handler and wears a jacket courtesy of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office from a couple years ago when he met K9 Otto and handler Jeff Cole while Cooper was in preschool. Cooper had on a dress shirt with a tie under the jacket.

Mrs. Traxler is amazed how fast the story spread with more than 1,200 shares on the Orleans Hub Facebook and more than 1,600 likes.

“We all need to see heartwarming events like this after the year that we had,” Mrs. Traxler said today. “That something so innocent and pure just pulls on the heart strings. Seeing their story puts a smile on everyone’s face. It is not something you see everyday.”

She and her family are grateful the story has connected with so many people.

“Let this story soar to bring joy, love and smiles to everyone!” she said.

Ciara Olsen, Natalee’s mom, said she has heard from many in the community how the Valentine’s Day date was “super cute” with the two kids dressed up in fancy clothes once they were inside McDonald’s.

“I didn’t expect it to be like this,” Mrs. Olsen said about the article’s popularity. “Usually what we read in the news isn’t positive. But this is bringing people together.”

Super Bowl champ has Albion roots

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2021 at 8:10 pm

Matt Taylor is assistant video director for Tampa Bay Bucs

Photos courtesy of Matt Taylor: Matt Taylor, a 1996 Albion graduate, holds the Lombardi trophy after Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl, 31-9, over the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7.

ALBION – Matt Taylor dreamed of being in the NFL when he was a kid and in college. The 1996 Albion grad played for the Albion Purple Eagles and was a 6-foot, 230-pound defensive lineman for Ithaca College.

Taylor, 43, earned a degree in sports management at Ithaca. His path to the NFL wasn’t for his exploits on the field. He excelled in video, in filming practices and games and making those images available to coaches and players.

Taylor is the assistant video director for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has worked about 20 years in professional football. The Buccaneers victory on Feb. 7 – 31-9 over the Kansas City Chiefs – earned Taylor his first Super Bowl ring. It has been a whirlwind week since then, celebrating the victory, including a boat parade on Feb. 10 on the Hillsborough River near downtown Tampa.

“How many people from Albion can say they won the Super Bowl?” Taylor said this afternoon in a phone interview.

The Super Bowl title culminated six intense months of 70-80 hour weeks for Taylor. He learned that work ethic growing up on an apple farm on Zig Zag Road. His father Richard Taylor is now retired as a fruit grower. Taylor grew up with his mother Joanne and his siblings, Tracy, Mark and Chris.

Taylor said the technology has changed so much in his two decades in the business with the switch from beta tapes to digital. That has made it easier to share the video to many people. Before coaches had to take turns watching a tape. The images are easier to store and characterize with 800 fields to enter data – it could be plays on different downs and distances to go to a first down, who made tackles, catches and other key plays.

Matt Taylor is ecstatic with defensive lineman Will Gholston while celebrating the Super Bowl win.

For the Super Bowl game, the Bucs coaches wanted to see plays of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and what he did when he scrambled to the right and to the left.

Taylor and the team of the four full-time staff in video put together video for the coaches and players. The teams all submit game video to the NFL and each team has access.

“It’s completely different from what you see on an NFL game,” Taylor said.

The teams record two main views for the games – the All-22  angle and the end zone view. The All-22 is from up high and shows all 22 players on the field. The end zone angle is down low, and tends to focus on the lineman and the tight ends.

Taylor got his start in video for the Buffalo Destroyers of the Arena Football League in 1999. It was after his junior year in college and he worked as an intern for the Destroyers in the summer, juggling work on the farm after college ended for the semester.

Taylor videotaped practices for the Destroyers. He was with them for four seasons.

Taylor wanted to get into the NFL. He sent his resume to the Bills and was interviewed on Sept. 11, 2001, the day of the terrorist attacks. Taylor offered to volunteer for free to help the Bills.

“I just wanted to get my foot in the door,” he said.

Halfway through the season he was called by Henry Kunttu, the video and film director for the Bills. Taylor was tasked with filming some of the practices. There weren’t any full-time positions open with the Bills.

After the season, Taylor sent resumes all over the NFL. The Miami Dolphins called and gave Taylor a job after a recommendation from the highly regarded Kunttu, who is now retired.

Matt Taylor celebrates on the field after the game with cornerback coach Kevin Ross. Taylor said Ross viewed signing Tom Brady as quarterback as the key to getting the team to the Super Bowl.

Taylor was with Miami for the full season, a team with the explosive Ricky Williams at running back and Jason Taylor on the defensive line.

The following year, he took a position with the Chicago Bears in a seasonal position. Then he worked for NFL Europe in Germany with the Cologne Centurions.

Matt Taylor holds his daughter Josie during the boat parade to celebrate the Super Bowl victory.

In 2005, the Dolphins reached out to him for a full-time job in video. New coach, Nick Saban, wanted the team to upgrade its video. Taylor would stay with the team for 10 years as a video assistant.

He left in 2016 to work for a company in Massachusetts that provides the video software for most of the NFL teams and many other professional and college teams. That job was a chance to be near his wife Lindsay’s family. The couple has three children – Wesley, Clayton and Josie.

In the job with the software company, Taylor was assisting teams throughout the league in using the video. The Tampa Bay Bucs let him know they needed an assistant video director. They offered the position to Taylor and he accepted.

“I have always enjoyed working as part of a team,” Taylor said. “The opportunity presented itself to get back into the NFL.”

He just finished his fourth season with the Bucs. The pace at work picks up again soon with the upcoming scouting combine, free agent market and then OTAs in the spring.

It is a high-pressure business with long hours. But Taylor said he is thrilled to be a part of it.

“You get to go to football practice and games for your job,” he said. “You really can’t beat that.”

Taylor urged people looking to get into the NFL or landing their dream job to not shy away from entry-level positions that often have little or no pay with a grueling schedule.

“It’s like anything, you have got to put your nose down and work at it,” he said about his career in the NFL. “You have to always aim to put your best foot forward.”

Matt Taylor, back left, and the video staff celebrate in the locker room after the Buccaneers upset the Kansas City Chiefs in convincing fashion in the Super Bowl.

6-year-olds share special Valentine’s Day date

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2021 at 3:23 pm

Cooper Traxler takes his date on a ride at the McDonald’s drive-through with his Power Wheels toy car

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Cooper Traxler (right), 6, takes his Valentine’s date Natalee Olsen, 6, through the drive-through at the Albion McDonald’s. They received an escort from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Steve Fox is in back in the patrol vehicle.

The two met last year in kindergarten in Albion in Mrs. Auricchio’s class. They became best friends. They are in Mrs. Uderitz’s first grade class together this year, but they are on opposite days with students having in-person classes two days a week. They only see each other on Wednesdays, but that’s through Google Meet with their other classmates.

This year valentines weren’t passed out in class. Cooper wanted Natalee to be his valentine. The two families met last Thursday at Dustin’s Pizzeria in Holley and Cooper asked Natalee to be his valentine. He wanted to take her through the drive-through at McDonald’s.

The parents – Josh and Jamie Traxler, and Ciara and Tom Olsen – worked out the details for the special date, which included a visit from Otto, the K-9 with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and his handler, Deputy Jeff Cole. Cooper wants to be a K-9 handler when he’s an adult.

Cooper Traxler and Natalee Olsen ride in style in a Power Wheels Dune Extreme. Cooper wanted to drive his date through the drive-through, just like an adult.

An anonymous person dropped off the Power Wheels toy car in Cooper’s dad’s truck after Cooper’s mom shared a few days ago about the Valentine’s Day date planned for today. Jamie Traxler said her son wanted to drive Natalee himself but didn’t have one of the big toy cars.

A message on the toy car left in Mr. Traxler’s truck said it was sent from a “Hopeless Romantic.”

Cooper and Natalee stop at the drive-through window to pick up their cheeseburger Happy Meals.

The two friends ride together along the driveway circle at McDonald’s. (Click here to see a short video of them riding together.)

After they parked the Power Wheels car, Cooper and Natalee went inside McDonald’s to enjoy their Happy Meals. They both dressed up for the occasion.

Knights of Columbus donates $1,200 to Community Kitchen

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2021 at 10:36 am

Provided photo

ALBION – Greg Dugan, grand knight for the Knights of Columbus in Albion, presents a $1,200 check to Faith Smith for the Community Kitchen at Christ Church in Albion. Smith is the director of the kitchen at 26 South Main St. It is open Fridays from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and currently serves to-go meals and extra bags of food, personal care products and laundry care items.

The Knights raised the funds through a chicken and biscuits dinner on Jan. 16, a first-time fundraiser for the Knights to assist the Community Kitchen.

“A chicken and biscuits dinner was something no one had done recently,” Smith said.

Guy Warren from Kent was the chef and prepared the dinner.

The Knights also do a food collection every year. This year they collected 1,160 pounds of food and $575 for the kitchen.

“The Knights of Columbus Albion Council #1330 has always been a major supporter of the Community Kitchen since I have been the director,” Smith said. “The Community Kitchen is so thankful for their continued help and support!”

Albion school district joins class-action lawsuit against JUUL, maker of vaping products

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2021 at 12:42 pm

ALBION – The Albion Board of Education voted on Monday to join hundreds of other school districts around the country in a class-action lawsuit against  JUUL, which makes and markets vaping products.

Albion won’t have to spend any money on lawyers as part of the lawsuit that is currently pending in the Northern District of California.

Plaintiffs are alleging JUUL Labs, the largest manufacturer of vaping products in the world, fraudulently and intentionally marketed its products to children through social media, online advertising and even television networks for children.

“It’s no risk to the district and only a gain for our students if we do win,” Derek Vallese, the Albion business administrator, told the Board of Education on Monday evening.

Albion and the other school districts could receive part of a monetary award to recoup costs of any vaping-related issues on campus. Some districts are also asking for additional damages to compensate for future expenses, according to a memorandum to the district from the Bond Schoeneck & King lawfirm.

An example of a cost incurred by a district is installing vape detectors in every district bathroom or hiring additional staff to supervise potential vaping areas on campus.

“In addition, we anticipate that school districts will likely need to hire additional counselors to deal with the well-documented social and emotional issues associated with nicotine addiction,” Bond Schoeneck & King said. “Finally, districts may need to incorporate educational programs about the harms of vaping and are seeking monetary damages in the lawsuit to cover the cost of that endeavor.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking a court order to stop JUUL from continuing to manufacture, market and sell their “flavor pods” that are particularly attractive to children.

JUUL has marketed its products to make children believe vaping and the products weren’t harmful. But the lawsuits says the e-cigarettes could contain 10 times the amount of nicotine a as traditional cigarette.

The company also targeted children with the products with flavors such as fruit medley, crème brulee and mango.

Albion’s only cost in the lawsuit could be having about 10 hours of staff time to prepare documents and information for the legal team, according to the memorandum from the Bond Schoeneck & King lawfirm.

The Frantz Law Group in California is the lead firm in the lawsuit. The lawfirm normally receives 40 percent of a plaintiff’s recovery, but has agreed to reduce that to 20 percent if the case is resolved in the first year and 25 percent if resolved after a year.

Bond Schoeneck & King will serve as co-counsel the Frantz Law Group and will act as a liaison between Albion and Frantz.

Albion school business administrator leaving for job at Victor

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 February 2021 at 11:25 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Derek Vallese, the business administrator for Albion Central School, goes over the school district’s $35.5 million budget during a meeting on April 1, 2019. Vallese came to Albion after working as treasurer for Newfane Central School.

ALBION — The school district is losing another administrator. Derek Vallese is leaving Albion next Friday to take a job as assistant superintendent at Victor Central School. Victor’s $78.2 million budget for 2020-21 is more than double the $36.8 million at Albion.

Vallese has worked as Albion as the business administrator for about two years. He came to Albion after being the treasurer at Newfane Central School.

Vallese also was the district clerk at Albion, and needed to oversee last year’s election, which was much more complicated due to Covid-19 restrictions. The state required school districts to hold the elections and budget votes entirely by mail.

Vallese was praised the Board of Education on Monday for his work at Albion. Mickey Edwards, who started as the district superintendent on Monday, said he will begin the process of filling the vacancy.

Vallese said the district’s annual budget work has started and he will be available to help by phone if Albion needs some assistance in the coming months. The budget goes to a public vote in May.

Vallese said he has enjoyed working at Albion.

“Thank you Albion Central School District for accepting me as one of your own,” he said. “It has been a great two years with the district, and I have learned so much. This is an amazing district and an amazing community, and I will miss everyone.”

Albion will also need to fill other positions on the administrative team. Mary Leto, the assistant superintendent for instruction, informed the district last month that she will retire, effective June 30.

The district also has interim elementary school principal this year after Rachel Curtin left the position after seven years to work as principal of the Chautauqua Lake Elementary School in Mayville. That is near her hometown of Ripley.

Maura Pierce came out of retirement to serve as interim principal this school year at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School.

Mickey Edwards starts today as Albion school district superintendent

Staff Reports Posted 1 February 2021 at 8:50 am

Photo from Albion Central School: Mickey Edwards is pictured in the district office with a painting of the high school. Edwards starts today as Albion school superintendent.

ALBION – Today is the first day for Mickey Edwards as Albion’s new district superintendent. Edwards, an Albion graduate, rejoins the district after serving as superintendent at Byron-Bergen Central School.

Edwards said he plans to be very busy the next 90 days, getting reconnected to district stakeholders.

“I want to connect with community members and organizations to hear what people are proud of and listen to any concerns,” Edwards said.

While he never really left Albion – all three of his children graduated from the district and he lives in Kent – Edwards emphasized the importance of communication, not just with the school, but with the community at large.

“I want Albion to know I am available to them,” Edwards said. “I want to be out and involved and part of the team.”

After graduating from Albion, Edwards spent four years active duty in the United States Marine Corps before beginning his career as an art teacher at Albion. He then served as dean of students in the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School, assistant principal at Carl I. Bergerson Middle School, and a principal at Charles D’Amico High School.

“This is where it all started,” Edwards said. “I have so many great memories of my childhood and of Albion, which is one of the reasons I am so excited and wanted to come home.”

After working at Albion, he was the Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction at Orleans-Niagara BOCES before gaining six years of experience as a superintendent. In 2014 he was appointed as the superintendent at Wyoming Central School District. He was there two years before being hired in 2016 as superintendent at Byron-Bergen Central School.

“My hope is to bring my experiences, skills and network of contacts to the district and help build upon our mission of Achievement, Character and Success for Life,” Edwards said. “I look forward to being a part of the team and serving our community together.”

The Villages of Orleans nursing home hit with $66K federal fine

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 January 2021 at 7:15 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: The flag is lowered in this photo from May at The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion, out of respect for the victims of Covid-19.

ALBION – A nursing home in Albion where 30 residents have passed away due to Covid-19 has been hit with a $66,632 fine for Covid violations.

The fine is the largest penalty for a nursing home in New York State for Covid violations, according to an article in The Buffalo News.

The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center was fined $20,000 in September by the state Department of Health for violations cited in a May 9 state inspection of the facility.

The new fine from the federal government is based on that earlier state inspection. DOH inspectors on May 9 said facility staff weren’t following proper infection prevention and control measures. One example included certified nursing aides and licensed practical nurses entering and exiting a room of a person with Covid, and then entering rooms of other residents without Covid.

The staff “passed breakfast trays, assisted with the residents’ meals and provided hands on care without wearing PPE and completing proper hand hygiene,” according to the DOH report.

The DOH said personal protective equipment wasn’t readily available to staff. Several employees told DOH there wasn’t adequate PPE for workers.

The Department of Health also reported that many nursing home employees, including agency staff, did not seem educated on infection control policies, standard/droplet precautions and Covid-19.

The Villages has had 93 of its residents in the 120-bed facility test positive for Covid. The Villages hasn’t experienced any deaths among residents since May due to Covid.

The nursing home is one of 20 in the state under investigation by the Attorney General Tish James. She released a report last week about nursing homes and their response during the pandemic. The AG said many nursing homes weren’t prepared to protect residents from Covid-19.

The AG also faulted the state for underreporting the deaths of nursing homes residents from Covid by as much as 50 percent.

Food distributions will continue in February

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 January 2021 at 10:09 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Cole Glover carries a box of food to a vehicle in line this morning at a food distribution in Albion. About 300 boxes of food were given out from the parking lot at the Main Street Store, a thrift store at 113 South Main St.

Volunteers put boxes of food in cars and trucks on a cold morning with temperatures in the low teens.

The food distributions will continue in February.

Greg Gilman, maintenance supervisor at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, assisted with the food distribution this morning. For the first time, the food included eggs and bags of brown rice.

About 300 boxes of food were given away this morning in the “Families Food Box Program” which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Susie Miller, assistant director of the Office for the Aging, grabs three dozen of eggs for one of the vehicles in line.

The schedule for February includes:

  • February 5th – Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Fairgrounds, 12690 NYS Route 31, Albion, NY 14411-entrance is on Taylor Hill Road. The line of cars needs to form south on Taylor Hill Road. There will be no entrance on Route 31.
  • February 12th – Community Action Store, 113 South Main Street, Albion 14411
  • February 19th – Medina Central School District, 1 Mustang Drive, Medina- Line will start off Oak Orchard Road, no entrance off of Route 31.
  • February 26th – Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H Fairgrounds, 12690 NYS Route 31, Albion, NY 14411-entrance is on Taylor Hill Road. The line of cars needs to form south on Taylor Hill Road. There will be no entrance on Route 31.

All start times are approximately 8:30 a.m. If the Foodlink truck is there and unloaded it may start at 8 a.m.

Organizers ask that people not line up before 8 a.m. due to possible winter weather conditions.  “We remind people not to block driveways,” said Melissa Blanar, director of the Office for the Aging, which helps organize the events. “We want to thank all the volunteers. Without them there would be no events. Please be patient and kind.”