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Group wants to name Route 31 in Albion for Charles W. Howard, founder of Santa Claus School

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2019 at 10:13 am

This photo shows Charles W. Howard with a Santa at Christmas Park in Albion. Howard operated the Park and a school for Santa Claus in Albion until his death on May 1, 1966.

ALBION – A group that has been doing projects in Albion to honor the life of Charles W. Howard, the founder of a Santa Claus School, wants to name Route 31 in Albion in honor of Howard.

The Albion Betterment Committee would like there to be signs at each end of Route 31 in the Town of Albion, declaring that section to be in honor of Howard, who established the school in 1937 and ran it until his death in 1966. The school was located at the corner of Phipps Road and Route 31. (The school has been moved to Midland, Michigan, and still bears Charles Howard’s name.)

The Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday will vote whether to support the effort. The Legislature has a resolution on the agenda for the 4:30 meeting, which is in the new addition of the County Administration Building.

The resolution states:

“WHEREAS, Mr. Charles W. Howard was a resident of the Town of Albion for his entire life; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Howard was proud of his home town, county and country; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Howard brought national acclaim to himself and his home town by establishing the world’s first Santa Claus School; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Howard portrayed Santa Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for 18 years;

WHEREAS, Mr. Howard passed away in 1966 without receiving from his local neighbors the proper recognition he deserved; and

WHEREAS, the Albion Betterment Committee (a not-for-profit charitable organization which was formed in 2003 with the intent to promote the area’s natural assets and to set the area apart from every other community in the country) is asking support to dedicate a portion of the NYS Route 31 in Memory of Charles W. Howard; now bet it

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Albion Betterment Committee had this sign honoring Charles Howard erected in 2015. It is on Route 98, on property owned by Gil and Donna Walcott, north of Route 31A.

RESOLVED, that the Orleans County Legislature supports the Albion Betterment Committee in their request from the State of New York to have a portion of State Route 31 – when entering the Town of Albion (Northwest corner of Transit Road from the east to Southeast corner of Wood Road from the west) to be dedicated in Charles W. Howard’s name; and be it


The Betterment Committee in recent years has put up a “Believe” in downtown Albion, replaced the Santa Claus School sign at Howard’s property (now owned by Robin and Jill Stinson), and erected a welcome sign on Route 98 that declares Albion is the home of Howard, founder of the Santa Claus School. That sign includes a cutout of Howard’s likeness in a Santa suit.

The Betterment Committee has also raised more than $30,000 for a monument in downtown Albion for Howard. The group also has been a regular participant in the Strawberry Festival Parade with a Santa and Mrs. Claus waving to the crowd.

This wouldn’t be the first time in Orleans County a state road was named in honor of people. Route 98 in Genesee and Orleans counties in 2014 was named the Genesee and Orleans Veterans Memorial Highway. A brown sign with white letters was unveiled on May 22, 2014. That sign is by the Orleans County Marine Park in Point Breeze. Click here to see photos of the sign unveiling.

The state also approved naming Route 104 in Orleans County as the “American Legion Memorial Highway in Orleans County.”

The Albion Rotary Club last year worked with artist Stacey Kirby to have a 24-foot-long mural of Charles Howard as Santa in a sleigh over downtown Albion.

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Hoag Library will stay open longer today as a cooling station

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 July 2019 at 9:24 am

ALBION – Hoag Library in Albion today will stay open until 8 p.m., instead of the usual 5 p.m. closing time on Fridays.

The library is staying open longer to serve as a cooling station due to the excessive heat warning.

On Saturday, the library will be open its regular hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An Excessive Heating Warning is in effect from noon today until 6 p.m. Saturday for Orleans, Niagara, Monroe, Wayne, northern Cayuga, Livingston and Ontario counties.

The high temperature today and Saturday will reach 92, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo. The heat index values could be as high as 105 to 108.

“Heat illnesses likely for those spending prolonged periods outdoors or in non-air conditioned locations,” the Weather Service said. “Prolonged heat is most dangerous for young children and the elderly. Vehicle interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes. Never leave children, pets or the elderly unattended in parked vehicles. Temperatures will remain very warm and muggy Friday night, preventing non-air conditioned buildings from cooling off.”

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Major Leaguer has advice for kids to become better players and people

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 July 2019 at 9:10 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Chris Hammond, a retired Major League baseball player, poses for a photo with three brothers from Kendall: Louie, Sam and Jonny Conte.

They met with Hammond on Wednesday evening at North Point Chapel in Albion. The brothers are participating in a week-long baseball camp put on by North Point and NextLVL Sports Institute.

About 50 kids are practicing baseball and softball drills at the Barre Town Park with instructors from NextLVL Sports Institute in Georgia.

Chris Hammond signs a baseball for Aaron Sugar of Albion.

Hammond pitched 14 seasons in the big leagues with the Reds, Marlins, Red Sox, Braves, Yankees, A’s and Padres. He had his best season in 2002 with a 0.95 ERA with the Braves. He is only the third pitcher in the history of the Major Leagues to maintain an ERA under 1.00 for a full season.

Hammond shared his concerns about playing baseball year-round and the demands and costs of travel baseball. He only played baseball three months a year when he was a kid.

He thinks parents put too much pressure on some kids to be on a high-performance track, rather than playing for fun with friends.

Hammond also urged people to be “Christ followers” and not just “church-goers.” He said families and communities need more people who are following Jesus Christ.

Mike Outten, pastor of North Point Chapel, thanked Hammond and about 10 people from NextLVL Sports Institute for spending time in Albion. Outten said the church is committed to reaching youth in the community.

Hammond will lead drills at the sports camp at the Barre Town Park today and Friday. The players will do a demonstration on Friday evening at the park, showcasing what they learned this week.

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Latest library adventure: making trinket boxes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 July 2019 at 7:37 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Stella Edward, 3, of Albion gives a generous coat of paint to a trinket box at Hoag Library during the summer reading program.

She was one of 70 kids who painted a box on Tuesday at the library.

Jim Babcock of Babcock Construction and his employees made the boxes out of wood. In previous years, Babcock made birdhouses and birdfeeders for kids in the summer reading program.

He cut and assembled the wooden pieces for the trinket boxes, and the kids then painted them.

Justin “Scoop” of Medina gives his trinket box a multi-colored look. He is part of the Little Leapers Childcare Center in Albion.

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Veterans raise flag for first time on new pole at Hoag Library

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 12:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Veterans this morning at about 10:30 raised an American flag for the first time on the new flag pole that was erected last week at Hoag Library.

The veterans at the flag pole include from left: Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans County Veterans Service Agency; John Pera, commander of the American Legion in Orleans County and also in Holley; and Dave Kusmierczak, chaplain for the American Legion.

The addition of the flag pole follows the recent construction of a new digital sign to promote library events. With the sign and flag pole, the library has completed the projects that were part of the orginal blueprint for the a new library which opened in July 2012.

“It feels like the property is now complete with this flag,” said Betty Sue Miller, library director.

Veterans and library staff and supporters watch the trio get ready to raise the flag for the first time.

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Tree fell on Jeep last night in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 12:37 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A big section of a towering maple tree broke off about 10:30 last night on East Park Street. The big branch landed on a Jeep Liberty but the vehicle doesn’t appear to be badly damaged. There aren’t any broken windows.

Meghan and Stephanie Cox, two sisters, live at the house where the tree came crashing down. Stephanie is grateful no one was on the sidewalk when the branch broke.

“Nobody was there and nobody was hurt,” she said. “If someone was walking by they could have been severely injured.”

They are waiting for an insurance adjuster who they hope will approve having the big tree limbs removed and cover any damages to the Jeep.

Albion police officers and firefighters are on the scene at about 10:45 Sunday night They made sure people stayed back away from the live wires. National Grid also responded. The police and firefighters were at the scene until about 1:15 a.m.

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Cabaret has 21 shows lined up this season, including 6 bus tours for Gary Simboli

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gary Simboli is pictured at the Cabaret at Studio B in Albion last week when accompanied Albion native Kailey Winans during her performance. Simboli has developed his own show featuring music and anecdotes from his 35 years of directing high school musicals at Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 July 2019 at 8:42 am

Gary Simboli on Tuesday was recognized with the Uplinger Award by Albion Lions Club President Ron Albertson in recognition of Simboli’s career leading school musicals and directing the high school chorus and choirs. Simboli and his students also perform at many community events. The Uplinger Award is given for distinguished community service.

ALBION – An Albion teacher who has directed nearly 70 musicals at the high school the past 35 years will be the headline performer in six shows this summer at the Cabaret at Studio B.

Gary Simboli will be performing a show featuring music from many of the musicals, as well as some funny anecdotes from leading the shows.

Six bus tours have already signed up for the matinee shows that are scheduled for July 24, Aug. 6, Aug. 7, Aug. 13, Aug. 27 and Aug. 29, with a 1:15 start time for the first five, and the time to be determined for the last show.

Simboli has accompanied many of his students and other musicians in the community. This time he will be the main attraction through his show, “Musicals and Mischief.”

“There will be stories and songs from specific shows,” Simboli said. “I hope they will find it funny.”

Amy Sidari, owner of the Cabaret at Studio B, said Simboli is a gifted performer in his own right. He has performed with Marcy Downey, who has a longstanding relationship with bus tour companies. She urged Simboli to develop his own show and vouched for him with the bus tour companies.

The first six groups will be coming from the Rochester area. There will be seats at the Cabaret for community members, too.

“Not only will these people love Gary, they will love Albion, too,” Sidari said. “I really see Albion on an upswing.”

She expects the people on the bus tours to visit the downtown, which has seen several new businesses open in the past two years.

Sidari opened the Cabaret at Studio B in her dance studio six years ago, with Marcy Downey the first performer on July 28, 2013. Sidari routinely sells out shows with a capacity of 80 seats.

She features local musicians, some top high school performers and increasingly out-of-town professionals such as jazz singer Erin Boheme (returning on Aug. 24-25) and Dakota Horvath, a jazz singer from Chicago (performing Oct. 19 in Albion).

Kailey Winans, 28, performed last week at the Cabaret at Studio B. Winans is an Albion native who now lives in New York City.

Albion native Kailey Winans kicked off the summer season at the Cabaret last Friday with her show, “Dare to Dare … Happily Ever After.”

Winans, 28, performs in New York City at the Don’t Tell Momma cabaret. Her full-time job is as a nursery school teacher at Rockefeller University.

She graduated from Albion in 2008 and credited Simboli for developing her passion for music.

“I’ve learned pretty much everything I have about being a performer from him,” she said. “He would do everything he could for his kids. He is very selfless.”

Simboli accompanied Winans during her show last week and sang a duet with her, “It’s Now or Never.”

Ace Caldwell, the father of Amy Sidari, works on improvements to new studio space at Gotta Dance by Miss Amy.

Sidari is working to upgrade a third studio room at 28 West Bank St., where she has had her dance studio for 22 years. That new room will be multipurpose for dance, a “green room” for the performers to get ready, and also can be space for pop-up shops.

Her grand plan is to renovate the top floor of her building for the cabaret, which would expand the seating from the current 80 to at least 125.

Simboli is planning to retire as a teacher in the three years. He would like to perform at the expanded cabaret and cook for people as part of the event space. The new cabaret would lend itself to bus tours, and would be a draw to downtown Albion.

The next show at the Cabaret is this evening and features Crandall, Wood and Main. The show calendar then includes Enoch Martin, a 2019 Albion graduate, on July 19. Kerri Lynn Slominski, a Kendall graduate, will do an operatic show on July 27.

Click here to for more information on the shows.

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Albion asked to name new amphitheater in honor of Brennan Moody

Photos by Tom Rivers: Contractors have erected a new performing arts venue/amphitheater at Bullard Park.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2019 at 11:22 am

ALBION – The Albion Village Board was asked on Wednesday to name the new amphitheater at Bullard Park in honor of Brennan Moody, an Albion High School senior who was killed in a car accident on June 18, 10 days before he was to graduate.

Moody, 17, was heavily involved in the school’s music program, performing with the band and chorus, and starring in the musicals.

Thom Jennings wrote a letter to the editor that was posted July 1 on the Orleans Hub. That letter has received lots of support in the community, with more than 3,000 people backing an online petition to name the amphitheater for Moody.

Jennings attended Wednesday’s Village Board with Jack Burris and Zack Burgess. They offered to help the board with making the amphitheater as a memorial for Moody. Jennings said they could help plan a dedication service that would be a celebration of Moody’s life.

Mayor Eileen Banker said she wants to first speak with Brennan’s parents, Erin and Rhiannon Moody, to see how they would feel about the amphitheater being named for their son.

“I want to make sure they are completely comfortable with whatever we decide to do,” she said.

Bullard Park will be under construction much of this summer with the new amphitheater, a splash park, a pavilion and utility building with bathrooms all being built.

The amphitheater is behind the playground and faces a softball field on the west side of the park.

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Albion presents citation for Steven Coville, who was dedicated to Sandstone Park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2019 at 6:04 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Marcus Coville, left, accepts a citation from Village Trustee Peter Sidari on Wednesday in honor of Coville’s father, the late Steven Coville, who volunteered for 40 years at Sandstone Park, where Sidari played Little League baseball. Last month, the field was named in honor of Coville.

ALBION – The Albion Village Board presented a ctation on Wednesday in honor of the late Steven Coville Sr., who volunteered for 40 years at Sandstone Park as a coach and groundskeeper.

The park is not owned by the village. A non-profit corporation oversees the baseball field on East State Street. Coville coached the team for 22 years and then served as groundskeeper and ran the concession stand.

Coville passed away at age 76 on Jan. 17. He loved helping the Little League team on East State Street.

The park’s leaders on June 22 named the field in honor of Steven Coville. A new sign with his name and picture was unveiled at the backstop for the field.

Sandstone Park is one of the original teams from when the Albion Midget League started in 1956.

Coville led the team from 1979 to 2001. He would also mow the expansive lawn and work on the field at Sandstone. He ran the concessions to raise money for the team to buy baseballs and other equipment.

“He impacted hundreds of youths,” Sidari said on Wednesday in presenting the citation to Coville’s son.

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3 from Albion will compete in national high school clay target shooting

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 July 2019 at 4:29 pm

ALBION – Three members of the high school clay target shooting team in Albion will be competing in the national competition on Saturday in Michigan.

Patrick Brien, Alex Rustay and Shane Hastings will be among 1,800 participants in the USA High School Clay Target League National Championship in Mason, Michigan.

They will compete in the individuals competition on Saturday. To advance to the finals on Sunday, they need to shoot at least 94 out of 100 targets on Saturday, said Jeff Atwell, one of the Albion coaches.

At the state competition, Brien hit 94 out of 100 and Rustay shot 96 out of 100. Those two just graduated from Albion, which fielded a clay shooting team for the first time this spring. That team finished ninth in the state out of 65 teams in the state competition.

“I think it will grow in popularity,” Atwell said about the program. “It’s a good program overall. It teaches them safety and responsibility.”

Holley also has a team and had six qualify for nationals – Brad Kingdollar, Ethan Waldron, Noah St. John, Evan Press, Jake Silpoch and Kyle Surowy.

The team isn’t making the trip to Michigan this year but expects to be back in 2020, said Troy Kingdollar, one of the coaches.

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