Albion

State legislators tour downtown Albion to see impact of Main Street grant

Photos by Tom Rivers: Natasha Wasuck, co-owner of The Lockstone, gives State Sen. Robert Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley a tour of the wedding and events center. Wasuck and her husband, John Hernandez, have turned a former auto repair site into a destination site for Albion that also includes Tinsel, an ice cream shop.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 July 2021 at 11:24 am

ALBION – State Sen. Robert Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley recently toured downtown Albion, including four of businesses that will be receiving part of a Main Street grant to help upgrade their historic buildings.

Albion was approved for $311,079 and that was divvied up among 10 property owners for building improvement projects. The grants will fund up to 75 percent of the projects, which need to be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.

The state allowed a maximum award of $50,000 per building owner for non-residential projects with residential projects eligible for up to $100,000.

Assemblyman Hawley takes a photo with his phone while in the Pratt Opera House on the third floor. A state grant will help with some restorative work at the site.

Albion’s Main Street grant is for $388,192 total and that includes $311,079 for building renovations, $47,613 for streetscape improvements, $25,000 for administration and $4,500 for architecture, engineering and environmental costs. The property owners have until December 2022 to complete the projects as part of the grant.

Hawley and Ortt were given tours of projects planned for The Lockstone, the Pratt Opera House, apartments above the Hustl House (former Albion Fitness Center) and Krantz Furniture.

Ortt praised the property owners for their investment and commitment to Albion’s downtown. He and Hawley both said they are pleased to see state funds going to small-town business owners.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, left, and State Sen. Robert Ortt tour The Lockstone, which has been turned into a wedding and events center. A state grant will help the owners make additional improvements to the building.

The grants include:

  • The Lockstone – owned by John Hernandez and Natasha Wasuck at 160 North Main St., approved for $18,750 towards replacing a soffit, repairing masonry, putting in new front doors, commercial heaters and a mural.
  • Morrison Realty – owned by James Theodorakos at 132 North Main St., approved for $21,017 towards new flooring on the first floor, waiting the exterior and front trim repairs.
  • Krantz Furniture – Linda Smith, owner at 129-131 North Main St., approved for $64,776 to scrape and repoint brick, prime and paint the exterior, put in four commercial double doors, replace front stairs to upstairs apartment, replace windows, upgrade drywall and paint apartments, upgrade electric and plumbing.
  • Day and Day Building – Michael Bonafede and Judith Koehler, owner of 114-116 North Main St., approved for $36,880 for the site that includes the Downtown Browsery, Albion Bible Baptist Church, and the historic Grand Army of the Republic post. The work includes second floor renovation including reattaching the historic plaster medallions in the GAR room, restoring floors, installing a HVAC system. With the building, Bonafede and Koehler want to install steps and improve egress to the third floor door, weatherize east and west windows, construct protective railings around stairway, lighting, re-coat roof, repair and paint the fire escape, complete third floor bathroom, seal and preserve the historic plank west wall.


Michael Bonafede shows State Sen. Rob Ortt the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Room  in the Day and Day Building. Bonafede wants to reattach the historic plaster medallions in the GAR room, restore the floors and install a HVAC system.

  • Pratt Opera House – Michael Bonafede and Judith Koehler, owner of 118-120 North Main St., approved for $23,830 for the site that includes the Downtown Browsery, Bookery, Kylie’s Salon, Red Check Rustic, pottery studio and a bakery office. The funding will go towards recoating the roof, repairing east parapet east wall, re-installing vintage signage at ticket booth, new rear door, new entrance awning, repairing north brick wall, opera house stage renovations, refurbishing six arch-top decorative windows with stained glass.
  • Hair Fantasy – Corey and Marilyn Black, owners at 55-57-59 North Main St., approved for $11,250 to repoint and replace brick as needed, and repaint window frames.
  • Lyman & Lyman – Nathan Lyman, owner at 45-51 North Main St., approved for $38,277 for a site that includes Lyman & Lyman attorney offices, Laura Loxley, Milk & Honey Boutique and one residential unit. The money will go towards two ADA-compliant bathrooms, ADA entrance at back of the building, replacing back windows, new VFR cooling systems, upgrade electric, replace apartment flooring, new LED lights, improve signage, and upgrade residential bathroom.
  • Dance Reflections by Miss Heather – Jared and Heather Hapeman, owners at 50-52 North Main St., approved for $11,616 to go towards new ceiling in studio, 12 windows rebuilt in current frames, bathroom remodel and office remodel.
  • Albion Agencies (Seaway Insurance Agencies) – Bill Bixler, owner at 30 North Main St., approved for $16,753 to replace roof and make gutter repairs, rebuild side entrance stairs and upgrade HVAC.
  • Apartments above The Hustl House – John Brabon, owner at 10-12 North Main St., approved for $67,930 for five apartments, putting in new walls, electric, plumbing, HVAC, bathroom, drywall, trim and flooring, lighting, smoke detectors, and painting the apartments.
  • Village of Albion – approved for $47,613 for streetscape improvements at 19 North Main St, which includes extending existing retaining wall, adding parking spaces to municipal lot, picnic tables and trash receptacles.

Marti’s on Main art gallery reopens at former Cooperative Extension in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 July 2021 at 3:42 pm

Building turned into art showcase by Kim and Neal Muscarella

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Marti’s on Main celebrated its grand opening on Friday evening at the former Cornell Cooperative Extension building at 20 South Main St. About 125 people attended the three-hour open house.

Kim Martillotta Muscarella, third from left, and her husband Neal Muscarella (second from right), greet guests David Purdy and Monica Beck at the grand opening.

The Muscarellas transformed the interior of the building into an art studio and gallery. The open house was by invitation only for local artists and known art appreciators. Mrs. Muscarella said other tours are available by appointment. She can be reached at (585) 589-6715 for more information.

“Mr. Anderson” is a portrait of cat by Chris Versteeg that is displayed on the stairway. Muscarella has work from about a dozen artists on display.

Muscarella likes to showcase artwork throughout the building, including the stairway leading to the top floor.

Kim Martillotta Muscarella has many of her own pieces on display, including the large acrylic painting of “Tall Flowers.”

Monica Beck and David Purdy take a look at artwork — “Green Fun” and “Succulent Girl” — by Kim Martillotta Muscarella.

Purdy, a former professional interior and exterior painter for 22 years, said the Muscarellas did top-notch work in painting the rooms with such vibrant colors.

“They did a phenomenal job,” Purdy said. “It’s nearly flawless.”

One of the guests checks out the art in a room inside the historic building.

Muscarella wanted to open the site to the public sooner, but waited due to concerns and restrictions with Covid-19.

The former Cornell Cooperative Extension building was most recently used an outreach center for the Episcopal Church in Albion. The building was originally a house built in the 1830s.

Muscarella watched the site decline for many years, with little activity inside the doors of one of the prominent buildings in the historic Courthouse Square.

For about a decade she ran Marti’s on Main, an art gallery and studio at her home at 229 South Main St. But that site, which was half of her house, was cramped to display art and accommodate groups of people.

On a whim in December 2019, she decided to look at the old Extension building, which had been for sale for years and was listed by her friend Jim Theodorakos of Morrison Realty. Muscarella and her husband, Neal, were given a tour of the building. (The Extension moved in 2007 to a new building at the 4-H fairgrounds in Knowlesville.)

The walls in the old building were all painted a very pale yellow. The floors covered in green and red carpet or asphalt tiles.

The couple also noted the high ceilings, big rooms and lots of wall space. They decided to take on the building, and give it a new life as an art studio and gallery.

Joe Martillotta (who is Kim Martillotta Muscarella’s brother) and Jim Babcock chat while in a room with many of Muscarella’s unusual sculptures.

Muscarella has art from many local artists on display, including an abstract painting at right by Jim Fiegel. He uses a combination of acrylic, enamel, and water-based paint. He paints on Plexiglass and his paintings are curved. He also creates his own wooden frames and has LED lights behind the Plexiglass.

Muscarella prefers art that is outside the norm.

Planning Board backs Albion business expansion, solar project in Kendall, new storage tank for Helena

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 July 2021 at 9:31 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday evening voted in support of an Albion business expansion, a 5-megawatt solar project in Kendall, a new tank for Helena Agri-Enterprises, and two new ponds in Ridgeway.

• RS Automation expansion – In Albion, the County Planning Board recommended Albion officials approve the site plan for a 9,000-square-foot addition to RS Automation at 4015 Oak Orchard Rd. Rick Stacey, owner of the manufacturing company, said RS is growing at its Route 98 facility.

“We definitely need the space,” he told Planning Board members.

• Kendall solar project – In Kendall, the board recommended approval for a site plan and special use permit for a solar project at 1771 West Kendall Rd., which is south of the intersection of West Kendall and Carr roads.

DG New York CS LLC from Juno Beach, Fla., is developer of the project on land owned by Thomas Munzert. DG would use 34 acres of the site, with the solar panels on a single-axis tracking system. That will allow them to slowly rotate and follow the sun during the daylight.

The project was reviewed by the board in January, but it was up for review again when there was a change in the location of the access road and some of the panels.

There will be a 7-foot-high perimeter fence, and there will be 98 trees planted, spaced every 12 feet. Those trees include 25 Black Hills Spruce, 39 Norway Spruce, and 24 Scotch Pine.

The construction project will take 4 ½ months, company officials told the Planning Board.

• New storage tank for Helena Agri-Enterprises – The board recommended Ridgeway officials approve the site plan for a 73-foot diameter by 32-foot high tank storage for chemical bulk storage at 3956 Allis Rd.

Helena wants to add the storage tank for liquid fertilizer called urea ammonium. The non-flammable chemical is produced by combining urea, nitric acid and ammonia.

The product is in demand for farmers, especially in the spring planting season and also for “side dressing,” applying fertilizer between the rows of growing crops.

Helena will have a “double tank” or a tank within a tank to store the product, said John Ivison, branch manager of Helena’s location in Ridgeway.

• Two ponds in Ridgeway – The Planning Board recommended Ridgeway approve the site plans and issue permits for two ponds that would both be less than an acre in size.

Kirk Nice is proposing to construct a 40,000-square-foot pond to support farm irrigation at 3025 Knowlesville Rd.

Gregory Heitzenrater is proposing a 10,000-square-foot pond for recreational purposes at 2901 County Line Rd.

200 attend first Albion concert by canal in 2 years

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 July 2021 at 9:18 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Jonesie and the Cruisers kicked off the return of Albion’s Concerts on the Canal series. Last year’s series was wiped out due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The bands are back this summer for four concerts on Thursday evenings. The top photo shows lead singer Gary Jones and keyboardist Gary Withey after the band concluded two hours of performing classic rock songs. (I got there just as it was ending. I had another meeting to attend.)

The concerts are free from 6 to 8 p.m. The lineup for the rest of the series includes: The Who Dats on July 29, Cold Fusion Arts on Aug. 5, and The Trellis Cooper Band on Aug. 12.

Austin Zobel, left, and Harry Papponetti grilled hamburgers, cheeseburger and hot dogs. The Albion Fire Department will be serving food and refreshments during the concerts.

Albion’s Class of ’71 will celebrate 50th reunion a year late in 2022

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 July 2021 at 9:24 am

Covid-19 restrictions derailed plans for big bash this year

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Some members of the Class of 1971 in Albion met for breakfast on Tuesday at the Village House in Albion.

There  are about 180 members of the class and many of them were looking forward to a big celebration this year for the 50th reunion. However, Covid-19 restrictions and concerns prevented the class from setting up a big party.

The group will hold its reunion next year on the 51st anniversary of the graduation.

Pictured from left, kneeling, include: Bernie Baldwin, Tom Fiorilli and Susan Mack.

Back row: Bill Munger, David Kelley, Mary Donahue, Delores (D’Amico) Martusciello, Elizabeth (Thom) Cowan, Cindy Piedimonte, Roxie (Gaylard) Basinait, Barb (Karls) Dawson and Larry Gaylard.

Some of the class in 2016 started getting together monthly for breakfast at the Village House. That ceased in 2020 during Covid, but restarted last month.

“Everybody is welcome to come to these breakfasts,” Barb Dawson said. “Covid really derailed us but our class is determined to stick together.”

She urged the class members to stay connected through the class Facebook page, and start making plans for the big reunion.

Albion Central School announces 24 new hires

Posted 20 July 2021 at 11:13 am

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – Albion Central School District has hired 24 new employees heading into the 2021-22 academic year, as approved by the Board of Education.

The list includes 14 teachers, three administrators and seven non-instructional staff members due to numerous retirements and in anticipation of schools reopening this fall.

“We are excited about the new year and what it will bring,” said Superintendent Mickey Edwards. “We are confident that all our employees, including new, are ready to provide our students with the best learning experiences and strive towards our mission of ‘Achievement, Character and Success for Life.’”

The following are the new hires and their positions:

Teaching Staff
Emily Lutey – MS/HS Spanish
Amanda Kast – ES 4th Grade
Miranda Allen – HS Special Education
Bethany Bowman – ES Kindergarten
Katreyel Walton – ES 3rd Grade
Tammie Golden – MS CTE
Bayli Schlierf – HS Special Education
Kateri Moskaluk – MS 7th/8th Math AIS
Niccole Nicholson – K-5 Social Worker
Julianne McGrath – MS Counselor
Caton McKenna Conde – HS English
Jennalyn Long – 6-12 Social Worker
Megan Hanrahan – ES Kindergarten
Delaney Dominguez-Salerno – ES 4th Grade AIS

Administrators
Angela Conway – ES Principal
Rebecca Manfreda – Assistant Superintendent for Instruction
Mariah LaSpina – MS Assistant Principal/Athletic Director

Non-Instructional Staff
Christina Burgio – ES Teacher Aide
Emily Hyde – Teacher Aide
Sarah Williams – Cleaner
Mattea Woolston – ES Clerk
Christine Bloom – ES Teacher Aide
Jill Scharping – ES Teacher Aide
Mollie Radzinski – Community Schools Public Relations Coordinator

Honeybee nest removed from Joseph statue at Albion church

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2021 at 9:26 am

Provided photos

ALBION — Zeke Given of Angry Bees Apiary in Genesee County was up high in a lift on Monday and removed the nest of honeybees on a statue of Joseph at the Holy Family Parish in Albion.

The bees, including the queen, were successfully extracted without being harmed, Holy Family said in a message to the Orleans Hub.


Zeke Given and his friend Brad Mudrzynski go up in a lift to remove the nest of bees. Jeremy Neal of Poverty Hill Farms in Albion provided the lift for the two to remove the bees from the church on West Park Street.

Since photos of the nest were posted Saturday on the Orleans Hub, the situation created a lot of buzz in the community.

Zeke Given, right, and his friend Brad Mudrzynski were happy to complete the job.

Hoag Library unveils preserved Civil War flag for Black regiment

Staff Reports Posted 16 July 2021 at 7:02 am

Provided photos

ALBION – Hoag Library Director Betty Sue Miller, left, and Linda Weller, president of the Board of Trustees, unveiled the newly preserved American Civil War flag of the 26th US Colored Infantry Regiment on Wednesday evening.

Conservator Gwen Spicer, of Spicer Art Conservation, LLC in Delmar, NY, performed the preservation, which involved the meticulous process of glue removal, washing, and hand-sewing of each individual piece of silk fabric. The cost of the preservation was covered by an anonymous donor.

Local History Library Dee Robinson speaks to community members during the flag unveiling.

While it is unknown how the library obtained the flag, historical research shows that Charles H. Mattison, a white man from Barre, transferred to the 26th USCT on June 15 1863, and a local black man from Medina, Henry F. Hawkins, enlisted in the 26th USCT and ranked out as First Sergeant.

While the flag will be stored in the library archives, members of the community are welcome and encouraged to visit the flag during business hours.

Hoag Library has a display about the flag, the Civil War and the 26th US Colored Infantry Regiment.

Dee Robinson, the local history librarian at Hoag, compiled these facts about the flag and the local connections to the 26th US Colored Infantry Regiment.

The regiment was organized at Riker’s Island in New York Harbor on Feb. 27, 1864. There were two officers and 28 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded in the line of duty, and three officers and 112 enlisted men also died from disease.

The 26th US Colored Troops Flag is one of three Black regiments in the Civil War – the 20th, 26th and 31st.

Henry F. Hawkins, a black man from Medina, enlisted in the 26th USCT and ranked out as first sergeant. He is named on the African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC, Plaque B-42.

Charles H. Mattison, a white man from Barre, enlisted Aug. 30, 1863 in the 151st Infantry and was promoted twice. He transferred to the 26th USCT on June 15, 1863. Mattison was promoted to second lieutenant Jan. 1, 1864 and again to first lieutenant and then adjutant of the 26th on March 7, 1864. He mustered out and was discharged Sept. 11, 1865.

After the war Charles Mattison returned to Barre Center and ran a wagon and blacksmith shop. He was elected Barre Town Clerk, Barre Town Supervisor and later was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1878. He passed away on March 23, 1883 and the Grand Army of the Republic Post in Albion held a large memorial service.

The flag has 35 stars, which includes the State of West Virginia, which was admitted June 20, 1863 (just five days after Mattison was transferred to the 26th.)

Hoag Library proudly show off the flag after the preservation efforts. From left include Dee Robinson, local history librarian; Linda Weller, president of the board of trustees; and Betty Sue Miller, library director.

State Sen. Rob Ortt, second from left, attended the unveiling. He said the flag “is an amazing piece of American history for the public to observe.” Fred Miller, Betty Sue’s husband and an Orleans County legislator, also attended the event on Wednesday.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Here is how flag looked before the preservation. It was in a frame and part of the flag had been glued. The white stripes were badly deteriorated.

$585,812 in federal funding coming to Albion village in American Rescue Plan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2021 at 8:05 am

Village Board asks department heads to consider ways to best use the money

ALBION – The Village of Albion will be getting $585,812 in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan.

The Village Board now has to determine how to best use the funding that needs to meet federal criteria for health and wellness, some reimbursements for added village costs due to Covid-19, infrastructure including water and sewer, as well as possible broadband internet upgrades.

Mayor Eileen Banker asked the village department heads to consider projects for the funding and then the board and the department heads will have a roundtable discussion. Albion has already received the first half of the money and has until 2024 to complete the projects and be eligible for the full amount of funding.

The Village Board on Tuesday also:

• Approved filling two part-time police officer positions with one to be paid $18 an hour and the other $22 an hour.

• Renewed a five-year contract with Albion sewer personnel to provide wastewater management services for the Village of Elba with 3 percent annual increases.

• Jay Pahura, DPW superintendent, said the village will put new blacktop down on seven streets this summer, up from three in most years. Albion also is putting in eight new manhole covers.

When the projects are done, Pahura said the DPW will look to put in the new walking trail at Bullard Park. That trail needs to be done by December to meet the timeframe for a state grant for the Bullard Park improvements. The walking trail is part of a local community match for the grant, which helped fund the new splash pad, amphitheater and bathrooms/utility building.

• The village owns the 121 North Main St. building, the former Citizens National Bank. The board was notified it will soon have a vacancy there with Crossroads Abstract not renewing its lease.

Mayor Eileen Banker said there will be two open spots in the building. The other vacant space was used by Bernie Baldwin, an insurance agent, who retired in 2018.

• Agreed to allow its insurance to be used for a movie in the park event at Bullard, which will be the first Fridays each month and will include a food truck. The village will co-sponsor the events with the Albion Summer Music Festival group formerly known as Rock the Park. That group will provide the screen and projector with the movies shown at the amphitheater.

Albion divvies up $311,000 in Main Street funding to 10 locations in downtown

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2021 at 7:26 am

ALBION — A committee has approved divvying up $311,079 for building improvement projects at 10 locations in downtown Albion. The grants will fund up to 75 percent of the projects

The state allowed a maximum award of $50,000 per building owner for non-residential projects with residential projects eligible for up to $100,000 through the grant.

Albion’s Main Street grant is for $388,192 total and that includes $311,079 for building renovations, $47,613 for streetscape improvements, $25,000 for administration and $4,500 for architecture, engineering and environmental costs.

The village has contracted with J. O’Connell and Associates in Clarence to administer the grant. The projects need approval from the State Historic Preservation Office because the downtown is included on the National Register of Historic Places. The 10 projects are currently being reviewed by SHPO, Village Clerk/Treasurer Linda Babcock advised the Village Board on Tuesday.

That committee that approved the allocations includes Karen Conn, Code Enforcement Officer Kevin Sheehan, Tony Wynn, Planning Board Chairman Matt Hand, Mary Sullivan from the Village Clerk’s Office, Richard Nenni and Jeannette Riley.

The grants include:

  • The Lockstone and Tinsel – $18,750
  • Morrison Realty – $21,017
  • Krantz Furniture – $64,776
  • Day and Day Building – $36,880
  • Pratt Building – $23,830
  • Hair Fantasy – $11,250
  • Lyman and Lyman – $38,227
  • Dance Reflections – $11,616
  • Seaway Insurance Agencies (Albion Agencies) – $16,753
  • 10-12 North Main St. (John Brabon for apartments) – $67,930

The projects all need to be done within two years from the when the grant was awarded. That gives the building owners and village until March 31, 2023.

Albion Lions Club renames ‘Pride of Pride’ award for John Keding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2021 at 4:49 pm

Kevin Howard, mainstay for Lions Club, first honoree

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Kevin Howard, left, was presented with the inaugural “John Keding – Pride of the Pride Award” during Tuesday evening’s Albion Lions Club annual meeting.

The award was named in honor of John Keding, a Lions Club member for more than 50 years and a longtime local auto repair shop owner. He passed away at age 85 on Jan . 18. Howard is pictured with Keding’s wife, Pat, and their daughter Christine Buongiorne.

Kevin Howard and Mark Johnson work the grill during the Lions Club meeting which was held outside at the Elks.

Howard, a retired state trooper and former Albion town justice, has been a member of the Albion Lions Club for 15 years. He was praised for his willingness to cook food during Lions Club fundraisers. He also helps the first Friday each month for the Community Kitchen in Albion, when the Lions take a turn preparing the meals.

“It’s a way to give back to the community, and the this community has been very good to me,” Howard said.

The Lions Club isn’t a demanding commitment, he said.

“It’s fun and you get to see a lot of people,” Howard said.

The award winner also helps with cleanup projects, and brings a positive attitude.

“He is very hardworking and fun to be around,” said Mary Janet Sahukar, the club secretary. “He keeps things moving.”

The club also installed its officers for 2021-22, including from left: Dan Conrad, president; Mary Janet Sahukar, secretary; Lloyd Wright, treasurer; and Ron Albertson, vice president.

Conrad said the club wanted to honor Keding with the Pride of the Pride Award.

“That man was Mr. Lion,” Conrad said. “I could be a Lion the rest of my life and not fill his shoes.”

The club on Tuesday also welcomed two new members: Ben Lennox and Jonathan Doherty.

Animals will be steady presence at Hoag Library on many Tuesdays this summer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 July 2021 at 9:56 pm

 

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Serenity Acres brought horses, goats, a donkey and a dog to Hoag Library today as part of the “Tails and Tales” summer reading program.

The top photo shows River Marat, 10, riding the horse owned by Dona Scharping of Serenity Acres.

Hoag will have animals visiting the library outside on many upcoming Tuesdays, including calves at 11 a.m. on July 20 from Poverty Hill Farms in Albion, birds at 11 a.m. on July 27 from the Braddock Bay Raptors, and 4-H Small Animal Friends at 11 a.m. on Aug. 3.

These kids check out the goats visiting today.

Tanya Bjornstad and her daughter Alice get a close look at the donkey.

Jenna Uderitz, 5, of Albion gets a ride on one of the horses.

350 cyclists peddling across county today in return of Cycle the Erie Canal event

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 July 2021 at 10:58 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – These two cyclists approach Albion this morning and are greeted by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus portrayed by Bob and Kathy Schumacher of Medina.

There are 350 cyclists peddling along the Erie Canal Towpath today. They started in medina and headed east to Fairport.

The 23rd annual Cycle the Erie Canal event started Sunday morning in Buffalo and concludes July 18 in Albany. The cyclists ride about 40 to 60 miles each day.

Last year’s event was cancelled as a group due to Covid-19 restrictions. This year’s group is about half the size of the 650 to 700 that typically ride.

Walter Mayo, 74, of Derby in Erie County is riding in the event for the sixth time. He stopped for a photo of the Santa and Mrs. Claus, who promoted Albion for its distinction as the home to the world’s first Santa Claus School.

The cyclists were also directed to check out two nearby Santa murals.

Mayo said he has rode 2,000 miles since January to prepare for the week-long bike trip along the canal.

“I love it,” he said. “This is the best organized bike trip I’ve been on and it’s in New York.”

Kevin Bedard, 70, of Holley is riding the trip for the second time, and first since 2003.

“It’s the camaraderie of being with people from all over the country,” Bedard said. “And I’m proud of our area. Western New York has the best section of the canal.”

The cyclists stop in front of Tinsel and the Lockstone, where there were free bananas, oranges and bottles of water. The Downtown Browsery also offered free blinking lights to put on the bikes. Many of the cyclists were happy to hop off their bikes and look around the downtown area.

Natasha Wasuck, owner of The Lockstone and Tinsel, organized the welcome for the cyclists in Albion this morning. Holley is an official welcome stop 10 miles to the east of Albion.

Wasuck said she enjoys meeting the cyclists, who this year are from 34 states.

“it’s just fun to meet all of these people who are from so many states,” she said. “”It’s just exciting. You don’t see 300 cyclists all together.”

Stan Farone, right, of Albion is doing the ride for the fourth time. Farone, an Albion village trustee, said he has made friends with many of the cyclists who come back year after year.

Sunday was a tough day to ride due to the rain, and Farone said there was wind and mud on the towpath this morning.

But the riders didn’t seem discouraged.

“I like doing it and meeting the people,” Farone said. “I’ve got to do it while I’m still young. I’m 71.”

Albion police officers Will Francis and Jessica Saraceno stop traffic so this cyclist, Daniel Pilliard of Missouri, can cross Main Street.

These cyclists head east from Albion this morning after already riding 10 miles from Medina. The group will stay overnight in Fairport in tents.

Lowell Pilliard, 18, poses for a photo with his grandfather, Daniel Pilliard, 70. They drove 18 hours from Missouri for the cycling event. Lowell has done two other long bike trips in his home state, while his grandfather has been on group excursions in several countries.

“It’s great exercise and you get to see a lot of stuff,” said Daniel Pilliard. “I love it. It’s a great time.”

This cyclist walks across the Main Street lift bridge after visiting the downtown in Albion. The riders this year range from age 12 to 88.

Nina Sharrock of Bergen County, NJ, wanted to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Sharrock said the bike ride is enjoyable for people who aren’t necessarily hardcore cyclists.

“This is a little less challenging and a lot more fun,” she said.

Albion library adds vending machine, giving away books for free

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 July 2021 at 5:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Betty Sue Miller, director of Hoag Library, is shown with the library’s new book vending machine. A $10,000 grant from Xerox paid for the machine as well as many books to be given away.

The library will give away the books through tokens. Those tokens will be given to children 12 and under who will be eligible to receive books on their birthdays. (The library’s has had a birth to age 5 book program for children to receive a book near Christmas and on their birthdays. That is funded by an anonymous donor.)

The vending machine accepts tokens, and then gives out books selected by the reader.

Miller also wants to connect with local coaches, teachers and others who work with youth. The library wants those adults to give out tokens for free books as a reward for children. Miller welcomes coaches and other adults who work with youth to stop by the library for tokens.

The Xerox grant is big enough to pay for another restocking of books, Miller said.

Elissa Nesbitt, a former library trustee, secured the grant from Xerox.

The vending machine includes a specially designed wrap with the Hoag Library name and quotes picked by the library, including:

“Reading for me, is spending time with a friend.” – Gary Paulsen

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr. Seuss

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass

Summer parks program kicks off today in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 July 2021 at 11:11 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Jahmeek Riley plays a creative game of HORSE with Randy during today’s opening day of the summer parks program in Albion at Bullard Park.

Last year’s program was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. This year the program will run for four weeks, Mondays through Fridays, until July 30.

There will be park supervisors on duty from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with many games, activities and other programs. Parents and guardians can sign up children on site. They can print out the form online at the Village of Albion website. Immunization records also need to be provided and the program will follow state guidelines for summer park programs.

The parks program will be based at Bullard Park on Route 31 and will include the new splash pad.

These sisters, Ashlee (left) and Haylee Young, have fun at the new splash pad. They are from Charlotte, NC and are visiting family in Medina.

The two sisters get soaked at the splash pad. The splash pad is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.