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Dancers, at 6 feet apart, happy to reunite in Albion for video

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 2 June 2020 at 12:57 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Current and former students of Ami Sidari rehearse a routine Monday night on Sidari’s lawn, which was marked off to ensure safe distancing.  Laiken Ricker, left, leads a group of dancers during rehearsal Monday night on Amy Sidari’s lawn. Ricker and Janie Schultz (center), who are both cousins of Sidari, choreographed the routine in preparation for making a video. Rehearsals will continue this week and parents and the public are invited to park across the street in the bowling alley or on Sidari’s lawn to watch.

ALBION – Amy Sidari has had enough of sitting around and decided her students have too. The pandemic has taken its toll and she has decided to do something about it.

“I have dozens of students uniting for the first time since March 12,” said the dance instructor and owner of Gotta Dance Studio in Albion. “Some of these students I haven’t seen in years, but they are making the effort to attend and dance. We are going to make a music video, and are following all the rules and guidelines to do this.”

Amy Sidari, owner of Gotta Dance by Miss Amy, chats with her cousins Janie Schultz, left,  and Laiken Ricker prior to rehearsal on Sidari’s lawn Monday night to prepare for making a video.

Sidari said she checked with the health officials and is following all their guidelines, wearing masks and dancing apart in spots marked off on her lawn. Spectators are watching from a distance in their cars, or may sit apart on their own lawn chairs if the weather is warm enough.

Sidari put the word out and expected 25 students to participate. She ended up with 39.

“Some of these alumni I haven’t seen in six years,” Sidari said through her mask Monday night, the first night of rehearsal.

Today’s practice has been postponed until Wednesday at 6:30. She hopes the group will be prepared to shoot the video soon.

“It will be entertaining and educating to see how we create a film,” Sidari said. “For me, the most difficult thing is not hugging everyone I see.”

Jennifer Viza of Albion, whose daughter Maleah, 16, is one of the dancers, said she was ecstatic about getting the kids back together again.

“Maleah has missed her lessons big time,” Viza said. “I’m not worried about them getting together, because these girls are big enough to know how to follow the guidelines.”

Sidari chose the music of the song “A Different Beat” for their routine.

“It is symbolic of our times and the title and lyrics go further, to the individual person,” Sidari said. “I sum up the song as ‘all about being yourself,’ which is different than anyone else. ‘Different’ is accepted, respected and anything done with love is a winner.”

Two of Sidari’s cousins, Laiken Ricker, a senior at Albion High School and teacher at Gotta Dance, and Janie Schultz a former dance instructor and currently a high school special education teacher, choreographed the routine. Schultz actually came home from Nebraska to take part in the dance routine.

Ricker and Schultz said they based the routine on the skill level of the dancers.

“It will be cool to see what Amy does on the music video,” they said.

Sidari said she plans to post the video on Facebook, the studio website and in a mass e-mailing.

As the dancers began their routine, learning eight beats at a time, cars began pulling up across the street. Sidari recognized them as some of her Cabaret regulars.

“It’s a joy to give them something to watch,” she said.

Kiarra Schuler, a sophomore at Albion Central School, is one of Sidari’s dance students who said she has been “very, very bored” not being able to attend dance lessons, and she was thrilled with the opportunity to dance again.

Alumni students came from Albany, as well as from all over the local area, to participate in making the video, Sidari said.

“It’s a heartbreaking situation to be separated so long,” Sidari said. “I want to get their mind and body working, like we used to do in the studio, but my priority is making it safe.”

“I was thrilled to see so many alumni students of mine and the parent support for the students I am still teaching,” Sidari said. “Anyone is welcome to come and watch this week from the safety of their own car. There is no harm to the community to watch from their car. We have tried to keep the kids busy via website instruction and fun activities. Now that the government is reopening gradually, phase by phase, I can really get the kids moving. This would not be possible at this time in our studio, but the outside works.  My yard is big enough to bring goodness to everyone.”

Sidari lives at 3300 Oak Orchard Road, across from Oak Orchard Bowling.

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Pullman church hosts peaceful vigil for justice

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2020 at 9:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Susan Daiss, a lay leader at the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church in Albion, speaks at a vigil for peace and justice on the church’s lawn this evening.

About 20 people attended the vigil that lasted about a half hour. Darrel Dykes of Medina holds a Black Lives Matter sign.

He attended a march on Saturday in Buffalo. He said the event was “overwhelmingly positive and peaceful” in the beginning. He could tell the atmosphere was changing later in the evening and he left before there was widespread vandalism.

He regrets that most of the news coverage and social media attention on the marches has focused on the looting and detracted from the message of peace and justice.

The church wanted to offer “safe space” to pray and send energy for justice, peace and healing “during these troubling and chaotic times in our nation and communities, as well as observe a moment of silence for all of those lost to racial violence so far this year.”

The group gathers outside the church on East Park Street. They responded to the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died a week ago after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd’s anguish and pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

That death led to nationwide protests, with many resulting in damage to businesses and public spaces, including in nearby Buffalo and Rochester.

Lance Zink, 18, right and his mother Jennifer Bagley light a candle at the vigil. They are from Gaines and recently moved to the area. Bagley said she was grateful there was an opportunity for a gathering to express remorse about George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. She said she supports the Black Lives Matter movement.

Jessica Geroge, chairwoman of the board for the Pullman Church, shared a reflection during the vigil.

“Our world needs so much right now. So much love, and compassion, and kindness, and justice, and peace, and understanding.  We are called here tonight as people of conscience. People outraged by the disregard for human lives that we are seeing, outraged by the divisiveness we see in our communities, and by the dehumanization we are seeing from people in positions of power and authority.”

She urged the group to “love radically”  and challenge “systemic oppression.”

The Pullman church wanted to offer a place during a scary time for the country. Besides the death of Floyd, the country has seen the images of looters, and has endured nearly three months of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are called here tonight to seek a more compassionate, peaceful, and kind world,” George said. “We are moved to be here as people that are committed to seeing our world, our nation, and our society be better for all of us.  We are moved to search not only for justice, but for equality, fairness, equity and peace.”

Al Capurso also sang a song during the vigil – “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.

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Picketers were outside nursing home in Albion where 26 have died from Covid-19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 3:58 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – About a dozen picketers were outside The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion today for about an hour.

They said they wanted to show support for the staff and residents at a nursing home where 26 people have died from Covid-19. The Villages has had 88 of its residents test positive for Covid-19.

Picketers faulted management of the facility for not providing staff with enough personal protective equipment (gowns, masks, N-95 respirators) to prevent workers from becoming infected and spreading the virus.

Richard Brakenbury holds a sign that says, “I Miss My Wife” during the picket. His wife of 61 years, Connie Brakenbury, died on May 12. The family said she contracted Covid-19 at The Villages while in the rehab section. She was trying to build back her strength after being dehydrated and feeling weak. She was at The Villages for 20 days.

Mr. Brakenbury said his wife was put in a room with someone who was Covid-19 positive.

The facility has had nearly all of its residents test positive for Covid-19. Those that are negative have recently been moved to a sister facility in Williamsville that is also owned by Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC.

The nursing home in Albion used to be owned by the county. It was sold for $7.8 million on Feb. 6, 2014 to Comprehensive.

Angelo and Ondrea Pate were among the picketers today. Connie Brakenbury is Mrs. Pate’s mother.

Ondrea Pate worked 7 years as an LPN at The Villages. She picketed several times in 2013 when the county announced it would be selling the facility due to the deficits that topped $2 million.

Pate worried then that privatization would result in frequent staff turnover and less accountability to the community.

She left 18 months after the sale, became an registered nurse and now works in Brockport.

The management at The Villages has done a poor job communicating with the community about what’s going on inside the nursing home, and sharing a strategy to slow the spread of the virus and save residents’ lives, Pate said.

She started an online petition for a change in the director of nursing. That petition has 1,400 supporters.

Pate said the deaths were unnecessary if the proper precautions were taken.

“It should never have happened,” she said about the high loss of life. “It’s heart-breaking.”

Amanda Dixon, a former employee who worked in human resources, was among the picketers today.

The State Attorney General’s Office, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Orleans County District Attorney’s Office, and State Department of Health are all investigating how The Villages has responded to Covid-19.

The Villages passed a state DOH inspection on April 29, but in a May 9 inspection the facility was cited for immediate jeopardy, where noncompliance puts residents in serious harm, according to a May 27 article in The Buffalo News.

The Villages took action and the immediate jeopardy was lifted, although the state DOH continues to closely monitor the nursing home, The Buffalo News reported.

Pate wants a leadership change at The Villages, particularly with the director of nursing.

She hopes the picket today, across the street from the nursing home, sent a message to staff and residents that community members are pushing for a safer nursing home.

“We want to support the residents and staff and show them we are here for them,” Pate said. “We want to make it better.”

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No parade, but Honor Guard remembers the fallen on Memorial Day

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2020 at 10:05 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Wally Skrypnik, commander of the American Legion in Albion, plays Taps during an observance on Memorial Day in front of the Albion Middle School. There is usually a large crowd for the Memorial Day service each year at the school.

There is no Memorial Day service or parade today with social gatherings still limited to no more than 10 people due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today, there were eight veterans in the Honor Guard.

The Honor Guard, however, did a gun salute and played Taps at eight sites in Albion – cemeteries and memorials for veterans.

Joe Gehl of Kent is part of the Honor Guard in Albion that went to many local cemeteries and memorials this morning to honor soldiers who were killed in action.

Gehl is shown with the Honor Guard at the older St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery on Brown Road.

Gehl served in the Korean War, where he said two of his classmates from Corning were killed. Another friend from basic training also was killed in Korea.

“I always remember them during this time,” Gehl said.

The Honor Guard met at 7 this morning at the Orleans County Vets’ Club on Platt Street. They did a gun salute and then Taps was played by Wally Skrypnik, commander of the American Legion in Albion.

Wally Skrypnik, left, assists Gary Befus with the American flag after the gun salute and Taps at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery on Route 31.

Befus asked the Honor Guard members if they would be willing to honor veterans at the local memorials and cemeteries as they usual do on Memorial Day, even though there wasn’t a parade today.

The group was willing and would visit eight sites to honor veterans this morning.

Befus said the Honor Guard usually gets together frequently during the year, often at funerals of veterans.

“This is the first time we’ve seen each other in months because there haven’t been any funerals,” Befus said.

Mike Donahue looks for an empty shell after the gun salute at Mount Albion Cemetery.

Matt Passarell lowers the flag at St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Route 31 in Albion. Kevin Christy is at left.

St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery on Route 31 includes a memorial for two World War II soldiers –Tech Sgt. Joseph F. Christopher who was killed in North Africa on April 28, 1943 and Cpl. John A. Christopher who was killed in North Africa on Nov. 26, 1943.

The Honor Guard includes, from left: Phil Warne, Kevin Christy, Joe Gehl, Mike Donahue, Matt Passarell, Orville Preston and Gary Befus.

These veterans look for their empty shells after an observance in front of the Vietnam War memorial in front of the Albion Middle School, where there is usually a large Memorial Day event each year.

Orville Preston, left, Kevin Christy, center, and Joe Gehl stand at attention while Taps is played at the Orleans County Vets’ Club this morning.

To see two videos from this morning’s observances, click here at St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Route 31 and click here to see the Honor Guard at Mount Albion.

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Albion family doubles size with adoption of 3 siblings today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2020 at 10:27 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION — The Thurston family in Albion doubled in size today with the adoption finalization of three siblings.

Stephanie and Jeff Thurston adopted twin sisters, Jennifer and Kylee, both 12, and their brother Aiden, 9. They join little brother, Evan Wayne, 8. The adoption was finalized in a hearing this afternoon through Skype. (Pictured from left include Jennafer, Aiden, Stephanie. Jeff, Kylee and Evan Wayne.)

Orleans County Family Court Judge Sanford Church presided over the hearing. The Thurstons originally were scheduled to adopt Jennafer, Kylee and Aiden on March 17. But a day before at 5 p.m. that hearing was called off because the courthouse was closed to the public due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been waiting a long time,” Stephanie Thurston said at the family’s home on West Bank Street. “We feel

There was a celebration outside their house after the hearing. Many of their friends and neighbors drove by, honking horns.

Stephanie Thurston inquired with the court last week about doing an adoption over Skype. She read about other courts doing them through videoconferencing.

Judge Church was willing to do the hearing through Skype. He presided over his first adoption through Skype on May 14.

The Thurstons served as foster parents for the three siblings for 409 days. They met the three at Our Light of Victory Church o Brown Street in Albion, where the Thurstons are youth ministers. The three were staying with a different foster family at the time.

“We got to know the kids and they were on my heart,” Mr. Thurston said. “We grew to love them.”

Mrs. Thurston works as the executive secretary at the church. Mr. Thurston is a hair stylist in Lockport, working at Full Circle Salon.

The couple said they had been praying for about two years about being adoptive parents. They connected with Hillside Children’s Service in Batavia and took classes for six months. They became certified to serve as foster parents in April 2019. The three siblings joined them that month and right away were a good fit with the Thurstons.

This group stopped by the Thurstons’ driveway to congratulate them on the adoption finalization.

Mrs. Thurston said the family needs to be well organized to stay on stop of schoolwork and appointments. That has been one of the bigger challenges, just being busier.

The Covid-19 pandemic has actually slowed down the pace, and the family has enjoyed spending more time together at home.

“It has definitely been an adventure and it will only get better as we make memories and get stronger together,” Mrs. Thurston said. “I feel totally blessed.”

The Thurstons would like the three children to stay in touch with their biological parents.

“We’re very thankful for the blessing their birth parents gave us,” Mrs. Thurston said.

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LPN at Villages, stricken by Covid, gets warm welcome on return home

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2020 at 5:25 pm

Diane Conrad has recovered after more than week on ventilator

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Diane Conrad and her husband Kelly wait in front of their house on South Main Street this afternoon. Their family organized a motorcade of well-wishers for Mrs. Conrad. About 50 vehicles were in the motorcade.

Mrs. Conrad worked 13 years as an LPN at The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion. She contracted Covid-19. She didn’t realize she had it until April 29, when she was taken to Strong West in Brockport after being short of breath and disoriented. Her oxygen levels also had plummeted to the 60s.

She was taken by ambulance that night to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. The next day she was on a ventilator. She came off the ventilator nine days later and continued to rebound. She was able to come home on Friday after 16 days in the hospital.

“Thank you all for your continued support,” she said before the motorcade started. “I made it this far with everyone’s prayers.”

The Sheriff’s Department led the motorcade that included some of Conrad’s co-workers at The Villages, her family and friends. Her son Dan is in the Albion Lions Club and many of those members joined the caravan of honking vehicles. State Assemblyman Steve Hawley also joined the group of well-wishers.

The Villages has been decimated by Covid-19 with 21 residents dying from the virus and 87 total testing positive. Conrad is grateful she pulled through the illness after being hospitalized.

She said it is painful to look at the obituaries and know so many people from The Villages have died.

“It breaks my heart,” she said. “I’ve lost so many friends.”

Her daughter Casey Conrad said her mother has made a remarkable recovery.

“I amazed because she couldn’t walk and spent over a week on a ventilator,” Casey said.

Conrad is waiting a few more days to make sure she is totally recovered from Covid-19. Once she is deemed to have defeated the virus, she looks forward to embracing her family. Right now, she is keeping her distance.

“When I can hug my grandchildren that will be my happiest day,” she said.

These well-wishers, including a dog in back, show some love to Diane Conrad.

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Albion community adopts senior class, showers them with gifts

Photo by Tom Rivers: This group of volunteers distributed T-shirts on Friday to the adopters of members of the senior class in Albion The shirts say, “Senior Skip Day Champions – Class of 2020.” Pictured from left include kindergarten teacher Angie Wolfe, her son Caleb, Lynn DiBella and Sara Mathes.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 May 2020 at 9:47 am

Provided photo: Pretty Sweet Bakery in Albion made these eagle cookies for a senior.

ALBION – The Albion community has been showering members of the senior class with gifts and treats the past month as part of an Adopt-A-Senior program.

Many community members leave baskets full of snacks by the front doors for students. It’s mostly anonymous.

“This community has such an outpouring of love for these kids,” said Sara Mathes, one of the coordinators of the effort. “It’s been amazing.”

Mathes has a daughter, Chloe, who is in the Class of 2020. She and her classmates haven’t been in the school building on March 13. The Covid-19 has forced students to do remote learning. It has kept them from seeing their friends and teachers in person.

The pandemic also has derailed the spring sports season, the school musical and other extracurricular programs.

A typical graduation ceremony is iffy. The district is considering a virtual graduation on June 26 with a larger ceremony possibly later in the summer if restrictions are eased. The senior prom has been moved from June 12 to Aug. 6.

Sara Mathes feels bad the students are missing many moments together and there is still so much uncertainty.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Sara Mathes holds one of the T-shirts for seniors.

She created a Facebook page, “Adopt a AHS Class of 2020 Senior.” She was inspired after seeing another district, Ken-Ton in Erie County, adopt a senior.

Albion has 136 members in the senior class. Mathes was nervous there might not be 136 people willing to adopt a senior, especially during tough economic times.

She didn’t need to worry about that. Numerous people stepped forward to adopt a senior, so many that each senior has two people or families that have adopted them.

Mathes assigned the students randomly to the people in the community. She asked students their favorite snacks, hobbies and other interests and passed on the list to the adoptive community members.

About three weeks the gift baskets and boxes started showing up at seniors’ homes. The items have continued since then and probably will right up to graduation in late June.

Mekhi Rivera, a senior, posted his appreciation on the Adopt A Senior Facebook page.

“I am so thankful to be a part of this adopt a senior thing we are doing!” he said. “Cassie and Brian Schomske and Debbie Prest made me so happy with these gifts! Thank you for doing this and ever body else that is doing this we are all thankful for the time and money you have put into us it means a lot.”

Provided photo: Mekhi Rivera has a big smile when he received a gift from an adoptive community member.

Some seniors know their adoptive community members, but many do not. Mathes has kept it anonymous, leaving it to the community members if they want to reveal themselves.

“Every June at graduation we pack the gym and cheer for them,” Mathes said about the usual commencement, which is attended by about 2,000 people in the high school gymnasium. “This is a way to keep doing that. They see that the community cares for them.”

On Friday, Mathes was at the gazebo by the Erie Canal in Albion, distributing “Senior Skip Day Champions – Class of 2020.” The community is covering the cost of the shirts for every member of the class.

The shirts were picked up by the adoptive community members to be added to the next gift basket or box for the seniors.

Debbie Liberti, a teacher’s aide and the cheerleading coach, adopted one of the students. Liberti has enjoyed showering the student, one of her cheerleaders, with love during a stressful time.

“I know some of the seniors are feeling bad,” Liberti said. “So this is for a good cause. These kids deserve so much.”

Lynn DiBella retired as an aide in the prekindergarten program last year. She organized the T-shirt effort. DiBella initially just wanted to get a T-shirt about skip day for her adopted senior. She put it on Facebook, seeing if anyone else wanted to go in on an order. It quickly gained steam for enough orders for all seniors.

Angie Wolfe, a kindergarten teacher, helped with the distribution on Friday. She is impressed to see the Purple Eagle community rally around the senior class.

“I feel bad the seniors are missing out on so much,” Wolfe said. “I just want to brighten their day.”

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More photos of the ride to highlight small businesses in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2020 at 9:44 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A caravan of vehicles heads down Main Street in Albion at about 10 a.m. today. They were about halfway through a  50-mile ride in Orleans County that started in Holley and ended in Lyndonville.

Adam Johnson, owner of the 39 Problems bar and grill in Albion, is in the lead car. He organized the event, which he estimated had about 200 participants for different parts of the journey.

Johnson wanted to highlight the diversity of small businesses in the county, and show how many have struggled due to the economic shutdown from the Covid-19 pandemic.

DC Hauling and Excavating joins the ride through downtown Albion.

Reg Cichocki, owner of Orleans Ready Mix in Medina, brought two vehicles from his concrete business for the ride. His wife Anna is in the truck in the front seat.

Cichocki said he has been able to do concrete jobs for some agricultural projects, but the residential construction has been at a standstill for about two months.

“We need to get the residential construction going,” Cichocki said. “It’s a spinoff for the whole economy.”

He said the small businesses and community have stepped about their precautions to protect from the virus.

“This is something that has never happened in our lifetimes,” he said.

The vehicles head up Main Street in Albion after crossing the Main Street lift bridge over the Erie Canal.

Liz Groat is president of the Downtown Browsery, which includes about 70 vendors at locations in Albion and Medina.

The stores have been closed for the past two months. She said both sites will be ready to open in about two weeks. They are installing plexiglass screens at cash registers, putting in hand sanitizer stations and putting markings on the floor to emphasize social distancing of at least six feet.

Groat said she expects many customers at the Browsery because many flea markets are closed and she doesn’t anticipate as many garage sales this year due to Covid-19.

“People will be looking for a place to shop with non-Walmart things,” she said. “They are also ready for some normalcy to return.”

Vehicles head up a quiet Albion Main Street where dance studios, hair salons and barbershops are waiting to get approval to reopen.

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Firefighters distribute cloth masks to public

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2020 at 12:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Cars lined up by the Albion fire hall this morning on Platt Street, where the fire department distributed free cloth masks beginning at 10 a.m.

Albion and the 11 other fire departments in the county all distributed cloth masks from 10 a.m. until noon or for how long supplies lasted.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley hands off some of the masks in this photo. Also is the photo from left include Dennis Hunt, Fire Chief Harry Papponetti, Albion Mayor Eileen Banker and Gregg Marston.

There were 7,500 masks available to be distributed this morning. They were made by Hanes. The Orleans County Emergency Management Office secured the masks and delivered them to the 12 fire departments.

Dennis Hunt and Harry Papponetti helped distribute the masks this morning. Cars started to line up at 9 a.m., an hour early. Firefighters gave out two masks per member of a household over 2 years old.

Gregg Marston and Eileen Banker hand off masks this morning.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley also assisted in the effort.

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Gordmans’ owner declares bankruptcy, seeks buyer for stores

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 May 2020 at 7:23 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Gordmans employees and local officials celebrate a grand-opening of the Gordmans store on Feb. 18 at the Route 31 plaza in Albion. The store opened following a change-over from Peebles. That day Gordmans presented a check for $1,000 to Albion High School as a show of goodwill to the community.

ALBION – Less than three months ago a new Gordmans store opened in Albion. The store was one of 13 former Peebles stores to be changed over.

But less than a month after opening, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the store to cut back hours. By the end of March, the store closed, temporarily.

But now the parent company has declared bankruptcy, and the store will permanently close unless a new buyer is found.

Gordmans and Peebles, both discount department stores, are owned by Stage Stores, with Stage buying Gordmans in April 2017. Peebles opened in the Albion plaza in 2007.

“The increasingly challenging market environment was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which required us to temporarily close all of our stores and furlough the vast majority of our associates,” Chief Executive Officer Michael Glazer said in a statement. “Given the conditions, we have been unable to obtain necessary financing and have no choice but to take these actions.”

Houston, Texas-based Stage Stores listed both assets and liabilities between $500 million and $1 billion, according to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The company shut all its 738 stores and three distribution centers in March.

The company is seeking bids for the business or any of its assets, Stage Stores said in a statement.

If there isn’t a viable buyer, Stage will have to liquidate and close the stores.

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