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Albion hardware store has many mementoes from the old days

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 September 2019 at 10:26 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The True Value Family Hardware store in downtown Albion has many posters nailed to the side delivery door. Those posters highlight concerts and other performances in the community during the 1950s.

Fred Miller, owner of the store the past 33 years, has kept the posters up. They have become a little tattered over the years from the being pelted with wind and snow when Miller needs to open the door.

He never considered removing them. He likes the old posters and other metal signs and mementoes from generations ago.

Miller is closing the hardware store. He expects it will be open about two more weeks.


This poster advertises a musical “Rotary in Farce” by the Albion Rotary Club on Feb. 15-16, 1956. The Rotary Club used to do musicals as a fundraiser for the Rotary Community Fund.

This poster advertises a Christmas concert by the Albion Community Chorus on Dec. 22, 1954. The concert benefitted the Orleans County Cancer Fund.

This poster advertises the Fly-In Breakfast at Pine Hill Airport. The breakfast was $2.50 on Oct. 1, 1978. That event still continues and has been going on for more than 50 years.

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2 dogs graduate from canine training at Albion Correctional

Staff Reports Posted 19 September 2019 at 3:18 pm

Provided photo

ALBION — Inmates, staff and administrators at Albion Correctional Facility are pictured last month during the second graduation program for a canine training program.

Kathy Smith and Ariel Strickland, who are both animal control officers for Orleans County, also attended the graduation.

Two dogs from the Orleans County Animal Shelter — Maverick (a beagle) and Mateo (a hound) – were trained by inmates at the prison. The two dogs arrived at the animal shelter on May 14.

Maverick and Mateo then spent about 12 weeks at the correctional facility with two teams of three inmates. They cared for and trained the dogs, under the supervision of a community volunteer, Tom Ryan. He received his professional trainer certification through the National K-9 School for Dog Trainers in Columbus, Ohio.

During the 12 weeks, the two dogs learned obedience training and socialization skills, making them suitable for adoption.

Since the graduation, two more dogs arrived on Sept. 4 for handlers to work with and prepare for adoption to their forever homes.

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Dollar General to close in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2019 at 2:45 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Dollar General is closing its store in Albion at 449 West Ave. Employees said the store needs to be out of the building by Oct. 14.

The building is for sale for $219,000, and is listed by Hanna Commercial Real Estate in Buffalo.

Dollar General has four other stores in Orleans County: Route 18 in Kendall, Route 31 in Holley, Maple Ridge Road in Medina and Ridge Road in Medina (just south of Lyndonville).

Dollar General and Zaremba Development proposed a store in Gaines on Route 104 across from a cobblestone schoolhouse built in 1849. The school and two other cobblestone buildings in Gaines are part of a National Historic Landmark. That Dollar General has been opposed by the State Historic Preservation Office, many local historians and the Cobblestone Museum.

Gaines town officials say they haven’t heard from the developer in several months about the project.

The Albion store has faced stiff competition with Walmart down the road, as well as the Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, both close by.

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Billboard encourages thankfulness in Orleans

Photo by Tom Rivers: This billboard on Route 98, on the northern edge of the Village of Albion, went up last week. The spot often has had billboards promoting alcohol.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 September 2019 at 4:45 pm

ALBION – Beth Giordano would drive by the billboard on Route 98, at the village’s north line, and would be upset at the typical message being prominently displayed, celebrating alcohol.

The billboard is next to the Oak Orchard Estates mobile home park and is on one of the county’s busiest thoroughfares. Giordano knew many kids and local residents were seeing the sign promoting alcohol.

“Week after week I saw the beer ads up there and it breaks my heart because the kids see it,” she said. “The school buses go by it, and it’s right next to the Albion sign that says, ‘A Great Place to Live.’”

Giordano wanted to send a different message with the billboard. She and her husband John decided to rent the billboard with a thankfulness message for 12 months. The first one went up last week. It proclaims a community challenge, asking people to “show the world who or what YOU are thankful for.” They are encouraged to post their responses on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at #ThankfulinOrleans.

“I know they are thinking about thankfulness every time they go by there,” Giordano said today.

She and her husband have lived in Point Breeze for more than 20 years. They have owned a building in downtown Albion since 2007 at 25-27 East Bank St.

They have run youth centers in the community.

“I have a huge heart for Albion, for the children and families,” said Giordano, who works a Christian counselor. “I know alcohol itself can be very damaging to teen-agers and their families.”

The East Bank Street location will be the base of the new ministry or community care center called “Rise Above.” Giordano wants to help girls and women rise above depression, anxiety and other challenges in their lives.

With the billboard, she will open up the display to other community organizations, and will keep with a thankfulness theme. The Giordanos have reserved it for 12 months, but won’t have it for December because that month was already taken.

“Our goal is to put more encouraging things on it,” she said.

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Ghost Walk returns Sept. 28 at Mount Albion

File photo by Tom Rivers: Ryan Krenning portrays Hiram Curtis (April 1804 – May 17, 1871) during last year’s Ghost Walk on Sept. 30. Ryan was one of the Albion High School students who was a ghost, portraying a prominent person at the cemetery. Curtis owned a foundry along the Erie Canal currently occupied by the Lake Country Pennysaver and Orleans Hub. He manufactured agricultural implements including plows, cultivators and reapers. His company made 1,000 plows annually in a variety of patterns. The Erie Canal was a perfect place for his business allowing him to receive raw materials and ship finished product throughout the state and beyond.

Staff Reports Posted 17 September 2019 at 9:34 am

ALBION – The annual Ghost Walk at Mount Albion Cemetery, featuring many Albion High School students, returns on Sept. 28 with students portraying 16 people at the cemetery, including three who haven’t been highlighted before.

This is the 11th annual Ghost Walk, and the tours typically attract about 400 to 500 people. The tours start at 5:30 and go until 8:30. There are tours every 15 minutes and they last about an hour.

RSVPs are required and can be made by calling Sue Starkweather Miller at the school, 589-2087. There is a $5 suggested donation. Everyone will be bused in and out of the cemetery from the elementary school.

High school students will perform as actors, singers and tour guides. Students also perform technical duties, making sure there are batteries, lights and microphones.

New ghosts on the tour include:

• George Bullard, a former NYS Assemblyman who donated 24 acres of land to the Village of Albion it what is known as Bullard Park.

• Hank Porter, an Albion graduate, worked for Walt Disney and created illustrations for the full length film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” He also updated the image of Donald Duck, was responsible for the “Disney” design, and sketched numerous emblems and insignias for all military branches to be used on war planes, tanks, and ships. It built comradery and identity with the troops.

• Anna Dann Mason will tell the story of her time as Susan B. Anthony’s housekeeper and personal secretary. She was married in Anthony’s parlor and the famous suffragette was her maid of honor. Mason’s husband, Gilbert Mason, lived in Albion.

Other ghosts featured on the tour include:

• Charles Howard opened his Santa Claus School in 1937. There he taught people from all over the world how to play Santa. In addition, he opened Christmas Park which included many attractions and a toy shop. He was the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa and a consultant on the movie Miracle on 34th Street.

• Virginia Sheret will share the story of her brothers James, Andrew and Eugene as their Company F broke through the Hindenberg Line. Two of her brothers paid the ultimate price for their efforts.

• The Barnum brothers and their stint in WWII will be highlighted

• Alice Wilson will tell the story of her death by strangulation. Her philandering husband was her killer. He was the only person ever hanged in Orleans County.

• Sidney Eddy played an important role during WWI. He was stationed in France and was an ambulance driver, putting himself and his Model T in danger as he transported the wounded from the front lines to hospital.

• Emma Hunt will share how she was murdered by the jilted William Lake. Then Sheriff Rice will tell how he put together a posse to apprehend Lake, who was on the lamb. He was caught, tried and put to death at Auburn State Prison. At the time, he was the 7th person to die by the electric chair.

• David Jones will share how he and his brother Claudius patented the Delusion Mousetrap. What made is special was the fact that it was a multi-catch mousetrap that would repeatedly kill mice. It was “always set and never out of order.” At its peak of popularity, they were producing over 1,000 traps a day!

• Isaac Signor, Orleans County Judge who wrote the book Landmarks of Orleans County (a resource used for the Albion ghost walks).

• C. Royce Sawyer, a 30-year member of the Dye Hose Company (Albion Fire Department). As Fire Chief, he worked to have the entire company motorized. Albion was the 2nd department in NYS to become motorized, with NYC was the first.

• Emma Ingersoll will show off her family statue and share details of her will, which gifted the water fountain and bench to Mount Albion Cemetery – as long as they promised to supply the water.

• Robert Capstick, a down and out Civil War soldier, gave Sarah Harling his prized possession, a George Washington button, for taking him in and nursing him back to health when he was so destitute.

• Charles Nelson Brown was a minor league baseball player who suffered from severe depression. He was institutionalized in Batavia, but left the facility on snowy night, walked home to Albion and took his own life.

The tour will start and end at the Pump House.

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Care Net’s Walk for Life will include tethered balloon rides for first time

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 September 2019 at 10:11 am

Déjà Vu Ballooning in Gasport provided tethered hot-air balloon rides on Aug. 31 at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds for the Steampunk Festival. Déjà Vu will have a balloon at the upcoming Walk for Life on Sept. 29 in Albion.

ALBION – The Walk for Life, a fundraiser for Care Net of Greater Orleans, is going to be at a different location this year, and will offer tethered hot-air balloon rides for the first time.

Walk for Life is usually at Mount Albion Cemetery. That location didn’t have a big enough open spot for Déjà Vu Ballooning in Gasport to offer the tethered balloon rides.

Care Net has moved the Sept. 29 to Albion Central School with the balloon rides in front of the track/football stadium.

“I thought it would add a nice fun dimension to the walk,” said Wende Swick, Care Net’s executive director.

Tickets are $25 for a ride in the tethered balloon. The top 2 fundraisers for the walk will get a full ride in the balloon.

The Walk for Life will include a 1-mile route in the nature trail/woods. If it’s muddy or rainy, the course will shift to the track.

Participants can walk or run the course as individuals or as a team. Swick encouraged youth groups, Bible study groups or families to be part of the event, which goes from 5 to 8 p.m.

There will be prizes for the teams with the best costume, most spirit, largest team, and in other categories.

Care Net has set a $15,000 fundraising goal for the event. For more information, call Care Net at 589-7505, or click here.

Care Net Center of Greater Orleans provides free services which include pregnancy and STI testing, limited ultrasounds, classes in parenting, Bible study and life skills, material aid, an earn while you learn program.

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Route 98 lift bridge closes for a few days

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 September 2019 at 9:36 am

Albion DPW will repair road, while DOT works on bridge this week

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Crews from the Village of Albion Department of Public Works work on a section of Route 98, just north of the Main Street lift bridge, this morning.

The village is working this week to restore the road which had to be torn up in January after a water main leak.

With the road closed for the repair, the state Canal Corp. is using it as an opportunity for maintenance on the bridge, keeping it in the upright position so boats can pass through.

The bridge is expected to be closed to traffic for approximately five days.During the closure, vehicular traffic will be detoured using East State Street, Ingersoll and Caroline Streets.

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Hardware store in downtown Albion will close

Photos by Tom Rivers: Fred Miller moves a dolly at Family Hardware in Albion this morning. He has owned the store for the past 33 years at 58 North Main St.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 September 2019 at 3:54 pm

Fred Miller has owned the store for 33 years

ALBION – A downtown mainstay, Family Hardware, will soon be closing. Fred Miller has owned the store the past 33 years, and worked there for five years before buying it.

An ad posted on the Orleans Hub this morning informed the community the store was closing, with a 30 percent off sale next week. Miller will be selling the inventory, and then he expects there will be an auction to sell the shelves and fixtures.

The store was once a bustling place, with customers lined up before the doors opened at 8 a.m., Miller recalled today.

He once had 8 to 10 employees. On a typical day he would make 50 keys for customers.

Miller, 65, has been running the place mostly by himself in recent years. He is often joined by his dog, Max, a German Shepherd.

“It was a wonderful past,” Miller said today.

He was thankful for the 38 years in the business, for the chance to get to know many community members. His children grew up working in the store. Kevin is now 37 and Janet is 32. They are coming home next week to help their father with the going-out-business sale.

Fred Miller helps the driver from True Value Hardware unload a truck this morning, in what Miller expects will be the last hardware delivery for the store.

Miller said it is a challenge to succeed as a small business owner. He has watched many businesses come and go in downtown Albion. He felt the loss when Fischer’s Newsstand closed in August 2015. That business, like the hardware store, had been a fixture of the downtown for about a century.

Many of the Fischer’s customers would stop by the hardware store to grab a few items.

Miller ran for local elected office about a decade ago over concerns about taxes and the small business environment. He was first on the Albion Village Board and then was elected to the Orleans County Legislature. He is the lone Democrat on the Legislature, and he is well-liked by the Republicans. The party didn’t endorse any one to challenge him in the election.

“The people of this I’ve always loved,” Miller said. “That’s why I got into politics. But I’m not a politician. I’m a business owner.”

Miller said the store was given a boost through e-commerce, where local people could order from the Family Hardware website and then pick up the products at Miller’s store.

He has been wanting to retire anyway. He hasn’t been able to take vacations over the years with his wife Betty Sue.

Without employees to run the store, He has had to close Family Hardware early to make meetings as a county legislator.

This spring he had to close a few hours each day so he could get radiation treatments for prostate cancer. Miller said the treatments have been successful.

He had hoped the building would stay a hardware store, but that won’t be the case. Miller said someone has an option to buy the building.

Doug Bower stopped by the store today to pick up a water heater from Miller. Bower, a plumber, has been one of Miller’s most dedicated customers over the years.

Doug Bower, an Albion plumber, has been one of Miller’s most loyal customers. He stops by each morning around 7:30 for coffee, just before the doors open to the public. He is usually joined by Joe Baker and Richard Nenni, two other dedicated customers.

Bower said Miller kept the store going long after most others would have stopped.

“It’s hard to stay in business against the Home Depots and the Lowe’s,” Bower said.

Miller said the big box competition wasn’t the culprit in the store’s closing. Ultimately, he said there are far fewer do-it-yourselfers these days. Many local residents either hire out work around the house or neglect home improvement projects.

“People used to do more projects,” he said. “We used to have people lined up here at 8 in the morning. They knew how to do things with their hands. They could do projects – faucets, toilets, outlets, plumbing and electrical.”

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Main Street lift bridge will close to traffic next week in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 September 2019 at 3:15 pm

Village DPW needs to make road repair from Jan. 1 water leak

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Village of Department of Public Works had to dig down on Main Street, just north of the Erie Canal lift bridge, to fix a water leak on Jan. 1, 2019. The Village DPW next week will repair the section of the road to state Department of Transportation standards. The DPW did a temporary restoration in January.

ALBION – The Main Street lift bridge will be closed to traffic beginning Monday so a full road restoration can be made just north of the bridge. The bridge could be closed to traffic until Friday.

The Village of Albion Department of Public Works on Jan. 1 was forced to cut into the road and dig down to a water main after a big leak was discovered.

The Village DPW will dig down again about 6 to 7 feet next week, and will check on the water main to make sure the fix is holding, said Jay Pahura, the DPW superintendent.

The DPW then needs to restore the road the state Department of Transportation standards, with layers of sand, crusher-run and flowable fill, topped by 14 inches of pavement.

The DOT is bringing in a saw to cut through the 14 inches of pavement. The County Highway Department will help haul material to the site.

The DPW also needs to reset granite curbing and sidewalks at the site.

Pahura said there is a chance the work won’t take five days and the bridge could reopen to traffic sooner. The bridge will remain operational for any boat traffic during the week.

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Rock the Park Committee presents Albion village with $5K

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 September 2019 at 8:14 am

Provided photo

ALBION – Some members of the Albion Rock the Park Committee on Wednesday presented a $5,000 ceremonial check to Albion Mayor Eileen Banker, left, for projects at Bullard Park. Other sin the photo include committee members: John Grillo, Bernie Baldwin, Kim Remley and Ron Albertson.

The committee organized the Albion Summer Festival featuring Rock the Park on Aug. 3. It added children’s games and welcomed vendors for the event.

The sixth annual event attracted about 1,000 people to the performance tent where five bands performed from 3 to 11 p.m.

Next year, the bands will play from a new amphitheater that has been under construction this summer, along with a spray park and other improvements.

The Rock the Park Committee would like the $5,000 to go towards the amphitheater with $2,000 for electric work, and $3,000 for side slats that can be rolled up. The amphitheater is on a slope and some of the $5,000 from the committee could also be used for drainage, said John Grillo, one of the committee members and Albion’s recreation director.

The committee wants to add more vendors and children’s games and activities for next year’s festival.

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