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New shop opens at ‘Backroom’ in downtown Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2019 at 7:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: Maureen Bennett on Friday opened The Backroom – Pretty Sweet Bakery & A Lil’ Cottage Chic at 117 North Liberty St. One of her friends, Lisa Stratton (in back at counter), helped on a busy opening day.

ALBION – A new shop opened in downtown Albion on Friday. The Backroom – Pretty Sweet Bakery & A Lil’ Cottage Chic is owned by Maureen Bennett, who was a vendor at the next-door Downtown Browsery for nine years.

Bennett retired about a year ago after working 25 years at Albion High School as a secretary in attendance and the guidance department.

Owning her own shop has been a goal. Her business includes an “eclectic mix of vintage,” handcrafted gifts, baked goods, gourmet dips, candles and seasonal décor.

“This has been my passion to have a little shop like this,” she said Friday, on a busy opening day for the business. “I was able to get my experience at the Browsery.”

Maureen Bennett was a vendor at Downtown Browsery for nine years and decided to venture out with her own storefront.

The Backroom is located at 117 North Liberty St. It is the backroom of the former Landauers department store in Albion, at the spot in the store where people would try on jeans.

The building was recently purchased and upgraded by Michael Bonafede and Judith Koehler. They also own the Pratt and Day buildings next door that include the Downtown Browsery.

The Backroom will have a commercial kitchen for onsite baking and food preparation. Right now, an assortment of baked goods are prepared offsite and sold on location by Pamela Jenks.

Bennett also is selling homemade soaps made by Navarra’s Farm Market, Friday night candle by Lisa Christiaansen, Macramé by Bennett’s daughter Sarah, car-seat covers by Monica Clark, and other locally made products, including bohemian style clothing such as bloomers.

The Backroom is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Backroom is part of the former Landauer’s store in Albion. This is the part of Landauers known as the “back room” where people would try on jeans. The store is behind the Main Street storefronts, and is next to Five Star Bank.

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Albion will discuss school safety on Nov. 19 at meeting in auditorium

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2019 at 3:13 pm

ALBION — The school district is holding a public meeting for parents at 7 p.m. on Nov. 19 in the Middle School Auditorium to discuss how parents can help their children feel safe at school.

Last week three middle school students were charged with conspiracy for an alleged plot to kill other students and staff at the school.

The students have been suspended, and their cases are being handled in Family Court and by Probation.

Police, mental health personnel and school officials will be at the meeting on Tuesday evening, Michael Bonnewell, district superintendent, said in a letter posted on the district website and that also went home with students today.

“I know that this situation has been unnerving for everyone in our school community,” Bonnewell writes in the letter today. “We at school recognize the concerns that have been expressed and appreciate your ongoing patience and understanding. As we have noted before, the legal and disciplinary processes, as well as student privacy laws, prohibit us from sharing certain information.”

The school superintendent said safety remains the district’s first priority. At this point, the district can share the following:

• The code of conduct for suspensions requires a disciplinary hearing process dictated by the state and the three hearings are forthcoming.

• The district will continue having a school resource officer on campus from the Albion Police Department, with additional patrols from the Albion PD.

• The school resource officer and middle school principal met with middle school students to discuss their safety.

• The district will continue to pursue the best available safety and security, reviewing safety practices and procedures with staff, local law enforcement, State Police, architects and safety design specialists.

Bonnewell said “misinformation” by rumor, social media and the in the press “makes the situation even more difficult.”

He urged any students or parents to share any possible safety concerns with school building principals or the superintendent’s office.

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Albion town sets 15-ton weight limit on Gaines Basin Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 November 2019 at 4:43 pm

ALBION – The Albion Town Board has approved a local law establishing a 15-ton weight limit on Gaines Basin Road from the south entrance of Walmart, going south to the Barre townline, which is between West County House Road and Route 31A (West Lee Road).

Delivery trucks should use alternative routes such as routes 98 and 31, said Michael Neidert, the Albion town highway superintendent.

The town previously didn’t have a weight limit for the road. Neidert said heavy trucks, such as tractor trailers and loaded dump trucks, have avoided going through the village on 31 and 98. Those heavy vehicles have taken a toll on the road, Neidert said.

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Hawley reiterates push for school resource officers statewide following threat at Albion

Posted 14 November 2019 at 1:37 pm

‘This is a wake-up call that these dangers are very real, and tomorrow we may be faced with a different outcome.’ – Assemblyman Hawley

Press Release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley

Following the stifled plot of three middle school students in Albion who intended to conduct a violent attack inside their school, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is reiterating a call for armed school resource officers (SROs) to be present inside every school in New York state.

The school resource officer assigned to Albion Central School helped thwart the planned attack after receiving information from school officials about a threatening message posted on the app Discord.

Hawley’s legislation, A.3732, supported by both Republicans and Democrats, would mandate that all school resource officers are properly trained veterans or retired law enforcement and provides $50,000 in state grants to each school district that hires a SRO. Hawley wrote Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie during 2018 budget negotiations asking for funding for each school statewide to hire more armed security following the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“I applaud the work of local law enforcement and teachers in Albion for stopping this plan and thank them for their vigilance. The situation at Albion Middle School proves that increased security measures are absolutely necessary in schools across the state. This is a wake-up call that these dangers are very real, and tomorrow we may be faced with a different outcome,” Hawley said. “I will continue pushing for each school around the state to be given grant funding to hire at least one armed School Resource Officer. We cannot place a cost on the safety of our children and our teachers.”

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Albion community added lots of pep for football team at New Era Field

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 November 2019 at 11:20 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ORCHARD PARK – The Albion pep band was out in force to support the Albion football team during Friday’s game at New Era Field. These drummers in the pep band get ready to head inside the stadium.

They include, from left: Aubrey Boyer, Emma Tower, Abby Tucker, Olivia Morrison, Sophie Zambito, Molly Wadhams, Andrew Uderitz and Nick Perry.

These sousaphone players include Rowan Ford, Dyllan Roath and Jacob Coolbaugh.

The pep band makes its way through the security check leading into New Era, the home of the Buffalo Bills.

Angela LaGalbo and the Albion cheerleaders help fire up a large contingent from Albion.

An Albion fan is excited after a big play from the Purple Eagles. Albion lost the game, 34-20, to WNY Maritime in the Section VI Class B championship game.

The game was Albion’s first appearance in the title contest since 2002. Albion finishes the season at 8-2.

High school band teacher Michael Thaine, right, and the pep band were high energy throughout the game.

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Law enforcement investigating threatening messages shared at Albion Middle School

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 November 2019 at 8:12 am

ALBION — The school district and law enforcement are investigating threatening and inappropriate messages shared among a small group of middle school students through an on-line gaming app, the school district said in a letter to the Albion community on Wednesday.

Students who were involved in the original messages have been removed from school pending completion of the investigation and completion of disciplinary action by the school, Michael Bonnewell, district superintendent, wrote in the letter.

The district’s Threat Assessment Team – with assistance from the Albion Police Department, Orleans County Mental Health Department, Orleans County District Attorney’s Office and a specialist from the FBI – are working on the situation.

“The safety of our students remains our highest priority,” Bonnewell said in the letter. “This case has been the sole activity of many of our school staff as well as of partners on the Threat Assessment Team,” he wrote. “We are grateful to those students and parents who have shared information they have regarding this or any other possible safety issue.”

The school superintendent said the district welcomes anyone in the community to share information about safety concerns by contacting the appropriate school building or his office.

The district can’t share more details about the situation at this time, he said.

“We will continue to share information as the law permits, recognize your frustration that we can’t share more, but appreciate your understanding that, as we address the problem, what we are able to say is governed by federal and state laws,” he said.

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Albion recognizes dairy farm as ‘Friend of Education’

Posted 6 November 2019 at 11:59 am

Photo courtesy of Albion Central School: Ed Neal and his grandson Brian Neal are recognized at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

Press Release, Albion Central School

ALBION – The Board of Education recognized Poverty Hill Farms as a Friend of Education at Monday’s board meeting.

Ed Neal and his grandson Brian Neal accepted the award on behalf of the entire family. Ed Neal is a former president of the Board of Education.

Adam Krenning spoke about the partnership that FFA has with Poverty Hill Farms.

“The Neal family has always been willing to assist our students in the agriculture programs at Albion with anything we have needed to make the program better for our students,” Krenning said.

Tim Archer thanked the farm family for always hosting his high school Interact exchange program with an inner city school in Rochester. He said the visit to the farm is always a highlight and giving students hands-on activities and experiences on the farm is one they will never forget.

Poverty Hill Farms on West County House Road has also hosted seniors from the Workplace Internship program. The Neal family is happy to educate students about careers in agriculture and give them hands-on experiences to determine if a life in agriculture is something they may want to pursue.

Thank you Neal family for your ongoing support and willingness to educate our students!

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Firm tells Albion it has far too many maples, putting urban forest at risk

Photos by Tom Rivers: Trees in full fall foliage are shown in Mount Albion Cemetery last week.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 November 2019 at 12:31 pm

Tree experts value Albion’s municipal forest at $7.9 million

ALBION – A tree firm hired to do an inventory of the village’s urban forest estimates the 2,070 trees on public land in Albion at $7.9 million.

“This is infrastructure that gives back to you,” said Lori Brockelbank, a certified arborist and project manager with the Davey Resource Group.

However, she said 57 percent of the trees are maples, and that makes the forestry vulnerable if an invasive bug or disease were to spread among those trees. Brockelbank addressed  the Village Board during a recent meeting, and presented a final tree management plan and inventory. Ideally, the village would have less than 30 percent of a variety.

Davey Resource Group was paid $41,450 for the project. The village received a $38,260 state grant for the tree inventory and management plan.

Davey identified 719 planting sites for new trees in the village. The firm recommended varieties for the locations. Brockelbank urged Albion to avoid more maples.

Davey rated the health of trees and assigned a risk – low, moderate, high or extreme. The firm identified 204 trees that are in poor health and should be removed or have dead spots pruned. Taking down 105 trees identified for removal would cost an estimated $42,000, Brockelbank said.

The streets at the cemetery are lined with towering maple trees.

She urged the village to keep the trees healthy and plant more. The trees consume storm water, which reduces that demands on the village’s sewer plant, and slow down erosion, preserving soil, among their many benefits, she said.

Davey is suggesting the village commit to planting at least 42 new trees a year, and remove at least 21.

The village should also be structurally pruning at least 76 of its younger trees annually, and 279 other trees should be cleaned each year as part of a routine pruning cycle.

Davey looked at 2,794 sites where there could be trees – with 2,070 trees, 5 stumps and 719 planting sites. These locations were at the public right-of-way on village streets and at parks and public facilities, including Mount Albion Cemetery, Bullard Park, Lafayette H. Beach Park, St. Joe’s Park, Veterans Memorial Park, the former County Fairgrounds on Washington Street, and Carosol Park.

Some highlights from the report:

• The overall condition of the village’s urban forest is rated as fair.

• The tree inventory is skewed with a greater number of mature trees compared to younger ones.

• Approximately 41 percent of the inventoried trees have dead or dying parts.

• Overhead utilities interfere with street trees among 32 percent of the population.

• Granulate ambrosia beetle, Xm ambrosia beetle and Asian longhorned beetle pose the biggest threats to the health of the trees in Albion.

• The Albion trees provide approximately $13,310 in the following annual benefits: Air quality – 1,100 pounds of pollutants removed valued at $4,241; Net total carbon sequestered and avoided – 27.60 tons valued at $4,707; Stormwater peak flow reductions – 488,071.3 gallons valued at $4,361 for the year.

• New trees should be planted in areas that promote economic growth, such as business districts, recreational areas, trails, parking lots, areas near buildings with insufficient shade and areas where there are gaps in the existing canopy.

• Estimated cost is first year of implementing tree planting. High priority pruning and management plan is $141,320 for the first year with cost dropping to $124,057 in second year, $87,549 in the third year, $79,675 in fourth year and $79,145 in fifth year.

• Davey is providing village with TreeKeeper software to help manage the urban forest, tracking conditions of trees.

• Albion’s ratio of street trees per capita is 0.13, which falls significantly below the mean ratio of 0.37 reported for 22 U.S. cities. According to the Albion study, there is one tree for every 7.8 residents. Albion’s potential is one tree for every 4.1 residents.

• New plantings should have priority in southwest census block of Albion, where the neighborhoods are near correctional facility, railroad and busy Route 31. Trees would help mitigate the impact from those sites.

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Albion looking to add kiosk, brochures for names on tower at cemetery

Photos by Tom Rivers: Inside the tower at Mount Albion Cemetery there are nine marble slabs with the names of 463 soldiers from Orleans County who served in the Civil War.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 November 2019 at 9:16 am

Many of the names on the tablets have become worn and are difficult to read.

ALBION – Many of the names on marble tablets inside the tower at Mount Albion Cemetery are difficult to read, worn down after nearly 150 years.

Diana Augspurger of Buffalo noticed the condition about a year ago and has been considering options to prevent further decay. She brought out a glass specialist who looked at putting glass coverings in front of the tablets, with room for air.

That would likely top $20,000, and could be difficult to put inside the Medina sandstone tower, which was built in 1876 as a memorial to the nearly 500 soldiers from Orleans County who died in the war. The community had the tower dedicated on the 100thanniversary of the country’s founding.

Augspurger also suggested there be lights inside the tower to illuminate the tablets.

Jason Zicari, cemetery foreman, and local officials, including County Historian Matt Ballard, recently were at the tower to consider options.

Zicari said putting lights inside the tower wouldn’t be practical. The main culprit in corroding the names seems to be water infiltration. Zicari said recent work by mason Neal Muscarella to repoint the tower should keep water away from the tablets.

If the goal is to help people know the 463 names on the tablets, Ballard suggested a kiosk near the with the names and also its history as a Civil War memorial. He also said brochures with the names could be produced.

Mayor Eileen Banker and the Village Board like those ideas. The board will work Augspurger and other interested community members to raise funding and create the kiosk and brochures.

Ballard, during a recent meeting with the board, said he is concerned about the condition for the chapel near the entrance of the cemetery. He said that should be a pressing concern.

Mayor Banker said the village will likely to be pursuing grant funding for work at the chapel.

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2 new businesses open in downtown Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 November 2019 at 9:04 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Two businesses opened in downtown Albion in late September. On Saturday, Janna Stirk had a grand opening celebration for “Marked. by Janna.”

Janna, center with scissors, is joined at a ribbon-cutting by Adyson Stirk, son Brody, husband Morgan, Mayor Eileen Banker and Ava Stirk.

Stirk does body-waxing and micro-blading, which puts semi-permanent tattoos on eyebrows.

“A lot of people do it in the city,” she said about microblading. “This is bringing it to the small town.”

She works out of 4 East Bank St., in a building owned by Corey and Marilyn Black.

She was a stay-at-home mother in recent years before starting her business. She previously worked 10 years for Chase’s banking operation in Albion.

Janna Stirk and joined by her son Brody at Marked. by Janna.

“I didn’t plan on opening my own business,” Stirk said. “The space became available. I opened and people started calling me and booking appointments.”

Mayor Eileen Banker presented Stirk with certificates of commendation from the village and also State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, where Banker works as Hawley’s chief of staff.

“Thank you for taking the opportunity to open this business in Albion and for giving Albion a chance,” Banker said.

Stirk also is an artist and leads painting classes for groups, often at parties.

Stirk is sharing the building space with Terri Jordan. Stirk’s entrance is on East Bank Street while Jordan’s storefront is at 63 North Main St.

Terri Jordan opened the Little Shop on Main in late September. She is at the corner of Bank and Main streets. She said it is a great location in the downtown.

She sells bath bombs, artisan soap and soy candles. She makes them all with natural ingredients.

The soy candles are here most popular item, so far.

The bath bombs, which moisture skin and have aroma therapy, also are very popular, especially with teen-age girls. “They want to feel good and smell good,” Jordan said.

The Little Shop is open on Fridays and Saturdays. Jordan works full-time at Hospice of Orleans as the finance manager.

Jordan has her own labels for bath bombs, soap and candles. She also sells glassware, cannisters, baskets and canvas signs.

Douglas Jordan holds a wood carved and painted duck he made from a block of wood. Jordan is Terri’s father. Some of his ducks are available at the Little Shop on Main.

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