Albion native, a screenwriter in LA, writes for new Knuckles series

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 March 2024 at 9:54 am

Show will stream on Paramount Plus starting April 26

James Madejski works as a writer in the film and television industry in Los Angeles. He wrote one of the episodes of the new series, Knuckles.

ALBION – An Albion native will have his name in the credits for an upcoming series on Knuckles, a character from Sonic the Hedgehog. (Click here to see the trailer.)

Knuckles, an Echidna warrior, gets his own six-episode series that streams on Paramount Plus beginning April 26. He teaches a human the ways of being a warrior.

James Madejski, 34, wrote one of the episodes. He has been working in the film and television industry in Los Angeles for more than a decade.

He is currently writing for a Netflix show that will premiere its second season in 2025.

Madejski, the son of Sandra and Dr. Tom Madejski, graduated from Albion in 2007. He earned a bachelor’s degree in screen writing and play writing from SUNY Purchase, and then headed to LA.

“I am very fortunate on the amount of work I’ve done, and the people I’ve worked with,” Madejski said by phone on Thursday.

He has been able to work steadily, except for last year’s strike by the Writers Guild of America. But now the business is full steam ahead.

“It is an interesting time in Hollywood and an exciting time,” he said.

Madejski has done a variety of jobs in the film and television industry, with his goal to be a screen writer.

He started his career with four years at a studio, learning the business of screenwriting –“What sells and gets people excited.”

He was a writer’s assistant for a year on Shadowhunters. He felt like he landed his big break as a script coordinator for Doolittle, starring Robert Downey Jr. Madejski’s name appeared in the credits and he flew to London for part of the production.

He made connections with the creator of Knuckles through Doolittle.

Madejski said writers in Hollywood need to be witty with material that connects with an audience. They also need basic values such as dependability.

“Be personable and have a good attitude,” he said. “There are no bad ideas and you need to try to make everyone’s ideas as good as they can be.”

Madejski said the industry in LA fits the saying, “A lot of it is who you know.”

He has gradually built a network. He worked with his boss on Knuckles before. “He knew he could trust me,” Madejski said.

Knuckles is an unusual series with live-action animated characters and humans together on the screen. Madejski urges people to watch “a fun and silly show.”

He is grateful to be working in television and film, which he has loved since he was a kid.

“My goal is to continue what I’m doing now, and work my way up in writer’s rooms and maybe get a feature film,” he said. “Working in this industry is a roller coaster, but the highs are very high.”

Ministry of Concern will move offices to Presbyterian Church in Albion

Photo by Tom Rivers: The offices to the First Presbyterian Church are accessible along sidewalks on the back of the building at 29 East State St. The Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern will be using four rooms in the church starting April 1.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 February 2024 at 7:50 pm

ALBION – The Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern is moving its offices to the First Presbyterian Church of Albion following a dispute over a hike in its monthly lease charge from the Village of Albion.

The village raised the monthly rate for the Ministry of Concern by 35 percent from $1,146.67 to $1,550.96 a month, which includes utilities at the Albion Visitor’s Center. Jami Allport, the GOMOC director, told the Village Board that increase at the third floor of 121 North Main St. wasn’t sustainable for the agency. She asked for a smaller increase of 2 to 4 percent.

But the majority of the board believed the rent, at 48 cents per square foot, was below market rate. The new rate put it at 65 cents a month per square foot, which was still about half of what the first and second floor tenants are paying.

Kevin Gardner, an elder at the Presbyterian Church, read about the issue in news reports. He suggested to the church that it offer to rent out space to the Ministry of Concern.

Allport checked the space at the church with some of the GOMOC board members. The church is making four rooms available to GOMOC, plus use of memorial lounge for board meetings – and at a rate less than the $1,146.67 monthly charge from the village before the increase.

The office space will be accessible on the back end of the church. That is also the entrance to the church office. There is a church parking lot on Platt Street and sidewalks leading to the entrance.

“We are very thankful and grateful for the space,” Jami Allport said today. “ We will pay rent but at more manageable amount. It’s fair for both parties.”

The Ministry of Concern will have an open house for the community in April to see the new space for the agency.

The Rev. Susan Thaine, pastor of the church, said two of the rooms were recently redone following a third floor water leak that caused some damage to the rooms. Two other rooms will be painted and electrical outlets will be added for the new tenants.

The church used to offer space to BOCES for GED classes. AA also uses a room in the church, and they will shift to another spot.

“That building has more than enough room for all of us to grow together,” Thaine said. “It’s mutually beneficial. It gives the congregation an opportunity to engage with a ministry they haven’t engaged with much before.”

The main church sign on Main Street has space to highlight the Ministry of Concern. Thaine said other signs on Platt Street and East State Street could direct people to GOMOC office.

The Ministry of Concern is known by many as “The Agency of Last Resort.” It provides services to many people in crisis, including working poor who are facing hardship.

The Ministry of Concern has in-house advocates who work on behalf of clients with utility companies, landlords and other entities as necessary. Eligible individuals and families can receive help with personal care items, short-term emergency housing and financial assistance with prescriptions and utilities.

The Furniture Program also accepts donations of gently used furniture and non-gas appliances which are subsequently delivered without cost to people in need.

Albion village to ask Legislature to make up tax loss after county bought 2 buildings

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 February 2024 at 1:03 pm

Bank of America, former GCC coming off tax rolls, costing village $11K

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Legislature last year bought the former Bank of America on South Main Street, pictured at left,  to be used by the treasurer’s office. The county also bought the former GCC building to be used for probation and the district attorney’s office.

ALBION – The Albion Village Board said Orleans County’s acquisition of two buildings last year will cost the village about $11,000 in lost tax revenue.

The village wants the county to make up that difference.

The county in October approved buying the former GCC building at 456 West Ave. Orleans paid $975,000 for the building owned by Herring Enterprises of Holley.

The site is assessed for $450,000. That building generated $8,608.50 in village property taxes in 2023-24 with the village tax rate at $19.13 per $1,000 of assessed property.

The county intends to move the district attorney’s office and probation department from the Public Safety Building to the GCC site. The Public Safety Building will be reconfigured with more space to be used by the Sheriff’s Office.

In September the County Legislature approved spending $250,000 for the former Bank of America site at 156 S. Main St. It will become the treasurer’s office. That building has a drive-through and is more easily accessible than the current office on East Park Street, county officials said.

The bank is assessed for $125,000, which accounted for $2,391.25 in village taxes in 2023-24.

Both properties will still have to pay village taxes in the 2024-25 budget when the tax bills are due in June. They become exempt from taxes for the first time in September with school taxes, county officials said.

The Village Board worries about a shrinking tax base in the village. In the 2023-24 budget, the overall assessed value dropped by 1.08 percent or by $1,663,794 – down from $154,457,302 to $152,723,508.

Most of the loss in tax base was from the assessed value being lowered at the plaza at 318 West Ave. That plaza includes Save-A-Lot, Pro Hardware, Dollar Tree and the vacant spot formerly for Gordman’s. That value for the site was reduced from $1,856,300 to $816,000 as part of a settlement between the Town of Albion and the owner, A & D Properties (Westwood Financial).

The reduction was a drawn-out process and local officials were expecting an assessment drop. But the county’s purchase of the two buildings caught Albion village officials by surprise.

The Village Board is working on either a letter or a formal resolution to be sent to the county, asking to make up for the lost tax revenue.

The state government has PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes) with many municipalities around the state when the state acquires land for parks, forests and other purposes. The state gives the City of Albany $15 million a year as the state capital to help make up for no property taxes in the city for so much of the state property. In Albany, 64 percent of the city is tax exempt.

Albion PD warns of phone scammers pretending to be police officers

Posted 29 February 2024 at 10:06 am

Press Release, Albion Police Chief David Mogle

ALBION – The Albion Police Department is warning people about another phone scam making its rounds in the area.

This scam involves someone pretending to be a police officer who tells the victim(s) that there is a warrant out for their arrest or that they have pending criminal charges.

During the phone call the scammer will usually ask the victim(s) for money or some type of monetary gift card i.e.) Apple, Sephora, Razer Gold etc. The scammer will state that the victim(s) can purchase these cards and provide them with the information on the card to avoid being arrested.

Scammers are very convincing.  They’ll provide you with a badge number, names of law enforcement officials and judges and courthouse addresses. They will spoof the phone number so it appears on caller ID as if it is coming from a government agency or the court.

During the phone call, the scammer will tell the victim(s) not to tell anyone what is going on and to keep the matter private.

The Albion Police Department wants to remind everyone that these are fraudulent calls and that police departments will not call individuals over the phone and ask for personal information such as bank accounts, social security numbers, credit card information etc.

If you receive a call asking for any of the above information along with any individual asking for gift cards or money in lieu of being arrested the phone call is fraudulent in nature and you are being scammed.

The Albion Police Department asks that if you are a resident of the Village of Albion and have any questions, comments or concerns or believe that you may have possibly been a victim or target please call the Albion Police Department at 585-589-5627.

Albion intends to pursue parks, Restore NY grants

Photo by Tom Rivers: Downtown Albion is pictured on Jan. 29. Main Street traffic has been disrupted since the Main Street lift bridge was closed on Oct. 17, 2022.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 February 2024 at 8:55 am

ALBION – The Albion Village Board intends to pursue state funding for local park improvements and try again for the Restore NY program.

The board on Wednesday said it would apply for a parks grant for a lodge at Bullard Park and some projects in the smaller “pocket parks.”

The Greater Albion Community Recreation and Events Inc., a not-for-profit organization, will do the legwork on the application – teaming with the village to identify projects and the scope of the work.

The not-for-profit can’t be the applicant for the grant through the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. A municipality needs to seek the money, G-ACRE members Kim Remley, Ron Albertson and John Grillo told the Village Board on Wednesday.

G-ACRE will work with the village’s grant writer, G&G Municipal Consulting and Grant Writing, to complete the application, which is expected to be due in July. The application will then be submitted by the village.

The village in December 2016 was awarded a $499,605 state grant for Bullard projects, including a splash pad, amphitheater, new bathrooms and other improvements.

G-ACRE would like to make a new lodge the focus of the new application. A lodge in the park would be available year-round and could be rented out by community members. The lodge could have space for up to 90 people.

The group will also look at projects in the smaller neighborhood parks. That could include a fenced-in area for a dog park. Village Trustee Tim McMurray said St. Joseph’s Park on Clinton Street is being considered for the dog park.

Albion last year applied for $2 million through the Restore NY grant program. The village sought to assist 22 properties in the downtown area. Albion didn’t get the grant that would have covered 90 percent of building improvement projects in vacant or underutilized buildings.

Jay Grasso of G&G said the state has made $60 million available for the program this year. The board said it wants to try again. Grasso said the village will submit a notice of intent to apply for Restore NY by March 25 and there will likely be two public meetings about the grant, which is due to be filed in May.

Albion’s grant will be modified from last year’s. Grasso said other compelling projects emerged after the grant was submitted last year. He said he would work with the board and community to determine the most viable projects for the program.

Restore NY last year was available for projects ranging from $50,000 to up to $400,000. Most of the projects include drywall, utility work, plumbing and other improvements to make space more usable for residential and commercial uses.

Albion qualifies as a severely distressed community, making it eligible for Restore NY funding, Grasso said. That state program seeks to revitalize the heart of community centers, bringing funding for residential and commercial projects. Communities can apply for up to $10 million through the program.

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week the new round of $60 million for Restore NY.

“With Restore New York, we’re putting up $60 million in funding to breathe life back into communities all across our state,” Hochul said in a statement on Feb. 21. “This program gives municipalities the support they need to turn blighted, rundown buildings into housing, commercial hubs, and more, and any local leader ready to unlock their community’s potential should apply.”

Albion village asks Congressional, state and county reps for help with closed Brown Street bridge

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Brown Street bridge over the Erie Canal in the Village of Albion has been closed for more than a decade. Village officials worry about the deteriorating condition of the bridge.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 February 2024 at 9:12 pm

ALBION – The Albion Village Board is reaching out to the county, state and federal levels for help with the deteriorating Brown Street canal bridge.

The structure from 1912 has been closed to vehicular traffic since July 18, 2012 after an inspection by the state Department of Transportation showed serious deterioration of major elements of the steel truss floor system.

The Village Board wants the bridge to get a major rehabilitation or be removed. A letter was sent to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle, State Sen. Rob Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson.

“State or Federal resources are needed now to improve the status of this bridge,” according to the letter from Mayor Angel Javier Jr., Deputy Mayor Joyce Riley and trustees Tim McMurray, Chris Barry and David Buczek.

The board states in the letter the bridge was last rehabbed in 1955 – 69 years ago.

The bridge remains open for pedestrians, but village officials said rusty bridge pieces are falling into the canal. The board included photos in the letter of the bridge, calling it a “biohazard” for the Erie Canal.

“You can see clearly from the pictures the erosion of paint, rust, steel fragments, missing bolts and concrete that have fallen into the canal,  contaminating it and its tributaries, like Sandy Creek,” according to the letter from the board.

The village officials note the Brown Street bridge is the third north-south crossing eliminated in the village, with the Clarendon Street bridge demolished and Clinton Street railroad crossing closed.

The village in December asked the DOT to work on the bridge by repairing or removing it – at the very least have it painted.

“We have talked to local and regional officials about this bridge, and everyone passes it to someone else,” the letter states. “Who is the final arbiter? Who will help determine if this bridge is to remain or fall into the canal? Will someone please respond to this request for HELP? Or will we again hear crickets?”

Albion won’t seek about $2,000 in arrears from Ministry of Concern

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 February 2024 at 11:53 am

ALBION – The Albion Village Board won’t seek about $2,000 from the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern in late payments for rent.

The board approved a higher rate for GOMOC to start on Oct. 1. The rent for the third floor space at the Albion Visitor’s Center went from $1,146.67 to $1,550.96 a month, which includes utilities.

Jami Allport, the GOMOC director, last week asked the board for a smaller rent increase, perhaps 2 or 4 percent. She said the 35 percent increase was too high and would likely force the agency to find another place.

The board in a 3-1 vote kept the rent at the $1,550.96 amount. However, the board agreed to not start the higher cost until March 1. The board won’t seek about $2,000 owed over the five months in the higher rate.

GOMOC never signed the lease at the higher rate so the board believed it could give them a break.

“I think that was beautiful of them and we really appreciate that,” Allport said today about the reprieve.

She said she and the board of directors are considering the lease at the higher rate. The village would like GOMOC to commit to a year with the lease, from March 1 to Feb. 28.

Allport said the agency has other options, and could put its office in another community in Genesee or Orleans counties.

“People have been contacting us,” she said. “We are looking at other options. We’re keeping our eyes open.”

She would prefer to stay in Albion. She said Orleans residents account for more than double the people from Genesee that are served by the agency.

“We’d like to stay in the Village of Albion but we don’t have to,” she said. “The need is great here.”

The Ministry of Concern uses 2,386 square feet on the third floor of the building at 121 North Main St. GOMOC was previously paying 48 cents a square foot. With the new rate at $1,550.96, the square footage is 65 cents a month.

That is below the $1.65 a foot paid by Assemblyman Steve Hawley for 860 square feet on the first floor ($1,416.77 total); $1.30 by the Orleans Economic Development Agency for 1,686 square feet on the second floor ($2,196.06 total); and the $1.40 a foot for Darlene Benton of Paradise Healing Arts, who uses 289 square feet for $405 a month.

Albion churches work together for Lenten lunches on Wednesday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 February 2024 at 9:04 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Dave Beach, pastor of the Gaines Carlton Community Church, shares a message on Wednesday during the first Lenten luncheon served at the First Baptist Church of Albion at 30 West Park St.

The Baptist church is hosting Lenten lunches from noon to about 1 p.m. on Wednesdays until March 20.

Churches take turns preparing the lunches with soup, sandwiches and cookies. They also have a different local pastor share a message each week.

The remaining schedule for the churches preparing the meals includes: February 28 – Albion Presbyterian & Gaines Congregational; March 6 – Eagle Harbor Methodist; March 13 – West Barre Church; and March 20 – Holy Family Parish.

About 50 people attended the luncheon on Wednesday.

The Medina Area Association of Churches also sponsors a series of ecumenical Lenten lunches, which started Feb. 15 at the First Presbyterian Church on Main Street. The lunches will take place each Thursday during Lent until March 21.

Lunches are free and includes soup and sandwiches, with singing and devotionals after lunch. Churches take turns preparing the meals and sharing a message.

Elk Riders donate $1,400 to Wrestling Academy in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 February 2024 at 8:35 am

Fundraiser in memory of Tim Drake Jr. will support young wrestlers

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Mike Sanders, center, holds a $1,400 ceremonial check from the Elk Riders at the Albion Elks Lodge 1006 on Wednesday evening. Sanders is president of the Purple Eagle Wrestling Academy, which serves about 100 kids ages 4 to 12. They are based out of the former Apollo restaurant on Route 31 in Albion.

Sanders is joined by in front row from left, Tim and Kathy Drake, and Elk Riders President Mike Jenks and Vice President Mike Clemons, and other members of the group.

The money came from a garbage plate dinner on Jan. 12. The Elks served 116 dinners and many people also donated to a fund in memory of Tim Drake Jr., a star wrestler in high school at Albion. Drake passed away from cancer at age 22 on Jan. 2, 2021.

The Elks want to make the dinner an annual event and continue to give the proceeds to the Wrestling Academy.

Tim and Kathy Drake hold a picture of their son. Tim Jr. graduated from Albion High School in 2016. He wrestled and played football, and also was an avid motocross racer. He also loved to go hunting. Tim Jr. had a tattoo with the words: “Once you’ve wrestled, everything else in life is easy.”

His father said the sport of wrestling helped shape his son into a hard-worker. Tim Jr. was aware the sport could be expensive especially with wrestling shoes. He would give some of his best shoes to other wrestlers, his father said.

Mike Sanders outlines the programs offered by the Wrestling Academy. A group of volunteer coaches runs the program that meets five evenings a week during a four- to five-month season. The program is finishing up its fifth year.

The $1,400 will help the Wrestling Academy pay for some tournament fees and other expenses for some of the kids to be in the program, Sanders said.

Family continues fundraiser for PAWS in memory of great-grandmother

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 February 2024 at 4:03 pm

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Pera

ALBION – The great-grandchildren of the late Judy Grabowski presented a check today for $685 to the PAWS Animal Shelter on Gaines Basin Road in Albion. The money came from a Super Bowl Square fundraiser with some of the players donating extra for PAWS. Donna Vanderlaan, a PAWS board member, is in back.

The donation was presented by Caleb, Leah and Eli Prior of Hilton on what would have been Grabowski’s 86th birthday. PAWS was one of her favorite organizations to give to, said her daughters Pat Fredendall of Holley and Elizabeth Pera of Hamlin.

Grabowski was known as “Mema” to the great-grandchildren. She was a Holley resident who donated often to PAWS in memory of friends who passed away, and as memorials for pets in the family that also passed.

Grabowski’s great-grandkids play with some of the animals at PAWS.

Albion Betterment Committee, Chamber of Commerce ask village to work on vacant buildings

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from a foggy Jan. 27 shows part of downtown Albion on main Street with the First Presbyterian Church of Albion in the background.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2024 at 10:08 am

ALBION – The Village Board has been asked by the Albion Betterment Committee and Orleans County Chamber of Commerce to try again at developing a local law addressing vacant buildings in the community.

The Betterment Committee and Chamber on Feb. 6 sent a letter to the Village Board.

“For several years, there have been a number of buildings within the village that are left vacant and in various stages of deterioration,” the letter states. “There are entrepreneurs who are seeking space in which to conduct their business either through purchase, or renting, and are willing to make the investment in the community. Albion’s downtown has the structure and appeal of a thriving, quaint village, but our development is stalled because storefronts sit vacant and unused instead of opening their doors to new businesses.”

The Betterment Committee and Chamber say they have a vision for a bustling downtown with “great potential for growth of the local economy through small, family-owned businesses.”

The letter was discussed briefly at Thursday’s Village Board meeting. Trustee Tim McMurray said he doesn’t disagree with the sentiment of the letter. He and Deputy Mayor Joyce Riley have been discussing the issue with the Albion code enforcement. The board is asking the Planning Board to look at local laws in other communities for vacant buildings.

McMurray cited the example of the Village of Montour Falls as one example.

Montour Falls charges $125 when buildings are vacant or abandoned and are put on the village registry. If the site stays vacant for a year, the owner is charged $500 for a residential structure for the first unit, and then $100 more for each additional unit. Commercial building owners are charged a $1,000 fee if the building is vacant a year or 15 cents per square foot, whichever is greater.

Owners of the properties also need to submit a plan to Montour Falls to rehabilitate or reoccupy the buildings, or to stabilize and maintain them. A third option would be a plan for demolition.

Albion considered a vacant building registry but it was roundly criticized during a public hearing on Aug. 11, 2021 and the initiative has been stalled. Several building owners said proposed fines in that ordinance would punish property owners who are already struggling.

The Albion proposal in 2021 would have assessed a $250 fee if a commercial site went vacant for more than 30 days, with $1,000 tacked on if the site was empty for a year, $2,000 if it went a second year, $3,000 for a third year and $4,000 for each subsequent year.

The Betterment Committee and Chamber are asking the village to take up the issue again, and come up with a proposal that is amenable to the property owners and facilitates a more vibrant downtown.

“There are many similar municipalities who have created ordinances that inspire the kind of change we would like to see, many of these are available as a matter of public record,” according to the letter from the Betterment Committee and Chamber. “We would like to see our local leaders follow their lead, and implement codes that have been proven to work.”

Ministry of Concern says rent increase ‘unsustainable’ for agency to stay at Albion Visitor’s Center

File photo by Tom Rivers: Jami Allport, director of the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, is shown in September on the third floor of the Albion Visitor’s Center, where the Ministry of Concern is a tenant. The village raised the monthly rent by about $400.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 February 2024 at 3:39 pm

ALBION – The Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern made a plea for the Albion Village Board to back off a 35-percent increase or a hike of about $400 in the monthly rent for the local not-for-profit.

Jami Allport, the GOMOC director, told the Village Board on Thursday the increase is “unsustainable” and will force them to seek another location.

She asked instead for the board to impose a 4 percent increase.

The board raised the rent starting back in Oct. 1 from $1,146.67 to $1,550.96 a month. That amount also includes utilities.

Allport attended a September board meeting and asked that the increase only be 2 percent, the same rate for the other tenants at the Albion Visitor’s Center, a village-owned building at 121 North Main St.

Allport said she asked the board then to let her know if the 35-percent increase would be imposed. She said during the Thursday meeting she didn’t hear back from the board so she assumed GOMOC wouldn’t be charged the higher rent.

But she recently received a delinquency letter from the village, saying GOMOC owes four months at the higher rate, or about $1,600.

Allport said GOMOC is funded through donations and some grants. The higher rent takes away funds for the GOMOC to help people in need, she said.

“We are the agency of last resort,” she said. “We are their last hope.”

The Ministry of Concern uses 2,386 square feet on the third floor of the building. It was previously paying 48 cents a square foot. With the new rate at $1,550.96, the square footage is 65 cents a month.

That is below the $1.65 a foot paid by Assemblyman Steve Hawley for 860 square feet on the first floor ($1,416.77 total); $1.30 by the Orleans Economic Development Agency for 1,686 square feet on the second floor ($2,196.06 total).

Joyce Riley, the deputy mayor, said all of the rates are below market.

“We’re not good landlords because we’re not charging enough,” she said.

The village needs to bring up the GOMOC rate “to respond responsibly to everyone,” she said.

Mayor Angel Javier Jr. said the village is trying to be fair with the rental charges.

“We can’t give it away for free,” he said.

Allport responded that GOMOC isn’t looking for free rent, and is amenable to paying more, perhaps a 2 to 4 percent increase.

Village Trustee Tim McMurray suggested the rate increase just be 5 percent, which would still be $57.33 more a month and keep GOMOC as a tenant. Pushing them out with a big increase would leave the village with no rental income from that space, McMurray said. He also said GOMOC as a non-profit shouldn’t be assessed such a big increase.

The board discussed the issue more in executive session and decided to keep the 35 percent increase intact.

Albion group wants to seek $600K grant for lodge at Bullard

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2024 at 11:53 am

Editor’s Note: The original article stated the Albion Recreation Committee was pushing for the grant and lodge, but it is the Greater Albion Community Recreation and Events Inc., a not-for-profit organization, that would be seeking the grant. This group includes many Recreation Committee members.

ALBION – The Greater Albion Community Recreation and Events Inc., a not-for-profit organization, wants to seek a $600,000 state grant for a new lodge at Bullard Park.

An application is due to the state in July, said Kim Remley, who has been part of the “Rebuild Bullard” effort for more than a decade.

Rebuild Bullard helped the village secure grant funding for a splash pad, new playground equipment, a new bathroom and pavilion, an amphitheater and other upgrades.

Bullard last year also put in new basketball courts, in another citizen-led effort.

Now park advocates would like to see a lodge in the park that would be available year-round and could be rented out by community members. The lodge would have space for up to 90 people, Remley told the Village Board on Thursday.

Village Board members thanked the group for pushing through several successful improvements at Bullard. But the board would like to see a survey done to see if there is strong interest in a lodge from the community, and how much would people be willing to pay to rent it out.

Deputy Mayor Joyce Riley said there should be a master plan for Bullard, rather than tackling projects in a staggered approach.

The lodge was in the original plan to rebuild Bullard more than a decade ago, Remley responded. The committee would like to see it on the west end of the park, behind the old bathrooms.

Riley said there could be a significant cost to run water and sewer to the lodge. She is more concerned about aging pipes in residential areas of the village.

She would also like to see the Greater Albion Community Recreation and Events Inc. propose improvements to some of the smaller neighborhood parks in the village.

Trustee Tim McMurray also expressed concern that the lodge would be an extra burden on the short-staffed village Department of Public Works, especially with ongoing cleaning and maintenance of a lodge.

Susan Oschmann, a member of the non-profit working on the parks, said a rental charge could go towards hiring a cleaner so the task doesn’t fall on the DPW.

But how much would people be willing to pay to rent out the facility? That is what Riley would like to see be determined. She also said a lodge could take away from other sites in the community that are rented out for events, such as the QWL building.

John Grillo, the village’s recreation director, said lodges are assets for other communities. He noted the Town of Sweden and Town of Chili have lodges that are widely used.

“Don’t we want Albion to grow?” Grillo asked the board. “Don’t we want Albion to be better?

Riley said she doesn’t oppose the project. She just wants the short-term and long-term costs to be clearly identified.

“This could be a great thing for our community if it’s done well,” Grillo said.

Albion, Gaines move towards fire district serving 2 towns, village

Photo by Tom Rivers: Albion Fire Chief Jeremy Graham is shown at the scene of the fire at Frank’s Auto on Nov. 26, 2023 in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2024 at 4:50 pm

ALBION – The towns of Albion and Gaines, and the Village of Albion are working towards creating a new fire district that would have its own budget and a board of commissioners to oversee the district.

Right now fire protection for the village and two towns is provided by the Albion Fire Department. The Albion FD’s budget is part of the village budget, with the two towns each paying the village a fire protection contract. In 2024, Gaines will pay $116,390 and the Town of Albion will pay $115,362.

The Albion Village Board believes the costs for the department would be more fairly paid in a fire district where property owners all pay the same fire protection tax rate. That would take the fire department out of the village budget.

Albion Mayor Angel Javier Jr. said the two towns would have a greater say in the fire department budget through the election of fire commissioners who can be more focused on the needs of the fire department, while also answering to taxpayers.

The two Town Boards and the Village Board will meet March 27 at Gaines Town Hall with their attorneys in a closed-door session to go over the details and legalities of the district. A public hearing is expected to be scheduled in the spring to present the details of the district to the community.

If all three boards approve the district, it would then be subject to a permissive referendum before being finalized. Residents could petition to have the issue go to a public vote.

Javier said the town and village officials would like to have the new fire district in place for Jan. 1. Albion and Gaines would follow the example of Lyndonville and Yates which created a district in 2023, and Holley and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray which formed a joint fire district in 2021.

Javier said the new district will provide a fair distribution over the entire tax base of the two towns and village as Albion looks to purchase a new ladder truck and make other equipment upgrades in the near future.

Christians observe Ash Wednesday as beginning of 40-day Lenten season

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2024 at 9:17 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Rev. Dr. Don Algeo, pastor of the Gaines Congregational United Church of Christ, offers the benediction and a closing blessing at this evening’s Ash Wednesday service at the First Baptist Church of Albion.

Several churches in the Albion Ministerium planned and led the service.

Algeo has a cross of ashes on his forehead. The ashes are from the burnt palms from the palms from about a year ago on Palm Sunday.

Ash Wednesday starts a 40-day Lenten season for Christians around the world.

Lent is a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter, which this year will be celebrated on March 31.

Algeo gave the sermon during this evening’s service.

The Rev. Marsha Rivers, left, and the Rev. Susan Boring sing “Lord, Have Mercy” during the service. Rivers is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Albion and Boring is pastor of the Eagle Harbor Methodist Church.

The Baptist Church at 30 West Park St. will host Lenten luncheons beginning next Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. Those luncheons continue until March 20. They are free and include soup and sandwiches, with singing and devotionals after lunch. Churches take turns preparing the meals and sharing a message.