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Medina woman, less than year after massive heart attack, completes 5K in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 June 2018 at 11:06 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Robin Wehling, right, and her friend Jan Toale are close to the finish in the 5-kilometer race Saturday morning in Albion during the Starwberry Festival.

Wehling, 62, of Medina wanted to complete the 3.1-mile course as a celebration of surviving a massive heart attack last Aug. 30 and completing six months of cardiac rehab at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia.

“This was to celebrate everything is good” Wehling said after completing the course, her first time ever attempting a 5K. “God is good.”

She was joined by nine friends from the Medina United Methodist Church.

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said.

While she was recovering from the heart attack, her friends brought her and her husband home-cooked meals and were a strong emotional support.

Wehling completes the course before a cheering crowd on Saturday by the First Presbyterian Church in Albion.

There were 219 people who finished the 5K or 8K courses on Saturday.

Dana Goetze, 26, of Lyndonville won the women’s 5K in a time of 22:40. Alden Cayea, 17, of Medina was the first male to finish the 5K with a time of 17:46.

The 8K winners were Christopher Smykal, 38, of Orchard Park with a time of 31:33 and Krista Healy-London, 38, of with a time of 37:55.

To see all the results from the race, click here.

Calvin Smith, 26, of Belfast pushes his son Silas in a stroller. Smith is an Albion native and ran the race with several other family members.

Albion sixth-graders Meganne Moore, left, and Gina Sidari, both 11, sprint to the finish. Meganne nipped Gina by a second.

Jill Pegelow and Jarred Saj complete the last stretch of the 5K course. Saj also was the top salesman for turtle race tickets, selling 100 for the fundraiser that supports the Strawberry Festival.

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Strawberry Festival, in its 32nd year, remains a hit in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 June 2018 at 8:42 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A girl plugs her ears while fire trucks head down Main Street, with their sirens going, during the Strawberry Festival Parade this morning.

The parade included many marching bands, drum corps, community floats, classic cars and other entertainers.

Annalise Steier, the festival queen, waves to the crowd. Brody Hefner is prince and Keira Zambito, the princess.

Annette Finch of Albion gives State Assemblyman Steve Hawley a big hug during the parade.

Erin Smith of Albion dressed as “The Strawberry” during the 5K/8K in the morning. Runners who beat her won an ice cream sundae from Lugia’s Ice Cream on Wheels. Those who finished behind The Strawberry still won an ice cream cone for finishing.

Phil Warne and other members of the Honor Guard march down Main Street. Warne is a member of the American Legion. Members of the Rochester Scottish Pipes and Drums are behind the Honor Guard.

The Albion Marching Band concluded its season with a performance in its hometown today. The band’s show is based on music of the rock group Queen.

The White Sabers Drum and Bugle Corps from Dansville brought out the brass.

Gotta Dance by Miss Amy had some enthusiastic dancers.

The Geneses Community College Cougar appeared in the parade in honor of GCC’s 50th anniversary.

The Albion FFA also showed up with a big float.

Brendan Nashburn, left, and his dad Dave Nashburn, coach of the Vets, pass out candy on the parade. The Vets were one of six teams in the Albion Midget League in the parade.

Dance Reflections by Miss Heather had a strawberry theme for the parade.

A girl on the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company rescue boat waves to the crowd on Main Street.

The Batavia Marching Band performs at the festival.

The Mighty St. Joe’s Drum and Bugle Corps has been popular in the parade for many years.

Barre brought a fire truck and a float celebrating the town’s bicentennial.

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus wave to the crowd on Main Street. The Albion Betterment Committee brought Santa and Mrs. Claus to the parade to highlight the local effort to have a memorial in downtown Albion in honor of Charles Howard, who ran a Santa Claus School from 1937 to 1966 in Albion.

Arnold’s Auto Parts organized a car show in the parking lot for Five Star Bank. There were about 60 cars in the show, including this 2016 Chevy Corvette owned by Steve and Dixie Gern.

People check out a 1929 Ford Model A owned by Brian Connor.

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New bench in Albion dedicated in memory of Kathy Ludwick

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 June 2018 at 5:48 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: This new bench, painted by Carol Culhane of Gaines, was unveiled today in memory of Kathy Ludwick, the late Village of Albion clerk-treasurer who was a long-time volunteer with the Strawberry Festival.

Ludwick passed away on September 2, 2017. She worked for the village for 32 years. She was one of the founding committee members of the Albion Strawberry Festival devoting many years as a volunteer and continued helping as a bookkeeper up until her death.

Funds from the Albion Main Street Alliance covered the cost for decorating the bench.

Provided photo: Kathy Ludwick’s family is pictured with the bench at the start of the parade at 10 a.m. in Albion today.

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Lots of smiles at Strawberry Festival

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 June 2018 at 9:12 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Albion Strawberry Festival opened today for its 32nd annual celebration. Volunteers with the Albion Music Boosters sold strawberry sundaes. They include, from left: Pam Allen, Stacey Andrews and Samantha Metzler.

The food court was a busy place with vendors and live music.

Miniature train rides are available.

Rocco Sidari, 6, of Albion tries a bean bag toss, one of several games run by the North Point Chapel on the lawn of the former Swan Library.

Skip Stratton and the Albion Lions Club are selling sausage and peppers by the Post Office.

The Orleans Girls Softball league is new to the festival this year. They well selling hot dogs and hamburgers. The group pictured includes, front, from left: Isabella Dhondt, Aubrielle Barry and Taylor LeFrois. Second row: Madalyn Ashbery, Adysyn Stirk, Maia Pate and Olivia Andrews. Back row: Mallory Ashbery and Doug Ashbery, one of the coaches. The OGSL has five teams from Albion and one from Holley.

The Attaboys perform in the food court.

The Strawberry Festival has a bigger schedule on Saturday. Some of the highlights include:

• Pancake Breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church from 7:30 to 10 a.m.

• 28th Annual 5k/8k Race (Registration 7 – 8 a.m. at the Courthouse Square.)

• Car Show registration 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.; Judging 12 – 2 p.m.; Awards 3 p.m.

• Parade at 10 a.m. featuring the following bands: Albion Purple Eagles, Hitmen Brass Band, Mighty St. Joes, Mark Time Marchers, Pembroke Dragons, White Sabres Drum Corps, Batavia High School, Downbeat Percussion, Kendall/Holley, and Rochester Scottish Pipes and Drums.

• Chalk Art from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

• The turtle race at 2 p.m.

• People can also stop by the fire hall from 2 to 4 p.m. and get a sneak peek of a Santa mural that will soon be installed in downtown Albion. That mural is 24 feet long and shows Santa in a sleigh over the Courthouse Square.

• There will be live music, craft booths and other activities until 9 p.m.

Click here to see the full schedule.

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Albion students create ‘Buddy Benches’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 June 2018 at 4:35 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Albion seniors Elliott Neidert, left, and Preston Flugel put clear-coat finish on a new “Buddy Bench” for the elementary school. Students in Kristen Martin’s high school woodworking class made five of the benches.

Third-graders in Sheryl LeBaron’s and Maggy Orbaker’s classes painted the benches purple and art teachers decorated them.

There will be a ribbon-cutting for the benches on Monday at the “farm playground” at the elementary school. There will be benches at the two playgrounds and other sites in the school. If people are feeling lonely, they can sit on a bench and a friend is encouraged to go sit with them.

Preston Flugel puts the finish on the bench.

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Albion first responders, students send powerful message against drunk driving

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 June 2018 at 1:11 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Renee Van Epps, mother of student Hannah Van Epps, reacts during a DWI simulation after seeing her daughter on a stretcher and pronounced dead this morning. It was part of a demonstration to send a message about the dangers of drunk driving.

Van Epps wailed in agony when she saw her daughter wearing fake makeup to show blood.

“That was probably the worst experience ever and it was fake,” Van Epps told students after in an assembly at the gym. “I can’t imagine if it was real.”

Nate Smith pretends to be drunk while Hannah Van Epps lays on the hood of the car.

Albion students have their prom tonight and will be attending graduation parties later this month and over the summer.

They were given a powerful reminder this morning about the dangers of drunk driving.

There was a simulated car crash in the high school parking lot, with five students wearing makeup to show blood from the accident. One of the students didn’t survive and was taken from the scene by a hearse from Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes. Three other students left by COVA Ambulance.

Zach Moore portrays an injured student in the car wreck.

Firefighters use extrication tools to open doors to free students.

Albion police officers Nathaniel Staines, left, and David Mogle do field sobriety tests on Smith.

COVA EMT Shelby Reis, left, and COVA paramedic Barb Molina take Chase Froman, an injured student, by stretcher.

County Coroner Scott Schmidt, left, and Albion firefighter Jeremy Graham close a body bag on Hannah Van Epps. Josh Mitchell, in back, of Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes also was part of the demonstration. Mitchell took Van Epps away in a hearse.

Orleans County District Attorney Joe Cardone, left, and Gaines Town Justice Bruce Schmidt were part of an arraignment and sentencing for Smith. Schmidt said judges often have to sentence defendants to mandatory sentences in prison.

Cardone told the students they have worked hard to get to this point in their lives. He urged them to responsible.

Nate Smith is led away in handcuffs by Albion Police Officer Nathaniel Staines after Judge Schmidt sentenced Smith to 15 years in state prison for first-degree vehicular manslaughter and three counts of vehicular assault in the first degree.

Nate’s parents were also there and asked for a goodbye hug, but they were denied by the judge.

Cardone said the crimes not only affect victims but the people responsible for the crimes and their families.

The DA said many people with promising futures make bad decisions and have to live with the repercussions.

“Mr. Smith needs to understand when he gets behind the wheel he takes responsible for the other occupants of the car and the other drivers on the road,” Cardone said.

Renee Van Epps urged the students to make good decisions.

“Words don’t describe the agony you feel when someone you know dies in a senseless way,” she said.

Albion Police chief Roland Nenni is in back. He thanked Van Epps and the students for their participation in the simulation.

Nenni urged student s who have been drinking to not drive. If students believe they don’t have any options for a ride home, Nenni said they can always call the Albion police for a ride.

He urged the students to intervene if they see a classmate get behind the wheel after drinking.

“Have courageous convictions,” he said. “Don’t let people drink and drive and destroy other peoples’ lives.”

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Albion woman OK after deer is hit and ends up in passenger seat

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 June 2018 at 7:51 am

Provided photo

ALBION – An Albion woman was headed to work this morning when she hit a deer on Route 31, near Tuthill Road. Sue Flanagan said the deer hit the bumper of her Volkswagen Beetle, and then smashed through the windshield, pushing back the roof and coming to rest in the passenger seat next to her.

Flanagan wasn’t injured except for scratches and small cuts from the glass. COVA and Albion firefighters were at the scene, but Flanagan didn’t need additional medical attention.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Frank’s Auto in Albion removes the damaged Volkswagen Beetle.

Flanagan is thankful she wasn’t seriously hurt. It all happened very fast just after 6:30 this morning when she was headed east for her job as a dental hygienist for Western New York Dental in Irondequoit.

“It could have been bad,” she said. “It hit the roof and then was right next to me.”

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Royalty picked for Strawberry Festival

Staff Reports Posted 7 June 2018 at 5:06 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Annalise Steier, an Albion ninth-grader, will serve as queen of the Albion Strawberry Festival. Annalise was presented with a certificate last week during the Albion Rotary Club meeting by Karen Sawicz, a member of the Rotary Club, which sponsors the festival.

Annalise will be in the beginning of parade on Saturday at 10 a.m. She has to then head back to the school and join the marching band. She plays the clarinet for the Purple Eagles.

Annalise was picked as queen after submitting an essay about the importance of cobblestones to the community. The 32nd annual Strawberry Festival will be Friday and Saturday and this year’s theme celebrates cobblestone country.

Photo courtesy of Megan Zambito

Brody Hefner is prince and Keira Zambito is princess of the festival. Besides being in the parade, the fair royalty will serve as ambassadors of the festival and will help at the turtle race at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

For more on the festival, click here.

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Albion gets ready for summer parks program

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2018 at 11:43 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The summer park supervisors in Albion include, front row, from left: Kyle Smith, Kendall Eibl, Kiara Smith, Charlyne Olick and Sarah Graham. Back row: Alex DeSmit, Gerardo Solis, Kyle Thaine, Owen Foos, Lauren Freeman and Kaitlyn Van Skiver. Missing from photo: Preston Flugel.

ALBION – The Village of Albion will run a six-week summer parks program beginning June 20 through July 27.

The village will have paid park supervisors on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bullard Park and Pee Wee Park, which is part of Bullard on Route 31, at the east end of the village. There will be recreational and arts and crafts activities available for free for boys and girls, ages 5 to 16. The program is open to children in the Albion Central School district.

Parents and guardians are urged to attend registration the first week of the parks program to meet the supervisors and fill out important paperwork.

The parks program will also offer the following camps: tennis for grades 5-12 from June 25-29; wrestling for grades 6-12 from July 2-6; volleyball for grades 6-12 from July 2-6; baseball for grades 4-8 from July 9-13; and tennis for grades 5-12 from July 16-20.

John Grillo is the recreation director. This summer’s program has added weekly fitness challenges as well as special events, including presentations from the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and the Genesee-Orleans Youth Bureau on making good choices.

The annual senior citizen picnic will be July 24 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The Children’s Carnival will be July 13 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Canal Corp. will have tree stumps removed, grass planted – in fall and winter

Photos by Tom Rivers: Two bicyclists from York, Pa., ride on the Erie Canal Towpath in Albion last Nov. 2 when a contractor was in the area removing trees alongside the canal. The Canal Corporation said the tree stumps will be removed after the navigational season ends on Oct. 10. Besides removing the stumps, the areas where trees were removed will have grass planted.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2018 at 10:23 am

Residents share displeasure about tree-clearing

Brian Stratton, director of the Canal Corp., told the group at the Hoag Library that the tree removal was necessary to keep the canal safe.

ALBION – Canal Corp. officials agreed with local residents that the embankments where trees were cut down last fall are still an unsightly mess.

It’s going to look bad for most of the rest of 2018, Canal Corp. officials said on Wednesday during a meeting at Hoag Library.

But it will start to look better not long after when the canal’s navigational system ends on Oct. 10. The Canal Corp. is working on a contract to have the stumps and root systems removed, and also to have grass or a “grassy material” planted on the slopes, said John Callaghan, the canal’s deputy director.

The tree removal started last October when the Canal Corp. hired Mohawk Valley Materials from Utica to remove trees on 146 acres of canal-owned land from Medina to Fairport. The loss of trees upset many residents who lost privacy and felt the canal was diminished with the trees chopped down.

Bruce Schmidt of Gaines told the Canal Corp. during Wednesday’s meeting that the public and local elected officials were caught off guard by the tree clearing.

“A lot of this was a surprise to people,” Schmidt said.

He urged the Canal Corp. to share more details with the next phases of the “vegetative management plan.”

David Mellen, director of construction management for the Canal Corporation, said the Canal Corp. has held six public meetings now about the project. The Canal Corp. values the public input, he said.

David Mellen, director of construction management for the Canal Corporation, said the Canal Corp. would have been “reckless” to allow the trees along the embankment.

During Wednesday’s meeting Mellen went over why the tree cutting was necessary, especially in Orleans County where 50 acres of trees were removed. Mellen said many sections of the canal in Orleans were identified as high risk for compromised embankments due to tall trees right by the canal. Those trees have roots that burrow deep in the soil, making the canal vulnerable to leaks and potentially to catastrophic blowouts, he said.

Brian Stratton, director of the canal Corp., noted the canal was originally built about 200 years ago, from 1817 and 1825. It was last expanded in 1918. Trees in the past century have sprouted up on embankments, which makes the canal vulnerable, not only from the roots but in case a tree topples over.

“We want to make sure the canal continues to go, that it continues to be beautiful, and that it continues to be safe,” Stratton told about 60 people in a packed meeting room at the library.

This rendering from the Canal Corp. shows a compromised canal with tree roots burrowing into the soil.

This rendering shows the preferred condition of embankments without any trees.

The tree clearing made it to Spencerport until being halted in early February after a lawsuit from the towns of Brighton, Pittsford and Perinton.

The contractor was able to complete about 65-70 percent of phase 1 of the tree removal until the work was stopped, Mellen said.

The company has some cleanup work that remains in Orleans County and Brockport. It has until June 30 to finish the work. That doesn’t include stump removal and grass plantings, which are part of phase 2.

Residents asked if more trees will come in Orleans County by the canal. Mellen said all of the trees identified as high risk have been removed from the county. No more are planned to be cut down.

Bruce Schmidt of Gaines said residents and elected officials weren’t fully aware of the impact of the tree removal.

The Canal Corp. was asked about the loss of privacy and if any new screening will be added. Callaghan, the Canal Corp. deputy director, said the agency will put in smaller trees away from the embankment for screening. The Canal Corp. will meet with homeowners on a case by case basis, with input from arborists.

One canal resident in Knowlesville said her house sits below the canal and the tree clearing has left her property exposed.

“It’s just horrible coming home from work everyday and seeing my home,” she said. “It’s annihilated.”

John Callaghan, the canal’s deputy director, said embankments will look better after this navigational season. He went over some of the next steps, including stump removal and backfill of voids. There will be grading, seeding, some drainage construction, and vegetative screening. The Canal Corp. also wants to add more access points so towpath users aren’t cutting through private backyards.

Lynn Hill, a Barre town councilman, said the Canal Corp. shouldn’t have left embankments in such an unsightly condition this year. He was angry with the lack of specifics in how the Canal Corp. plans to create grassy slopes where the trees used to stand.

“The place looks like hell right now with just stumps hanging there and no vegetation,” Hill said. “There’s no going back. You’ve cut down the trees.”

Mellen said the details of the next contract are being worked out. The contract will be approved with work to start in the fall after the canal navigational season ends and water is drained from the system.

Many of the Canal Corp.’s top leaders were at the meeting in Albion. They were thanked for their presence by Albion Mayor Eileen Banker and Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature. They asked that the Canal Corp. consider residents’ concerns in the next phases.

Paul Hendel, a member of the Murray Town Board and chairman of the Orleans Economic Development Agency, said the canal is a critical resource for the county and effects many businesses.

Holley Mayor Brian Sorochty said the tree-clearing has made other trees vulnerable to strong winds.

Hendel told the Canal Corp. that the EDA and local communities want to be partners in realizing the potential of the canal as an economic driver.

Johnson noted the county and the Village of Medina will be developing comprehensive plans to realize the potential of the canal as a cultural, economic and tourism attraction.

Brian Sorochty, the Village of Holley mayor, said some of the canal neighbors in Holley have lost additional trees since the tree-clearing. The canal trees provided a buffer and wind break for trees by homes. Once the buffer was gone, other trees were more vulnerable. Sorochty said three of his trees have toppled from wind since the canal trees were removed, and one of his neighbors has lost several trees.

“There are ramifications and it’s not just privacy,” Sorochty said. “There is now a wind issue. It’s noticeably different and it’s forever changed.”

Callaghan said the Canal Corp. is determined to address residents’ concerns.

“We have a ‘If we broke it, we’ll fix it’ mentality,” he said. “Our goal is to make the residents more safe.”

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