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Albion

500 without power in Orleans, as trees topple from high winds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 February 2019 at 11:49 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – This pine tree toppled at about 10 a.m. on Caroline Street in Albion today. High winds have taken down several trees, including that landed up against a house on Taylor Road in Clarendon.

Dawn Voorhees of 310 Caroline St. had just put a flag out on her front porch when the pine tree fell. It pulled the electric and cable wires off her house. She was thankful the tree didn’t make a direct hit on her house or porch.

National Grid reports that 493 customers in Orleans County have had their electricity knocked out due to the high winds. That’s out of 19,423 National Grid customers in Orleans. The company is estimating power will be restored at 3:15 p.m.

The county is under a high wind warning until 5 p.m., with some gusts expected to hit 60 miles per hour.

Here is another photo of the pine tree that fell on Caroline Street in Albion this morning.

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Ice provided quite a spectacle past 2 days

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 February 2019 at 10:15 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Some crab apples by the western entrance of Mount Albion Cemetery are pictured today. The ice-coated landscape has proven popular in photos on social media in the local community.

Warming temperatures overnight should melt the ice. Here are some more ice photos. (I couldn’t resist.)

These branches at Mount Albion are hanging in there with the Ingersoll Fountain in the background.

Icicles hang off the Ingersoll Fountain.

The stone dog at Mount Albion has a coating of ice (and a nice collar).

These big trees have held their ground at Mount Albion, Albion’s historic cemetery on Route 31.

There were a lot of branches down at the cemetery.

The street signs at the cemetery have icicles hanging down.

Down the road from Mount Albion is St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. This bench was hit with freezing rain which turned into icicles and ice.

The statue of Jesus at St. Joseph’s also was covered in ice.

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Tree comes down on Albion home

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 February 2019 at 8:46 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – This tree fell on a trailer on Bayberry Lane at Oak Orchard Estates in Albion at about 7:45 p.m.

The tree didn’t appear to cause much damage to the home of Tim and Linda Good. Mr. Good said there wasn’t any damage inside the trailer.

He said he expects they will stay there tonight with the tree being removed on Thursday.

“It sounded like it was raining and then there was a boom,” he said about the tree falling. “It sounded like a jet was flying over our house.”

Good went outside to see a tree had fallen.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be this,” he said.

Harry Papponetti, Albion’s fire chief, said no other trees fell in Albion, although lots of branches and wires came down. Papponetti said he is concerned about more trees falling overnight due to the soft soil and ice-coated branches.

There were several trees that fell around Orleans County today including some that blocked roads in Clarendon on Orleans-Monroe Countyline Road and in Murray on the same road, as well as Horan Road in Medina.

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Freezing rain leaves area coated in ice

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 February 2019 at 3:58 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – It’s been a tough day to get around outside with roads, sidewalks and driveways covered in ice. Even the Ronald McDonald statue outside the Albion McDonald’s is coated in ice with some long icicles.

Here are some other photos around Albion.

A branch is pictured across from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Albion on West Park Street.

The neighborhood watch sign on West Park Street

A railing in front of the Post Office in Albion

The County Courthouse looms in the back of this photo of a tree on Main Street.

Icicles hang low on this vehicle at the Post Office.

The intersection of South Main and East Park

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Albion hires new school business administrator

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 February 2019 at 10:05 am

Shawn Liddle is retiring after 23 years with the district

Shawn Liddle

ALBION – The school district will have a new business administrator with the retirement of Shawn Liddle, who has managed the district’s finances the past 23 years.

Derek Vallese, the current treasurer for Newfane Central School, was hired by the Board of Education on Monday. He will start with Albion next month. Liddle is retiring in March 31. He will still be able to work with other school officials to have most of the district’s proposed budget in place. That budget will likely be approved by the board in April and go for a public vote in May.

Vallese said Albion is well regarded for its financial management among school business officials in Western New York. The district, which currently has a $35 million budget, has one of the lowest per pupil costs in WNY and hasn’t raised taxes in 10 of the past 12 years.

“For a business official I couldn’t imagine a better scenario to come into,” Vallese said after Monday’s BOE meeting. “Shawn has done a great job.”

The district has gradually reduced staff as enrollment has fallen. That is one reason it has been able to preserve existing programs without a big tax increase.

Other districts have had some rough patches, especially with a state aid reduction about a decade ago. Some of those districts made significant staff cuts and reduced some programs.

Albion was able to weather that storm, drawing on reserves and making reductions in employees at a rate similar to the enrollment decline. That allowed Albion to stave off big layoffs in a single year.

Albion was able to preserve its extracurricular and sports programs during the state aid crisis a decade ago, even keeping all of its modified teams for seventh- and eighth-graders.

Margy Brown, the Board of Education president, said she appreciates Liddle’s work as a watchdog for the district’s money.

“He’s done a phenomenal job keeping the district financially sound,” Brown said.

Liddle also has been a key district official for several capital improvement projects in the past two decades.

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Albion will have 2 experts study health concerns at elementary school

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 February 2019 at 8:27 am

Nellie Brown speaks during last Thursday’s meeting at Albion.

ALBION – The school district will have two experts look closer at concerns raised by the Albion Teachers Association that there may be elevated rates of breast cancer among teachers and staff in the elementary school.

Nellie Brown, director of the Workplace Health and Safety Program for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, spoke for more than an hour last Thursday, outlining numerous chemicals that can be potential causes of breast cancer or endocrine disrupters.

She also uses a protocol for assessing a building’s environment to look at potential factors, such as the ventilation systems, cleaning products, and chemicals used at science labs, art classes and woodshop. She also could do a chemical analysis of air contaminants, measuring particulates.

Brown also can teach the program to school buildings and grounds and maintenance staff, to make sure the district is using environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Brown said determining the causes of elevated breast cancer rates is challenging due to the complexity of the disease and many risk factors involved. It also takes a long time for breast tumors to develop, at least a decade after an exposure to a carcinogen.

The board on Monday agreed to hire Brown at a rate of $250 an hour. She estimated she could do an assessment of the building’s ventilation, cleaning products and some factors in a day. The training of staff would take additional time.

Brown, during her presentation on Thursday, highlighted numerous chemicals that can be potential causes of breast cancer or “endocrine disrupters.” She helped develop the database of chemicals known to cause cancer and worked for the Program on Breast cancer and Environmental Factors at Cornell from 1995 to 2009.

Margy Brown, the Board of Education president, said Nellie Brown “brings a wealth of knowledge” to the issue.

The district also wants to have James Bowers, an epidemiologist who studies diseases for the state Department of Health, do a study at the school. The Teachers Association said 22 people have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Bowers has done many studies on elevated cancer rates in communities including four at other schools this year.

To determine if there is a cancer cluster, Bowers on Thursday said he looks to see if the cancer is the same type of the disease, the age of people when they were diagnosed (are there unusual age groups such as 20 to 30 years old instead of ages 50 to 70?), how long have they worked there, where they live (many don’t live in the community where they work). He also wants to know how many people also worked in the building over five years, 10 years and longer, to determine the rates of cancer in the building.

“Twenty (diagnoses of cancer) in 10 years is a lot different than 20 in 30 years,” he said on Thursday.

The Board of Education said it welcomes the work from the two experts.

Margy Brown said the board wants to partner with the Teachers Association, which has requested the issue be studied.

“I’m hoping that the dialogue continues with us working together to learn what Ms. Brown and Mr. Bowers have to share with the district,” Margy Brown said.

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Albion school district very close to adding trap shooting team

Photo by Tom Rivers: Five members of the Orleans County Clay Crushers take turns on April 22 at one of the two traps at the Barre Sportsmen’s Club on Gray Road. Bryce Wilson, center, readies the shot. The Clay Crushers started 13 years ago with six youths and it grew to 57 kids last year ages 12 to 18.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 February 2019 at 9:43 pm

ALBION – The school district is very close to approving a trap shooting team, which would make Albion the third district in Orleans County with a team. Holley was the first with trap shooting in Orleans in 2017, and Kendall added a team last year.

The district will allow a team, using insurance through the Barre Sportsmen’s Club. The club has approved added the team to its insurance policy. The Barre Sportsmen Club is just waiting for that paperwork and will then hand it off to the district, to satisfy its insurance carrier.

Albion nearly had a team last year but the insurance proved a sticking point. That issue is resolved. The district just needs a copy of the insurance policy.

“Thank you for your patience,” Margy Brown, president of the Albion Board of Education, told Chris Rice, president of the Barre Sportsmen’s Club. He has been pushing the district to add a team, which would compete at the Barre Sportsmen’s Club on Gray Road.

“We look forward to a great season for you guys,” Brown said.

The new team will compete as Albion Purple Eagles and will be open to students in grades 9 through 12.

They would compete against others schools who do their trap shooting on their home trap fields. They compare their scores online. Shooters get 50 targets to hit, that are sent out of a machine at 43 miles per hour.

Last year, when there was talk of starting an Albion team, 38 kids signed up in three days. The team wasn’t able to compete for the school because the insurance issue couldn’t be resolved in time of the season starting on March 31.

There were, however, 57 kids in the Orleans County Clay Crushers and they did their target shooting outside of the school league.

Rice said the signups this year go until March 22. The Albion team hasn’t started registrations yet and won’t until the insurance policy is presented to the school. Rice said there is still plenty of time for the registrations.

The team could have up to 50 participants, or 10 per coach. Jeff Atwell will serve as the head coach with four assistants – Chirs Rice, Mike Donahue, Tim Brien and Ryan Uderitz.

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3,888 solar panels going up by Albion sewer plant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 February 2019 at 1:52 pm

Project will generate at least $80,000 annually for village

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Russell Brilhart, an employee with Sole Contracting in Delaware, carries a solar panel this morning that will be installed by the Albion sewer plant on Densmore Street.

It’s been busy by the Albion sewer plant the past month with construction crews installing a solar array that will have 3,888 panels.

This team of installers secures one of the panels, which weigh about 50 pounds. This trio includes from left Russell Brilhart, Wendy Hippensteel and Maggie Luckenbaugh. They expect to be on site the next three weeks putting the panels in place.

The solar panels will generate 1.3 megawatts of electricity. It will be sold to National Grid, and is expected raise at least $80,000 a year for the village.

Contractors are expected to have the system constructed in March with it going online in May.

Workers from Dow Electric put in the framework for the 27 inverters which will change the electricity from direct current to alternating current. That will allow the electricity to be sold to National Grid.

The Dow Electric employees put the conduit pipes in the ground. They are battling the mud today after a dramatic rise in the temperatures, from the single digits last week to a high of 60 today.

Workers construct the racks to hold the panels. Contractors are putting the system in place on the east and west sides of the sewer plant, at the corner of Butts Road and Densmore Street.

Tesla is managing the construction project and isn’t charging the village. The company is using state and federal incentives for the project’s cost.

This is the largest municipal solar project so far in Orleans County. Medina also installed solar at its sewer plant about three years ago.

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New clothing boutique opens in downtown Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 February 2019 at 11:11 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Kylie Hughson has opened Adara Fashion at 101 North Main St. This is her second business in Albion. She opened Tease, a hair salon, in July 2016 and will continue to run that business as well as the new clothing store.

Hughson was joined for a ribbon cutting by family and local officials. Pictured from left in front include Hughson’s fiancé Donald Rosario Jr., Hughson’s son Brady Graham, Kylie Hughson, Albion Mayor Eileen Banker, Albion Merchants Association President Lisa Stratton, Hughson’s mother Deborah Hughson and Diane Blanchard, coordinator of the Microenterprise Assistance Program through the Orleans Economic Development Agency. In back are Adam Johnson, owner of 39 Problems, and Hughson’s father, Charles Hughson, back right.

Hughson said she wanted to open a trendy fashion store in Albion. She is working with a distributor from California for the merchandise, which includes dresses, pants, tops, rompers and jumpsuits. Hughson would like to expand to offering shoe and accessories this summer.

She said the corner store “is a cute space.” She worked with her parents, friends and fiancé to put in new carpeting, repaint the walls, strip the cubbies, stain the wood and decorate the location.

“It’s a nice addition to the downtown,” said Lisa Stratton, president of the Albion Merchants Association. “I’m very happy for her.”

Stratton said Hughson has been a positive presence in the downtown, and participates in the community events, especially Beggars’ Night, when she dresses up in a costume and hands out candy to children.

Adam Johnson, owner of 39 Problems, has offered a coupon for a free drink to the first 50 customers at Adara on Saturday.

Kylie Hughson accepts certificates of recognition from Albion Mayor Eileen Banker and also State Assemblyman Steve Hawley in honor of the store’s grand opening. Banker works as chief of staff for Hawley.

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No easy answers in determining if Albion teachers have elevated cancer rate

Photos by Tom Rivers: Nellie Brown, director of the Workplace Health and Safety Program for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, spoke for more than an hour, outlining numerous chemicals that can be potential causes of breast cancer or endocrine disrupters.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 February 2019 at 8:52 am

‘You could spend tens of thousands of dollars testing for hundreds of things. But you may never get that aha moment where we know why this happening.’

ALBION – The leader of numerous studies on elevated breast cancer rates addressed Albion teachers and the community on Thursday, and said it’s possible that the elementary school teachers and staff have a high rate of breast cancer.

Angie Wolfe, who has battled breast cancer the past year, said many staff members at the school have been diagnosed with breast cancer recently, including 9 in the past 5 years, and 15 in the past 10 years.

Nellie Brown, director of the Workplace Health and Safety Program for Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, spoke for more than an hour, outlining numerous chemicals that can be potential causes of breast cancer or “endocrine disrupters.” She helped develop the database of chemicals known to cause cancer and worked for the Program on Breast cancer and Environmental Factors at Cornell from 1995 to 2009.

Brown said Americans have been bombarded with chemicals since they were in the womb, and tracing a specific impact on a person may be impossible to determine, given the exposures may have been decades ago at an unknown amount.

“We are surrounded by synthetics and dust,” she said.

There could be a study of the elementary school environment to rule out potential causes, such as the ventilation systems, cleaning products, and chemicals used at science labs, art classes and woodshop. There could be a chemical analysis of air contaminants, measuring particulates.

(Nearby industry, groundwater and soil contamination have been factors in elevated rates in other locations, she said.)

There is emerging science that shows endocrine disrupters play a role in developing cancer, Brown told about 50 people on Thursday evening during a 2-hour meeting in the middle school auditorium.

James Bowers, an epidemiologist who studies diseases for the state Department of Health, speaks at Thursday’s meeting in the middle school auditorium.

There are more than 100 chemicals that have adverse impacts on humans and the world is seeing the impact, not only with elevated cancer rates, but with earlier puberty, lower sperm counts and higher rates of obesity, Brown said.

“We are being inundated with endocrine disrupters,” she said.

This is one of the slides shared by Nellie Brown during her presentation on Thursday.

Brown was the featured speaker during Thursday’s meeting, and was brought in by the district after the Albion Teachers Association raised concerns during the Jan. 7 Board of Education meeting, saying 22 teachers and staff at the school have been diagnosed with breast cancer in recent years, including nine in the past five years.

Brown said determining the causes of elevated breast cancer rates is challenging due to the complexity of the disease and many risk factors involved. It also takes a long time for breast tumors to develop, at least a decade after an exposure to a carcinogen.

If someone at the school has been diagnosed with breast cancer within a decade of working there, that person can rule out the school environment as a cause, said James Bowers, an epidemiologist who studies diseases for the state Department of Health.

He has done many studies on elevated cancer rates in communities including four at other schools this year.

To determine if there is a cancer cluster, Bowers looks to see if the cancer is the same type of the disease, the age of people when they were diagnosed (are there unusual age groups such as 20 to 30 years old instead of ages 50 to 70?), how long have worked there, where they live (many don’t live in the community where they work). He also wants to know how many people also worked in the building over five years, 10 years and longer, to determine the rates of cancer in the building.

“Twenty (diagnoses of cancer) in 10 years is a lot different than 20 in 30 years,” he said.

He would compare the incidence rate at the school with the rate in the community.

Chris Keller, president of the Albion Teachers Association, asks the Board of Education to pursue testing air quality in the elementary school.

Brown, the Cornell specialist, said breast cancer rates have been rising slightly in the United States. She shared data that shows the Orleans County rate is lower than in the average in Western New York, the state and nationally.

The Orleans County breast cancer rate of 114.4 per 100,000 women compared to the US average of 119.8, the NYS average of 131.3, and Niagara County, 133.9; Erie County, 147.9; and Genesee County, 141.2.

Sometimes in a smaller community when a teacher gets breast cancer, it is a “thunderclap” and spurs other teachers and staff to get checked, sometimes leading to early detections and a spike in diagnoses, Bowers said.

The fact is teachers do have elevated rates of breast cancer, Brown and Bowers said. That is a reality around the world. California, for example, has studied 133,000 teachers. That state has an elevated rate of breast cancer in teachers. After years of exhaustive study, there isn’t a definitive cause for the elevated cancer rates.

Margy Brown, president of the Board of Education, said the board has safety as a top priority.

“You could spend tens of thousands of dollars testing for hundreds of things,” Bowers said. “But you may never get that aha moment where we know why this happening.”

Brown highlighted some risks related to breast cancer: advancing age, late menopause, lack of exercise, overweight, alcohol, diet, smoking, genetics, close relative, light exposure at night, and chemicals at work, home, garden and recreation.

There is also some evidence of higher breast cancer risk if exposure to acid mists, benzene, carbon tetrachloride, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, lead oxide, methylene chloride and styrene.

Brown again said it is challenging to determine the cause of breast cancer. It is difficult to measure low-level exposures to multiple chemicals from the distant past, Brown said.

The levels of exposure at critical periods of breast development (in utero through puberty) also is largely unknown. And exposures to many chemicals in the home and workplace are not well characterized.

“The number of items is so dang ubiquitous it can be hard to avoid them,” she said.

The chemicals can be disrupt the endocrine glands, which control the body processes of growth, development, reproduction, homeostasis and metabolism – from conception through adulthood into old age.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals can mimic hormones and interfere with delicate hormonal balances that control or affect the development of cancer, reproduction, neurobehavioral and the immune system, Brown said.

“Endocrine disruption has turned our views upside down,” she said. “Even a small dose can cause damage.”

After the presentations from Brown and Bowers, Chris Keller, president of the Teachers Association, asked that the school district study the air quality and ventilation in the buildings.

Nellie Brown said she could do a test in about a day with cooperation from the buildings and grounds, checking ventilation and air quality.

Margy Brown, president of the Albion Board of Education, said the board and school officials will discuss the next step. The board has a meeting on Monday.

“I assure you we are looking at this,” Brown told the group at the meeting. “We have brought the experts in and we will formulate a plan based on what they tell us.”

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