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Church seeks variances for former Barre Grange to make site more attractive for reuse

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2018 at 10:29 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: David Snell, owner of Snell Realtors in Albion, urges the Orleans County Planning Board to support setback variances for the former Barre Grange. Without the variances, Snell said the building is unlikely to find a new use.

ALBION – The former Barre Grange doesn’t have much space for vehicles to park. That makes it difficult for the building to find a new use, even if it’s just for storage, Orleans County Panning Board members were told on Thursday.

The building at the corner of Route 98 and Maple Street in Barre is owned by the Barre Presbyterian Church. The church wants to sell the former grange, but it will be a tough sell without the variances.

The Barre ordinance requires 15 feet for side setbacks but the former grange only has 1 foot for a setback. The ordinance also requires a minimum lot width of 200 feet, but the old grange only has 53 feet.

The Orleans County Planning Board voted against the variances on Thursday in an advisory recommendation to the Town of Barre. The County Planning Board said allowing such substantial variances would undermine Barre’s zoning regulations.

Peter Snell, owner of Snell Realtors in Albion, said the board should consider the future of the building without variances.

“What’s the alternative?” Snell asked the board. “If you can’t use it, who will level it? The congregation? It would be nice instead if it was collecting taxes.”

Snell said there was a potential buyer interested in the building for storage.

The lack of a setback from the building to the property line leaves no potential for a septic system, severely limiting future options at the site. But Snell said a storage business would be ideal, not requiring septic. Snell said he thinks there is room on the site for holding tanks.

Brian Napoli, the County Planning Board chairman, said the board makes recommendations based on the town ordinances. He suggested Barre revise its ordinance for the hamlet if it wants to facilitate reuse of the former grange.

Gary Daum, another board member, said the grange is one of the few buildings left in Barre’s hamlet that hasn’t been changed over the years. He thinks it’s an important building historically for the community.

Sarah Gatti, a planner for the county, said the variances could be denied but that doesn’t seal the building’s fate. Uses for the site could still be considered on a case by case basis and the town could approve them.

“It’s not a lost cause,” she said.

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Barre planning bicentennial bash from June 29-July 1

Posted 23 January 2018 at 5:51 pm

Press Release, Barre Bicentennial Committee

BARRE – The Town of Barre will celebrate its Bicentennial June 29-July 1, with events primarily at the Barre Town Park on Route 98. A full weekend of entertainment is planned including an antique car and tractor show, game booths, a parade, contests, fireworks and live music.  A delicious array of food will also be available all weekend long.

History will be on display with photos, recipes, and stories from Barre’s past highlighted throughout the weekend. Many organizers will be in period dress and attendees are encouraged to dress in historical costume as well.

Historical exhibits will highlight notable residents such as former US Congressmen Lorenzo Burrows and John G. Sawyer, American anthropologist and ethnologist Frank Hamilton Cushing, and Marvin V. Frey, an evangelical minister and writer of the well-known spiritual song “Kum-Ba-Yah.”

The event’s planning committee is looking for historical contributions from the public. If you have a story or item of significance from Barre’s history, or would like to be involved with the planning or fundraising for the event, please contact one of the committee members or the Town Hall.

Several fundraisers are planned, including can/bottle drive bins available for returnables located at the Town Hall and the Barre Deli. Several fundraiser dinners are planned with the next one, a spaghetti dinner, on Feb. 3 at the West Barre United Methodist Church. Tickets will be available at the door. Any monetary donations would be gladly accepted as well.

There will be contests for residents to participate in including beard growing and photography. Participants can start growing their beards now.

In addition to the weekend-long celebration at the end of June, the town will officially mark its 200-year anniversary on March 6, 2018. There will be a recognition ceremony at the Barre Town Hall on that date and another ceremony on March 3, 2018 at 1 p.m. with local politicians and press invited.

About Barre:

The Town of Barre was founded in 1818 and was named after the birthplace of an early settler, Judge John Lee. The town, at 55.1 square miles, forms the southern border of Orleans County. In the quiet Town of Barre, there are country roads, small churches, friendly neighbors, and some of the best chicken barbecues around.

The Town of Barre remains much the same today as when it was founded; it is still a friendly agricultural community. The farms in the town are small family owned operations and among these are several century farms.

The town also contains approximately 4,000 acres of muck land. Along with the farms are some small businesses and other community services including two churches, a volunteer fire company, and an airport. There are also two sportsmen clubs in town and many acres of wide-open spaces providing countless opportunities for outdoor fun, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and trail riding.

For further information, please contact the Town of Barre Bicentennial Planning Committee:

Sean Pogue (585) 589-5100, ext. 6

Maureen Beach (585) 589-5100, ext. 1

Adrienne Daniels (585) 589-5100, ext. 1

Kathy Klein (585) 409-5635

Kelly Dudley (585) 746-1677

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Retiring town supervisor praised for 18 years of service to Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2018 at 11:43 am

Photos courtesy of Maureen Beach

BARRE – The Town of Barre held a party on Saturday for Mark Chamberlain, who retired on Dec. 31 after 18 years as town supervisor. In the top photo he is shown cutting a cake with his wife Lois by his side.

The celebration was held at the Barre Town Hall. During Chamberlain’s tenure as town supervisor, Barre built a new town hall, a new salt storage facility, a new town park and also created four new water districts. Construction of the fourth water district starts today.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley presents a proclamation to Chamberlain from the State Assembly for his 18 years as town supervisor.

Chamberlain, a retired chemistry teacher at Albion Central School, served as Barre town supervisor following his career as a teacher.

Chamberlain chats with town residents, including Bill Basinait at left.

Sean Pogue, the new Barre town supervisor, reads a citation for Chamberlain, thanking him for his service. Chamberlain didn’t seek re-election in November. Pogue won a three-way race for town supervisor and took office on Jan. 1.

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Barre town supervisor’s retirement party set for Saturday

Staff Reports Posted 14 January 2018 at 8:45 am

BARRE – The retirement party Mark Chamberlain is now set for Saturday, Jan. 20, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Barre Town Hall.

The celebration was planned for last Saturday but was cancelled due to the temperatures at about 0 degrees.

Chamberlain, a retired chemistry teacher at Albion Central School, served as Barre town supervisor following his career as a teacher.

He was influential in expanding and modernizing the town hall, creating new water districts, and developing a new town park on Route 98.

Chamberlain didn’t seek re-election in November. Sean Pogue won a three-way race for town supervisor and took office on Jan. 1.

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Retirement party for Barre town supervisor postponed

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 January 2018 at 5:33 pm

Mark Chamberlain

BARRE – The retirement party planned for Saturday for Mark Chamberlain has been postponed due to the very cold temperatures.

The event was planned for 3 to 6 p.m. at the Barre Town Hall. A new date hasn’t been determined yet.

Chamberlain, a retired chemistry teacher at Albion Central School, served as Barre town supervisor following his retirement as a teacher.

He was influential in expanding and modernizing the town hall, creating new water districts, and developing a new town park on Route 98.

Chamberlain didn’t seek re-election in November. Sean Pogue won a three-way race for town supervisor and took office on Jan. 1.

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Barre couple thankful to be in new home after explosion destroyed house on Christmas 2016

Photo by Tom Rivers: Fonda and Don Carr are pictured in their home on Wednesday on Wilkens Road in Barre. They moved into the house on Dec. 21. Their old farmhouse was destroyed in an explosion and fire on Christmas Day about a year ago.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 January 2018 at 10:36 am

Don and Fonda Carr appreciate community’s help the past year

BARRE – It was just over a year ago when Fonda and Don Carr crawled through a window at 4 in the morning, escaping with their lives while their home on Wilkens Road was engulfed in flames.

The Carrs lost nearly everything in the fire on Dec. 25, 2016. They are thankful to be alive. They consider it a “Christmas miracle” that they survived that night.

Since then the community has responded in a big way, donating $26,000 through a GoFundMe and additional funds at a benefit raffle.

“The people of Orleans County have just been wonderful to us,” Mrs. Carr said on Wednesday evening at the new house. “We’re very grateful and we’ll never forget them.”

People from outside the county also donated to help them recover from the fire.

File photo: The Carr house was destroyed in an explosion and fire on Christmas about a year ago.

The Carrs have been married for 44 years. They lived in an apartment in the Village of Albion for much of 2017. A contractor, Geoff Christian, worked to build them a new house on Wilkens Road. On Dec. 21, four days before Christmas, the Carrs moved into the new house.

“It’s beautiful,” Mrs. Carr said about the one-story, two-bedroom home.

They miss their old farm house, where the Carrs said they have strong memories of raising their two children there.

The couple also feared all of their family photos were lost in the fire, but their son Donny found some pictures that survived. Wet towels and clothes landed on a box of photos and that protected the batch from the fire. Those photos include Mrs. Carr when she was a baby and her parents’ wedding album.

The Carrs are grateful to be back in their neighborhood. Mrs. Carr grew up down the road and Don is a life-long West Barre resident. The road is named for Mrs. Carr’s grandfather, John Wilkins, who was a farmer, just like Mrs. Carr’s father, Arthur Wilkins.

‘The people of Orleans County have just been wonderful to us. We’re very grateful and we’ll never forget them.’ – Fonda Carr

Mrs. Carr worked as a substitute teacher in Albion and Medina. Many of the donations came from her former students.

Mr. Carr is retired as a mechanic and operator from Iroquois Rock Products, a quarry in Brockport. He also is a long-time member of the Barre Sportsmen’s Club. One of the members, Nick Salvatore, organized a benefit for the Carrs. His band, Eagle Creek Band, was one of four bands to play at the benefit.

The Carrs are proud people who have tried to help others and aren’t accustomed to being on the receiving end.

But they said the help, as well as encouraging words throughout the year, have been appreciated.

They recalled fleeing from their burning home about a year ago.

Don Carr heard the ice slide off the roof at about 4 a.m. Then he heard a loud hissing.

Carr happened to be up at that hour going to the bathroom. He thinks the ice severed the propane line. Soon his house was filling with gas. Carr yelled to his wife Fonda to get up.

Carr suspects the well pump turned on in his basement, and that spark ignited an explosion with the house turning into an inferno.

“It was the loudest boom I’ve ever heard in my life,” Mrs. Carr told the Orleans Hub about a year ago. “The house was filling with flames. There was a series of explosions and the wall was buckling.”

The house was rocked by the first explosion, and more followed as the Carrs frantically tried to get out. The front door was jammed and wouldn’t open from the house shifting. The Carrs opened a kitchen window leading to the porch – and got out, barely. As they were scrambling to get away, the house became fully engulfed in flames.

“Your adrenaline is pumping,” Mrs. Carr said. “We just wanted to get out. We didn’t get anything out of the house, because we just knew we had to get out.”

The Carrs made it out wearing their pajamas. Everything else was destroyed including the Christmas presents they had for their family.

Their neighbor, Tom Keeler, heard the explosion and called 911. (Keeler, one of the owners of Keeler Construction, donated gravel and money to help the Carrs rebuild.)

The Carrs escaped the house without any burns. Mrs. Carr was hit in the back of the head by her “Jesus clock” in the living room. She needed one stitch after being taken to Strong Memorial Hospital. After getting hit with the clock, she said she realized how urgently she and her husband needed to get out.

“Jesus was watching out for us,” she said on Wednesday. “Without that I don’t think we would have made it.”

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‘Santa’ made lifetime social member at Barre Fire Company

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 December 2017 at 9:25 pm

Stephen Karas helps spread holiday cheer with firefighters

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – The Barre Volunteer Fire Company made Stephen Karas a lifetime social member of the fire company in appreciation for joining firefighters in delivering presents to children the past three years.

Ben Flansburg, assistant chief for Barre, presents the certificate to Karas on Saturday. The certificate thanks Karas, “For your dedication helping the Fire Company during the holidays. We couldn’t do it without you!”

Stephen Karas is happy to portray Santa in the Town of Barre when the Fire Company delivers presents dropped off by parents at the firehall. Karas is joined on the deliveries by firefighters Ben Flansburg and Brian Neal, right.

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Santa trades sleigh for firetruck in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2017 at 4:57 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – Santa visits families and children in Barre today while riding a Barre fire truck. Santa is pictured with Barre firefighters and the grandchildren of past fire chief Jesse Babcock.

The Barre firefighters include, from left: Ben Flansburg, Brian Neal, Brianna Caldwell, Austin Zobel and Chris Flansburg, back right.

The Babcock grandchildren include Lance Babcock, in back; Kallan Babcock, left; and Patrick Babcock, front right.

Santa is pictured with Jesse Babcock and Babcock’s grandchildren on Eagle Harbor Road.

Santa made 14 stops today and has 18 scheduled for Sunday. The Barre Volunteer Fire Company sends out letters to the Barre community, asking if they wanted Santa to stop by this weekend.

Barre firefighter Austin Zobel hands out candy canes provided by the Ladies Auxiliary.

The fire truck carrying Santa arrives at Jerry and Terry Bentley’s house on Route 98. The Bentleys had several young nieces and nephews as well as other family there to meet Santa.

Santa gets a big greeting from the children at the Bentley home.

Santa gives each kid a toy. (Those presents were dropped off at the Barre Fire Hall by parents or grandparents a few days ago.)

Teagan Bisig gives Santa a hug during one of his stops in Barre today.

Each kid is invited to go inside the fire truck and blow the horn.

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Feds come through with $1 million for Barre water district

Posted 29 September 2017 at 6:05 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Barre water tower is pictured on Sept. 6 with a rainbow.

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

BARRE – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced $1,096,000 in federal funding, including a loan of $606,000 and a grant of $490,000, has been approved for the Town of Barre in Orleans County.

The federal funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development program. Specifically the Town of Barre will use the funding to create Water District #8, providing public water service to 36 residential users who do not currently have access to safe drinking water.

“This federal investment is good news for the Orleans County,” said Senator Schumer. “These federal funds for the Town of Barre will help boost economic development and increase access to water for residents. I am proud to announce this federal investment and will continue to fight to make sure that rural communities have the tools they need to build, protect and maintain their infrastructure.”

USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents.

“This will be the 4th water district in the Town of Barre, and we have two more in the works,” said Mark Chamberlain, Barre town supervisor. “Our local USDA office in Batavia has been so helpful in getting these projects funded. People have been asking for water in this area for a while, especially since last summer when we saw many wells dry up due to dry weather conditions and noticed some sulfur in the water supply. This new district will not only bring these people – who so desperately need it – safe water, it will also increase their property value and lower their insurance costs.”

This funding is awarded through the Rural Business Development Grant program, administered by the USDA’s Rural Development agency. The Rural Development agency is committed to improving economies and lives in rural America, through loans, grants and loan guarantees. They support local businesses, individuals and communities by promoting economic development, offering loans and providing technical assistance.

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Barre honors outgoing fire chief, charter members

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 March 2017 at 12:25 pm

Jerry Bentley is pictured with his family, including from left: parents, Doug and Linda; daughter Kara; son Brian; wife Terry; and brother Tom.

Photos by Tom Rivers

EAST SHELBY – The Barre Volunteer Fire Company honored Jerry Bentley on Saturday for his many years of service to the fire department, including two stints as fire chief from 1997 to 2004, and 2015 to 2016. Bentley was recently named a deputy fire coordinator for the county for the center battalion.

Bentley in the top photo is wiping a tear from his eye after being presented with an award of appreciation from Chris Flansburg, captain; Karl Diesel, president; and Ben Flansburg, assistant chief.

Driesel said Bentley, who also works full-time for the Barre town highway department and part-time as a dispatcher, is a “people person.”

“He has a way of encouraging people to push themselves to do a little more,” Driesel said.

The fire department responded to 2019 calls in 2016, including 114 EMS, 27 motor vehicle accidents, 5 structure fires, 6 car fires, 5 brush fires, 16 miscellaneous fires, 4 traffic control, 1 Mercy Flight landing zone and 32 mutual aid.

The following were the top 10 in responding to calls: Jerry Bentley, 132; Amanda Dixon, 119; Pat Lamka, 108; Kara Bentley, 99; James Neal, 96; Sarah Lamka, 92; John Egloff,89; Mark Farone, 87; Brian Bentley, 79; and Geddy Morgan, 78.

The fire department completed 1,332.5 hours of fire/EMS training last year, including in-house, county and state fire courses.

“Training is very important to me, more than making calls,” Bentley told the firefighters. “I would rather have members know what they are going to do when they get to a call than wonder how do it when they get there.”

The top 10 in training hours include: Richard Barnard, 159; Brian Bentley, 119; Jerry Bentley, 104; Kara Bentley, 101; Sarah Lamka, 76.5; Karl Driesel, 75; Andrew Faskel, 62.5; Chris Flansburg, 62; John Egloff, 48.5; Doug Bentley, 43.5.

Jerry Bentley presented two awards as the outgoing chief on Saturday. He named Rich Barnard the “firefighter of the year.” Barnard led the department with 159 training hours, including completing the firefighter 1 course and a class for basic pump operations.

“He’s very self motivated and willing to learn,” Bentley said about Barnard.

Bentley presented the Chief’s Award to his daughter, Kara Bentley, who was fourth in the department in training hours and in responding to calls. She was a high school student for half the year until she graduated last June, and then attended classes at Finger Lakes Community College.

Kara, 18, is working on becoming an EMT. She said she enjoys helping others through the fire department. Her father said she has become a dependable member of the department, looking to improve her skills.

The fire company also announced that Steve Karas was made an honorary lifetime social member in appreciation for portraying Santa the past two years while firefighters delivered toys to local children. Karas was unable to attend the dinner on Saturday because he is in Florida.

The fire department formed in 1961 and several of the charter members have been steady contributors all 55 years. They were recognized during the installation banquet on Saturday, including Herman Hicks, John Baron, Don Josyln, Larie Vagg, Warren Snyder and Frank Babcock. The 55-year members were presented with citations of appreciation from the State Assembly and Orleans County Legislature.

Herman Hicks accepts certificates of appreciation on Saturday for his 55 years of service to the Barre Volunteer Fire Company. Eileen Banker, chief of staff for Sate Assemblyman Steve Hawley, hands Hicks one of his certificates. Dale Banker, the emergency management director, is in back left by State Sen. Rob Ortt.

Hicks remains a commissioner with the Barre Fire District. He was the fire company’s first assistant chief in 1961. A retired dairy farmer, he served in numerous roles for the fire company throughout its history.

“There was a big demand (for the fire company) and we have done a lot of good for the community,” Hicks said.

He is encouraged by a new generation of volunteer firefighters stepping up to serve in Barre.

“We have a lot of people interested and that’s what you need, a good nucleus,” Hicks said.

John Baron receives his certificates of appreciation for his 55 years with the Barre Volunteer Fire Company from President Karl Driesel. Baron worked the third shift at Rochester Products and he said that made him available to respond to many fire calls during the day, when other firefighters were working. He was an active firefighter for 25-30 years.

“You’re needed,” he said about volunteer firefighters. “I also have made a lot of friends through the fire department.”

State Sen. Rob Ortt addressed more than 100 people who attended the annual installation dinner for Barre, held at the East Shelby Fire Hall. Ortt said the volunteer firefighters provide an invaluable service to their communities, and save taxpayers an estimated $3 billion annually if the communities had to have paid personnel.

Ortt was praised by Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, for directing a $75,000 grant to pay for a fire prevention trailer to be used for smoke simulation, and teaching children and the community about fire safety and prevention. That trailer will be available county-wide.

Banker also said State Assemblyman Steve Hawley has directed funds for a firefighter recruitment effort, paying for billboards and advertisements to urge people to join their local volunteer fire department. Those ads and billboards will be out in April.

Marty Zwifka receives a plaque and appreciation for his 20 years of service as deputy fire coordinator for central Orleans County. Dale Banker, the EMO director, made the presentation to Zwifka. Jerry Bentley has succeeded Zwifka in the part-time role as deputy fire coordinator.

These Barre officers take the oath of office. They include, from left: Barry Flansburg, Brian Bentley, Nic Elliott and Ben Flansburg.

The officers for 2017 include:

Department Officers: Karl Driesel, president; Jesse Babcock, vice president; Terry Bentley, secretary; and Edgar Morton, treasurer.

Firematic Officers: James Neal, chief; Ben Flansburg, assistant chief; Chris Flansburg, captain; Bert Mathes, 1st lieutenant; Nic Elliott, 2nd lieutenant; Brian Bentley, 3rd lieutenant; Barry Flansburg, 4th lieutenant; Andrew Faskel, EMS captain; Susan Driesel, Fire Police captain; Doug Bentley, chief mechanic; John Egloff, assistant mechanic.

Directors: Jesse Babcock, Bert Mathes, Bradlee Driesel, Chris Flansburg, Andrew Faskel and Bill Basinait.

Ladies Auxiliary Officers: Betty Hazel, president; Stephanie Corke, vice president; Stephanie Spencer, secretary; Maura Curtis Moy, corresponding secretary; Debby Westlund, treasurer; and Georgianna Gauthier, flag bearer.

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