Orleans honored with state-wide tourism award for extending fishing season with canal water

Photo by Tom Rivers: A fisherman from Brooklyn was in the Oak Orchard River last October trying to catch salmon. Canal water has been used the last three years to supplement tributaries until mid-December.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 August 2023 at 1:05 pm

WATERPORT – Orleans County’s Tourism Department has been honored for an initiative where Erie Canal water is released into tributaries until mid-December. The effort has resulted in a better, extended tributary fishery.

The New York State Tourism Industry Association has recognized Orleans County and the NYS Canal Corporation with a “Tourism Excellence Award.”

Ron Bierstine, the county’s sportsfishing coordinator, presented the concept, “more water = more fish” when he was sitting on a governor task force committee for NYS Reimagine the Canal Initiative.

Bierstine, owner of Oak Orchard Tackle & Lodge in Carlton, presented the idea of using canal water to bolster the flow of tributaries late into the fall. He shared it with the Canal Corp. and New York Power Authority.

The initiative started in 2020 and has continued for three seasons.

“By allowing more water into our tributaries it allows for a longer fishing season in the fall and attracts additional anglers to experience our world-class fishing destination, found right here in Orleans County!” said Dawn Borchet, the county’s tourism director.

Orleans, the Canal Corp. and other recipients will be honored Sept. 14 during an awards ceremony at Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester.

Genesee County also is among the winners for its tourism campaign on the barn Quilt Trail in Le Roy.

Author highlights ‘Keep the Light On’ fundraiser set for Aug. 19

Photo by Tom Rivers: A sailboat heads up the Oak Orchard Harbor channel past the Oak Orchard Lighthouse last Thursday.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 August 2023 at 6:40 pm

WATERPORT – The Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum is sponsoring a “Keep the Light On” fundraiser Aug. 19 at the Carlton United Methodist Church, 1196 Archbald Rd.

The event will run from 7 to 9 p.m. and feature a dessert buffet, Lake Ontario author Susan Peterson Gateley and an old time hoedown by Kathy Vandemortel and Steve Bland.

Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased Tuesday evenings at OONA concerts in the park, Fridays through Sundays at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse or by calling Chris at (585) 315-9799 or Larry at (585) 230-7829.

Susan Peterson Gateley, an author about Lake Ontario, will speak during an Aug. 19 fundraiser for the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum.

A lighthouse at Point Breeze initially was pushed by Peg Wiley, who discovered shortly after she moved there in 2002 that there used to be a lighthouse on the pier at Point Breeze. The original lighthouse was toppled in a windstorm in 1916.

That summer she set up a table to solicit donations at the Wooden Boat Festival, and soon strong community support rallied towards the cause.

In 2004 she met the late Dick Anderson, who had a replica of the lighthouse and she created an exhibit at the Chamber of Commerce office in Albion, along with 1,000 copies she had reprinted of an 1890 book on Point Breeze. The Lighthouse Museum operated under the wing of the Chamber of Commerce until they could get their own certification.

Wiley and Cheryl Staines worked months to obtain a 501 3c designation, which was approved in 2004 and the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum was officially formed.

Wiley and the lighthouse group met a $300,000 goal for the structure which was built in 2010. The lighthouse is an iconic symbol for the Orleans County featured in tourism guides. The lighthouse also includes a small museum telling the history of the original lighthouse.

Wiley and the lighthouse group are still raising money for the lighthouse – for ongoing maintenance and expenses. The Aug. 19 fundraiser features author Susan Peterson Gateley.

Gateley has written multiple books about Lake Ontario. She writes a blog about Lake Ontario. Click here to be directed to her website.

She believes you should write what you know and she knows “We live in a state with the greatest variety of water of any place in the U.S. New York is bounded by a salt water coast and contains shorelines of fresh water ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. We have shorelines of two Great Lakes and, between us and Vermont, we share a Pretty Good Lake. No other state has more diversity of water for those who like to float on boats than we do. So that’s what I write about.”

Gateley continues to say, “To explore the world of water properly you need a boat. In my view, a slow quiet boat is best. For 40 years I sailed Lake Ontario, first solo, then with a spouse. I cruised around the lake for 17 years solo with Ariel, a 23-foot sailboat. With her I discovered that our Great Lake has another nation on its northern border. I learned a lot about Ontario Province with that boat.”

More recently, Gateley and her spouse have begun exploring the Erie Canal and her latest book, just released by History Press, “Beyond the Erie,” is a history of the current version of the New York canal system that helped make this nation.

Currently, Gateley and her spouse are trying a new way to travel on the canal. They’re going to attempt a cruise powered solely by sunshine. They have equipped their 23-foot sailboat with 1,500 watts of solar panels mounted on a canopy over the deck and cabin.

“We’re leaving the mast at home and will cruise the canal for two weeks using our previously installed electric motor and batteries,” Gateley wrote in her Chronicle. “The batteries, we hope, will be charged totally from the panels.”

During her appearance at the Lighthouse fundraiser, Gateley will share more of her experiences.

Sailors keep up summer tradition of racing on Lake Ontario

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 August 2023 at 10:17 am

Oak Orchard Yacht Club has organized the events for more than 30 years

Photos by Tom Rivers

POINT BREEZE – A group of sailors raced sailboats on Thursday evening on Lake Ontario near the Oka Orchard Harbor.

The race has been a tradition on Thursdays going back at least 30 years for the Oak Orchard Yacht Club.

The sailors typically race for 4 miles and have to change directions frequently. The team on the sailboats frequently need to reset the sails to slow down, speed up and change directions.

I watched the action from the western pier at the Oak Orchard Harbor. This is accessible by going through the Oak Orchard Marine State Park on Archibald Road.

Here are more photos from the race:

3 dead sycamore trees removed at Point Breeze

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 July 2023 at 2:39 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

POINT BREEZE – The Oak Orchard Harbor looks different today after three dead sycamore trees were removed by the Orleans County Department of Public Works.

The DPW cut down two trees right by the channel. There were two benches in between those trees.

The trees’ roots caused the nearby asphalt to rise and crack in spots.

Another tree was taken down in the parking lot. The trees were considered a danger to people and vehicles close by.

Here is the Oak Orchard Harbor on Aug. 29, 2019 with the two trees next to the benches.

The state owns the land and is planning improvements for the site, including making it more handicapped accessible, the county DPW employees said.

Carlton celebrates bicentennial with parade on 98, fun at town park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 June 2023 at 8:37 am

Parade is a first in Carlton since the late 1970s

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – The Town of Carlton celebrated its bicentennial on Saturday, and the festivities included a parade down Route 98 from Waterport Carlton Road to Park Avenue.

The Carlton Clippers team in the Albion Midget League were in the procession behind some large farm machinery.

Click here to see a video of the parade.

Wendy Tinder and her daughter Charlotte wave from a Jet Ski on a trailer as part of the parade.

Z.A.M. Yohe Draft Horses pulls a group on a wagon in the procession down Route 98.

SeaAnne and Ted Narburgh gave a golf cart a patriotic look for the town’s 200th anniversary celebration.

Orleans County Tourism brought the 13-foot-long fiberglass Chinook salmon.

Brenda Mufford, who helped coordinate the parade, drives a 1972 Chevelle SS in the parade. Her grandson Jax joined her for the ride.

These daughters of Carlton firefighters carry the banner in front of the fire company. They include, from left: Emma Dumrese, Kayla Niederhofer and Olivia Dumrese.

The procession of fire trucks, town highway trucks and equipment, classic cars and other vehicles head south on Route 98.

Jim Tabor of Carlton takes a photo of Frank Strasburger in 1972 Buick GS 455. Tabor said this was the first parade in Carlton since the late 1970s when the Carlton Volunteer Fire Company used to have the annual carnival.

Susan Howard, the Orleans County first assistant district attorney, carries a banner announcing she is running for district attorney in 2024. Howard is a Carlton resident.

Jack Stinson, left, Lloyd Wright and other members of the Albion Lions Club served up sausage and other food at the town park. Other food was available and Coupe de Ville and Son Henry Band performed.

Guy Magliocco of Point Breeze plays Taps in observance of Lysbeth “Betsy” Hoffman, the town historian who passed away on Feb. 18, 2021.

Kurt Van Wycke, the town highway superintendent, is at left.

The town’s bicentennial was actually last year but the celebration was put off until this year.

According to the town web site:

“Carlton’s first settlement was made in 1803 by two brothers, James and William Wadsworth, who soon moved further west in New York State. They were subsequently followed by the Brown, Dunham, Lovewell and Root families who stayed.

“Carlton was formed by the towns of Gaines and Ridgeway on April 13, 1822 and known by the name of Oak Orchard until 1825 when the name was changed to Carlton. It is thought the name Carlton was chosen honoring Sir Guy Carleton (1724 – 1808), who served as governor of Quebec from 1786-1796. Carleton was also a shipbuilding district near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.”

Charlotte and Cullen Bannister greeted people from a float for Excelsior Farms and Bannister Beef.

Quill Diesel Repair & Towing was among many businesses in the parade.

Ava Woolston of the Carlton Clippers tosses candy to kids along Route 98. Her father, Ryan, is one of the team’s coaches this year.

Sheriff Chris Bourke and Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery are ready for the parade to start.

The fun at the town park included bounce houses, and many other games and activities.

Town of Carlton celebrates 200th anniversary on Saturday with parade, bash at town park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2023 at 3:54 pm

Parade participants welcome for procession on Route 98

CARLTON – The Town of Carlton is celebrating its 200th anniversary on Saturday with a parade down Route 98 and a party at the town park.

The parade starts at noon at Park Avenue and Route 98 and heads south to the Carlton Rec Hall. Participants are welcome to begin staging for the parade at 11 a.m. Participants don’t need to register and can show up at 11, said Brenda Mufford, one of the bicentennial celebration committee members.

Carlton welcomes floats, tractors, classic cars, sports teams and other participants for the parade.

After the procession down 98 there will be food trucks, a bounce house and bands at the town park behind the Rec hall. The bands include Coupe de Ville and Son Henry Band.

There will be hot dogs, pizza, an ice cream truck and other food available. The Carlton Fire Company also will have fire trucks available to see up close.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout and that everybody has fun,” Mufford said.

2 killed when small airplane crashes near Townline Road in Carlton/Yates

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 May 2023 at 9:52 pm

CARLTON/YATES – The pilot and a passenger in a small home-made airplane were killed this afternoon when the plane had a mechanical failure and crashed into a cow pasture off Townline Road in Yates.

The names of the deceased aren’t being released right now pending notifications of their family.

The 911 dispatch center was called at 5:42 p.m. with reports of the crash. The two wings came off the plane and landed in an orchard on the eastside of Townline Road in Carlton.

The fuselage, the main body of the plane, landed in a cow pasture, missing a home with 11 children by a few hundred feet. The fuselage traveled about another 1,500 yards from the wings.

Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke said the plane left from the Gaines Valley Aviation airport on Route 279. The pilot was offering rides in the plane earlier in the day, Bourke said.

An investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration is on site as of 9 p.m. and another investigator is expected on Monday from the National Transportation Safety Board.

A spill team from the state Department of Environmental Conservation also is responding because of a fuel spill from the plane at the crash site.

The scene is being secured by deputies from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office. State Police, the Lyndonville Fire Department and Orleans County Emergency Management Office also have assisted at the scene.

Dedicated group gets Oak Orchard Lighthouse ready for new season

Posted 26 May 2023 at 7:36 am

Photo by Claire Squicciarini: Pictured from left include members of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse board of directors: Larry Grimes, Dawn Squicciarini, Chris Manaseri, Holly Manaseri and Ken Martin. They worked on cleaning up the grounds this past Sunday.

By Claire Squicciarini, correspondent

POINT BREEZE – After a busy cleanup day on Sunday, the Oak Orchard Lighthouse is ready to open to the public on Memorial Day weekend beginning today.

The lighthouse will remain open from noon to 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day weekend.

The lighthouse at Point Breeze is an interpretation of history and an important part to the region’s heritage. The original Lighthouse stood before what is now the break wall until it was blown over in 1916.

In 2000 the replica project was started by Richard Anderson amongst others in the community. By 2010 the project raised enough money to build the lighthouse we have today.

Richard Anderson was my grandfather who sadly passed away Oct. 3, 2022. He was a major advocate for the lighthouse and put in countless hours for the replica project, raising money and serving as a docent. He convinced his grandchildren, including me, to be in many plays, parades and other fundraisers for the lighthouse.

“He was the personification of the place for decades,” said Chris Manaseri, current board president of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse.

This photo from May 2010 shows Richard Anderson at an event with his grandchildren celebrating the Oak Orchard Lighthouse. From left include Richard’s wife Donna Anderson, Michelle Squicciarini Beterbiyev, Richard Anderson, Elizabeth Elkins, Jacob Squicciarini, Claire Squicciarini and Abigail Squicciarini.

My grandfather was the keeper of the light for many years. Almost every time we came down to see the lighthouse, grandpa would be sitting there with his dog Dixie ready to tell you the history of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse. I am proud to say Richard Anderson was my grandpa.

The lighthouse board now maintains and promotes the lighthouse with weddings, school trips, and many other activities. The members of the board include board president Chris Manaseri, Holly Manaseri, Ken Martin, Anne Martin and Dawn Squicciarini (daughter of Richard Anderson). Larry Grimes and other docents also are dedicated to being at the site.

If you want to learn more about the lighthouse, you can hear all about if from one of these members while climbing to the top for an amazing view. They also have a gift shop at the bottom of the lighthouse and the Children’s Peace Garden on the east side with a donations box – all proceeds go to the lighthouse.

“We are looking for opportunities for grants to do what Richard wanted for the lighthouse,” Manaseri said.

The board is working on fundraisers this year, including a dinner on Aug. 19 with author Susan Gateley, who has written several books about Lake Ontario.

So, if you are looking for something to do this summer come up and visit a part of history at the Oak Orchard Lighthouse.

(Editor’s Note: Claire Squicciarini is going into her junior year at Alfred University. She is a communications major with minors in film studies and social justice studies. She is the granddaughter of the late Richard Anderson who was influential in getting the lighthouse built in 2010.)

Governor announces $1 million in Restore NY funds for Nesbitt Manor project in Carlton

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2023 at 4:30 pm

CARLTON – The Town of Carlton has been awarded $1 million towards the renovation of Nesbitt Manor along Johnson Creek, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced today.

The project will provide seven rooms for rent and an event space. A neighboring carriage house will be renovated as full-service café, kitchen and patio space, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Hochul announced $146 million statewide in Restore New York grants. The Carlton project is the only one listed for Orleans County.

The Village of Albion also applied for Restore NY funding, and still could receive a grant, said Jay Grasso, the village’s grant writer.

“We still have a shot,” he said in an email about Albion.

The City of Batavia in Genesee County also was awarded $1.85 million for “Carr’s Reborn,” a project to renovate Carr’s department store.

Restore NY supports municipal revitalization efforts across the state, helping to remove blight, reinvigorate downtowns and generate economic opportunity in communities statewide. The program, administered by Empire State Development, is designed to help local governments revitalize their communities and encourage commercial investment, improve the local housing stock, put properties back on the tax rolls and increase the local tax base, Hochul said in a new release.

“These Restore New York grants will help to reimagine downtowns across our state and transform vacant, blighted and underutilized buildings into vibrant community anchors,” Governor Hochul said. “Thanks to a more than $146 million state investment, we are breathing new life into communities from Hudson to North Hempstead, jumpstarting new economic activity and helping ensure that New York State continues to be a place where people come to live, work and raise their families.”

Agricultural workers praised for learning English at World Life Institute

Posted 17 May 2023 at 1:50 pm

Photo and information courtesy of World Life Instituter: In front kneeling from left include Cesar Velasquez, Nelson Barahona, Angel Escalante, Udis Cruz, Alan Nunez, Daniel Payan and Julian Garcia. Second row: new teacher Wynter Dumont and Malvy Rivera, students Melvin Zuniga, and Luis Henry. Third row: teachers Monica Beck and Linda Redfield Shakoor, Osmin Delcid, Gerson Espinoza, Jorge Alvaro, Wilfredo Guandique, Fabian Cortes and kneeling continuing Intergrow student from Colombia, Julian Garcia. Back row: Josue Canales, Josue Martinez, Michael Mejia, Alexander Vilorio, Denis Ramos, David Cruz, Andi Torres, Oscar Suazo, Johan Soriano and Intergrow student from Italy, Alessandro Vincenzi.

Press Release, World Life Institute

CARLTON – The Orleans/Niagara BOCES and World Life Institute of Waterport celebrated the achievements of 21 adult English language students on Monday evening at the WLI education center on Stillwater Road. More than 40 students, staff and friends attended the celebration.

This year most of the honorees came from H.H. Dobbins apple packing facility in Lyndonville. There were 21 men from Honduras who regularly attended classes two evenings a week after working at Dobbins. Four teachers – Monica Beck, Malvy Rivera, Wynter Dumont and Linda Redfield Shakoor – taught their classes.

Each student received a certificate acknowledging their effort and improvement in the English language over a period of 8 months.

Student comments included:

“I love to come to English class. I want to thank God for the wonderful opportunity that He gives us to be part of this program and the English school which is a blessing in my life.”

“The classes were very helpful for the relationship with my colleagues and my American bosses.”

“I learned to buy clothes in the store, numbers, time and to order food.”

 “I took the driver’s permit test.” Nine students received their NYS driver’s permit.

“I know how to greet people… I met new friends.”

Students plan to return to work at Dobbins in Lyndonville in October 2023 and continue with English classes at the education center in Waterport.

Carlton residents share concerns over property reassessments up an average 40%

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 May 2023 at 2:20 pm

Higher values don’t necessarily mean more in taxes, real property director says

Photos by Tom Rivers: About 50 people attended an informational meeting on Monday evening at the Carlton Town Hall about the new reassessments for the town. Dawn Allen, left at dais, is the director of real property tax services for Orleans County. Lisa Ames, right, is the Carlton town assessor. They took questions from the public for about 1 ½ hours.

CARLTON – Many Carlton residents attended a meeting Monday evening and said their new reassessments don’t reflect reality, with the town assessor putting values that are on average 40 percent higher than the last re-valuations four years ago.

About 50 people were at the informational meeting where Assessor Lisa Ames and Dawn Allen, the Orleans County real property tax director, went over the reassessment process.

Allen acknowledged the values are way up in Orleans County.

Dawn Allen, the real property tax director for the county, said the reassessments have gone to reflect a dramatic change in the marketplace.

“We’re seeing some dramatic activity,” Allen said about sale prices way above assessments and asking prices.

Orleans is normally a very stable market with small incremental changes, she said.

But the housing prices soared during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more people working from home and many seeking life in the countryside. Interest rates were minuscule.

But residents say the market has changed this year, with much higher interest rates and a return to normalcy with the Covid pandemic no longer in the emergency stage.

One resident bought a house 2 ½ years ago and he said his new assessment in $116,000 more than what he paid for the house.

He said “fools” created a market bubble that he worries will come to a crash.

Allen said the data shows an across-the-board overall big increase in sale prices. It isn’t just a few isolated sales. Allen said the assessments need to reflect how homes are selling on the market.

Allen shared the median sale prices in Orleans County in recent years:

  • 2018, 486 sales, $96,500 median
  • 2019, 435 sales, $109,000 median
  • 2020, 378 sales, $122,396 median
  • 2021, 423 sales, $135,000 median
  • 2022, 381 sales, $150,000 median

“We are seeing 15 to 20 percent jumps annually in the market,” Allen said.

Many towns opted against reassessments last year, wanting to wait a year to see if the market would slow down. Only Clarendon did the usual re-valuations in 2022, which are done every three years in the normal cycle among Orleans County towns, except Barre, which typically did town-wide reassessments every year.

Carlton, Kendall, Ridgeway and Shelby are doing the reassessments this year, at least four years since the last one.

Albion, Gaines, Murray and Yates aren’t doing them this year, meaning it will be five years without a reval if they do them next year. Just because they aren’t doing revals doesn’t mean those towns can ignore the rising market prices. The state uses equalization rates to try to make the tax rates fair. (Those towns that aren’t at 100 percent valuations will pay a higher equalization rate for the tax rates.)

Source: Orleans County Real Property Tax Services

Allen said the reassessments don’t mean property owners will pay more in taxes. The tax levies will be divided by a bigger tax base, which should result in a lower tax rate. In Carlton, those whose assessments increased less than the 40 percent average would pay less in taxes. Those with assessments that went up more than 40 percent would see an increase, Allen noted.

Clarendon did a town-wide reassessment last year, the only town to do it among the 10 on the three-year cycle. Clarendon’s assessments were up an average of 30 percent.

The higher values resulted in a drop in the tax rate for Clarendon property owners, Allen said. The school tax rate in Holley for Clarendon property owners decreased from $24.10 per $1,000 assessed property in 2021 to $19.28 last September. Clarendon’s combined town and county tax rate was down from $15.70 in 2022 to $12.65 this year with the new values, Allen said.

She encouraged the concerned property owners to do their homework in researching comparable sales to determine the market value if they are going to challenge the new assessments. They should look for sales within their town, checking similar neighborhoods and housing sizes and styles. They can check the Orleans County Real Property Database (click here) or real estate websites such as HomeSteadNet or Zillow.

Some of the residents who spoke at Monday’s meeting said prices are already sliding down this year with higher interest rates. Allen said the market is still strong. The prices tend to be a little lower the first quarter during the winter and then gain strength, she said.

However, if the prices overall are lower, the next reassessments in Carlton in three years will reflect the change in the market. (The values in the new Carlton assessments are based on the market price as of July 1, 2022. The next reassessment, if the town stays on a three-year cycle, will be based on the values of properties on July 1, 2025.)

“It’s too early to predict,” Allen said. “If they go backwards, then the (assessments) will have to go backwards.”

Law enforcement looking for answers in murder-suicide in Carlton

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 April 2023 at 3:19 pm

Provided photo: There is police tape on an orchard on Kendrick Road in Carlton while an investigation continues into a murder and suicide on Sunday, where a father killed his 14-year-old son and then took his own life.

ALBION – Orleans County law enforcement officials are trying to determine why a father from Lockport killed his son and then took his own life.

Henry Frank “Hank” Spoon Jr., 39, was a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Iraq War. Friends of his posted on the Orleans Hub Facebook page that he suffered from PTSD from the war. Despite his actions on Sunday, his friends say he dearly loved his 14-year-old son, Shawn.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said law enforcement has interviewed Spoon’s family and they are surprised by his actions and didn’t see any signs he was a threat of such violence.

“This is just a horrible tragedy,” Cardone said today at the Public Safety Building in Albion.

Law enforcement has recovered cell phones that Spoon threw out of the car before reaching an orchard in Kendrick Road, where the father and son died.

Cardone said law enforcement also will be looking at a tablet and computer from Spoon, to try to determine what was going through his mind.

The DA also will reach out the VA to see if mental health counselors can provide any insight about Spoon.

“We’re getting results on that data,” he said.

Sheriff Chris Bourke also said Spoon tossed a 20-by-20 party tent out of the vehicle and that tent landed in the front yard of a homeowner on Harris Road in Carlton.

Spoon appears to have picked the orchard at random. Bourke said the orchard owner did not know Spoon.

The Sheriff’s Office and Orleans County District Attorney’s Office also are working on the investigation with the Major Felony Crime Task Force, the Lockport Police Department, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, the State Police, and the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Shawn Spoon was a student at Lockport High School. The district is making grief counseling available next week when students returns to school.

Grief counseling also is available today from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Lockport Family YMCA at 5833 Snyder Drive, Lockport’s Superintendent of Schools Mathis Calvin III advised the community in a message on the district website.

136K fish stocked in pens at Oak Orchard River, up about 10%

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 April 2023 at 5:38 pm

Local pen-rearing project reaches 25th anniversary

Photos by Tom Rivers

POINT BREEZE – Little Chinook salmon fingerlings head into a one of the pens where they will spend the next month getting bigger in the Oak Orchard River.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation delivered 126,330 Chinook salmon and 10,000 steelhead today just after 1 p.m. The salmon numbers were increased by 10 percent from a year ago after the DEC determined the lake could handle more salmon.

They will be raised for a month in pens at Ernst Lake Breeze Marina. They fish will double in size, which increases their survival rates and also allows them to imprint on the river, meaning they are more likely to come back to the Oak Orchard when they are much bigger, mature fish.

The pens have automated feeders with food provided by the DEC.

This group helps line up and support an interconnected pipe, guiding the fish from the DEC truck to the pens in the water.

A group of charter boat captains and other volunteers will keep an eye on the fish in the next month.

Bob Songin, a charter boat captain who is second from left, has been with the pen-rearing since it started 25 years ago in 1998.

At the time it was a pilot project with 50,000 Chinook and 5,000 steelhead. The group at Oak Orchard and the DEC showed the pen-rearing projects can be successful, leading to more mature fish and happier anglers who fish in the lake in the summer and the tributaries in the fall.

Ed Shepherd from the DEC’s Altmar hatchery gets ready to release the fish from a tank on the truck through the pipes to the pen.

The fish delivery on April 3 is believed to be the earliest shipment. Bob Songin said they are usually delivered around April 10. He said the fish got bigger at the hatchery ahead of schedule, likely from the warmer-than-normal waters from a winter with above-average temps.

Joe Grolling of Carlton was among the volunteers helping with the fish delivery today.

Some of the little salmon didn’t make it to the pen when the pipe’s interconnection failed. These people scrambled to pick up the fish and get them into buckets to be put in the pens. Many younger kids were on hand with no school in session. Those kids were quick to pick up the fish.

It was a community effort to work with the DEC to get the fish from the truck to the pens.

Fire in hay loft area damages Carlton barn

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 March 2023 at 4:01 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – Firefighters battle a fire at a barn in Carlton this afternoon.

Firefighters were dispatched to 1755 Park Ave. just after 2 p.m. for a reported barn fire with vehicle exposure.

The fire appears to have started in the hay loft area of the barn.

Neighbors and firefighters said the owner, Bob Vercruysse, recently put a metal roof on the barn and made other upgrades to the property.

Carlton, Albion, Medina and Ridgeway all responded to the scene. Fire investigators are on the scene to determine the cause.

DEC announces 10 percent increase in salmon stocking for 2023

Photo by Tom Rivers: Dave Agness of Honeoye Falls helps a team of volunteers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation release 10,000 steelhead into pens tin this photo from April 8, 2019. The DEC that day also brought along 90,200 Chinook salmon. Charter boat captains and other volunteers have been raising fish in pens in the Oak Orchard River since 1998. This was the first pen-rearing project on the south shore of the lake. Now there are many.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 January 2023 at 8:28 am

There will be a 10 percent increase in Chinook salmon stocking in lake Ontario this year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced along with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The DEC said it will stock 985,180 Chinook salmon this year, up about 90,000 from the 2022 number.

The DEC said is adapts the stocking levels based on alewife biomass and Chinook salmon growth and condition. The alewife biomass increased in 2022 and the weight of age-3 salmon increased to 20.7 pounds in 2022, staying above the lower threshold of 18.4 pounds, the DEC said..

The stocking levels for the Chinook salmon in 2023 include:

  • Oak Orchard Creek – 126,330
  • Niagara River – 89,930
  • Eighteenmile Creek (Olcott) – 126,330
  • Genesee River – 126,330
  • Oswego River – 126,330
  • Salmon River – 300,000
  • Sackets Harbor (Black River) – 89,930

The DEC said it will continue to adaptively manage the salmon and trout stocking levels to ensure a predator-prey balance in Lake Ontario while continuing “to provide world-class fishing opportunities for years to come.”

Fishing is Orleans County’s top tourism industry with a $28 million annual impact, according to a DEC study and survey from 2017.

Out-of-state anglers account for 70 percent of the fishing economic output in Orleans County, $19,620,488 of the $27,989,393. County residents who fish accounted for $1,767,334 in economic activity while other New York state residents outside Orleans represented another $6,601,571, according to that report.