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Photos: Bald eagle on the lookout this morning in Carlton

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2020 at 11:56 am

CARLTON – Jim Tabor, a Carlton resident, sent in these photos he took of a bald eagle at 9:30 this morning on Park Avenue in Carlton.

Tabor said there is a bald eagle nest on Beardsley Creek in the hedge row just west of 98.

The wet field and overcast weather really made the bald eagle stand out this morning.

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Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum seeks donations after fundraiser cancelled

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Oak Orchard Lighthouse is shown in September 2018 at the shore of Lake Ontario in Point Breeze.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 October 2020 at 9:55 am

Group also selling memberships, memorial bricks

POINT BREEZE — The Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum is asking for the community’s help to make up for lost revenue after its biggest fundraiser was cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The museum, which owns and oversees the lighthouse at Point Breeze, runs on a  shoe string budget, said Dick Anderson, the group’s president.

Visitors to the lighthouse are welcome to the climb the stairs to the top.

But it does have insurance costs and this summer paid $1,200 to have the 35-foot-high structure cleaned and given a new fresh coat of linseed oil.

Anderson is urging people to purchase a lifetime membership or buy a memorial brick. The museum is offering a deal on a lifetime membership at $250, instead of the usual $500. People can also buy a family membership at $35.

The museum has been selling memorial bricks for $75 near the lighthouse with lines on the brick. There are souvenirs also available for purchase at the museum.

The site opened with volunteered this summer in mid-July, later than usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Anderson said the museum insists that visitors wear masks and social distance.

They are welcome to go inside the lighthouse and climb the stairs to the top.

This year about 1,000 people have stopped by the lighthouse. Normally volunteers greet 2,000 to 3,000 people during the season.

“We talk about the location and the area,” Anderson said about the role of the volunteers.

The lighthouse offers a vantage point of the Oak Orchard Harbor. The lighthouse includes a modern LED light that is lit at night from April 1 to Nov. 1.

They are usually on site Fridays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., a busy time with Black North Inn customers getting their fish fries. The museum also is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Anderson expects this weekend will be the last one for volunteers at the site this year as the weather begins to turn colder.

Anderson, a retired science teacher at Spencerport, said he has met many interesting people volunteering at the museum. He is proud of the community for supporting the site, including the initial fundraising efforts to build the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was constructed in 2010, after $200,000 was raised from the community. The state also provided assistance with the project.

The 35-foot lighthouse is a replica to one that toppled in 1916 after a storm. The Oak Orchard Lighthouse has become an iconic symbol for Orleans County and the Point. It is often featured on the cover of the county’s tourism guide.

For more information about the museum, click here for the group’s website. Anderson said people are welcome to call him with questions at (585) 682-4383 or by email at

A check can be mailed to the museum at Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum, P.O. Box 23, Kent NY 14477.

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Fishermen return to tributaries, giving businesses a boost

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jerry Given of Bradford, Pa. tries to catch a salmon on Monday in the Oak Orchard River. Given made the trip with two other friends. He comes to Orleans County three or four times a year, trying to catch a Chinook salmon or brown trout.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 October 2020 at 2:05 pm

CARLTON – Covid-19 isn’t keeping the fishermen from Orleans County, who are back trying to catch a Chinook salmon or brown trout in local tributaries.

New York’s travel advisory on states with high rates of Covid-19 infections is keeping some people away, but the core group is back from Pennsylvania and other parts of New York.

Local businesses, especially those in lodging, say they have seen an increase in customers, and not only during the tributary fishing season.

Many people from cities have sought out rooms in Orleans County, even if only for a few days.

“We’ve been booked since June and that continues through early November,” said Ron Albertson of Albion, who rents out a vacation lodge in Kuckville, right by Lake Ontario. “We’ve had had families an couples, people from the cities who just want to get away for a few days.”

Albertson lists the cottage on Vacation Rentals by Owner or VRBO. Before the pandemic, he had people stay in the cottage from England, Sweden and Germany. The past six months, it’s been many families who stayed, including one from Holley.

Ron Bierstine, owner of Oak Orchard Tackle and Lodge since 1998, said more people are willing to try the great outdoors during the pandemic.

Ron Bierstine said the travel advisory has kept away customers from West Virginia, who would stay in his lodge and also go fishing.

But he has seen many new faces, including rookies who haven’t tried fishing before.

“They’ve heard about the great salmon fishing here and they want to try it,” he said.

There is demand for more guides to help new fishermen navigate the tributaries and know the best bait to entice the big fish, Bierstine said.

The fish have been making their fall run, and their presence always brings out the anglers, he said.

The fall fishing season is critical for his business and others that cater to the fishermen.

“This is my Christmas,” he said. “If I don’t make it in the fall, I don’t make it.”

His business has struggled like many others with supply chain issues. He doesn’t have the full array of products that he normally has, although Bierstine said he is still well stocked for anglers.

“Things are really starting to ramp up for the tributary season,” he said. “There are plenty of guys around.”

George Lacey, owner of the Captain’s Cove Motel and Marina, joins office manager Alexis Montes at the business on Roosevelt Highway in Carlton, near the bridge over the Oak Orchard River.

Captain’s Cove Motel and Marina has 14 rooms that have been booked solid since the summer and will be until Nov. 30. Many of the customers are fishermen, but Lacey said there has been a big increase in people staying from New York City. They wanted a break from the city during the pandemic and sought out a spot near water, Lacey said.

Captain’s Cove was closed in April because of Covid. Lacey used that downtime to upgrade the motel rooms. The customers have been positive, giving him good reviews online which has brought more people to Captain’s Cove.

The site also rents pontoon boats and motor boats, and gives customers use of kayaks.

“We had people come from Niagara Falls or Rochester, just wanting to stay a day,” Lacey said. “They liked it so much they stayed for a week.”

He knows the pandemic with the restrictions on capacity for some businesses like restaurants hurts many of the establishments in Orleans County.

“This is going to hurt for many years,” he said about the revenue losses for many businesses. “It’s going to be a struggle for a lot of people.”

Lacey invested heavily in Captain’s Cove after significant flooding in 2017. He raised the parking lot by 5 feet.

Sharon Narburgh said Narby’s Superette and Tackle is seeing many new faces during the pandemic.

Sharon Narburgh, owner of Narby’s Superette and Tackle on Route 98 in Point Breeze, never closed during Covid, keeping the gas station, groceries and tackle shop open. She has been with the business for 54 years. She said Narby’s has been busy.

“We’re getting more people who were stuck at home and haven’t fished for years,” she said. “They want to be out of the house.”

The travel advisory has hurt, keeping some long-time customers away. There are currently 32 states on the advisory. Travelers from those states to New York must quarantine in NY for two weeks.

Narburgh said the travel advisory is unpredictable, and it has cost many businesses customers, often at the last second.

“The charters have lost a lot of business, which means we all lose some business,” she said. “That means Orleans County lost a lot of business.”

She said the pandemic has revealed there is a shortage of beds in the county for visitors.

“We try hard to find a place for them to stay in Orleans County,” she said. I don’t want to send them out of county.”

These three anglers fish from a boat in the Oak Orchard River in front of Captain’s Cove near the Route 18 bridge.

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County renews lease for fishing access at the Oak

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 August 2020 at 8:35 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: These fishermen try to catch salmon and trout in the Oak Orchard River on Oct. 19, 2018.

CARLTON – The Orleans County Legislature has secured public fishing access for the next five years along about 4,000 feet of the Oak Orchard River, including at some of the most desirable fishing spots.

The Legislature on Wednesday approved spending $69,000 over the next five years to Roy and Scott Salmon of Park Avenue in Waterport. That will give the public access to 15.8 acres of highly coveted property. The lease runs from Aug. 22, 2020 to Aug. 21, 2025.

The county first entered into an agreement with the Salmons in August 2007. That first agreement was $7,500 annually over three years. The most recent lease was for $60,000 for over five years, or $12,000 annually.

The county in 2007 pushed to reach a deal with the Salmons for public access after the family put about 50 posted signs along their property. Fishing is the county’s top tourism attraction, generating about $28 million in economic activity in Orleans, according to a recent report from the state DEC based on 2017 data.

The Oak Orchard is a popular draw, especially in the fall during the annual salmon and trout runs with many anglers coming from around the state and country to fish in the river.

In addition to public fishing access, the agreement allows the Salmon property to keep its vegetative cover to protect water quality and riparian habitat, and to also be available for fishery and habitat management, research and educational programs.

The county has signs on the Salmon property, urging anglers to respect the land, by taking out trash and fish carcasses.

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County using state REDI funds for rebuilt boat launch, shoreline work by Lakeshore Road

Provided photos: Orleans County will install about 1,500 feet of rocks along Lakeshore Road in Carlton to protect the road from further erosion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 August 2020 at 9:02 am

CARLTON – Orleans County is moving forward with two public works projects in Carlton that are part of the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI), a $300 million state-wide effort.

The county will be redoing the public boat launch at Point Breeze, the one near the Black North Inn, and also will be stabilizing the shoreline along about 1,500 feet of Lakeshore Road.

The high Lake Ontario water levels in 2017 and 2019 chewed away the shoreline by Lakeshore Road, east of Point Breeze.

The state will pay 95 percent of the costs through REDI, a state program announced last year to protect public infrastructure and assets from Lake Ontario flooding.

The county is working with engineers on design to prepare the projects for bid.

• The Lakeshore Road project will cost an estimated $2 million. The county will hire a contractor to re-establish the shoreline, which was eroded from the high water levels in 2017 and 2019.

Big rocks will be brought in for about 1,500 feet of the shoreline by the road, east of Route 98. The project also includes drainage improvements along the road, said John Papponetti, the county’s DPW superintendent.

Work on that project is expected to start in the fall. The county is responsible for 5 percent of the costs.

Point Breeze Boat Launch: The county also will upgraded the public boat launch at Point Breeze, a project estimated to cost $750,000.

The county will be replacing the ramp, the two boat launches and the docks at the site.

When the lake levels are high, the boat launch is useless for boaters because their vehicles flood out trying to launch a boat.

The project includes floatable walkways which will tie into a concrete ramp. The current concrete ramp will be removed and a new one put in that will be pulled farther back on land.

The contractor will likely need to set up a coffer dam and pump out water during construction to work on the project. The launch will be regraded and concrete poured for the new ramps and docks.

The project also includes milling and paving the driveway and parking lot.

Construction is expected in the fall after the boating season with a goal to be done next spring before the start of a new boating season, Papponetti said.

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Hospice, American Legion honor vet in Carlton

Staff Reports Posted 4 August 2020 at 5:22 pm

Photos courtesy of Jeanne Crane

CARLTON – Roy John Follman of Carlton was presented with certificates last week in appreciation for his military service in 1953 and 1954.

The top photo shows George Way, a social worker for Hospice of Orleans, presenting Follman with a framed certificate.

“We pay special tribute to you for you military service to America and for advancing the universal hope of freedom and liberty for all,” the certificate states.

Follman, who is currently under hospice care at his home, attended Alfred State in 1952 and in 1953 entered Basic Training with the U.S. Army and was sent to Fort Drum. After his training he was sent to Iceland and then to guard the Russian border. He was honorably discharged in 1954 and then graduated from Cornell in 1958.

Nancy Traxler, director of the Orleans County Veterans Service Agency, presents a Certificate of Commendation to Follman from the American Legion. It acknowledges that Roy J. Follman served in the United States Armed Forces “in the name of Freedom and Democracy, and for courageously protecting our Liberty and Independence.”

John spent most of his life working for farmers and retired in the early 2000s to tend to his own garden, especially his rhubarb. Close to 800 pounds of rhubarb were harvested this year with help from his family.

John and Dorothy were married at Thanksgiving time in 1954 and raised four boys. Many of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren live close to home.

Roy John Follman is pictured in 2016 with some of his rhubarb.

Follman was presented with these certificates from the American Legion and Hospice of Orleans.

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Buffalo hit 98 today, hottest day since 1953

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 July 2020 at 10:09 pm

Photo by Cheryl Wertman

CARLTON – The storm clouds are forming over Lake Ontario this evening off the shore of Lakeside Beach State Park. There was wind, thunder and lightning, and Circle R’s hail guns were booming, but initially there wasn’t any no rain. That came later. Cheryl Wertman, who took the photo, said the lake water turns gray when a storm is approaching.

Today the high temperature was 98 in Buffalo at the airport. That exceeded the daily record of 92 for July 9, and tied the second warmest temperature ever recorded for Buffalo, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo. It was also the hottest day in Buffalo since 1953. Buffalo has now hit 90 degrees seven straight days.

The high of 97 in Rochester today was the hottest day in Rochester since July 17, 2012, according to the National Weather Service.

Friday is forecast to reach a high of 92 in Orleans County. A heat advisory is in effect until 8 p.m. on Friday.

Daniel Hurley took this photo of the sunset on Route 98 in Carlton.

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Pilot not injured after ultralight flips in field

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 July 2020 at 8:50 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – An ultralight plane is upside down in a squash field on Gaines Road in Carlton this evening. Orleans County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Marsceill is on scene with Carlton firefighters.

The pilot, James Retzlaff of Burt, needed to do an emergency landing after the engine stopped. He was able to circle the field and land the ultralight at about 7:30 p.m. However, the dirt was loose and the plane dug in and flipped over on the landing, said Sheriff Chris Bourke.

Retzlaff, 74, wasn’t injured from the incident. He was able to walk away and was checked out by Carlton firefighters. He declined to be transported by COVA ambulance.

Retzlaff had been flying for about 1 ½ hours before having to an emergency landing just north of the Gaines Valley Aviation Airport.

Provided photos

Members of the Sheriff’s Office help move the damaged ultralight to a trailer. Chief Deputy Jeff Gifaldi, center, Undersheriff Mike Mele and Sheriff Chris Bourke, back right, helped to move the aircraft.

Sheriff Bourke said further examination of the ultralight showed the plane most likely ran out of gas, which caused the engine to conk out.

The plane is hauled out of the field.

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