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Local Muslim community concerned after plot uncovered to attack mosque near Binghamton

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 January 2019 at 7:18 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Colonna walks out of a Muslim prayer house on Fuller Road in Carlton with Bilal Huzair, Jacob Zimmerman (left) and David Bell (in back). Colonna urged the group if they “see something, say something” in regards to suspicious activity directed towards the community.

WATERPORT – About 100 members of a mosque in Waterport are feeling on edge after a plot was discovered against a Muslim community near Binghamton.

The nearby Greece Police Department arrested four people in an apparent planned terrorist attack against a small Muslim community near Binghamton. The four Rochester-area males, ages 16 to 20, face felony charges of weapons possession and conspiracy after they were found with 23 guns and three homemade bombs.

“Whenever we see it in the news we can’t help but be concerned about our community and our families,” said David Bell, a member of the mosque.

The local Muslim community is part of the World Sufi Foundation. They have had a prayer house in Waterport on Fuller Road the past 40 years and a mosque on West Avenue in Medina. The group has been targeted before, with two crosses burned in the front lawn of the prayer house on Fuller Road. In 2010 shots were fired at the prayer house in Waterport, and five teen-agers were arrested.

Bilal Huzair, deputy director of the World Sufi Foundation, said local law enforcement has been very supportive of the Muslim community, taking any threats and actions against the members seriously.

Orleans County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Colonna met with Bilal and some of the World Sufi members today at the prayer house. He urged they to stay connected and to report any suspicious activity.

“If you see something, say something,” Colonna said, repeating a mantra of community policing.

Bell said the most of local residents and churches in the Orleans County are very welcoming and supportive of the community.

Huzair said the local Muslims are proud Americans who enjoy their community in Orleans County. He was saddened to see that the four people arrested in Greece were planning such a destructive act.

“This divisiveness has to end,” he said. “We don’t have time for this junk.”

Huzair issued this statement on behalf of the World Sufi Foundation:

“We the people of Waterport, New York and Orleans County hereby declare that America has no place for Fascists or Neo-Nazis. In light of the recent apprehension of Fascists in possession of bombs and weapons, we are greatly appreciative of the men and women who risked their lives to avoid a catastrophe of epic proportions.

“This attempted attack on Americans living south of Binghamton, NY could have resulted in the disruption of the peace that all Americans are privileged to by the Constitution of this great nation of people.

“America is not a nation of just Republicans or Democrats or any other party. Americans are not white or black nor of any other race. We are not defined by our heritage or by our ethnicity.  We stand United by our Flag, which symbolizes the freedoms and liberties that we shall let no one remove from the toils of our forefathers. We condemn the actions of the few Fascists and stand with the men and women who defend our rights to practice our religion in peace.

“We acknowledge all the hard work by all members of law enforcement, both local and federal, even during this time of hardship by way of the government shutdown. We know that our President, Donald J. Trump, our Senators, Congressmen and Congresswomen share the same sentiments expressed in this statement.

“We further thank the local and national media for bringing this crime to light and exposing this deviant and abhorrent attempt by these Fascists to disrupt the peaceful life of all Americans. To save one life is to save all Humanity.”

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Route 18 bridge in Carlton will be one-way, alternating, for the next few weeks

Posted 10 January 2019 at 2:41 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from March 2015 shows the bridge on Route 18 over Oak Orchard River when it was limited to one lane so the Department of Transportation could make repairs.

Press Release, NYS Department of Transportation

CARLTON – The New York State Department of Transportation is advising motorists about a new traffic pattern in place along the bridge carrying Route 18 over Oak Orchard Creek in the Town of Carlton, Orleans County.

The bridge, which is currently posted for 28 tons, will now be reduced to a one-way alternating traffic pattern using a traffic signal at each end of the bridge.

This pattern is expected to continue for the next several weeks as NYSDOT is currently planning repairs to the bridge, allowing for two-way traffic to resume.

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Sheriff’s Office helps deliver Toys for Tots to Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2018 at 11:44 am

Provided photos

WATERPORT – The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Lord’s House in Waterport with delivering toys last week to the church, where they were distributed to more than 40 families on Saturday. Pictured from left includes Undersheriff Christopher Bourke, Deputy Adam Hazel, Sgt. John Doyle, Chief Deputy Mike Mele, Lord’s House First Lady Rose English, Rev. Eddie English (Lord’s House pastor) and Rev. William Morrell Washington, Rose’s sister and pastor of the Royal Church of God in Christ in Carlton.

The Lord’s House has distributed Toys for Tots since 2008. The toys used to be delivered to the church by Toys for Tots. This time the church needed to go to Rochester to collect the gifts.

The church asked the Sheriff’s Office to see if it would help get the toys and bring them to the church.

Sgt. John Doyle of the Sheriff’s Office is in the trailer with some of the toys.

The church sent a Tahoe and a 14-foot-long trailer to collect the toys, which are going to more than 100 children in more than 40 families in Orleans County.

“I was so happy that they reached out,” said Sheriff Randy Bower. “It’s for the kids so it was an easy one for me.”

Rose English, first lady of the church, said there were sign-ups at the church and at Hoag Library for families to be included in Toys for Tots. There aren’t income cutoffs for the program.

“Just because you have an income doesn’t mean you can afford things,” she said today.

The number of people in the county participating in Toys for Tots has been growing over the years, she said.

She thanked the Sheriff’s Office for assisting with the pickup last week.

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Hospice honors vet who served in Vietnam

Provided photos: Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans County Veterans Service Agency, presents a certificate to Ed Ball on Monday as part of Hospice’s “We Honor Veterans Program.”

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 August 2018 at 9:55 am

Ed Ball, who is battling lymphoma, served 24 years in military before retiring to Point Breeze

POINT BREEZE – Ed Ball doesn’t regret being in the combat infantry in Vietnam, where he was shot at and exposed to Agent Orange.

One bullet hit him in the scalp. He was in the infirmary for 10 days before rejoining his unit.

“I was right back in the jungle,” he said. “I know it sounds unrealistic now, but if your injuries weren’t that severe you went back out in the field. You really had to be shot up.”

Ed Ball moved to Point Breeze about seven years ago to be near the Oak Orchard River and Lake Ontario so he could go fishing. He is holding a large Chinook salmon. He said the area is fortunate to have such a bountiful big fish.

Ball, 71, was awarded a Purple Heart for his injuries. He earned numerous medals in a 24-year military career. After two years in Vietnam, Ball served in the National Guard and then the Army Reserve. He was a rifle instructor for about 12 years, training many soldiers in rifle marksmanship.

He recalled the night of Oct. 31, 1968 when he was in a firefight at night and was shot in the scalp. He is thankful for nearly 50 more years of life after that incident.

“I was lucky and very fortunate,” he said. “I’m very lucky to be here.”

He stayed in the military while working at Lapp Insulators in Le Roy. He was a millwright with that company for 44 years.

The Batavia native is a life-long outdoorsman. He found a paradise at Pont Breeze for fishing and deer hunting. He moved to the Oak Orchard River about seven years ago with his wife Kim. They were right on the river and Ball had a dock with his boat, “Bobber Down.” He often went fishing with his family, including two granddaughters.

Ball two years ago felt severe pain in his stomach and was taken by ambulance during the middle of the night to Strong Memorial Hospital. He would be diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. He has endured four rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant. He has done everything he can do to beat the disease.

Through it all, he wouldn’t be denied the chance to fish – until about a month ago. Ball can’t keep food down and he said the end is likely near.

He is receiving hospice care at his home. A year ago he moved from the river to a one-story house on Lakeshore Road that looks out on Lake Ontario. Ball likes the view but he preferred the spot on the river. “There was a lot more going on,” he said about the Oak Orchard. He moved to be in a house without stairs.

Ball was awarded a Purple Heart after being shot in Vietnam. Ten days after a bullet pierced his scalp, he was back with his unit in the jungle.

On Monday he was surprised by Hospice and the local Veterans Service Agency when they presented him with three certificates of appreciation for his military service. It’s part of Hospice’s “We Honor Veterans Program.”

“It was quite a surprise,” Ball said about the recognition on Monday.

He reflected on his military career, where he said exposure to Agent Orange is the culprit for him getting cancer later in life. Despite that he said he wouldn’t take back his military service.

He stayed for 24 years, wanting to teach his skills to others.

“I felt as though I had duties and I was very good at what I did, and I could keep some kids alive,” he said.

Ball started fishing at the Oak orchard River in the 1970s. He has caught many salmon topping 30 pounds, including a 38-pounder. His phone is filled with photos of him with salmon, trout, walleye and even a shark he caught in Florida. He also has many photos of his family with big fish.

“I love it,” he said about fishing. “It’s very relaxing. The fishing here is phenomenal if you know how to fish.”

Ball also has been a pilot for 28 years, flying out of the Le Roy Airport.

He said is grateful for a full life and the for extra time that he said has been possible through the care from the doctors and staff at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center in Rochester.

“The Wilmot Cancer Center did an excellent job trying to save my life,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be alive today.”

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Public urged to attend meeting on Aug. 30 for waterfront revitalization in 3 Orleans towns

Posted 21 August 2018 at 10:14 am

Press Release, Orleans County Department of Planning and Development

Photo by Tom Rivers: A boater passes through the channel at Oak Orchard Harbor at Point Breeze in this photo from May 28, 2015.

CARLTON – To effectively plan for the Orleans County waterfront, a public forum will be held as part of the process for amending the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). The towns of Kendall, Carlton and Yates, along with the Village of Lyndonville welcome residents, landowners, and other interested parties to attend this event on Aug. 30 to offer their input on recommendations for waterfront improvements.

The public information meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Carlton Fire Company Recreation Hall on 1813 Oak Orchard Road (Route 98). Doors will be opened 30 minutes early at to allow the public time to review maps of existing conditions for the area.

The purpose of the meeting is twofold. It is educational to briefly explain the objectives of an LWRP program, as it has been many years since it was first adopted; it is also about obtaining ideas from the public for improving the Lake Ontario and creek corridor waterfronts.

Having an LWRP enables waterfront communities to evaluate land use and waterfront resources and develop a comprehensive strategy to effectively manage and protect those resources. Planned improvements are the means for getting this done. By applying a local focus on land use management, along with the maintenance, improvement and enhancement of important resources and features in the waterfront area, an LWRP strengthens existing state programming and provides the participating communities with a road map to guide growth and recognize opportunities.

It also provides more local control over decisions made along its waterfront. The goal is to develop an update to the existing local program that properly manages land use and future development along the waterfront, effectively protects important coastal resources and recognizes opportunities for public improvements.

The Orleans County Department of Planning and Development was awarded a state grant for amendment of the LWRP. The county entered into a contract for the provision of professional services with Wendel and WWS Planning in April2017, to assist with the project.

The project team has been working with a community-based steering group – the Waterfront Advisory Committee – to collect and review information on existing waterfront conditions, including land use and community character; economic development; public access and recreation; flooding and erosion; historic preservation; scenic and environmental resources; and water quality. These efforts were supplemented by public comments gathered at an information meeting that was held in April of this year. To complement the information, the Waterfront Advisory Committee is asking local citizens to assist in identifying important issues, opportunities, desires and concerns to help establish a clear vision for the waterfront.

Comments will be accepted electronically for those who cannot attend by clicking here. Comments will also be accepted on the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development’s webpage.

For additional information on these meetings or the LWRP project, contact Ellen Parker, Wendel, (716) 688-0766. You may also contact the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development at (585) 589-3189 (Director Jim Bensley) or (585) 589-3187 (Planner Sarah Gatti).

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Volunteers enjoy meeting visitors at Lighthouse

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 August 2018 at 10:32 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

POINT BREEZE – Neil and Joanne Johnson of Albion welcomed visitors to the Oak Orchard Lighthouse at Point Breeze on Sunday afternoon to see the small museum and gift shop.

The Albion couple volunteers for about three hours on Sundays at the lighthouse and typically greets about 20-25 people.

“We like lighthouses and we like meeting people,” said Mr. Johnson, who is the Albion village historian. “It’s the best job you can have. You meet a lot of nice people.”

The Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum is open during the summer on Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Oak Orchard Lighthouse is pictured on Nov. 14, 2016 during the “Supermoon.” This was brightest and largest the moon has appeared since 1948, according to NASA. There won’t be another supermoon like this until 2034, NASA said.

Volunteers with the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Committee pushed to build the lighthouse, which is a replica of a structure built in 1871 at Point Breeze. The original was toppled in a windstorm in 1916.

The new 35-foot structure was built in 2010 with community donations and a state grant. The Oak Orchard Lighthouse has become an iconic symbol for the county and the Point. It is featured in many of the county’s tourism promotions.

Photo from Orleans County Department of History: This photo shows the original Oak Orchard Lighthouse, which was built in 1871 on the pier on the west side of the Oak Orchard River.

This picture, taken around 1900, shows people standing along the piers that extended about 1,600 feet out onto Lake Ontario.

The Point Breeze Lighthouse was accompanied by a light-keeper’s home located on the western shore of the river.

During a storm in 1914, the lighthouse was severely damaged and with no available funding to provide necessary repairs to the lighthouse, it remained in place to suffer the continued effects of Lake Ontario, County Historian Matthew Ballard wrote in his “Overlooked Orleans” column in the Orleans Hub.

“Finally, a storm on December 28, 1916 delivered the final blow and swept the entire structure and a portion of the pier into the lake,” Ballard said.

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NY will upgrade playground at Lakeside State Park

Posted 2 August 2018 at 3:26 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York has committed $2.5 million to build or improve 14 playgrounds at State Parks across New York, including Lakeside State Park in Carlton.

This funding is part of the Governor’s goal to modernize 100 State Park playgrounds by 2020. The park improvements reflect the state’s Connect Kids to Parks program, which aims to draw more youth to the outdoors by offering free day-use park entry to fourth-grade students and their families, and a new transportation grant program to help school children visit state parks.

“Quality playgrounds are a magnet for families, drawing children to parks and inspiring New York’s youth to enjoy healthy recreation throughout their lives,” Governor Cuomo said. “These improvement projects build on New York’s efforts to make state parks more user-friendly, safe and fun, and will encourage residents and visitors to experience the Empire State and discover our great outdoors.”

Under the initiative, State Parks will replace outdated playgrounds at parks with modern, code-compliant equipment and in distinct areas for young and older age groups. Playground improvements will be coupled with site improvements, including shade trees or canopies, seating, water fountains and trail/walkway connections to the rest of the park.

The State Parks include:

Capital District

Taconic State Park at Copake Falls

Central New York

Two playgrounds at Fair Haven State Park

Long Island

Wildwood State Park

Finger Lakes

Lakeside State Park

Seneca Lake State Park

Western New York

Beaver Island State Park

Evangola State Park

Wilson-Tuscarora State Park

Mid-Hudson Valley

Mills-Norrie State Park

North Country

Higley Flow State Park

Keewaydin State Park

Southwick Beach State Park

Southern Tier

Taughannock Falls State Park

The playgrounds are funded by Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 state park revitalization plan, which includes a commitment to add or improve 100 playgrounds by 2020. NY Parks 2020 is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The 2018-19 State Budget allocates $90 million toward this initiative.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more 250 individual parks, historic sites, golf courses, recreational trails and boat launches, which are visited by 71 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov.

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51 farmworkers recognized for improving their English

Photos by Tom Rivers: The World Life Institute and Orleans/Niagara BOCES presented 51 certificates to students who improved their English through classes run at the WLI school on Stillwater Road or at Hoag Library in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 June 2018 at 4:04 pm

3 students also earn American citizenship through program run by World Life Institute

The new Americans recognized on Wednesday at the World Life Institute include, from left: Marisol Soto, Martin Rosario and Luis Garza.

WATERPORT – The World Life Institute and the Orleans/Niagara BOCES celebrated another successful year on Wednesday, when 51 farmworkers were presented certificates for improving their English.

Three of those students also became U.S. citizens after preparing through the test with staff at the World Life Institute.

“This is not a graduation,” said Linda Redfield, one of the English teachers at the WLI. “It’s a recognition. We’re recognizing your improvement in stages. We want you to come back on Monday. This is a year-round program.”

Redfield praised the students for their work improving their English. Some of the students also learn computer skills, civics and pottery, with the latter program run in partnership with the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.

The three new Americans all expressed their gratitude to the teachers at the World Life Institute.

Luis Garza, one of the new citizens, works as a supervisor at a local fruit farm. He spent two years getting ready for the citizenship test, working with Redfield and Cheryl Lieberman, who are both teachers in the program.

“These people help us a lot,” Garza said about the teachers.

He was driven to become an American citizen.

“It was important so I could stay here in this country and support my family,” Garza said.

Martin Rosario also is a new citizen. He said it was difficult to get ready for the citizenship test while he was working and raising a family. But like Garza, Rosario was determined to pass the exam.

“It is something for us we have to do to feel free in this country,” said Rosario of Albion.

Marisol Soto of Albion works at three local farms while raising three children. She thanked the teachers for supporting the students and helping them meet the standards in passing the test.

“This means a lot to us,” Soto said about becoming an American citizen. “It’s opening doors for us and giving us more opportunities.”

Susan Diemert, a BOCES literacy specialist, said the students in the programs would attend their classes often after a long day in the fields or at dairy farms.

“They’re doing it for their future and their children’s future,” Diemert said.

The World Life Institute works with students from Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, and the Philippines. There also students from Puerto Rico.

Linda Redfield gives Marisol Soto a hug at the recognition program. Redfield is one of the teachers helping farmworkers learn English. In 2013, she was honored as “Teacher of the Year” by the New York State Association of Adult Continuing Education Programs.

Clark Godshall, superintendent of the Orleans/Niagara BOCES, praises the students and staff for their hard work in the program.

These students are all smiles after being recognized for making gains in English.

Oscar Hernandez, who works for a dairy farm in Byron, accepts a certificate in recognition of his efforts to improve his English.

Ali Carter, a member of the World Life Institute, was the designer, architect and builder of the octagonal-shaped school, which opened about two decades ago on Stillwater Road in Carlton.

Ayme Vallejo Morales, 7, takes a whack at a piñata after the recognition program. Her mother was one of the students recognized on Wednesday.

The piñata was popular with the children.

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Barn in Carlton consumed by flames

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 May 2018 at 10:45 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – Firefighters look over the scene where a small barn was quickly devoured by flames on Route 18 tonight.

The barn was on the north side of the road between Harris Road and Church Street on the western side of Calrton. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 9:11 p.m. but the building was down to the ground when firefighters arrived.

Orleans County fire investigators and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office is at the scene trying to determine a cause. No other information is available.

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Bailey’s Septic has a new owner after 40 years in same family

Photos by Tom Rivers: A plumbing and septic pumping business are now working close together. Tony Sanders owns Albion Bower’s Plumbing & Heating, and his stepfather, Jim Arnold, is the new owner of Bailey’s Septic. Pictured from left include Tony Sanders, Jim Arnold, and Brian Bartlett, former owner of Bailey’s.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 May 2018 at 12:55 pm

CARLTON – Brian Bartlett says he will miss a business dealing with something most people don’t give much thought to – unless their toilet stops flushing.

Bartlett last month sold Bailey’s Septic to Jim Arnold. The business was started by Bartlett’s grandfather, Paul Bailey, who originally had the business focused on drilling wells. As more public waterlines were installed in the county, replacing wells, Bailey shifted to pumping septic systems.

Bartlett, 62, has been part of the operation for 50 years, since he was a kid. Bailey’s started pumping septics in 1977 and that became the focus of the business. For a few years Bailey’s also rented out porta-potties.

Tony Sanders, the owner of Albion Bower’s Plumbing and Heating, often reached out to Bailey’s for a pump truck. Sanders had inquired in recently if Bartlett would be open to selling the business. The time wasn’t right until this spring for Bartlett.

Sanders knew the right person to take over the business. His stepfather, Jim Arnold, was in Oklahoma, working a demanding job for FedEx. Arnold and Sanders’ mother, Angel, wanted to return to the Albion area to be closer to family, including Tony’s three kids.

They moved back on April 1, with Arnold running Bailey’s the past three weeks.

“Family is why we came back,” said Arnold, a Middleport native. “The business is a bonus.”

Arnold was working at St. Gobain in Albion when he was offered a buyout in 2009. He started a new career in Oklahoma.

The transition back to Albion happened quickly, with the Arnolds selling their home within a week on the market and starting in the septic pumping business right away.

“God has blessed us,” Arnold said. “It has been so smooth.”

Arnold spent a week with Bartlett, visiting customers and pumping septic systems. The sewage is the trucked to the Albion sewer plant on Densmore Road.

“People will call me crazy but I’m enjoying it,” Arnold said about the new career. “It’s gratifying to see peoples’ faces when they can flush their toilet again. It’s the little things. I really enjoy serving the community.”

The two businesses will eventually operate out of the same building on Route 98 in Carlton, across from the former Harbor Pointe golf course. Bartlett used that site for the two vacuum trucks.

Sanders praised Bartlett for building up the septic pumping business. Most of the clients have their septic systems pumped every three to four years.

Sanders uses a site behind Crosby’s in Albion as the base for his plumbing operation. He wants to move it to the Carlton site where there is more room.

“The two businesses will work hand in hand,” Sanders said. “It’s a good marriage.”

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