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Comptroller critical of Carlton for managing town finances

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 March 2018 at 12:10 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: A Carlton town sign notes the community is the “Ultimate Fishing Town.” The town received a $25,000 grant for winning that contest. The state comptroller said expenses from that $25,000 award weren’t audited and presented to the Town Board for approval.

CARLTON – An audit from the State Comptroller’s Office is critical of Carlton Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery for her handling of the town’s finances.

The comptroller says Ashbery did not ensure accounting records were accurate and did not have deposit receipts in a timely manner.

“We found that 93 percent of receipts reviewed totaling $1.47 million were deposited, on average, 35 days after receipt,” according to the audit. (Click here to see the report.)

The town’s annual budget is $2.5 million. A five-member Town Board governs the town and is led by Ashbery, the town supervisor.

“We appreciate the issues raised by the NYS Comptroller in its audit,” Ashbery wrote to the comptroller’s office on Feb. 7. “It has helped us recognize areas where we can improve. We believe we have addressed many of them and we will continue to address other issues that small municipalities likes ours face.”

The comptroller’s office reviewed town finances from Jan. 1, 2015 to Oct. 2, 2017.

• Some of the specific concerns identified by the comptroller include a $25,000 award from the World Fishing Network after Point Breeze won the Ultimate Fish Town contest.

The comptroller said the town supervisor did not properly account for and report cash receipts and disbursements relating to the $25,000.

The Supervisor deposited the money in its own separate bank account and made 34 disbursements totaling $19,619 from the account during the period September 1, 2013 through August 31, 2017, the comptroller said.

However, the supervisor did not have the bookkeeping firm record the receipt or disbursements in the town’s accounting records and did not report the activity to the Town Board.

The comptroller reviewed the bank statements and cancelled check images, and discussed the payments with town officials and found the payments were appropriate, although they weren’t audited or approved by the board.

• The comptroller also highlighted a 2015 mortgage tax payment of $18,733 from Orleans County that was not deposited or recorded in Town records until April 2016. That resulted in the revenue being recorded in the wrong fiscal year for which it was intended.

“Had the Supervisor been performing an appropriate review of the monthly financial reports and budget to actual comparisons, it would have been apparent the Town had not received its mortgage tax payment as budgeted,” the audit states.

• The Supervisor also misplaced two checks totaling $2,015 from the town justices, who remitted the April 2016 collections of fines and fees to the Supervisor on May 2, 2016. The justices had to reissue the checks several months later because the town supervisor never deposited the original checks.

• The comptroller also faulted the town supervisor for not submitting an annual accounting to the Town Board for fiscal years 2015 and 2016, and not providing the public accountant hired to audit the books and records with adequate information. “As a result, the 2015 and 2016 annual audits have not been performed.”

• The comptroller recommended Carlton maintain complete and accurate accounting records and deposit all money in a timely manner. The town supervisor also needs to submit annual financial reports to the Town Board and cooperate with the public accountant hired to audit the books and records.

In her response to the Comptroller’s Office on Feb. 7, Ashbery acknowledged the audit is “highly critical of the fiscal oversight” for the audit period from Jan. 1, 2015 to Oct. 2, 2017.

“We also understand that we are a small municipality where elected officials are part-time,” she wrote. “We have made changes during this audit period by engaging professional services that will supplement our ability to be available to meet our fiscal responsibilities and to ensure that accounting records are accurate and complete.”

Ashbery also said the town is depositing receipts in a timely manner and has engaged a CPA firm to audit the town books.

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County legislator says best future for Parkway is improved maintenance as current 4-lane highway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2018 at 4:21 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Lake Ontario State Parkway in Orleans County has suffered from deteriorating road conditions in recent years, which has deterred some motorists from using the road. A study is looking at the future of the Parkway.

An Orleans County legislator believes keeping the Lake Ontario State Parkway in its current form as a four-lane divided highway offers the best benefit for the Orleans County and likely makes the most sense for the state financially.

Ken DeRoller, a county legislator and member of the board of directors for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, is part of a committee looking at the future of the Parkway in Orleans County.

The Genesee Transportation Council in Rochester and the county are studying the future of the Parkway, looking at possible alternatives for the westernmost 12.7 miles of the Parkway that runs along the lake through Kendall and part of Carlton.

One idea was to close the northern side, currently the western lanes, and have the Parkway be a regular two-lane state road on the south side. That could free up the northern side for possible housing development. Except, DeRoller said, there wouldn’t be enough room to accommodate new development because the road is too close to the lake.

DeRoller said the idea of lakefront housing by the northern lanes of the parkway “is a fallacy.”

“There is not enough room to build on the north side,” DeRoller told the EDA board on Friday.

The Transportation Council also is considering closing off either the north or south sides to traffic and designating one side for cyclists and snowmobiles. But DeRoller said snow doesn’t seem to “stick” too well on the Parkway surface.

And the state would need to modify the interchanges if traffic was allowed on only one side. The cost of redoing the interchanges might negate any maintenance savings from closing off one side to traffic, DeRoller said.

The committee looking at the Parkway also is considering a reduced speed of 40 miles per hour for the Parkway, or perhaps an elevated speed limit to make the road faster for motorists.

DeRoller told the EDA board he favors more maintenance and paving in the current Parkway setup. He thinks the roadway should be better marketed as a connector to popular state parks at Lakeside Beach in Carlton and Hamlin Beach. Those two state parks together draw 443,000 visitors annually, DeRoller said. They each have about 250 camp sites.

The state Department of Transportation last year resurfaced the Parkway from Route 19 in Hamlin to Payne Beach Road in Parma. This year the resurfacing will continue west from Route 19 in Hamlin to Route 237 in Kendall in 2018. Altogether, the DOT is spending about $14 million on the paving projects.

DeRoller sees the road – when it’s in good shape – as an asset for the county, leading to the state park in Carlton, sites at Point Breeze, and a revamped marina and other businesses in Kendall.

“It’s very important to our southshore and tourism,” DeRoller said about the Parkway.

To complete a survey about the future of the Parkway, click here.

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Fire destroys Carlton home on Sawyer Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 December 2017 at 2:19 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – A house at 2089 Sawyer Rd. was destroyed in a fire around noon today in Carlton.

The fast-moving blaze spewed dark smoke that could be seen from about 10 miles away.

The owner of the house, Sheldyn J. Dysard, was out of town working and is making his way back today, Chief Deputy Michael Mele said.

Carlton firefighter Seth Dumrese, left, puts water on the fire.

The fire was originally sent out by dispatch as a possible furnace fire at 11:47 a.m. Investigators will work to determine the cause of the blaze.

Carlton, Albion and Medina firefighters all responded to the scene.

Chief Deputy Michael Mele of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office walks the perimeter of the fire today.

Provided photo: The house was engulfed in flames.

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Fundraiser established for family after house burned down in Carlton

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2017 at 9:11 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – A GoFundMe fundraiser has been established to support Dan and Rose Mawn, the owner of a house that burned to the ground on Sunday evening.

“This has been their home for over 15 years and they lost everything,” their son, Daniel Mawn, writes on GoFundMe. “The house is a total loss. Thankfully everyone is safe including their dog.”

Mawn said he is assisting his parents as they work with their insurance company.

The house was located on Route 18 at the eastern end of Carlton, right next to the Kendall town line.

“They will need to rebuild from nothing,” Mawn said. “100% of funds raised will go directly to the affected family and will be used to replace everything that they have lost.”

The Mawns need to replace clothing, household goods and supplies, furniture – “everything that you see when you look around your own home right at this moment!” Mawn said.

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Cause of Carlton fire undetermined for now

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 December 2017 at 10:18 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – The house owned by Dan and Rose Mawn is consumed by flames on Sunday evening. The house is located on Route 18 near the Carlton-Kendall townline.

The extensive damage of the site has made it unsafe for fire investigators to go inside and try to identify the cause of the blaze, said Dale Banker, director of Orleans County’s Emergency Management Office.

The Mawns’ insurance company will be sending out investigators and Banker said the county fire investigators will likely work with them to determine a cause. The county investigators took photos of the scene and did an outside assessment.

Eleven of the 12 fire companies in the county responded to the fire on Sunday evening, with most of those fire companies bringing tankers full of water to the scene.

Firefighters were dispatched back to the scene this morning at about 5:30 a.m. after the fire rekindled.

Firefighters set up a dump tank for water. That water was then sucked into a pumper fire truck. Hoses were connected to the pumper so the water could be sprayed by firefighters onto the house.

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Fire destroys Carlton home on Route 18

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 December 2017 at 7:05 pm

Many fire departments battle blaze

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – A house owned by Dan and Rose Mawn is engulfed in flames this evening on Route 18. The address is near the townline for Carlton and Kendall, between Carr Road and Petersmith Road.

Numerous fire departments are at the scene. They were dispatched there at 5:24 p.m.

There isn’t public water at the site so firefighters can’t hook into fire hydrants. Many fire departments are using tankers to haul water to the location.

The Mawns were able to safely get out of the house, along with their dog.

The house was damaged in the March windstorm when a tree fell on the structure. Friends of the Mawns said renovations had been approved by the Mawns’ insurance company but the work has been held up by a bank. The Mawns were frustrated with the delays, the friends said.

Firefighters get water on the back of the house. The entire building was engulfed in flames.

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Boxes of donated clothes head to Puerto Rico

Provided photo: Pat Haines of Waterport is pictured with a truck and driver from Mobile Air Transport which will take 20 boxes of donated clothes that are headed to Puerto Rico. The boxes will be flown to San Juan, and taken to the community of Moca, a town on the western side of Puerto Rico.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 December 2017 at 10:52 am

WATERPORT – The community donated numerous shirts, pants and other clothing items during an Oct. 29 fundraiser for a town in Puerto Rico.

Those clothing items were packaged in 20 boxes and on Monday they were picked up by a truck and driver from Mobile Air Transport. The boxes were flown from Rochester to JFK in New York City and then to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

From there, they will reach their final destination in the town of Moca in western Puerto Rico. The company, REI, is shipping the boxes at cost – $50 each.

Orchestrating the shipment of the boxes has been a hurdle in a local effort to assist a town that remains without electricity after Hurricane Maria hit the island in September.

The Carlton United Methodist Church hosted a fundraiser on Oct. 29 for a community in Puerto Rico, home of Betty Garcia Mathewson’s relatives. Garcia Mathewson lives in Albion and attends a yoga class led by Pat Haines. Haines also attends the Carlton United Methodst Church.

The church and yoga class put on the fundraiser that has raised $5,500. That money has paid for 80 solar powered emergency lights and 20 water filtration systems and extra filters, the $1,000 needed to ship the boxes of clothes, and $1,500 that was sent to a church to provide a Thanksgiving meal for the Moca community.

“It’s really impacting peoples’ lives,” Haines said this morning. “We far exceeded my expectations. It’s amazing what small group can do.”

The Centro Cristiano Nueva Vision – the New Vision Christian Center in Moca – is the distribution point for the donations. Garcia Mathewson’s cousin is a leader in that congregation.

People are still welcome to send checks to the Carlton United Methodist Church, 1196 Archbald Road, Waterport, NY 14571.  If someone sends a check to the church, they should note “PR Fundraiser.” The church will then wire the funds to the New Vision Christian Center in Moca. Donors also are welcome to sponsor a box for $50.

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Volunteers have 100-plus baskets, lots of cookies ready for Sunday’s Puerto Rico benefit

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 October 2017 at 4:28 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON — Laurie Frederick works on a table full of baskets that will be raffled off on Sunday as part of a fundraiser for the community of Moca in Puerto Rico.

The Carlton United United Methodist Church is hosting the fundraiser from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. More than 100 baskets will be raffled off.

The church and a yoga class led by Pat Haines are leading the fundraiser on Sunday. Betty Garcia Mathewson of Albion is in the yoga class. Her cousin and other family live in Moca on the western side of Puerto Rico.

Betty shared with the yoga class the initial difficulty of contacting family to make sure they were OK after the hurricane hit the island.

Pat Haines bakes cookies at the church today for Sunday’s fundraiser. People who drop often clothing will receive a raffle ticket on Sunday.

Haines said the community has stepped up with many donations so far.

“People have been eager to help,” Haines said. “It restores your faith in humanity.”

The money raised on Sunday will be wired from the Carlton United Methodist Church to the Centro Cristiano Nueva Vision – the New Vision Christian Center in Moca.

Garcia Mathewson said much of the humanitarian relief is focused on San Juan and the more populated areas in Puerto Rico. She worries especially for the small towns that don’t get much media or political attention.

Cindy Chaplin bakes cookies for Sunday’s event.

The church is located at 1196 Archbald Rd., Waterport.

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Former restaurant at Point Breeze, most recently a residence, to become banquet facility

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 October 2017 at 2:47 pm

CARLTON – The former Barbary Coast restaurant at Point Breeze, most recently the home for Gene and Joette Haines, will find a new use as The Lakeland, a banquet facility.

The late Mr. and Mrs. Haines used the site at 14361 Ontario St. as their residence. They also were generous in allowing the site to be used for community events.

Kevin Pilon of Holley is proposing to use the site as a banquet facility.

The Orleans County Planning Board met on Thursday and approved the site plan for the project. The board also recommended the Town of Carlton approve a special use permit for Pilon to operate the banquet facility in a Waterfront Development District.

The Lakeland will be managed by Kevin and Elizabeth Pilon, and Francis and Evana Daniels.

The site will have catered meals and a bar, and will be available for wedding receptions, bridal showers, baby showers, parties and other events. The Lakeland could be open by the end of the year, according to the company’s business plan which was submitted to the Planning Board.

Mr. Pilon has worked the past 23 years with Pilon Construction. His wife works at Strong Memorial Hospital. Mr. Daniels is a retired supervisor from the 3M corporation. Mrs. Daniels had her own floral business for 27 years and also was the development director for Hospice of Orleans.

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Fly fishermen return for annual tournament at Archery Club

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 October 2017 at 4:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

WATERPORT – The St. Mary’s Archery Club on the Oak Orchard River has welcomed about 50 participants in the club’s annual fly fishing tournament from today through Friday.

The fishermen include Joe Harkay, front, who made a 400-mile trip from New Jersey to fish in the tournament. Harkay, 79, is a past champ of the event.

He has been a regular at the Oak Orchard River the past decade. He used to go to the Salmon River at Pulaski, but Harkay said the crowds are big and it’s much more costly to fish up there.

“They’re all gentlemen here,” he said about the fishermen. “This is pure fishing.”

The Oak Orchard is deeper than usual and that has made it tougher to catch fish because they are harder to see in the water and they are more elusive. Harkay likes the challenge.

“The fish have a better chance,” he said. “At the (Waterport) Dam the fish are corralled. The fishermen there are meat hunters.”

The Archery Club runs a catch-and-release tournament with prizes for the biggest Chinook salmon, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and steelhead.

Out-of-state participants have come from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut and two from South Korea.

It is a beautiful day to be on the river with the sun shining and high temperatures at about 70.

The Oak Orchard River is a popular spot in the fall with anglers trying to catch big salmon and trout.

Ben Smith, 12, peers into the water, trying to see a salmon. Ben was fishing with his father and two younger brothers. They traveled about 300 miles from near Harrisburg, Pa.

Shane Smith, right, fishes with his youngest son, Beckett, 7. Shane is the father of Ben Smith, in the above photo. Ben’s other brother, Brayden, is 10. The three brothers had a friendly rivalry to see who could catch the biggest fish.

Shane has been fishing at the Oak Orchard for nearly 30 years, first going with his father. Now it’s a three-generation trip for the family.

Duane Putnam, a member of the Archery Club, has a batch of French fries ready for the fishermen. Jeff Holler, in back, checks on chicken. The Archery Club is serving breakfast and lunch daily through Veterans’ Day on Nov. 11. There is a cost for the meals, and a $10 fee to park at the club to go fishing.

The club last year built a new pavilion to extend the kitchen. Putnam and Holler said the extra space has made it much easier to have food ready for the fishermen.

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