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Swanger gets sendoff after 30 years as Clarendon highway superintendent

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 January 2020 at 7:59 am

Provided photos

BROCKPORT – Larry Swanger, in blue shirt, was given a  surprise party on Saturday at the Tap Room in Brockport for his 30-year career as Clarendon highway superintendent. Swanger retired on Dec. 31.

His wife Brenda planned the party, which was attended by about 75 people. Swanger is pictured with Highway Department employees – Eric Collyer, Danny Scroger, Larry Swanger, Jamie Steffen and Pete Surowy.

The highway crew made Swanger this diorama, which includes the Clarendon water tank. That was built in 1998. The town did a major expansion of public water lines during Swanger’s tenure.


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3 highway superintendents retiring after century of service

Photo by Tom Rivers: These town highway superintendents – from left, Larry Swanger of Clarendon, Mike Fuller of Shelby, and Ron Mannella of Gaines – are pictured at Tillman’s Village Inn on Wednesday. They were honored at the monthly meeting of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2019 at 8:45 am

Swanger, Fuller and Mannella led their towns through major waterline expansions

GAINES – Three town highways superintendents in Orleans County are retiring, with the trio serving 106 years combined as highway workers, including 70 years as the highway superintendents.

Larry Swanger of Clarendon, Ron Mannella of Gaines and Mike Fuller of Shelby have each put in many new miles of water districts, in addition to leading their departments in maintaining and plowing roads.

The superintendents were honored on Wednesday at the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association. They received citations from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways. That group’s president, Joel Kie of the Town of Dickinson near Binghamton, attended the meeting and praised the three local highway chiefs for their service.

Larry Swanger, left, is presented with citations for his service by Joel Kie (center), president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways; and Michael Niedert, Albion town highway superintendent and president of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association.

Swanger is retiring after 30 years as Clarendon’s highway superintendent. When he started, there was one water district in Clarendon, and it was privately owned and served Thomas Estates. Now, Clarendon has 13 water districts spread over 50 miles with 830 customers. About two decades ago, the town built a water tower.

Swanger is the water superintendent, in addition to the highway leader. Mannella and Fuller also serve in both roles.

“I’ve liked the people and the other highway superintendents,” Swanger said. “It’s the people that you get involved with.”

Swanger said the job is more complicated than people realize.

“People don’t see the behind-the-scenes paperwork, the contracts you have to deal with,” he said.

Swanger didn’t seek re-election in November. Tracy Bruce Chalker was elected to the position and starts Jan. 1.

Ron Mannella is presented citations for his service by the president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways and the president of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association.

Ron Mannella is retiring after 26 years as the Gaines highway superintendent. Before working in Gaines, Mannella was a motor equipment operator for six years with the Town of Albion Highway Department.

When he started with Gaines, the town had 8 miles of waterlines. Now there are more than 50 miles with 750 to 800 water customers. The expansion of public water is a big accomplishment for the town, Mannella said.

Gaines also used a grant to cover most of the costs of a salt storage shed. In 1999, the town highway garage collapsed after a heavy snow storm. A rebuilt garage opened in 2001.

Although Mannella is retiring as the highway superintendent, he will stay in public service as a new member of the Gaines Town Board. He received the most votes in November among four candidates. Mark Radzinski was elected in November to succeed Mannella as the highway superintendent.

“It was a good run,” Mannella said about the 26 years as highway superintendent. “The people of Gaines are really nice.”

Mike Fuller smiles after receiving his citations for a 44-year career with the Town of Shelby Highway Department.

Mike Fuller has worked 44 years with the Town of Shelby Highway Department, starting as a motor equipment operator when he was 21. The past 14 years he has been highway superintendent.

The town built its first water district in 1972 with 125 customers in the hamlet and on South Gravel Road. During Fuller’s career, the town expanded to 12 water districts serving 800 customers. Shelby also built a salt storage shed.

“We put in a lot of waterlines,” Fuller said. “Those are big projects.”

Shelby used to have its town building on Maple Ridge Road, where ALDI is located today. That site had contaminated soil from fuel. Fuller led the effort to have the soil removed from the site and relocated to the town property on Salt Works Road. The town used a bio-cell where micro-organisms improved the soil, which was cleared by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Fuller said that project was an interesting challenge for the Highway Department.

He also is pleased with the town’s efforts in helping to put in infrastructure and clear land for the Medina Business Park. Shelby teamed with the Medina Department of Public Works and Orleans County Highway Department for projects at the Business Park.

Fuller lost a close election last month to Dale Root for highway superintendent. Fuller said he will remain active in the community. He is past chief and current president of the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. He also serves with the Knights of Columbus and has a part-time job with Mercy EMS in Batavia.

“I’ve enjoyed serving the people,” he said.

Mike Neidert, president of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association, is finishing his first four-year term as Albion’s superintendent. He said the local highway leaders embraced him when he started. He urged the group to continue that approach with the three new highway superintendents.

“Everyone took me under their wing and welcomed me in and I encourage everyone to do that with the new guys coming in,” Neidert said.

Joel Kie, president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, attended the meeting, driving from near Binghamton. He said the town highway departments will need to press the state legislators to maintain funding for road maintenance. Kie said he is concerned about the state funding, especially with the state facing a shortfall.

He urged the highway superintendents to attend lobbying days in Albany on March 3-4.

“This year will be extra tough because of the deficits,” he said.

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Clarendon convenience store will add auto repair shop

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 October 2019 at 4:00 pm

CLARENDON – A mini-mart at 4530 Holley-Byron Rd. will add an auto repair shop, a proposal that has the support of the Orleans County Planning Board.

The county board has recommended the Town of Clarendon approve a special use permit for Jeremy Van Ameron to operate the Van’s Auto Service on the rear side of the store, which includes a gas station.

Van Ameron will have separate parking for the auto repair shop. The hours for the repair shop will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday through Saturday.

The building currently has one bay door for vehicle access. Van Ameron plans to add two additional doors.

He is also buying the property from Vijay Gupta, who has been operating Twin’s Mini Mart at the location. Van Ameron will continue the store and gas station.

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Clarendon woman again collecting socks to be given to homeless

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2019 at 3:22 pm

Tammi Bale delivered 1,583 pairs to Open Door Mission in 2018

Provided photo: Tammi Bale, left, of Clarendon is pictured on Nov. 26 last year when she delivered 1,583 pairs of new socks to the Open Door Mission in Rochester.

Tammi Bale has kicked off her fourth annual “Just Socks, Ma” program. She collects socks in honor of her late son, Robert, and gives them to a homeless shelter in Rochester.

Last year just after Thanksgiving she delivered 1,583 pairs of new socks to the Open Door Mission in Rochester.

Bale collects the socks in honor of her son, Robert Bale. He had a good job as a HVAC technician, often working 50 hours a week. He also had a secret addiction. He used heroin. His family didn’t know it, nor did his roommate or close friends. On March 10, 2016, he had a fatal overdose at age 28.

Robert was a hard-working young man who didn’t want to burden other people, even at Christmas, his mother said. When Tammi Bale asked her son what he wanted for a present, he responded: “Just socks, Ma.”

She has collection boxes for the socks at several locations in Orleans and Monroe counties.

In Orleans they are at Dustin’s Pizzeria in Holley, Avanti Pizza in Albion and Tim Hortons in Albion.

In Monroe County, the drop-off sites for socks include: Galaxy Auto Parts, 4974 W Ridge Rd., Spencerport; Cam’s Pizzeria, 336 East Ave., Rochester; Snuggery’s, 380 S Union St., Spencerport; and ROCovery Fitness, 1035 Dewey Ave., Rochester.

The boxes will be out until Nov. 19.

Bale will also accept socks at a collection box on her porch at Thomas Estates, 327 Sunset Drive, Clarendon.

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Firefighters pay tribute to Paul Wagner at his memorial service

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2019 at 6:51 pm

Photos courtesy of Tina Reed

CLARENDON – The Holley and Clarendon ladder trucks held a giant American flag high on Saturday during the memorial service for Paul Wagner at the Clarendon Fire Department Recreation Building.

Wagner was active in the local fire service for a half century, including 14 years as director of the Orleans County Emergency Management Office. He retired on July 18, 2014.

Wagner was 73 when he passed away on June 21.

A contingent of firefighters from the Kendall Fire Department pay their respects to Wagner during the service in Clarendon, where Wagner is a past fire chief. He started as a firefighter in Shelby.

Dale Banker, the current EMO director, praised Wagner for his accomplishments, including his leadership with a $7.1 million overhaul to its emergency radio communications system.

Lynne Johnson, the chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, also commended Wagner for his service as the EMO director.

Wagner handled a high-stress job with his laid-back manner. He didn’t get ruffled and his calm demeanor helped other people keep their cool in some difficult circumstances.

Wagner retired as a chemist from Kodak and then worked full-time as the director of the Emergency Management Office. He joined the Shelby Fire Department when he was 18. When he moved to Clarendon, he joined that department and eventually became Clarendon’s fire chief.

The flag stands tall at the entrance to the Clarendon Fire Department Recreation Building, where firefighters from throughout the county gathered Saturday to honor Wagner.

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Clarendon Farmers’ Market opens for the season

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 June 2019 at 8:18 pm

Vendors will be at Historical Society on Thursdays

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Suzanne Stymus shows of a quart of tomatoes in her booth at the Clarendon Farmers’ Market, which opened for the season on Thursday.

Nyla Gaylord, manager of the Clarendon Farmers’ Market, sits by her banty rooster, which she brought to opening day of the market on Thursday, along with frozen roasting chickens to sell.

CLARENDON – Clarendon Farmers’ Market opened for the season on Thursday afternoon, with a handful of vendors and music by the Fox Den Band from Brockport.

Nyla Gaylord is not only the market manager, but a vendor also. She brought frozen roasting chickens, which she raises.

Opening day saw a few vendors, but Gaylord said it will pick up as the season progresses.

In fact, she was excited about one local grower who said he will have fresh corn on the cob next week.

Big Dog BBQ from Holley was also a nice addition to market, Gaylord said. Owner Ed Rice said this was his first time at the market and he is looking forward to increased participation by vendors and customers.

Suzanne Stymus was doing business selling tomatoes, broccoli, beets and cucumbers. The Barre resident said her family farm, run by her husband Dennis and his father Edward, likes to sell locally.

Gary and Rita Casale of Clarendon had their homemade beef jerky. They heard about the market from the town historian, Melissa Ierlan.

“And we love Nyla and wanted to support the market,” Gary said.

Another vendor was set up with plants and handmade items.

The market will be open at 3:30 p.m. Thursdays throughout the summer at the Clarendon Historical Society at 16385 Church St. next to the Town Hall.

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Paul Wagner remembered as friend to firefighters, driving force behind emergency radio upgrades

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 June 2019 at 5:16 pm

‘He lived and breathed public safety in Orleans County. That was all he thought about.’

Photo by Tom Rivers: Paul Wagner, the former county emergency management director, is shown on May 28, 2014 when the county celebrated a $7.1 million overhaul to its emergency radio communications system. Wagner is pointing to a rack that transmits signals from the radio towers to the consoles and the radios.

CLARENDON – Paul Wagner handled many emergency situations in his career, from major weather events to massive fires.

Wagner did it all in a laid-back manner. He didn’t get ruffled and his calm demeanor helped other people keep their cool in some difficult circumstances.

Wagner, 73, died on June 21. He served as director of the Orleans County Emergency Management Office for 14 years, until retiring on July 18, 2014.

“He didn’t get all bent out of shape,” said Pat Eick, who worked as secretary for Wagner in the two-person office on County House Road. “Paul was very calm and easygoing. He was a great man to work for. He was very much respected.”

Wagner spent more than 50 years in the fire service. He started working for the county as a deputy fire coordinator in 1979. He became EMO-1 on July 3, 2000.

The initially was focused on coordinating services and training with fire departments and EMS providers, but grew to emergency preparedness with big weather events and the possibilities of terrorist attacks.

The office also administers the emergency radio communications system. Wagner pushed through a $7.1 million upgrade.

“He was essential with the new emergency communications system,” said Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature. “Public safety was his number one concern. He lived and breathed public safety in Orleans County. That was all he thought about.”

Wagner was highly regarded by firefighters, EMTs and all the first responders in the county, she said.

“He’ll be missed throughout the ranks,” she said. “He had a leadership quality that spanned all the ranks.”

Wagner retired as a chemist from Kodak and then worked full-time as the director of the Emergency Management Office. He joined the Shelby Fire Department when he was 18. When he moved to Clarendon, he joined that department and eventually became Clarendon’s fire chief.

Dale Banker followed Wagner as EMO-1 for the county and has worked in the job for nearly 5 years. Banker said it is a demanding position, with lots of coordinating among local, state and federal agencies.

He praised Wagner for pushing through the $7.1 million upgrade of the radio system.

“That was a monumental task,” Banker said.

The county is working on another $6 million upgrade of the system to improve coverage in the county and have interoperability with neighboring counties.

Wagner also was successful in advancing the county’s fire investigation unit and he established the firefighter accountability system at a fire scene, Banker said. Firefighters’ tags are kept at a fire scene when a firefighter goes inside a structure. Fire officials keep track of who goes in and comes out.

“He was a people-person,” Banker said. “He was very easygoing and he got along with everybody.”

Wagner’s memorial service will be at 2 p.m. on July 6 at the Clarendon Fire Department Recreation Building, 16169 E. Lee Road, Holley.

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Opening day for Clarendon Farmers’ Market pushed back a week due to rain

Staff Reports Posted 20 June 2019 at 10:28 am

CLARENDON – The opening of the second season of the Clarendon Farmers’ Market, scheduled for today, has been postponed until next Thursday because of the weather.

The market will now open at 3:30 p.m. on June 27, featuring the Fox Den Bluegrass Band and several new vendors.

The market started last year on the grounds of the Clarendon Historical Society at 16385 Church St. next to the Town Hall.

The market is open from 3:30 to 7 p.m. every Thursday with the season expected to continue through the end of October.

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Clarendon adds new sign for town park

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 May 2019 at 7:59 am

Photos courtesy of Melissa Ierlan

CLARENDON – The Town of Clarendon installed a new sign for its town park on Thursday. Danny Scroger, a Town Highway Department employee, is shown attaching the sign to the pavilion at the park on Route 237.

This park includes the Clarendon waterfalls. It is just south of Route 31A.

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Clarendon honors fire chief for commitment while fighting cancer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2019 at 4:47 pm

Provided photo: State Assemblyman Steve Hawley presents a citation to Jon DeYoung on April 27 when he was recognized as Clarendon’s “Firefighter of the Year.”

CLARENDON – The Clarendon fire chief, who is fighting cancer for the fourth time, continues to lead the volunteer fire company, responding to most of the fire calls, accidents and attending committee meetings and training sessions.

Jon DeYoung does it while working a full-time job and getting chemo treatments. The Fire Company’s Board of Directors on April 27 honored him as Clarendon’s “Firefighter of the Year.”

“Regardless of everything going on he stays very active and is at the fire scenes, the trainings and all the committees,” said Bob Freida, president of the fire company.

DeYoung, 53, was feeling tired on April 27 from chemo. He had to build up his strength just to get to the banquet. He arrived late with a chemo pump, and was surprised to receive the award.

“He is truly doing the job as fire chief,” Freida said. “We wanted to recognize him for his determination and fight to continue to give back to his community.”

DeYoung said he was determined to attend the banquet to present the Chief’s Award to his son, Jon DeYoung Jr. who worked the past three years to get new rescue tools for the fire company.

He also was able to recognize his other sons for milestone anniversaries of service to the fire company. Jeremy has been a volunteer firefighter for 15 years and Tyler has been for 10 years.

“As the Chief and father of these young men I couldn’t have been more proud,” DeYoung posted on his Facebook page.

After he presented those awards, he said he was “totally shocked” when he was recognized as firefighter of the year. He received a plaque and personally engraved watch as well as citations from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Sen. Robert Ortt.

“I could never do this without the support of all of our Line Officers and members,” DeYoung said. “None of it would be possible without the support of my family and number one supporter Brenda DeYoung. Thank you all!!”

The Fire Company also honored Dan Campbell for his service on the Board of Directors, and Troy Kingdollar received the President’s Award.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Jon DeYoung, front center, is pictured on March 24, 2018 in Albion when he was joined by about a dozen friends and family at the Wayne A. Burlison-Colon Cancer Awareness 5K Run and Walk in Albion. DeYoung walked the entire 3.17-mile course with his wife Brenda, son Jon and his wife Jessica, brother Jim and his wife Jackie, and several firefighters. Some of the firefighters wore their turnout gear while walking the course. The group also wore “DeYoung Strong” shirts.

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