Cobblestone Museum now accredited as arboretum

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 11 August 2023 at 11:01 am

69 trees, 34 varieties on museum property in Gaines

Provided photos: A Norway maple grows next to the gallery and office of the Cobblestone Museum.

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Museum has been accredited as an Arborertum Level 1 by ArbNet, an interactive, collaborative international community of arboreta.

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to officially recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards.

The legwork and planning for the accreditation are attributed to Willem DeRuysscher, a senior at Albion High School and summer intern at the Cobblestone Museum.

He spent hours mapping and labeling all of the trees on the Cobblestone campus, according to director Doug Farley.

The mission of the Cobblestone Museum Arboreta is to educate visitors and attract new guests, which ultimately benefits all new visitors, Farley said.

There are a handful of notable trees on the Cobblestone’s property, and a total of 69 trees and 34 species.

A flowering crabapple is in full bloom next to the Cobblestone Museum’s Ward House.

A leaning white walnut tree is located behind the National Historic Landmark Cobblestone Church. A very large catalpa tree has the thickest trunk on the campus. There are also two sets of twins, two sycamore trees planted next to each other and two horse chestnut trees – one next to the church and the other next to the Visitors Center.

The smallest tree is the dwarf Alberta spruce. A resilient shrub native to most of the United States, the Cobblestone’s is only five feet seven inches tall. By contrast, the tallest tree is a Norway pine approximately 87 feet tall, making it taller than the bell tower of the church.

Other trees include a Norway maple next to the office/gallery, a trumpet vine next to an outhouse and a flowering crabapple next to the Ward House.

To receive the arboretum accreditation, the Cobblestone Museum has devised a Museum Arboretum Master Plan. The mission is to provide a recreational and educational experience and beauty that will attract more visitors to the museum.

A trumpet vine is one of the many species of trees and shrubs on the Cobblestone Museum campus.

Objectives are to care for new species native and exotic, educate visitors on basic tree maintenance and care, celebrate trees within the arboretum and in the surrounding community, educate visitors on the characteristics and origin of the trees on their campus and engage with the community by allowing donations and holding an Arbor Day event.

As director, Farley will oversee arboretum development. Maintenance will be performed by staff and volunteers.

A catalog of arboretum trees and an electronic map will be kept in a computer by the director and is available on the arboretum website. The electronic map utilizes GPS technology and an excel sheet documents the attributes of each tree, such as species and origin.

Cobblestone Museum has 30 spots for vendors at flea market on Aug. 12

File photo by Tom Rivers: Lisa Mannella of L & S Creative Designs is shown with a display of country craft items that she makes with Stephanie Rustay. They were one of 27 vendors at a flea market last year on Aug. 13 at the Cobblestone Museum. The flea market returned after more than 20 years.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 2 August 2023 at 5:07 pm

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Museum’s Flea Market is anticipated to be a bargain hunter’s paradise, according to organizer Sue Bonafini, assistant museum director.

The event is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 12 on museum grounds, featuring a wide variety of merchandise. This includes mixed goods, vintage items, crafts, tools fishing and gardening items, toys and much more.

“Prices fit every budget and some sellers willingly negotiate prices to move their merchandise,” Bonafini said.

Homesteads for Hope will sell their locally grown produce, Wild Flour Deli and Bakery will sell baked goods and a Jordan Essentials skin care consultant is expected. A food tent will feature Zweigle’s grilled hot dogs and Partyka Farms’ sweet corn on the cob to satisfy hungry shoppers.

Nearly 30 booths have been reserved to date, but the museum will continue to accept vendors until Aug. 8.

Local residents might be motivated to gather up that “stuff” that has been sitting in closets, basements or attics and consider this opportunity to sell on a summer’s day, Bonafini said.

Booth space is 10’ x 10’ for $20. Chairs, tables and personal shade canopies are brought in by the sellers.

In addition to the many community vendors, the Cobblestone Society will sponsor the Holiday Shoppe (with Christmas themed items), white elephant sale (mixed goods) and used books.

“Thanks to the generous community members, we have loads of modestly priced merchandise to sell,” Bonafini said.

Contact museum staff at (585) 589-9013 with inquiries or to reserve a booth.”

Coverlet display, Summer Solstice Soiree among attractions at Cobblestone Museum

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 19 June 2023 at 8:54 am

Annual patriotic service set for July 2 at Cobblestone Church

Photos by Tom Rivers: There are about 20 coverlets from the 1830s and 1840s on display at the Thompson-Kast Visitors Center for the Cobblestone Museum.

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Society and Museum have two special events planned in the next several weeks.

First is the fifth annual Summer Solstice Soiree, titled “Gathering of Friends” on Friday (June 23) at the Thompson-Kast Visitors Center.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. and last until dark. The public is invited to join in the celebration for an evening of music, art and conversation.

The coverlets were all donated to the museum by families in Orleans County.

Currently at the Visitors Center is a display of 1830s to 1840s coverlets, along with Victorian paintings by local artists and art by Tom Zangerle of Medina.

Visitors can also stroll through the expanded Victorian Mourning Art exhibit in the Upper Gallery across the road.

Presale tickets to the Soiree are $20 or at the door, $25 and include a complimentary glass of wine and scrumptious nibbles.  There will be a wine cash bar.

All donations benefit the Cobblestone Society Museum. Tickets may be ordered on the back page of the newsletter or by contacting the museum.

The second special event is the annual patriotic service at the Cobblestone Church on July 2.

The service harkens back to its early roots, with patriotic songs, poems and readings designed to make attendees proud of America and all that is stands for, said Museum director Doug Farley. The service will begin at 11 a.m.

Maarit Vaga and Bill Lattin have planned an outstanding event, Farley said. At noon, the crowd will move outdoors to enjoy a good old-fashioned picnic with hotdogs right off the grill. Hotdogs and beverages will be provided.

Those attending should bring their own lawn chair. A free will donation will be accepted.

Benefit auction proves winner for Cobblestone Museum

Photos by Ginny Kropf: (Left) An American Legend Heirloom rug is held by Mollie Radzinski and her father Mark Radzinski during bidding at the Cobblestone Society’s benefit auction. (Right) Dick Remley holds up a small table with magazine holder, which sold for $130 during the live auction Wednesday night.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 12 May 2023 at 1:53 pm

(Editor’s Note: The Cobblestone Museum’s Mother’s Day celebration will be Saturday (May 13) and not on Sunday as was initially stated in the article.)

CARLTON – The Cobblestone Museum’s annual membership dinner Wednesday night at Carlton Firemen’s Recreation Hall brought out a record attendance, said Museum director Doug Farley.

“I am very happy with the event,” Farley said. “We made a record $24,000, over and above what we normally do.”

Proceeds from the evening help the museum pay its operating costs, Farley said.

The evening featured dinner catered by Zambistro’s, a silent auction, live auction and raffles.

Randy Bower, retired Orleans County sheriff, has volunteered to be auctioneer all five years of the dinner.

“I was sheriff when they first asked me, and I went online and studied how to be an auctioneer, and then I practiced,” Bower said. “I love the Cobblestone Society and wanted to be able to give back.”

First assistant district attorney Susan Howard attended the dinner for the first time last year.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I had the time of my life,” Howard said. “So I joined. I grew up around the corner from the Cobblestone Museum, and it makes my neighborhood much more interesting.”

Lynn Williams of Medina came to the dinner for the first time last year.

“It’s a nice evening for a good cause,” she said.

Scott Schmidt of Medina said he supports the Cobblestone Society because it preserves the history of Orleans County.

“I am playing for the Cobblestone’s organ tour in July, and I wanted to meet some of the people who potentially might be in my audience,” Schmidt said. “We have such a unique area here with the historic buildings. It is intriguing to me how these beautiful buildings were built.”

Success of the event was due in part to generous donations from the community.

The dinners were underwritten by Roy Bubb and John Nipher of Holley, K. Peter and Patricia Hurd and Gail Johnson, all of Albion.

The entire cost of the recreation hall rental was underwritten by Scott Schickling, certified public accountant/financial planner of Medina.

Other monetary donations were given by Farley and his wife Lois, David Mitchell of Albion, LeRoy and Shirley Bright-Neeper of Medina and Richard and Kim Remley of Albion.

Grace Denniston donated and prepared appetizers for the evening. A sheet cake made by Peggy Bropst of Kent was underwritten by Brenda Radzinski of Albion. Doreen Wilson of Albion paid for the cost of all the table coverings.

The Cobblestone Museum has a full schedule of special events planned throughout the year, beginning this spring with and art exhibit by Tom Zangerle in the Visitors Center.

Beginning on Saturday as part of a Mothers’ Day celebration, an exhibit of 20 historic coverlets will be on display at the Visitors Center. Also, mothers will be recognized with complimentary tours and free gifts this Saturday.

Bill Lattin’s educational program and exhibit on Victorian Mourning Art will be available May 19 at 6:20 p.m. for up to 12 guests, who must register in advance by calling 589-9013. The exhibit will continue in the Upper Gallery, featuring 20 recently added pieces for 120 artifacts altogether.

On May 20 and 21, the Cobblestone Museum will join with the New York State Landmark Conservancy to host an open house at the Cobblestone Church.

The annual summer solstice soiree is scheduled June 21, celebrating art and nature in outdoor setting beside Proctor Brook. Featured will be plein-air artists Tom Zangerle, Pat Greene and Arthur Barnes, and a cadre of musicians.

The annual patriotic service will take place July 2 in the Cobblestone Church, with patriotic readings, stirring songs and an old-fashioned picnic on the side lawn.

Maarit Vaga will organize a progressive organ concert on a date to be announced in July. Dinner at a local restaurant will follow the tour.

(Left) Members of the Cobblestone Museum cut the cake prior to Wednesday’s annual membership dinner at Carlton Firemen’s Recreation Hall. From left are Marty Taber, Grace Denniston, Mary and Tom Zangerle and director Doug Farley. (Right) Marty Taber, left, and Mark Radzinski hold up a side table with drawer for the crowd to see at the Cobblestone Society’s benefit auction. The table brought $140.

In August, a tour of historic homes will be announced, featuring a self-driving tour to visit examples of regional historic architecture.

August 12 is the date of the Cobblestone Museum Flea Market, the second year for the event, with outdoor booths to attract bargain hunters.

The fall open house is Sept. 9, with artisan craftsmen and re-enactors re-creating life in the 19th century.

Visitors can step back in time in October when the museum sponsors Music of World War I at the Vagg House. Selections will be shared on and Edison cylinder victrola and an upright player piano. Local musician Raymond Santoro will play the piano and lead this music-filled event.

A ghost walk is scheduled Oct. 7, with a rain date of Oct. 8. More than 25 volunteer thespians will be in period costumes.

The festively decorated Cobblestone Church will be the setting for a Christmas Carol Sing in December, featuring Christmas traditions, the Saint Lucia celebration, carol sing and readings.

The popular Christmas Tour of Homes will also take place in December, featuring a self-driving tour and several extensively decorated homes open for visitors.

The ambitious schedule of events is capped off by the anticipation of building a new Orleans County Visitors Center in the Civil War-era home across the street from the Cobblestone Church. Fundraising for the project has exceeded $800,000, Farley said.

He said construction will begin as soon as plans are completed and the cost is determined.

Cobblestone Museum opens for season on Saturday with new coverlet exhibit

Photo by Tom Rivers: Bill Lattin, retired director of the Cobblestone Museum, has put together an exhibit “Victorian Mourning Art & Sundries” in the upper gallery at the Brick House.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 9 May 2023 at 8:07 am

Display about ‘Victorian Mourning Art’ expands to 120 artifacts

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Museum will open for the season on May 13 with a special event, “Celebrating Mothers.”

The Museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with a focus on mothers. Mothers are encouraged to visit the Museum for a complimentary tour of the campus and receive a free flower, while the supply lasts. The floral gifts are courtesy of Mary Lou Ames, Albion florist and owner of Homestead Wildflowers at 14395 East County House Rd.

In addition, there are still some seats left for “An In-depth Look at Victorian Mourning Art” at 6:30 p.m. May 19 in the Upper Gallery.

The exhibit of Victorian Mourning Art and Sundries was put in place the spring of 2022. No formal talk or program on this topic and exhibit was given, Farley said. During the past year, former director Bill Lattin has collected more than 20 more examples of this type of genre. A new display panel with these items has now been added to the exhibit. This brings the number of artifacts on display to more than 120.

At 6:30 p.m. on May 19, Lattin will highlight some of the more unusual pieces in his collection with a 45-minute presentation, including questions from participants. A portfolio of 12 close-up pictures to be discussed will be distributed. A catalogue of the entire exhibit is also available.

Many of the artifacts displayed are truly one-of-a-kind mourning art pieces, according to Sue Bonafini, assistant director of the Museum. These were often created by family members as keepsakes for a departed loved one. Some even with hair. However, as the title suggests ‘and sundries,’ there is indeed much more.

Mass-produced items, such as prints and knick-knacks were readily available, and a few select items from the undertakers’ profession are also on display.

Space is limited and those attending are asked to RSVP by calling (585) 589-9013.

Also new this year is the exhibit of 19th Century coverlets from Orleans County at the Visitors Center. Both the coverlet exhibit and Victorian Mourning Art exhibit can be viewed during regular Museum hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Mary 13, or other times by appointment, said museum director Doug Farley.

Cobblestone Museum offering virtual program on ‘Dear Jane Quilt’

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 20 March 2023 at 11:35 am

Provided photo: This is a Stickle quilt, also known as a Dear Jane quilt, made by Carole Patterson of Albion. The Stickle Quilt will be the topic of a program at the Cobblestone Museum on March 30, in celebration of Women’s History Month. The public is invited to a virtual (Zoom) presentation from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Thompson-Kast Visitors Center.

CHILDS – A program scheduled by the Cobblestone Museum at the Thompson-Kast Visitors Center is a must-see event for all quilt makers and lovers of quilts, said Sue Bonafini, assistant director of the Cobblestone Society.

The public is invited to a virtual presentation (Zoom) from 7 to 8 p.m. March 30 by Callie Raspuzzi, collections manager at the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vt.

Limited seating will be available at the Thompson-Kast Visitors Center across from the Cobblestone Museum. Pre-registration is required by calling the Cobblestone Museum at (585) 589-9013.  A Zoom link will be sent to registered participants on March 29. Cost is a $5 to $20 sliding scale fee.

Most commonly referred to as the “Dear Jane Quilt,” the Stickle quilt was made in the small town of Shaftsbury, Vt. in 1863 during the Civil War by Jane A. Stickle.

She completed more than 169 blocks in 1863. She had married Walter Stickle sometime before 1850. She did not have any children, but looked after at least three children in her neighborhood. In the 1860s, Stickle was 43 and living alone on a farm, during which time she was creating the Dear Jane quilt as a reminder of the turbulent times the country was going through at the time. She carefully embroidered the words “In War Time 1863 into the quilt.

The original quilt contained a total of 5,602 pieces. The quilt has inspired books, exhibits and quilters all over the world, Bonafini said.

One of those quilters is Carole Patterson of Albion, whose Stickler quilt hangs in her stairway. She has been quilting since 1986 and first became interested in the Stickler quilt when she read a book about it in 2002.

“I worked on it a good part of the year, including the whole winter,” she said. “It has Civil War prints and is all hand sewn. I just love piecing .”

Raspuzzi’s illustrated talk will explore the history of the quilt and its maker. It will also use the quilt as a jumping-off point to talk about diverse topics, including female education, the Civil War, country fairs, disability, textile manufacture, poverty and museum collecting.

Raspuzzi has been collections manager at the Bennington Museum since 2004. Her job includes keeping track of the museum’s tens of thousands of objects, photographs, rare books and archival collections and ensuring everything it properly cared and accounted for. She attended Colgate University and earned a master’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University. The program is sponsored by Tompkins Community Bank.

Museum welcomes speaker on Feb. 7 who will highlight valentine-making industry

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 22 January 2023 at 8:57 am

Provided photo: Bill Wallace serves as executive director of the Worcester Historical Museum in Worcester, Mass.

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Society and Museum will offer a virtual presentation Feb. 7 in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

Just a week before Valentine’s Day, the museum will welcome Bill Wallace, executive director of the Worcester Historical Museum in Worcester, Mass. Wallace will educate and entertain when he presents “Be Ours: Worcester’s role in the American Valentine Industry.”

For nearly a century, from the early 1850s to the late 1940s, Worcester was at the heart of the American valentine-making industry. Esther Howland, who made hand-assembled creations, is considered by some to be the “Mother of the American Valentine.” Her creations, to the mass-produced cards of the 20th century, make Worcester’s story one of innovation, creativity and ever-expanding markets.

The presentation, shown on a large screen TV at the Thompson-Kast Visitors Center, will tell about the three generations of Worcester businesses, all encouraging someone to “Be Mine,” and how to identify Worcester originals in a collection.

Interested persons can also register for a Zoom link, which will arrive in e-mail inboxes on Feb. 6. Sliding scale admission is $5 to $20.

Those who wish to watch the presentation at the Visitors Center must call (585) 589-9013 to register with a credit/debit card. Seating is limited.

Bill Wallace is the long-time executive director of the Worcester Historical Museum. During his tenure, the museum moved to its current location, expanded its programs and exhibits and restored and operates Salisbury Mansion (1771) as Worcester’s only historic house museum. A native of Northern New Hampshire, he is a student of Mount Washington history, a gravestone enthusiast, and – if not at the museum – is frequently found at a Disney property.

A question and answer session will immediately follow the speaker’s remarks to conclude this hour-long program.

This program will benefit the Cobblestone Society and Museum, a 501c3 organization. Any business owner or individual interested in contributing funding for this event or a future virtual program is asked to contact the Cobblestone’s assistant director, Sue Bonafini at

Cobblestone Museum approved for $9K grant to help with operation expenses

Photos by Tom Rivers: Rachel Lockhart of Rochester portrayed a teacher in the Cobblestone School during a “Ghost Walk” in October 2019.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 18 January 2023 at 9:39 am

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Society has announced receipt of a grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Arts and Culture Initiative, according to Cobblestone director Doug Farley.

The grant, in the amount of $9,000, can be used for operational expenses, such as heat, lights, insurance, maintenance, staff, etc., Farley said.

“It is one of only a few grants available to us that covers everyday expenses, as opposed to specific grants that must be used for a restricted purpose,” Farley said. “I am pleased to receive this grant because it can be used for everyday needs. This is the first time we have received a grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. I am happy they are reaching out into Orleans County to help us and other non-profit groups.”

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo announced the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Arts and Culture Initiative awards totaling $500,000 to support more than 75 small to mid-sized arts organizations serving the eight counties of Western New York and Monroe County through its inaugural 2022 competitive grants process. The criteria for the first year of grant funding was developed from input from more than 100 arts and cultural representatives across the nine counties, and the selection of the grantees was through a committee of arts and cultural leaders representing all the counties.

The initial announcement in December 2021 also includes $500,000 in annual funding to be awarded primarily to support small to mid-sized arts and culture organizations in the nine counties.

“We are grateful to the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation for recognizing the important role the arts and culture sector play in a thriving and vibrant Western New York regional economy and supporting it through an endowment forever,” said Betsy Constantine, executive vice president of the Community Foundation. “Community input was essential to the process and we will continue to listen and engage as we carry out this transformational investment.”

Bill Lattin, retired museum director, discusses two restored paintings during a reception at the visitors center at the Cobblestone Museum on Sept. 23. The paintings of Charles and Mary Ann Danolds (not shown) were restored after conservations efforts performed by Great Lakes Conservation of Grand Island. The two were pillars of the Universalist churches in Childs and Albion. The museum has tackled several preservation projects in recent years.

“When we established the endowment to support Western New York’s arts and culture sector, we did so out of the Foundation’s economic development focus area,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

“These organizations, both large and small, are key economic drivers in their neighborhoods, communities and the broader region,” Boyle said. “This investment is our unique and long-term contribution to the arts and culture sector. We look forward to witnessing the amazing work to come from these new grantees.”

This recent grant follows the announcement in late December of the receipt of a $47,000 grant from the Genesee Valley Rural Revitalization Program, which will be used for projects at the circa 1836 Ward house.  This grant was written by Cobblestone board president Erin Anheier, while the new grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation was written by Matt Holland, Orleans County’s grant writer before he took the position as director of United Way of Orleans County. The current grant writer is Nyla Gaylord, whose position is funded by a grant she wrote more than two years ago.

Pets rescued from smoke-filled house on Ridge Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 January 2023 at 3:12 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

GAINES – Firefighters responded to a smoke-filled house on Ridge Road in the town of Gaines. They were dispatched at 12:04 p.m. to 13242 Ridge Rd., at a home owned by Tammy and Michael Blue.

Their son, Tim Blue, was first on the scene and saved two dogs from thick smoke in the house, Sheriff Chris Bourke said.

Tim Blue was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation but did not need to be transported to a hospital, Bourke sad.

Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters arrived on scene and worked with the family to get out the other pets, including four cats, a gecko and two small dragons.

Firefighters responded from Albion, Carlton, Medina, Shelby and Ridgeway. Orleans County fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.

Cobblestone Museum awarded $47K grant for repairs to 1836 cobblestone home

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 30 December 2022 at 8:55 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The historic Ward House at the Cobblestone Society Museum will get much needed restoration, due to a $47,080 grant from the Genesee Valley Rural Revitalization Grant Program.

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Society Museum’s director Doug Farley has announced the receipt of a $47,080 grant from the Genesee Valley Rural Revitalization Grant Program.

The funding will go towards projects at the Ward House, which was built in 1836 as a parsonage. It is next door to the oldest cobblestone church in North America, built in 1834. The church, Ward House and cobblestone one-room schoolhouse on Route 104 have been declared a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior.

The grant request was completed by Erin Anheier, president of the Cobblestone Society board of directors, in which she explained the work to be funded by the grant marks the continuation of addressing concerns identified in a 2013 condition report of the Ward House by architect Andrea Rebeck.

This grant will address masonry concerns, particularly in the basement, window restoration, some exterior trim repair and replacement of a rusting gutter. Work is expected to begin in the summer of 2023, said Doug Farley, the museum’s director.

Future projects, now in the planning stages, will restore shutters and the front door.

Photo courtesy of Cobblestone Museum: The Ward House and two other sites at the Cobblestone Museum are listed as a National Historic Landmark.

The news of the grant was announced by the Landmark Society in partnership with the New York State Office of the Governor of New York State and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. They stated that 12 historic rehabilitation projects in rural Western New York will be supported by more than $470,000 in federal grants and local matching funds.

This is the second round of funding, which will support such projects as structural repairs and restoration work of historic commercial buildings, ADA compliance upgrades to public spaces and window improvements for a creative arts center. The first round was announced in September 2021 and included more than $300,000 to five awardees.

“These business owners, nonprofits and local government units are deeply connected to the economic health of their rural communities, and all have historic assets that need support,” said Erik Kulleseid, commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “We are thrilled that these projects aim to increase accessibility and sustainability through preservation efforts and welcome the opportunity to demonstrate that investments in local historic resources can have a powerful impact for New York’s rural communities.”

Genesee Valley Rural Revitalization is supported by a $750,000 award made to the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation through the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Fund as administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Another $43,250 in matching funds were provided by the Rochester Area Community Foundation, Letchworth Gateway Villages and the Landmark Society of Western New York.

“The Landmark Society is thrilled to be assisting OPRHP in administering this grant program,” said Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, which is co-administering the GVRR program. “This grant program has shed light on the need for this type of funding in our rural communities around the Genesee Valley.”

Goodman said they are currently working with Round 1 awardees and seeing the impact this funding has on their ability to complete important preservation, restoration and repair work, and are looking forward to starting the projects awarded in Round 2.

In addition to the Cobblestone Society, grants in this second round of GVRR funding were issued to Cracker Box Palace, a Shaker First house and animal shelter in Wayne County; Village of Nunda for upgrades to the village hall; Dierdre Stevenson/the Sutton Company, a historic c. 1800 store building; town of Phelps for repairs and upgrades to the c. 1849 Phelps Town Hall; Livingston Integrated Management Associates for the Ellis Block; Romulus Historical Society for the chief engineer’s house; Friendship Free Library for upgrades; Rolling Hills Asylum in Genesee County for roof repair and replacement of the east wing of the main building; Architectural Rescue in Allegany County for the Wellsville Creative Arts Center; Genesee Library in Allegany County to update the 1903 building’s heating system and address water and flooding issues; United Methodist Church of Sodus for a boiler and elevator lift replacement, as well as funding for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

Gaines approves ambulance contract with Monroe

Photos by Tom Rivers: John Caufield, chief operating officer for Monroe Ambulance, told the Gaines Town Board that Monroe would keep two ambulances in Orleans County as part of an agreement with towns in eastern and central Orleans.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2022 at 8:57 am

GAINES – The Town Board voted 4-1 on Monday evening to accept a proposal from Monroe Ambulance to provide ambulance coverage in the town for most of 2023.

Gaines accepted the $24,600 contract from Monroe, making Gaines the fifth town in central or eastern Orleans to approve an agreement with Monroe. Carlton is scheduled to vote on the contract at 7 p.m. today.

One of the Gaines Town Board members, Kenny Rush, cast the lone vote in support of Mercy Flight EMS, which proposed serving Gaines in an $18,000 contract.

Mercy Flight took over COVA last month and has hired nearly all of COVA’s 40-plus employees. Mercy Flight said it provide ambulances services from the COVA base in Albion until Monroe is ready.

Monroe officials said it will take about 90 days to ramp up services, putting its start for central Orleans likely into mid or late March.

John Caufield, chief operating officer for Monroe Ambulance, said the company would like to hire the COVA employees for the ambulance service in Orleans.

“We got room,”  Caufield said. “No one is going to lose their job over this.”

Caufield provided an overview of the contract to the Gaines Town Board, saying Monroe would station an ambulance in both Albion and Holley. There are about 3,300 calls in eastern and central Orleans annually, with about 40 percent in Albion.

Caufield said the data from the county dispatch and COVA’s reports don’t break out the calls into priority 1, 2 or 3, and also don’t have a breakdown on how they were billed – whether by Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance. Medicaid and Medicare pay at a lower reimbursement rate than private insurance.

Priority 1 is higher service calls and need a paramedic, while priority 3 is the lowest need for service and can be met with EMTs. That matters because Monroe will need to determine how to staff the ambulances. The company usually has 20 to 21 ambulances in service in the Rochester region, with 6 of those staffed by higher-level advanced life support.

“The goal is to provide timely response with the appropriate levels of care,” Caufield said.

The contract with the Orleans towns calls for an ALS ambulance and a basic life support unit.

Caufield said Monroe tracks data and will be intensely reviewing the calls, including response time, to provide service in eastern and central Orleans.

The contract with Monroe is for a year, and the towns will be meeting with Monroe officials, likely in August and September to go over the data.

Monroe’s contract says it will respond 90 percent of the time within 15 minutes for priority 1 calls, 20 minutes for priority 2, and 25 minutes for priority 3.

“I consider this a no-risk deal,” Caufield told the Gaines town officials. “If we don’t measure up, we don’t deserve the contract.”

The Mercy Flight proposal for $18,000 called for at least one ALS unit available in Gaines 24-7, with a basic life support ambulance to be shared with Hamlin 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Monroe offered the ability to draw from another ambulance in Orleans County, and could back fill from other units in Monroe County when there are multiple calls.

Residents had questions about the agreement, including Richard DeCarlo Jr., co-owner of Heritage Estates. But Tyler Allport, the Gaines town supervisor, cut off the comments and called for a vote at 7:42 p.m., about 40 minutes into the meeting which included other town business.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:43 p.m. after Allport, Mary Neilans, Ron Mannella and Jim Kirby voted for the Monroe agreement, with Rush casting the lone vote against it.

Doug Heath, the Gaines town attorney, stands up and tells people attending the Gaines Town Board meeting on Monday that no more comments will be taken from the public about a proposed ambulance contract. Town Supervisor Tyler Allport called for a vote, even though residents wanted to ask questions about the proposal. Heath said the town supervisor was within his right to limit comments from the public and call for a vote. The issue has been debated in several recent board meetings.

Gaines, Carlton town supervisors state preference for Monroe Ambulance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2022 at 9:30 am

Town boards at 2 towns meet next week to vote on ambulance contract

Photos by Tom Rivers: Members of the Carlton and Gaines town boards met briefly on Thursday evening at the Carlton Rec Hall to discuss proposals for ambulance services in the two towns. Pictured from left include Carlton Town Councilman Josh Narburgh, Gaines Town Supervisor Tyler Allport, Carlton Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery, Carlton Town Councilwoman Deborah Yockel, Carlton Town Councilman Dana Woolston, Gaines Town Councilman Jim Kirby and Gaines Town Councilman Ron Mannella.

CARLTON – The town supervisors in Gaines and Carlton both said they favor Monroe Ambulance in a contract for EMS services in the two towns.

However, they said their town boards both meet early next week and those five-member boards could reach a different decision in the contract for ambulance services.

Gaines and Carlton are the last of seven towns in central and eastern Orleans to make a decision on ambulance services for 2023.

“I would like to join with the other towns for the position of bargaining,” Gaines Town Supervisor Tyler Allport said about why he favors Monroe Ambulance.

Carlton Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery agreed, saying the two remaining towns would have more “leverage” in negotiations as part of block with more towns.

Tyler Allport of Gaines and Gayle Ashbery said they prefer joining four other towns in Orleans in a contract with Monroe Ambulance, saying there is “bargaining power” as a block of six towns.

Monroe Ambulance and Mercy Flight EMS are both seeking the contract. The towns of Albion, Barre, Clarendon and Murray have already chosen Monroe, while Kendall has opted against paying either of them because the two fire districts in Kendall already had an arrangement in place. The Kendall Fire District has a contract with Monroe Ambulance while the Hamlin Morton Walker Fire District includes has an agreement with Mercy Flight.

Allport, the Gaines town supervisor, and Ashbery, the Carlton town supervisor, said the community’s needs will be met for ambulance services with the new contract, whether it’s Mercy Flight or Monroe.

COVA in Albion and Hamlin ceased operations last month and Mercy Flight EMS took over for COVA, keeping more than 40 of those employees. Mercy Flight is operating out of COVA’s base in Albion and at Lake Road in Hamlin.

Mercy Flight proposed serving Gaines for $18,000 and Carlton for $17,000 in 2023 and would commit to at least one advanced life support ambulance 24-7. There would also be a basic life support ambulance to be shared with Hamlin 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mercy Flight would initially keep the ambulance at the COVA base in Albion, but would look for a site in Gaines or Carlton, according to a proposal from Scott Wooton, executive vice president and treasurer for Mercy Flight.

Monroe, in its contract proposal, proposes keeping two ambulances in the county, with a unit based in Albion and the Albion Fire Department and in Holley at the Holley Fire Department.

Monroe is seeking $24,600 from Gaines and $14,800 from Carlton. That is part of $181,200 to be shared from the six towns with the amount based on the percentage of calls with the six towns. The other towns will pay: $84,400 in Albion, $8,000 in Barre, $18,800 in Clarendon and $30,600 in Murray. (Kendall was asked to pay $18,000 when it was a seven-town contract.)

The meeting was less than a half hour on Thursday between Gaines and Carlton town boards. That disappointed some in the crowd who wanted to hear more details and also offer their opinions.

David Bertsch of Carlton said Monroe is covering many of its own calls in Monroe.

Jennifer Stilwell, the COVA president, said COVA’s Albion and Hamlin crews provided mutual aid for 162 calls so far in 2022 in eastern Orleans County.

Allport and Ashbery said the meeting Thursday was a workshop and no public comments would be taken. When Bertsch tried to ask a second question, Allport got up and left.

Allport and Ashbery both said the public can ask questions during each town’s respective board meetings. Gaines meets 7 p.m. on Monday at the Gaines Town Hall and Carlton meets 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Carlton Town Hall.

Navarra’s Greenhouses transform into Christmas Co-op with 100 vendors

Photos by Tom Rivers: Amanda Mrzywka holds a Christmas tree for sale in the Navarra’s Christmas Co-op. Two of the greenhouses at 3272 Eagle Harbor Rd. are filled with items from 96 vendors.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 November 2022 at 7:44 am

GAINES – In 2020, Amanda Mrzywka was prepared for a busy season at festivals and craft shows, selling her vegan soaps, which are made without any animal byproducts.

But the craft shows and festivals were all nearly cancelled that year, due to restrictions and concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mrzywka, one of the owners at Navarra’s Farm Market and Greenhouses, said crafters were all feeling the financial strain from losing those shows.

“It was definitely a heartache when you think you’ll have all these craft shows and then there is nothing,” she said.

Mrzywka decided to try having a small craft show at Navarra’s, using one of the greenhouses. That first time there were 16 crafters.

It worked out well for the vendors who were in a heated spot, and could keep their items on location for multiple days. Mrzywka set up a code system to track what was sold without the vendors have to be there all the time.

The co-op also was popular with customers.

“It’s a fun place to find unique and hand-crafted items,” Mrzywka said.

Jenna (Mrzywka) Pugh holds some of the creations she made as one of the vendors at the market. She uses old barn wood to make the Christmas characters.

The co-op grew to 67 vendors in 2021, the second season, and now has 96 with a waiting list for more.

Two of the greenhouses at Navarra’s are filled with stocking stuffers and other creations. Mrzywka expects a third greenhouse will be used for the co-op next year. She would also like to add food trucks and have the co-op become an even bigger holiday shopping destination.

The vendors have been busy making products with a Christmas theme, featuring many holiday characters such as Santa, Rudolph, Frosty and the Grinch. There are also a lot of Buffalo Bills items.

“There is some very creative stuff in here,” Mrzywka said.

The co-op is open from Thursday through Sunday for five weekends – from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Nov. 25-27, Dec. 1-4, Dec. 8-11, Dec. 15-18, Dec. 22-24.

Amanda Mrzywka holds some of her vegan soaps that are for sale at Navarra’s Christmas Co-op.

Gaines tables ambulance contract with Monroe so it can compare proposal from Mercy Flight

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mike Gugliuzza, director of medical operations for Mercy Flight EMS, said the organization will provide ambulance services in central Orleans while the towns determine the long-term provider. He asked Gaines officials to consider Mercy Flight for the service.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 November 2022 at 8:33 am

GAINES – The Town Board tabled voting on an ambulance contract on Tuesday evening, saying it wants more time to consider a proposal from Mercy Fight EMS.

Town supervisors from seven towns in Orleans have been meeting with Monroe Ambulance officials about a contract for eastern and central Orleans.

Monroe already has a contract for eastern Orleans – Clarendon, Murray and Kendall – but doesn’t station an ambulance in the county. With the contract, Monroe would keep an ambulance in Holley and one in Albion. The agreement calls for the seven towns to share a $200,000 stipend to Monroe with the shares based on call volume.

Mercy Flight, which took over COVA operations on Sunday, is proposing a $185,000 contract with two ambulances with paramedics 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and another ambulance for 12 hours a day, seven days a week that would be basic life support.

The towns of Albion and Barre have already approved the agreement with Monroe, however if even one of the seven towns doesn’t approve the contract the deal is “null and void.”

Richard DeCarlo, co-owner of Heritage Estates in Gaines, urged the Gaines board to do its due diligence in reviewing and comparing the proposals. DeCarlo said it looked to him like Mercy Flight was offering better service at a lower cost, and also has hired 40 of the COVA employees.

He also asked the Town Board to compare the rates that will be charged residents for ambulance transports. That should be a factor considered by the board.

Gaines Town Councilman Ken Rush said the Mercy proposal doesn’t break out the share due by Gaines. With the Monroe agreement, Gaines would pay $24,600. That cost would come out of the town’s federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act and wouldn’t affect the local taxpayers, Town Supervisor Tyler Allport said.

Rush said thanked Mercy Flight for stepping in as COVA ceased operations and for hiring the 40 local paramedics and other field staff.

“Personally I want to go with Mercy Flight,” Rush said. “If we go with Mercy Flight, what does that mean to Gaines for the cost?”

Mike Gugliuzza, director of medical operations for Mercy Flight EMS, said the organization would break out the number for Gaines as part of a seven-town agreement. He said it would likely be cost prohibitive for Gaines to be the only town in an agreement with Mercy Flight.

Ron Mannella, a Gaines town councilman, said Gaines could talk with Carlton officials about at least a two-town agreement. Or, Manella said, if Gaines doesn’t go with Monroe and it makes that agreement “null and void,” the other towns might come back to the table to hear out Mercy Flight.

DeCarlo said the towns for too long avoided paying towards ambulance services. COVA tried in recent years to get funding from the towns but that never happened.

“The COVA can has been kicked down the road for years,” DeCarlo said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We’ve run out of road.”

Allport said the seven towns felt a sense of urgency in working on an agreement with Monroe Ambulance. The leaders of the towns wanted ambulance services for residents if COVA closed.

Now that Mercy Flight has taken over those operations, Gugliuzza said central Orleans can be assured there will be high-level service while the towns work out an ambulance contract.

The deal with Monroe calls for them to start on Jan. 1. Monroe said it will stage ambulances in Albion and Holley, but those locations haven’t been disclosed yet.

Gaines will have its next regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 12. That will give the Town Board time to compare the proposals from Monroe and Mercy Flight.

COVA representatives attended the meeting on Tuesday. Allport asked them how the organization will be handling its debt, whether that would be passed to Mercy Flight. Jennifer Stilwell, COVA president, said Mercy Flight won’t have any of COVA’s debt. COVA can bill for its services up until the transition to Mercy Flight at 12:01 a.m. this past Sunday.

Those invoices plus a $150,000 employee retention credit should satisfy any outstanding bills, she said.

“We have every intention of paying off our debt,” she said.

If Mercy secures a contract for ambulance services for the community, Gugliuzza said Mercy would look to acquire the COVA base and its ambulances. If Monroe is chosen, Mercy would provide service up until when Monroe is ready, and then Mercy would “bow out,” Gugliuzza said.

Councilman Rush commended the COVA organization for its 43 years of service to the community.

“Thank you COVA,” Rush said. “You’ve been there for my family and my friends.”

Cobblestone Museum honors 5 for their efforts to advance historic site in Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 November 2022 at 11:54 am

Museum expects to start work on $800K visitors center in mid-2023

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – The Cobblestone Society & Museum held its annual meeting on Saturday and recognized these five people with awards for their contributions to the museum. Pictured from left include Dick Remley, Camilla VanderLinden, Arlene Taylor, Brad Ryan and Patricia Morrissey.

Remley, the museum’s vice president of the board of directors, was presented with the Proctor Award for his “extraordinary leadership” with the fundraising campaign for the new Cobblestone Museum Visitors Center.

The museum set a $750,000 goal and surpassed that. It is at $800,000 in contributions so far. It has already used $250,000 from the donations to acquire the brick house at the corner of routes 98 and 14. The other funds will pay for a 2,500-square-foot building next to the brick house and pay for more parking and other improvements at the site, including a new entrance to the brick house.

Remley said construction costs are up from the initial estimates for the project. He expects construction will start in mid-June for the Thompson-Kast Visitors Center. Design documents are being developed with current construction costs.

The donations for the project have come from 122 people with 13 large contributions for naming rights at the visitors center. There are six naming opportunities still available.

“The museum holds a lot of value to people in the county,” Remley said. “It’s our only National Historic Landmark. They’re happy to see activity and functions at the museum.”

The Cobblestone Museum has met its initial fundraising goal of $750,000 to acquire the 1824 brick house and build a 2,500-square-foot building on the property for a visitors center.

The project will allow for year-round access to the museum, and add a kitchenette for caterers and small receptions, a multi-purpose room, new exhibit space for Orleans County history, and room to partner with the Orleans County Tourism Department. There will be display space to distribute materials for other local attractions, including the Medina Railroad Museum, Erie Canal, Point Breeze Lighthouse, camp grounds, marinas, bed & breakfast sites, sportsfishing, agri-business, wine trail and other venues.

Arlene Taylor was presented with the “New Business Partner Award” for her work as an architect with a complete set of conceptual drawings for the visitors center. Her efforts saved the museum several thousand dollars.

Taylor has a long connection to the museum. Her grandparents were charter members of the Cobblestone Society in 1960. Her grandmother, Hannah Thompson, was the society’s first treasurer and her grandfather, Charles Thompson, was a key society member who pushed for acquiring the cobblestone school on Ridge Road. Taylor also was married in the cobblestone church in 1991.

Camilla VanderLinden was presented with the “Community Partner Award.” She has helped oversee the Dunn Martin Internship Program, which has now paid for six interns to help the museum in recent years with several projects.

This year interns gave tours and made an online database available of nearly 35 years of Bill Lattin’s weekly columns when he was county historian. Those columns are on the museum website and are available by clicking here.

Cobblestone Museum Director Doug Farley, right, presents a certificate of appreciation to Brad Ryan for his five years of service as the museum’s maintenance worker.

Brad Ryan was honored for his five years as the museum’s maintenance employee. He is retiring from the position. Ryan was praised by museum director Doug Farley for working “tirelessly behind the scenes.” He kept the museum grounds well kept, and well manicured, Farley said.

Patricia Morrissey was presented with the Frances Folsom Award for her “outstanding dedication to the Collections Committee of the Cobblestone Museum.” Morrissey has decorated the Ward House and helped the museum with many events, in addition to her service on the collections committee.

Bill Lattin leads the attendees at the annual meeting in a toast to the Cobblestone Society founders and “to the history-minded people and architectural preservationists in our sphere and to all who have labored for the cause of our museum.”

The Cobblestone Society held its annual meeting on Saturday afternoon at Gaines Carlton Community Church. There were 53 people in attendance.

The board’s officers for the coming year include Erin Anheier as president, Richard Remley as vice president, Matt Holland as vice president of development, Maarit Vaga as secretary, Kevin Hamilton as treasurer, Grace Denniston as corresponding secretary, and Gail Johnson as membership secretary. The officers are the same as 2022 except for Holland in the development role.

The board has two new members with Laura Bentley and Gloria Nauden. They were elected to three-year terms along with Mark Bower and Diana Flow.

Other board members include Chris Capurso, Camilla VanderLinden, Bill Lattin, Joyce Riley, Marty Taber, Brenda Radzinski, Chris Sartwell and Wendy Kirby.

Christine Hunt was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting. She lives in the nearby town of Sweden in the home formerly owned by David Bruce, a noted artist and taxidermist.

The Cobblestone Museum has more than 30 taxidermy birds from David Bruce. They are in cases that were once in the home of E.K. Hart of Albion and then in the Albion Middle School. Hunt is shown discussing one of the cases of birds.

Bruce trained Carl Akeley of Clarendon, who went on to become one of the country’s most acclaimed taxidermists. The museum has a fox that was an early work of Akeley as a taxidermist.

Bruce was well known from 1880 to 1900 for his butterfly collection. He was also very adept at collecting butterfly eggs. Those eggs would turn to larvae that could be fed. The butterflies that would emerge were in perfect shape to be exhibited at butterfly museums, Hunt said.