Lyndonville/Yates

Lyndonville Lions tackle new projects, including planting new shoe trees

Posted 24 October 2021 at 2:24 pm

‘Trunk-or-Treat,’ highway cleanup and photo contest also on schedule

New trees were recently planted by the Lyndonville Lions Club and Yates Highway Department by the row of ash trees that are very popular for tossing footwear.

Press Release and photos from Lyndonville Lions Club

LYNDONVILLE – After a well-deserved break following the return of the Lyndonville Lions Club’s spectacular 4th-of-July festivities, the Lions are back in full swing with the following announcements.

This coming Halloween Sunday, Oct. 31st, the Lyndonville Lions invite all Lyndonville trick-or-treaters making their rounds to come by the parking lot of Yates Community Library to receive their special “Trunk-or-Treat” goodie bags. The Lions will be handing out treat bags during regularly scheduled trick-or-treat hours from 6 to 8 p.m.

In addition, the Lyndonville Lions, with assistance from the Town of Yates, are pleased to announce the planting of new “Shoe Trees” at the historic Foss Road location. The original trees remain. The Lions ask that everyone respect the new plantings while they grow and mature to become the next generation shoe trees.

The Lions Club asks people to respect to new plantings so they and get big and strong to shoulder a new generation of shoes.

Along with that, the Lions are also announcing a community photo contest. New welcome signs are in the works to replace the previous damaged signs, since removed, that graced the north and south entrances to the village of Lyndonville.

The new signs will prominently feature a photograph of the dam and waterfall in the central village. We invite everyone to submit their photo for consideration by posting it on the Lyndonville Lions Facebook page.

The contest will run between now and next May. The winning photo will appear on the new welcome signs. For this we require a high-resolution photo in horizontal format capable of being enlarged to 8-ft. Please note, most cell-phone photos do not meet these requirements.

And finally, the Lyndonville Lions are pleased to announce the return of their semi-annual Adopt-A-Highway cleanup event along Rt. 63 in Yates. Weather dependent, this year’s autumn clean-up will take place Saturday morning, Oct. 30th. Please keep a careful eye out for us as you drive by – but also give us a wave!

Along with that, the Lyndonville Lions are extremely proud to announce the re-introduction of the junior Lions Club – the Leos – with 12 new members under the dedicated and enthusiastic guidance of Lyndonville Central School instructor, Gina Marker.

Governor praises start of $2.5 million town park upgrade in Yates

Posted 19 October 2021 at 9:07 am

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

YATES – Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday announced construction has begun on a $2.5 million resiliency project awarded to the Town of Yates, Orleans County, as part of New York State’s Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.

The Yates Town Park serves as the only public recreation space with direct access to Lake Ontario, with over one acre of open space for recreation, including a pavilion and picnic area. The park is a popular destination for both residents and visitors of the Town.

Town of Yates Supervisor James Simon said, “The Town of Yates is very excited to begin construction on our REDI Park project! After lakeshore flooding destroyed our park shoreline in 2017 and 2019, we were grateful to be supported by NY state to strengthen park resiliency and enhance public recreational facilities on the lake.  We look forward to reopening our new park in the early fall of 2022 as the culminating event of our 200th anniversary as a town.”

During the historic flooding of 2019, the park experienced substantial erosion along the shoreline. The recreational space was inundated with water due to poor run off conditions, posing safety risks for park goers and inhibiting use of the park. The resiliency work to be undertaken will stabilize the shoreline, mitigate future flooding, and ensure continued access to Yates Town Park during high water events. The park will close to the public on October 18 and remain closed for the duration of the construction.

“Through REDI, New York State is continuing its promise to the Lake Ontario shoreline communities in assisting in their fight against the effects of climate change,” Governor Hochul said. “Ensuring our infrastructure is strong and reliable, and our shorelines are fortified is vital in protecting our residents, as well as safeguarding the economies of shoreline communities. The Town of Yates Park expansion project will do just that, as well as increase the recreational opportunities for both residents and visitors to the town.”

Resiliency measures and park improvements to be implemented in this project include:

  • Upgrades to the parks drainage and stormwater management systems to resolve the serious drainage and ponding challenges;
  • Shoreline stabilization at the boat launch;
  • Installation of a cartop boat launch;
  • Construction of an ADA compliant fishing/water access pier;
  • Installation of new playground equipment, a walking trail, new pavilion, and bathroom facilities;
  • Expansion of the park’s parking area; and
  • Improvements to landscaping and greenspace.

Senator Robert Ortt said, “By expanding the recreational space and increasing water access to Lake Ontario at Yates Town Park, the New York State REDI Commission and the Town of Yates will be delivering new and exciting greenspace opportunities to the residents of Orleans County. Combining this increased outdoor space with shoreline resiliency is a creative way to implement public safety measures with a public good. I applaud New York State and the Town of Yates for working together in a creative manner for the benefit of our residents and visitors to our region.”

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said, “This project will ensure that Yates Park is able to be enjoyed for decades to come, and help operators of small watercraft, such as kayaks and paddle boats, make the most of both the park and the lake. While maintaining our parks and waterfronts benefits our local economy, it also provides families a safe, scenic place to gather and socialize. I’m glad this project is moving forward to keep Yates Park and its waterfront safe and open to all, while becoming more enjoyable than ever.”

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, New York State established REDI to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Five REDI Regional Planning Committees, comprised of representatives from eight counties (Niagara and Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego, and Jefferson and St. Lawrence) were established to identify local priorities, at-risk infrastructure and other assets, and public safety concerns.

The REDI Commission allocated $20 million for homeowner assistance, $30 million to improve the resiliency of businesses, and $15 million toward a regional dredging effort that will benefit each of the eight counties in the REDI regions. The remaining $235 million has been allocated towards local and regional projects that advance and exemplify the REDI mission.

Since the creation of the State’s REDI program in the Spring of 2019, 134 REDI funded local and regional projects are underway, including 85 projects in the design phase, 22 projects in the construction phase, and 27 projects completed.

Lyndonville observes School Board Recognition Week

Posted 19 October 2021 at 8:53 am

Photo courtesy of Lyndonville Central School: The Board of Education and Lyndonville school officials are shown during a recent meeting.

Press Release, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – The New York State School Boards Association recognizes Oct. 18-22 as School Board Recognition Week.

This is a time to promote awareness and understanding of the important work performed by school board members. Lyndonville Central School District will join with all public schools across the state to celebrate and honor local board members for their ongoing work and service to their districts.

“I would like to thank our Board of Education for their continued dedication and commitment to our students, staff, families and community,” said Lyndonville Superintendent Jason Smith. “They put in countless hours, and we value their guidance and leadership.”

The key work of school boards is to raise student achievement by:

  • Creating a shared vision for the future of education
  • Setting the direction of the school district to achieve the highest student performance
  • Providing accountability for student achievement results
  • Developing a budget that aligns district resources to improve achievement
  • Supporting a healthy school district culture for students and staff

Lyndonville’s Board of Education and their years of service are as follows:

  • Theodore Lewis, President, 12 years
  • Susan Hrovat, Vice President, 10 years
  • Vernon Fonda, 2 years
  • Kristin Nicolson, 2 years
  • Harold Suhr, 8 years
  • Jerod Thurber, 1 year
  • Steven Vann, 3 years

Fall salmon run brings fishermen to Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 October 2021 at 8:45 am

LYNDONVILLE – Tami Slingerland sent in this photo last evening of a group of anglers trying to catch salmon near at the dam at Johnson Creek in Lyndonville.

The salmon and trout are making their annual run up Lake Ontario tributaries. Fishing is the county’s top tourism draw, bringing anglers from many states.

The total economic impact from fishing in Orleans added up to $27,989,393 in 2017, according to survey results from the DEC.

Out-of-state anglers account for 70 percent of the fishing economic output in Orleans County, $19,620,488 of the $27,989,393. County residents who fish accounted for $1,767,334 in economic activity while other New York state residents outside Orleans represented another $6,601,571, according to that survey.

Lyndonville student club, DPW plant trees at village park

Posted 13 October 2021 at 5:10 pm

Photos and information courtesy of Virginia Hughes

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville Leos, a student organization to work with the Lyndonville Lions Club, recently joined the Lyndonville Department of Public Works to plant two trees in the village park.

In an effort to releaf the village streets and the park, the students planted 2 Profusion Crabapple trees. This variety was chosen because of its deep pink flowers in spring, the red fruit that stays on the trees for the birds to eat in the summer, and the yellow-orange fall color.

A village committee is working to add more trees to the streets of Lyndonville and park areas.

The students who were involved were: Aiden Allen, Madalynn Baker, Alexandria Carvalho, Safia Delpbbr, Zachary Freas, Amber Grabowski, Molly Ingersoll, Owen Mank, Hannah Marker, Kylie Reisman and Elizabeth Whipple.

County planners approve Yates farm market with bakery, deli

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2021 at 10:34 am

Board also backs battery storage regs in Barre, 6-month moratorium in Gaines on freestanding or ground-mounted solar

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board reviewed several projects on Thursday evening, including a new farm market on Route 18 in Yates.

The Planning Board recommended the Town of Yates approve a permit and the site plan for a new 4,800-square-foot farm market that would include a bakery, deli and cannery.

Mark Zimmerman would own and operate the market from his home at 12197 Roosevelt Highway. It is the latest venture in a growing Mennonite community, said Dan Wolfe, Yates code enforcement officer.

The new structure would be 60 by 80 feet with a parking lot that would be 50 by 120 feet. The new market will also have restrooms. It will be open until 5 p.m. each day, except on Sundays when it will be closed.

In other referrals on Thursday, the Planning Board:

• GAINES –Backed a request from the Town of Gaines for a six-month moratorium on freestanding or ground-mounted solar energy systems.

The moratorium doesn’t apply to rooftop-mounted solar systems. The six months will give the town time to write regulations which currently aren’t in the town’s zoning and land use policies.

• BARRE – Recommended the Town of Barre approve its proposed new zoning ordinance for battery energy storage systems. This doesn’t include car batteries or an electric motor vehicle.

Barre groups the storage systems into two tiers with Tier 1 having an aggregate energy capacity equal or less than 600 kWh and Tier 2 greater than 600 kWh. Tier 1 also consists of one single-energy storage system technology in a  room or enclosed area, while Tier 2 have more than one system.

The projects will need permits through the town and need to meet regulations for utility lines and electrical circuitry, signage, lighting, vegetation and tree-cutting, noise, decommissioning and other issues.

• ALBION – Recommended the Town of Albion rezone 2.27 acres at 4010 Oak Orchard Rd. from light industrial to residential. The vacant land at the intersection with West County House Road is owned by Grant and Mary J. Downey.

Light industrial zoning allows light manufacturing, assembly and storage facilities. The zoning change keeps a residential area “free from incompatible uses,” planners said.

• MURRAY – Recommended the Town of Murray approve a special use permit and the site plan for rented office space at 16584 Ridge Rd. The space at the Westridge Realty building is at a corner lot with Groth Road and will have a banner securely hung on the building which is co-owned by Ed Kennedy of E & E Property Services.

Community welcome to be part of Lyndonville homecoming festivities

Posted 22 September 2021 at 4:13 pm

File photo: Lyndonville classes will decorate floats for a parade on Oct. 1. This photo from October 2019, shows the junior class which decorated a float to “Toy Story.”

Press Release, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville school district will have a week filled with homecoming fun from Sept. 27 through Oct. 2. Various activities are scheduled, including spirit week with student events each morning and themed dress-up days, the traditional Homecoming Parade and athletic games with food trucks on campus.

The district invites the community to join in the school spirit and support the students!

The Homecoming Parade will be Oct. 1 at 1:40 p.m. Students in the high school will parade from the campus down Main Street to showcase floats designed by each class (9-12). Each year brings much competition and even more creativity. This year’s theme is “Rewind,” and you will see floats decorated throughout the decades!

Sports Games & Food Trucks: Oct. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cheer on athletes and enjoy a tasty treat. Various food trucks (Dubby’s Woodfired Pizza, Blue Groove Coffee, Catherine St. Bakery and Mr. Pix Popcorn) will be parked in the bus loop.

  • 10 a.m. athletic events include Girls Varsity Soccer, Girls Modified Soccer, Boys JV Soccer and Girls Modified Volleyball.
  • 12 p.m. (noon) include Boys Varsity Soccer, Boys Modified Soccer and Girls JV Volleyball.
  • 1:30 p.m. includes Girls Varsity Volleyball.

We hope to see you on campus wearing your orange and black and showing your TIGER PRIDE!

Lyndonville boy, 5, who has battled cancer gets wish with 2 sheep

Photos courtesy of Make-A-Wish of Western New York: Jim Manning-Utter holds one of two sheep his son Odin received from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 20 September 2021 at 3:41 pm

LYNDONVILLE – A young Lyndonville boy who has battled cancer since birth has just had his wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western New York.

Odin greets one of the two sheep provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Western New York. Fire companies from Shelby, East Shelby, Medina, Lyndonville, Ridgeway and Murray will conduct a boot drive throughout Orleans County on Saturday to benefit Make-A-Wish.

Odin, 5, was diagnosed as a baby with a rare and critical form of brain cancer, according to Kate Glaser, senior manager of Marketing, Communications and Community Engagement for Make-A-Wish in Buffalo.

He has been through many rounds of chemotherapy and was declared cancer free, although he still has routine scans to make sure he is still in remission.

Odin’s wish for a sheep farm was granted, and included two sheep (twin sisters) and fencing to go around the perimeter of the property. The family has many more animals, so the fencing will keep Odin’s sheep and the other farm animals protected, Glaser said.

Make-A-Wish also provided vetting for the sheep and other essentials, including a sign that read “Odin’s Acre.”

On Sept. 25, from 9 a.m. to noon, several Orleans County fire companies will do a boot drive to support Make-a-Wish, according to Tim Petry from Shelby Fire Company.

Firefighters from Shelby, East Shelby, Lyndonville, Medina, Ridgeway and Murray will be at key locations to collect contributions from drivers.

East Shelby, Shelby and Murray will be at Routes 63 and 31A in Medina; Medina Fire Company will be at Main and Center streets; and Lyndonville and Ridgeway will be at Routes 63 and 104 in Ridgeway.

The firefighters will present their donation during the Make-A-Wish Radiothon on 97 Rock Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Odin, 5-year-old son of Jim and Jodi Manning-Utter of Lyndonville, proudly displays a sign for his acre of land where Make-A-Wish built a fence and granted Odin his wish of two sheep.

Lyndonville opens new PreK playground

Posted 15 September 2021 at 1:10 pm

Photos courtesy of Lyndonville Central School: Youngsters enjoy the new PreK playground that opened last week.

Press Release, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – The school district on Sept. 9 hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to open a new PreK playground.

The playground equipment and installation were funded through the district’s Universal PreK grant to provide full-day pre-kindergarten for 3- and 4-year-old children residing within the Lyndonville school district. The vibrant playground is designed specifically for children ages 2-5 as a safe place for them to learn, play and grow.

“The new PreK playground is an asset to the district,” said Elementary Principal Elissa Smith. “Play is an essential aspect of learning and helps develop children’s coordination, motor skills, cognitive abilities and social awareness. We look forward to adding additional gross motor play opportunities next spring.”

LCS currently has 65 students enrolled in the district’s PreK program. For more information on Lyndonville’s PreK program, please visit the district’s website.

Lyndonville school district releases strategic plan with literacy the top focus

Posted 13 September 2021 at 12:28 pm

Provided photos: Dr. Teresa Lawrence, an educational consultant, leads discussions this summer for the school district as it worked on a strategic plan for the 2021-22 school year.

Press Release, Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – Over the summer, Lyndonville Central School faculty, staff, administration and Board of Education members worked together to develop the district’s 2021-22 strategic plan. Together, they identified literacy as the overall goal for the school year.

“Literacy skills are imperative for a child’s overall development,” said Superintendent Jason Smith. “It is the foundation for doing well in school. Literacy is more than just reading and writing. It is also the ability to make sense of and engage in advanced reading, writing, listening and speaking in all subject or content areas. By providing students with a strong foundation in literacy, we greatly improve their ability as a student, community member and life-long learner.”

Throughout the year, teachers will find unique and creative ways to engage all students and enhance their literacy skills. The outline below provides an overview of the plan and steps to be taken to achieve the overall goal.

Identified Goal: To have all students proficient in literacy as aligned with their age and ability. At LCSD, we will provide students with equal access to all learning.

Challenge 1: How do we identify and support struggling students?

  • We continuously collect and utilize data to create focused instruction and intervention strategies that benefit the whole child.

Challenge 2: How do we align literacy across content areas throughout our secondary grades?

  • We begin with daily explicit vocabulary instruction and collaborate with peers to incorporate effective strategies in and out of our classrooms.

Typically, Lyndonville develops a strategic plan yearly to set goals and serve as the driving force throughout the school year. Due to the pandemic and the focus on health and safety, the district was unable to develop a formal plan last year.

“It was nice to be able to work together as a team this summer and build upon the strategic plan we previously established,” said Smith. “It unites our focus as a district, sets our goal and provides direction to ensure a successful year.”

If you have questions regarding literacy building within your child’s classroom(s), please reach out to their teacher(s). We look forward to seeing the many engaging activities and projects that will happen this year.

Yates sets Oct. 12 hearing on whether to allow marijuana dispensaries

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2021 at 3:14 pm

YATES – The Town Board has set a 7 p.m. public hearing on Oct. 12 to hear from residents whether Yates should allow marijuana to be sold from a legal dispensary, where people could purchase adult-use cannabis products. The hearing will be at the Town Hall, 8 South Main St.

The state is giving municipalities until Dec. 31 to decide whether they will opt out of allowing marijuana dispensaries. The municipalities also need to decide by the end of the year if they will opt out of allowing onsite consumption at businesses such as a smoking lounge.

The state has approved a 13-percent excise tax on marijuana with a breakdown that includes 9 cents for each taxable sale to the state, 3 cents to the municipality that has the dispensary, and 1 cent to the county. Municipalities that opt out wouldn’t be eligible for the 3-cent share of the 13-percent sales tax.

Towns and villages can’t overstep the state and ban recreational use of marijuana. But the towns and villages can prohibit dispensaries and smoking lounges.

If the municipal board for a village or town decides to opt out, residents could still push a permissive referendum, with the matter going on the ballot.

Municipalities could also decide to opt out, and later decide to “opt in” and allow the dispensaries and lounges.

Yates officials want to see if manure digester has support from dairies, community

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2021 at 9:26 am

YATES – The Yates Town Board wants to reach out to the community to see if there would be support from dairy farms and residents for a manure digester, which converts methane gas into a biogas that can be converted into electricity.

The board on Tuesday discussed an initial feasibility study that shows there are plenty of cows in Yates and neighboring Somerset to do a large-scale digester that could be shared by more than one farm.

“It’s just an idea,” said Town Councilman John Riggi. “It’s nothing more than that now.”

The town wants to hear from dairies if they would support being a part of a digester, a project that Riggi said would likely come with grants from the state to help drive down the costs.

The digesters have become popular in the dairy industry, with many larger farms doing the projects on their own. Yates is looking at a project that could include more than one farm. If that happened, there would likely be a digester at a host farm, with others farms trucking manure to the site, and then picking up the finished fiber product – which is much less smelly and can be used for cow bedding or for horticultural purposes.

The town will look to form a committee to reach out to the dairy farms and residents. If there is interest in a project from the farms, Yates officials will likely pursue a more detailed feasibility study.

Riggi and Town Supervisor Jim Simon said the board will provide updates about the possible project in town newsletters and upcoming board meetings.

Riggi said he would only support the project if it proves a benefit for everyone in the town, and proves affordable with grants and incentives from the state.

He said a digester could also take pressure off Yates from hosting large-scale wind turbine and solar projects as the state pushes renewable energy.

“Every rural town has a target on its back with the renewable energy mandate,” Riggi said.

He sees a digester – using manure from dairies to ultimately create electricity – as a more appropriate renewable energy project in Yates than the large-scale wind and solar.

Yates will open construction bids this morning on $2.5 million town park upgrade

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 September 2021 at 7:42 am

This design by the MRB Group in Rochester shows the layout of an improved Yates Town Park.

YATES – Town officials will open construction bids this morning at 10 for an upgrade of the Town Park on Morrison Road. The park is along Lake Ontario.

The state is paying 95 percent of the costs of the project estimated at $2.531 million or $2,404,450. It is part of $300 million in state funding for projects along the southshore of Lake Ontario. (Click here to see a bigger map of the project.)

The local share of the Yates project – $126,550 – will be covered with $26,550 of in-kind services by the town Highway Department and $100,000 in funding by the Lyndonville Area Foundation.

The town is eyeing completion of the project in next September. It would be a big highlight for Yates as the town celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2022, Town Supervisor Jim Simon said.

After the bids are opened today, they will be reviewed by the town’s engineering firm, MRB Group in Rochester, and then come back to the Town Board for a vote.

During a Town Board workshop meeting on Tuesday, Simon told the other board members the project is on pace to be complete in about a year.

“It’s going really well,” Simon said about the project. “There are no hiccups that I am aware of.”

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from Oct. 23, 2019 shows some of the tables along the shoreline at the Yates Town Park.

Some highlights of the project and the estimated costs include an L-shaped breakwater at $640,000; pavilion with bathroom and fire place, $394,000; park activities (kayak boat launch, dock ramp, ADA compliant playground), $266,000; road, parking, pavement, $95,000; stone dust trail with benches, garbage can, bike rack and plantings, $75,000; stormwater, $56,000; electrical, $42,000; erosion control, $41,000; sanitary/leach field, $31,000 and water service, $20,000.

Engineering costs also are estimated at $372,000, with legal and administration fees at $93,000.

Annual operation and maintenance costs with the added amenities are estimated at $3,000 for water and electric service, insurance, bathroom cleaning and septic tank costs and other operation, maintenance costs. However, the town will save $1,500 annually by not needing portable bathrooms at the park. So the net increased operation and maintenance costs will be $1,500 or an additional penny on the town tax rate, according to the town’s calculations.

Simon believes the park will improve the quality of life in the community, improve health and wellness, and boost property values in that part of the community. It could also draw visitors to the community as the only town park along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Orleans County.

Simon said he would like to see the community eventually work to put in sidewalks from north of the village on Route 63 to the Town Park. That would be an ideal link between the village and park for walkers, joggers and cyclists, Simon said.

Garbage pickup will be delayed today on fire lanes in Carlton, Yates

Posted 30 August 2021 at 8:41 am

Press Release, Orleans County Chief Administrative Officer Jack Welch

CARLTON/YATES – Orleans County works closely with Modern Disposal Services to provide out a countywide solid waste program for all of our residents who participate in our program. From time to time, we unfortunately experience some delays in providing this service as scheduled.

There will be some delays in service on the fire lanes in Carlton and Yates today.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this creates for our residents along the affected routes,” said Jack Welch, Orleans County chief administrative officer. “If these residents leave out their solid waste, Modern Disposal will have your items collected as soon as Modern is able.”

Lyndonville Board of Education votes to make masks optional in schools

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 August 2021 at 9:37 am

Gov. Hochul, however, expected to make them mandatory

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Lyndonville Board of Education met Monday evening approved a reopening plan for 2021-22 that makes wearing masks optional for students, except on busses wear the federal government is making them mandatory. Ted Lewis, left, is president of the Board of Education.

LYNDONVILLE – The Board of Education on Monday voted to make wearing masks by students optional, even if the community is in a “red zone” with high Covid community spread.

The board went against recommendations from the State Department of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the federal Center for Disease Control, which are all recommending students, teachers and staff wear masks, regardless of vaccination status.

Lyndonville board members were unanimous in voting to make masks optional for students, saying the choice should be up to parents.

“I understand that this is a complicated issue and people’s opinions vary greatly to the point of anger and frustration,” said board member Susan Hrovat. “I know each person won’t be happy about this. My goal is to allow each parent to make a decision for their child as much as possible. If you choose to mask your children, that is great. If you choose not to, that is your decision as well.”

The board said it expects new Gov. Kathy Hochul will issue a mask-wearing mandate before the start of the school. If she does, that would be the requirement in Lyndonville.

Board member Steve Vann urged the board to vote on the issue on Monday evening and not hold off until hearing from Hochul and the state. He wanted Lyndonville to make its position clear about masks for students.

“Don’t hide from it,” Vann told the other board members. “I think we should vote on it tonight regardless of what the state sends down so all of our constituents know where we stand on the issue.”

The board on Monday reviewed a chart that was similar to one used by other districts for wearing masks. The chart was developed with the four other districts in Orleans County and the Orleans-Niagara BOCES.

Although masks are optional inside Lyndonville school, face coverings will be required for students on busses, per a federal directive.

The chart also was going to make wearing masks a requirement in common areas where there are many students. But the board, in a motion from member Steven Vann, changed the draft plan to make masks in those high traffic areas such as hallways as “recommended” rather than required. Vann said Covid needs 15 minutes of exposure to spread and hallways interactions are much briefer.

The proposal also had that masks would be mandated to wear in classrooms if the county was in a red zone with the highest community transmission. (Orleans County is currently in the orange zone for “substantial” community spread, just below the highest level.)

Lyndonville will welcome students back for the first day of school on Sept. 8. The board voted to make wearing masks optional for students, but the state is expected to make them mandatory throughout New York for students.

Vann and the other board members voted to make masks “recommended” inside the classrooms if the county is in a red zone.

Vann said the Orleans County numbers aren’t evenly spread out throughout all communities. He said the cases tend to be lower in Lyndonville compared to Albion and the more populated parts of the county.

The board didn’t have the numbers available during its meeting about Covid cases per school district last year. Jason Smith, the district superintendent, said Lyndonville had its first student test positive in October. Lyndonville saw more cases in December and January, before the cases declined, which very little Covid in May and June, he said.

A state database shows the Covid cases per school district for the 2020-21. Here is the breakdown for each district in Orleans County:

  • Lyndonville (enrollment 639) had 20 students test positive for Covid (15 in-school and 5 remote) and 13 teachers and staff. The Lyndonvile students included 17 in junior-senior high school and 3 at the elementary level.
  • Albion (enrollment 1,768 students) had 86 students test positive (75 were in-person students and 11 remote-only). Those students included 33 in high school, 26 in middle school, and 27 in elementary school. There were 26 teachers/staff that tested positive.
  • Medina (enrollment 1,396) had 87 students test and the state database says 4 were in-person students and 83 were off-site students. Those students included 43 in high school27 at intermediate/middle school, and 14 at elementary school. The district also had 31 teachers/staff test positive for Covid.
  • Kendall (enrollment 698) last school year reported 37 students tested positive for Covid with 35 on-site and 2 as remote-only students. That included 19 at junior-senior high school and 18 at elementary school. Kendall also had 4 teachers/staff test positive.
  • Holley (enrollment 902) reported 45 students who tested positive last year, including 43 in-person students and 2 who were remote-only. Those students included 34 in junior-senior high and 11 at elementary school. The district also had 17 teachers/staff test positive.

Jason Smith, the district superintendent, encouraged the board to wait on voting about the mask issue until hearing if there will be a directive from the state. But Vann and the board members wanted to go on the record in support of making mask wearing a parental choice.

The district’s reopening plan will continue in-person education for five days a week, just like last year. However, there won’t be remote learning unless there is a documented medical reason for students.

Lyndonville will continue to do daily temperature checks of students, and will use some partitions in classrooms.

The district is waiting for final guidance from the local and state Department of health about quarantining students. One benefit of students wearing masks is there is less chance of students being in a 10-day quarantine if someone next to them tests positive for Covid, Smith said.

He noted of all the students who were quarantined last year after being identified as a close contact of a student who tested positive, none of those students quarantined ended up with Covid.

Lyndonville will have some rapid Covid tests available at school. The district used those last year to test some teachers and staff and Smith said the tests identified one staff member with Covid. Students can also be tested with a rapid test at school with a parent’s permission.

Smith said a message will be sent to the Lyndonville community today with details about the reopening plan for 2021-22.

Hrovat urged the district and community members to “respect the decision” by Hochul and the state if masks are required for students.

She also urged people to tone down the rhetoric with the masking issue.

“I would just ask that we all be kind to one another and respect each family’s decision to carry out the way they choose to protect themselves through this Covid crisis, and we just move forward the best that we can,” she said.