Lyndonville school to hold virtual forum on remaining $25K in tech funds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2021 at 12:21 pm

LYNDONVILLE – The school district will hold a virtual forum on  Jan. 19 to hear from parents about the district’s plan for spending the remaining $25,000 from the Smart Schools Bond Act.

Lyndonville school officials want to use the $25,000 to create a replacement cycle for Chromebooks.

The forum will be from 5 to 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 19. To sign up for this virtual forum on Google Meets, email to confirm your participation.

Lyndonville was approved for $733,151 as part of a $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, which was passed by NY voters in 2014. (In Orleans County, the five school districts were approved for about $7 million combined in technology aid with $2,238,441 for Albion; $1,311,463 for Holley; $967,959 for Kendall; $733,151 for Lyndonville; and $2,000,222 for Medina.)

The state has approved several projects for Lyndonville as part of the Smart Schools Bond Act, including $89,900 in February 2020 for classroom technology. The state approved $315,600 in July 2017 for “connectivity” with new routers, network improvements, switches, wireless access points, and classrooms hardwired for computers. Those improvements put in computer infrastructure to allow Lyndonville to add laptops, desktop computers, computer servers and more white boards.

The state Education Department in August 2016 also approved $165,000 for Lyndonville with classroom technology, including interactive white boards, said Jason Smith, the school district superintendent.

The show will go on – online for Lyndonville and Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 January 2021 at 5:23 pm

Districts will perform musical, Little Women, after last year’s show cancelled due to Covid-19

File photo by Tom Rivers: Layna Viloria, second from right, portrayed Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act, which was performed  in Lyndonville in March 2019. It’s the last show performed by the combined drama program of Lyndonville and Medina. Last spring’s show was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

LYNDONVILLE – The combined Lyndonville and Medina high school drama program will perform a musical this spring.

It will be a much different experience for the cast, with rehearsals and the performance, director Jennifer Trupo said.

Last year’s school musical was cancelled in the spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Covid caseload remains high with restrictions still in place on crowd sizes.

Lyndonville and Medina plan to put on the show, Little Women. Trupo said that show doesn’t have a large cast ensemble and there “isn’t a ton of dancing.”

There will still be solos, duets and some songs with the entire cast. They won’t be performing in front of a live audience. The performance will be recorded and then made available by streaming online, with tickets to be purchased online, Trupo said.

Most of the rehearsals will be online with the students not together in-person as a group. As the spring show gets closer, there will be some group rehearsals, blocking and vocals – “just not as much as we are used to in the past,” Trupo said.

Friday was the deadline for students to audition for the show. Trupo said Little Women will be an opportunity for students to shine on stage.

“There are several great roles in this production and we will be doing it with an expanded cast,” Trupo said in her message. “I love you and I miss you and I can’t wait to see you, online.”

Lyndonville Christmas trees have become popular holiday tradition

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 December 2020 at 8:53 am

Photos courtesy of Sharon Gavenda

LYNDONVILLE – There are 79 Christmas trees decorated and lighted up at Veterans Park in downtown Lyndonville.

They will remain up through Jan. 1.

Sharon Gavenda stopped by and took these photos last evening. “It’s really quite picturesque!” she wrote in an email.

The trees are purchased for $30 each, and then decorated by families and community organizations.

The 79 trees is up from 76 last year and is the most since Lyndonville started the display in 2013.

The sun sets last evening over the dam at Johnson Creek.

79 Christmas trees at Lyndonville park most ever

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 December 2020 at 12:37 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – There are 79 Christmas trees decorated at Veterans Park in Lyndonville in the annual display for the holidays. That is the most since Lyndonville started festive tradition in 2013 with 26 trees. The effort has grown each year since then.

In the top photo, the tree with an angel on top was decorated by the Duncanson family in memory of Megan Dix.

The trees are dedicated by community organizations and families. The tree at the corner in this photo is in memory of Alan J. Goda.

The trees were available for $30 each, and then needed to be decorated. Lyndonville turned on electricity to light the trees on Dec. 5. They will stay lighted up through Jan. 1

This year there wasn’t a festival or big bash when the lights are turned on for the first time for the collection of trees, like there has been in years past, due to Covid-19 concerns.

People are welcome to stop by and see the trees and get their photo taken with the Santa cutout.

Volunteers place wreaths on graves for 420 veterans in Lyndonville

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2020 at 4:24 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Earl Schmidt carries a wreath to place on the grave of a veteran in Lynhaven Cemetery in Lyndonville this morning.

Schmidt was among a group of eight volunteers who placed wreaths on 420 graves of veterans at cemeteries in the community. He also retrieved flags from the graves that had been out since near Memorial Day.

This is the second year Lyndonville has participated in Wreaths Across America.

Of the 420 graves, 402 were at Lynhaven Cemetery. There were also 13 at Yates Center Cemetery, 2 at the Robin Hill Estate, and 1 each at the Greenman Road Cemetery, Lott Cemetery on Angling Road and a cemetery on Marshall Road.

John Follman, an Air Force veteran for 27 years, helps to hand out the wreaths at Lynhaven.

“This is another way to honor our veterans,” he said. “You can’t do enough.”

Yates Town Clerk Shelly Harling carries wreaths to the veterans’ graves. She helped to research the gravesites for all of the veterans in the town of Yates. Initially that was a project spearheaded by the American Legion to identify all the sites for Memorial Day, so the Legion could place American flags on the gravesites.

Steve Goodrich, the Wreaths Across America location coordinator for Lyndonville, didn’t want a big group of volunteers today due to concerns about spreading Covid-19. Last year about 50 people help to set the wreaths.

He also decided against a ceremony because he doesn’t want to put people in added danger of Covid-19.

He praised Anna Stelianou, who is funding the effort. Last year was the first time Lyndonville was part of Wreaths Across America. Stelianou has provided the funding to the Lyndonville Area Foundation with an endowment to pay for the cost of the wreaths every year long into the future. The wreaths are $15 each with the current cost for all the wreaths about $6,000.

Stelianou is doing it in appreciation for the community’s kindness to her parents, Ary and Konstantina. They emigrated to Lyndonville from Greece after WWI. Stelianou also donated the money for the program in honor of her five brothers who served in WWII and the Korean War.

Stelianou said the community looked after her parents and their children, especially during the lean years of the Great Depression. Farmers in particular made sure the family had enough food to eat.

The Stelianou couple ran a small store on Main Street serving lunches, candy and ice cream. Anna Stelianou said the Lyndonville community welcomed her parents and helped them achieve the American dream.

Jim Wells, a Marine veteran, has his arms full of wreaths.

Eric Harling, center, joined the effort, helping his wife, Shelly Harling, and the other volunteers.

About 2,100 communities, including Medina, are participating in Wreaths Across America this year.

Dollar General proposing new store in downtown Lyndonville

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2020 at 8:59 pm

LYNDONVILLE – A new Dollar General store has been proposed for downtown Lyndonville at the former Crosby-Whipple Oil Corp. service station.

The Broadway Group, a commercial real estate developer from Huntsville, Alabama, is proposing to demolish and remove the Crosby-Whipple building at 30 North Main St. It would be replaced with a 7,200-square-foot Dollar General with 29 parking spaces.

The site is in a historic district and the building needs a “certificate of appropriateness” from the Village Planning Board.

Tara Mathias, development manager, met this evening with Planning Board members through Zoom video conferencing. She said the store can be designed in a way that fits in with the other buildings in the district.

She said the new store would revitalize the downtown and be convenient to the local residents.

“It’s just a quick trip down the street to the neighborhood store,” she said.

The building is on a 1-acre site and will need variances for setback distance. The store is the smallest building offered by Dollar General at 7,200 square feet. Most of the stores are over 9,000 square feet.

Patricia Gawne, a member of the Planning Board, asked why Dollar General wants another store only 4 miles from the one at the corner of Route 63 and Ridge Road in Ridgeway. That 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store opened in October 2014.

Mathias said Dollar General wants to cater to their customers, and there currently isn’t a Dollar General in the village.

Barbara Champlin, owner of the EZ Shop in Lyndonville, said the store will hurt the locally owned businesses in the community. She saw her grocery sales go down 30 percent when the store on Route 104 opened.

“I’ve seen the downside of these big corporate businesses coming in,” she said during the meeting this evening.

The Broadway Group will continue to work on the site plan and will apply for variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The village engineer, the MRB Group, said some of the drainage will be improved at the site by increasing a sewer line from 8 to 12 inches.

The village wants to make sure a retaining wall is adequate to protect the property from when there are rising waters at Johnson Creek.

The store plans to have eight to 10 employees, Mathias said.

The Planning Board also discussed two other projects in the village.

• Taller Communications Tower: SBA Communications wants to extend the cellular phone tower at 246 West Ave. by 25 feet to accommodate microwave dishes and additional equipment. The tower is currently 225 feet high.

Village officials believe the tower was originally 190 feet high and this would be the second extension. The MRB Group will review the project to make sure the tower would be structurally sound. There is a chance the company would need an easement from neighboring property owners if the fall line would extend into a neighbor’s property.

The project will be sent to the Orleans County Planning Board for its review and opinion.

• Solar project: Panek Farms wants to have a solar array constructed at 15 Linwood Drive. The project would generate 340 kilowatts of electricity to be used by the farm. The array would have 960 panels and run about 1,000 along the edge of the property in a spot that isn’t active farmland. Panek Farms is working with Solar Liberty on the project.

The solar panels would be set off from the road. When corn is high for several months a year the panels won’t be visible to people driving by or any neighbors, said Jim Panek of Panek Farms.

Steven Vann, the Planning Board chairman, wants the village engineer to review the project. Dan Wolfe, the village code enforcement officer, said the ground-mounted solar project is an allowable use because the electricity will be used by the farm and isn’t a utility-scale project.

The Planning Board next meets at 6 p.m. on Jan. 20.

Lyndonville inducts students into National Honor Society

Posted 12 December 2020 at 10:39 am

Photos and information courtesy of Lyndonville Central School

LYNDONVILLE – The school district held its National Junior Honor Society and National Honor Society induction ceremony on Thursday evening. The students inducted into the National Honor Society include Tessa Heideman, Megan Ostrowski, Ethan Gardner, Amanda Garza, Shawna Grabowski, Alexis Hughes, Aasiya Huzair, Ella Lewis, Kate O’Brien, Maddox Stirk and Jack Whipple.

These students have maintained a 90% GPA from 8th grade through their present grade. Students were selected for membership based on their scholarship, service, leadership, character and citizenship.

National Junior Honor Society members include Madalynn Baker, Daniel Barry, Phinn Cousins, Bradley Jisa, Elizabeth Whipple and Tisha Zeitz.

Lyndonville school district, starting next week, will go remote-only until Jan. 4

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2020 at 5:10 pm

LYNDONVILLE – The school district announced today that it will be going remote-only starting next week for the rest of December.

“As the number of positive Covid-19 cases continues to rise across New York State and Orleans County, it brings a number of challenges for our school district, including the ability to staff in-person learning with certified staff members,” Jason Smith, District superintendent, said in a letter to the community. “In addition, positive cases continue to grow and many staff and students are unable to attend in-person instruction given the close-contact quarantine mandate.”

Lyndonville will shift to remote-only on Dec. 14 and continue with on in-person classes until after the holidays on Jan. 4.

Batavia City School District in Genesee County also has switched to remote only due to the challenges of quarantining staff due to possible Covid exposures.

“I would like to thank you for your ongoing efforts to help minimize the spread of Covid-19 in our school and community,” Smith said in his letter. “With your assistance, we have been able to successfully keep our doors open and offer daily in-person instruction for all our students with remote instruction as an option.”

The district so far this school year has had three students and six staff members test positive for Covid.

“As you know, we have been in regular contact with the Orleans County Department of Health and are closely monitoring the rise of positive cases in our district,” Smith said. “Throughout the pandemic, we have had to make adjustments on a case-by-case basis to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”

Smith outlined these key details for the district as part of the switch to remote-only:

  • The last day of in-person instruction will be Friday, Dec. 11, for students in grades Pre-K to 5.
  • For students in grades 6-12, the Academic Assistance Day for Dec. 11 will go on as planned. For students who are not expected to attend the Academic Assistance, their last day will be Thursday, Dec. 10.
  • Free breakfast and lunch will continue to be available for all district students. During this closure, meals may be picked up each day from 9 to 11 a.m. in the parent drop off loop at the far cafeteria door.
  • On Friday, Dec. 18, food pick up will contain meals for 3 days. There will be no meals served from Dec. 21 to Jan. 1. If meal delivery is needed, call 765-3122 to make a request.
  • Students without internet access at home may request a Kajeet wireless hotspot by contacting Dr. Aaron Slack via email or by phone 765-3162.
  • If a student requires transportation to and from BOCES:
  • Walkers will continue to come to Lyndonville school district and board the bus to Orleans/Niagara BOCES. They will board the bus for the return trip to Lyndonville, and will walk home from school.
  • For students who ride the bus to Lyndonville, contact the Lynn Fetzner at 765-2701 and Lyndonville will send a bus to pick up the student and at the completion of the day at BOCES, will be transported home.

2 Lyndonville teachers selected for national rural teacher campaign

Staff Reports Posted 24 November 2020 at 3:11 pm

LYNDONVILLE – Two elementary school teachers at Lyndonville have been selected in a rural teacher initiative.

Jenna Goheen

The Rural Schools Collaborative is an organization focused on gathering information from early career rural teachers from around the country. The organization wants to hear form the teachers what they think is necessary to prepare, recruit and retain high-quality teacher-leaders.

Jenna Goheen and Joseff Smith have been picked for the “I Am a Rural Teacher” campaign.

Goheen, a first-grade teacher at Lyndonville, was selected by the Rural Schools Collaborative as an exemplary young rural educator.  The RSC wants her input as the group considers policy, networking and support for rural schools and teachers at the National Rural Education Association annual conference.

Joseff Smith

Joseff Smith, a fourth grade teacher, was selected to serve as an advisor on the Young Educators’ Advisory Council and will serve for two years engaging in online conversations. Smith’s experience, love of teaching and commitment to education will be an asset as he serves as a representative for Western New York.

Smith is the JV boys soccer coach at Lyndonville. He has previously taught math, science and history at multiple grades at a private rural school in North Carolina for two years. At that school he led the early college program, where over 80 percent of all high school students were dual enrolled in community college courses and high school classes.

Smith also has three years experience leading a team in sales, customer service and marketing for an international company.

These opportunities for Miss Goheen and Mr. Smith allow the Lyndonville school district to participate in the “I Am a Rural Teacher” campaign and contribute local voices to a national organization.

Lyndonville will continue Christmas tree display, but no big bash at the park

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Lyndonville community last year had 76 Christmas trees decorated at Veterans Park on Main Street, next to Johnson Creek near the dam.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 November 2020 at 9:49 am

LYNDONVILLE – The village will have its 8th annual display of Christmas trees at Veterans Park from early December through at least Jan. 1.

There won’t be a festival or big bash when the lights are turned on for the first time for the collection of trees, like there has been in years past.

But there will still be display for people to enjoy during the holidays. Lyndonville has already sold 42 trees and the deadline is Thursday to purchase one. Many residents, businesses and community organizations have bought them in the past and then decorated them.

The village started the tradition in 2013 with 26 trees, and it has grown each year since with 76 last year. The $30 fee covers the cost of the tree, materials for the sign, lead cords, replacement cords and adapters as needed. Participants provide lights and decorations.

For more information, click here.

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Lyndonville returns to in-person classes on Tuesday for grades 9-12

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 November 2020 at 1:58 pm

LYNDONVILLE – The high school will return to in-person classes on Tuesday for grades 9-12.

Lyndonville shifted to remote only for those grade levels today as a precaution so the Orleans County Health Department could do contact tracing after a confirmed case of Covid-19 on Sunday for a high school student.

The student was last on campus on Nov. 2, said Jason Smith, the district superintendent.

“We have spoken to the Health Department and if your child is deemed a ‘close contact,’ you will be contacted and provided with further direction,” Smith said in a letter to the community today. “If your son/daughter is contacted and is put on mandatory quarantine, please call our school nurse, Mrs. Kurz, at 765-3124. We will work with your child about being fully remote during the quarantine period. Please note it is not necessary to take action unless you are personally notified by the Health Department.”

The district is committed to providing students and staff with a safe and healthy environment, Smith said.

“I assure you, our building will continue to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected,” he said. “I continue to be proud of our staff and students for adhering to the safety protocols we have in place. Our cleaning, social distancing, barriers and face covering are effective in preventing the spread of the virus on our campus. I ask that you please continue to wear face masks, maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently.”

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Lyndonville shifts to remote learning for grades 9-12 on Monday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 November 2020 at 7:20 pm

High school student tests positive for Covid

LYNDONVILLE – The school district will shift to remote learning for grades 9-12 on Monday after the district was notified today that a high school student tested positive for Covid-19.

“Out of an abundance of caution and to allow time for contact tracing, all 9-12 students will be on remote/at home learning for Monday,” District Superintendent Jason Smith said in a message to the community on the school website.

This is the first Lyndonville student to test positive for Covid this school year. Lyndonville has also had one staff member with a confirmed case of Covid.

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Lyndonville native making progress with downtown revitalization project on Main Street

Photos by Tom Rivers: Robert Smith, owner of the Webber Building on Main Street in Lyndonville, is pleased with a redone façade to reflect how the building originally looked. Smith last week removed a wooden covering that had been in front of the building for about 18 months while contractors worked on the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 November 2020 at 9:22 am

Webber Building should open next spring as hotel and café

LYNDONVILLE – For 18 months there were big boards in front of the Webber Building at 29 South Main St.

Contractors led by Mike Preston & Son Construction in Lyndonville were behind the scenes at work, transforming the façade.

The construction workers needed to rebuild the storefront, putting in new windows, window frames, three doors and rebuilding the façade. (Ralph E. Ewald Contractor of Ransomville constructed the doors and window sashes.)

Preston gutted the building and put in new framing, floors and stairs in place for a site that will be a boutique hotel with six rooms on the second floor and a café with retail space on the first floor.

This winter contractors will put in plumbing, HVAC, drywall and the interior furnishings.

Smith owns the three buildings next to the Webber Building. They will also see a transformation in the two years with the building next to Webber opening in 2021.

Robert Smith, a Lyndonville native who now lives in California, is leading the transformation of four buildings on Main Street. The Webber site will be the first to open, likely in spring.

“It’s beautiful,” Mayor John Belson said Friday at the site. “We’re really proud of what he’s trying to do.”

Smith is transforming four buildings, including the former Pennysaver Market site at the corner. The full effort will take about two more years to complete, Smith said.

The upstairs of the four buildings will offer hotel rooms and other residential options. The first floors will have retail with co-ops, a selection from the Niagara Wine Trail, locally grown produce, “a mini general store concept,” Smith said.

Pictured from left include Robert Smith, Lyndonville Mayor John Belson, Village Trustee Dareen Wilson, Laura Belson, Code Enforcement Officer Dan Wolfe and Smith’s bother Daryl Smith and his wife Anne Smith.

Smith, who worked 36 years as a financial advisor, sees potential in small-town Lyndonville. He wants to help his home town, and he also thinks the project is a good investment.

“We have to think outside the box because the Big Box (stores) have destroyed Small Town America,” he said. “We believe we can make Lyndonville a destination.”

His late mother, Barbara, ran a restaurant – Barb’s Lynd Lounge – on Main Street in one of the buildings he now owns. He remembers the hustle and bustle on Main Street when he was a kid.

He thinks the small towns are making a comeback, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“People are realizing what the small towns have,” he said.

He sees a need for places to stay in Lyndonville with White Birch hosting many weddings and events on Route 63. There are also fishermen and many others who come to the community, including drivers for the Amish and Mennonite communities.

People will book their rooms online and there will be a local hotel manager.

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Here is how the building looked in 2018 before the construction started.

Smith wanted to unveil the storefront last week to show the community there has been significant progress on the Webber Building.

Smith owns about 18,000 square feet of space in buildings that used to be a restaurant, super market, ice cream shop and other thriving businesses. The sites are vacant now and many of the windows are boarded up.

Smith is funded the project largely on his own. He was awarded a $490,000 matching state grant last December to help with the renovation of 29 South Main Street, a mixed-use anchor project in the village’s downtown.

‘We have to think outside the box because the Big Box (stores) have destroyed Small Town America. We believe we can make Lyndonville a destination.’ – Robert Smith

The renovations will replace windows so they aren’t mismatched, and make other façade improvements, including new steps and doors. The Pennysaver Building will get a new roof and the interiors will be upgraded and modernized.

Smith travels from Palm Springs to Lyndonville to see family and friends, and check on the Main Street project. He was joined on Friday be his brother Daryl Smith and his wife Anne.

Belson believes the project will spur more pride and investment in the community.

“This is a quaint little community with a lot of tradition,” Belson said. “And we do have people who are looking for a place to stay around here and right now there isn’t a place to stay.”

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Lyndonville third-graders going to remote learning until Nov. 9

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 October 2020 at 4:54 pm

LYNDONVILLE – The school district will have all third-graders do remote learning until Nov. 9 after a staff member contracted Covid-19.

The Orleans County Health Department instructed the district to make the shift to remote learning so students can quarantine at home until they are able to safely resume in-person instruction, said Jason Smith, school district superintendent.

“At this time, no additional members of the third grade staff or students are symptomatic,” Smith said in a notice to the community. “The District will continue to receive guidance and direction from the Orleans County Health Department. If students and staff remain asymptomatic, they will be able to return to school on Monday, November 9, 2020.”

In Lyndonville, students are able to do in-person learning for five days a week rather than a hybrid model.

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Lyndonville reports staff member tests positive for Covid-19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 October 2020 at 11:32 am

LYNDONVILLE – The school district has been notified by the Orleans County Health Department that a staff member has tested positive for Covid-19.

The staff member was last at the school campus on Oct. 23, District Superintendent Jason Smith wrote in a letter to the community.

“We have spoken to the Health Department and if your child is deemed a ‘close contact,’ you will be contacted by New York State Contract Tracers and provided with further direction,” Smith said. “If your son/daughter is contacted and is put on mandatory quarantine, please call our school nurse, Mrs. Kurz, at 765-3124.  We will work with your child about being fully remote during the quarantine period. Please note it is not necessary to take action unless you are personally notified by the Health Department.”

Lyndonville is the second of the five school districts to have a staff member test positive. Holley had a teacher test positive last Friday.

Lyndonville hasn’t had any students test positive for Covid so far this school year.

“We are committed to providing our students and staff with a safe and healthy environment,” Smith said in his letter. “I assure you, our building will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. I continue to be proud of our staff and students for adhering to the safety protocols we have in place. Our cleaning, social distancing, barriers and face covering are effective in preventing the spread of the virus on our campus. I ask that you please continue to wear face masks, maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently.”

Lyndonville will continue to have in-person classes five days a week.

“We will monitor the situation closely and will notify you immediately if the Department of Health determines there is a need to close school—right now, this is NOT the case,” Smith said.

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