In 1960s, early ’70s, NYSEG eyed Yates for nuclear plant

Posted 24 September 2023 at 9:43 pm

Project became inactive due to added costs and concern from fault line near site

The pristine beauty of Lake Ontario is pictured from the Yates shoreline. (Courtesy of Michael Loftus)

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

“Illuminating Orleans” – Vol. 3, No. 31

YATES – In the 1970s, a second rural Orleans County site was considered as the location of a nuclear facility.

Beginning in the 1960s, NYSEG began to acquire parcels of land in the Town of Yates and the neighboring Town of Somerset in Niagara County in anticipation of the construction of an atomic electric generating station.

The Journal-Register of May 11, 1972, announced that the New York State Atomic and Space Development Authority (ASDA) had selected a site in the Town of Yates for study as a possible location for the construction of an atomic power generating station.

The site, referred to as the Morrison Road Site, was an area bounded by the Lake Ontario shoreline, Foss Road and Morrison Road. Construction costs would range from $350-$400 million and completion would take eight to ten years. A site in the Town of Wilson was also under consideration, as was a site in Cayuga, Town of Sterling.

Speaking at an Albion Chamber of Commerce dinner held at Marti’s Restaurant in Albion, on May 24, 1972, ASDA chairman James G. Cline outlined the positive aspects of the plant. Members of the Orleans County Industrial Development Authority and the Orleans County Economic Development Authority were also in attendance.

Mr. Cline and other members of the ASDA staff claimed that the overall impact of the plant would be minimal and that it would provide considerable economic benefit. Analysts had determined that the site in question consisted of “low- viability farmland that was marginal at best.” The power transmission route would be underground and out of view. Discharged water would not interfere with lake ecology, surface algae or critical marine life. Similar plants showed no radioactive buildup, even after ten years of operation.

However, residents of the Town of Yates were not impressed.

The Journal-Register of 14 June 1972 reported on an “Open Letter” prepared by a group of Lyndonville signers who urged a letter-writing campaign to local, county, state and federal officials protesting the installation.

Among those who signed the letter were Bartlett Breed, Bernard Brinsmaid, Mr. & Mrs. James Whipple, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Whipple, Mr. & Mrs. John Eppolito and many others. The letter began:

“The signers of this letter are opposed to the building of an atomic power plant in the Town of Yates, or indeed, anywhere on the river and lake front between Buffalo on the west and Rochester on the east.”

The arguments against the proposed plant were cogently argued, the probability and disastrous consequences of an accident being the foremost cause of concern.

The letter pointed out the false claims and spurious logic used in the promotion of the proposal. It referred to the findings of the Brookhaven Report (1957) which questioned the safety of nuclear energy and clearly outlined the catastrophic consequences of an accident which the Atomic Energy Commission had acknowledged.

It also explained the conundrum caused by the Brookhaven Report: based on the findings of the report, utility companies refused to build atomic plants unless covered by insurance, but insurance companies refused to provide the necessary insurance to utility companies who planned to build atomic energy sites.

However, the Price-Anderson Act (1957) circumvented this roadblock. Under this act, the government and the private insurance industry would provide a limited amount of coverage for atomic power plants, thus freeing utility companies from liability in the case of a catastrophic occurrence.

The letter argued that the insistence that atomic power plants be situated in rural areas was a further indication of their inherent dangers. It cited the dangers of low-level radiation and of toxic radioactive wastes. It also pointed out that the Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of New York State, representing some three hundred thousand members, had called for a moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants in the state.

The topic generated a great deal of discussion, articles, and Letters to the Editor in 1973 and 1974. Then, on July 25, 1975, NYSEG announced that plans for the construction of nuclear power plants in Somerset and Yates were suspended, following the discovery of a geological fault reported by the US Geological Survey.

The existence of the Clarendon-Linden Fault which extends some 60 miles from Attica to Lake Ontario would necessitate investigation into the geological and seismic factors which could potentially disrupt stored nuclear material and would greatly increase construction costs. The Morrison Road site was deemed inactive, and Somerset was designated a prime site for a coal-fired power plant.

Lyndonville works to trim capital project at school district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2023 at 1:36 pm

School officials eyeing about $24 million in improvements, with more in next phase including possible turf field

Photo by Tom Rivers: David Kenyon, senior landscape architect, presents a rendering for a turf field at the Lyndonville, a project that school officials said will have to be pushed back for another capital project, not the one that could go to a public vote in November or December.

LYNDONVILLE – School officials are working with engineers and architects at the Wendel firm to pare down a list of projects to upgrade the school district.

An initial list of facility upgrades and site improvements at the district came in at $50 million.

That’s about twice what the district can spend with its state aid and also a district capital reserve. Lyndonville won’t pursue a project that increases local taxes, the board said at the meeting last Thursday.

The district and Wendel have grouped those projects in three phases, but some things in phase one will need to be removed to get the costs down.

School officials will try to finalize a list in the next month with the project to go to a public vote possibly in mid-November or December.

“Right now this is really big picture,” said Justin Parish, lead project architect from the Wendel firm.

He and three of his Wendel colleagues went over the costs of the project on Thursday evening with the Board of Education.

The prices listed anticipate a construction schedule two years from now in 2025 when costs are expected to be up another 16 percent, Parish said.

Lyndonville has a three-phase project to try to include all items identified to upgrade the school district.

But for now phase one tentatively includes:

The Main Street school building – $11,299,786

  • replace/upgrade boiler – $5,491,248
  • air-conditioning throughout building – $5,293,008
  • restroom renovation – $499,777
  • brick repair –$15,753

This school building was closed for a few years but reopened during the Covid pandemic in 2020-21. That building allowed Lyndonville to space out students and have in-person classes all five school days each week, while most other districts were on an alternating hybrid schedule.

Lyndonville now uses the Main Street site for ages 3 and 4 all-day prekindergarten, and first and second grades.

Housel Avenue school – $15,077,144

  • demolition of annex and new build – $3,879,649
  • roof replacement – $2,955,105
  • replace/upgrade boiler – $1,879,445
  • replace antiquated electrical panels – $1,184,868
  • restroom renovation – $825,322
  • upgrade generator (comm shelter) – $490,290
  • secure vestibule – $81,715

Justin Parish, lead project architect, goes over the list of items identified for the school building on Housel Avenue.

Site improvements – $10,613,584 for phase one

  • turf field – $3,623,190
  • turf field lighting – $1,339,005
  • 6-lane rubber track – $2,362,950
  • softball and baseball lighting – $1,831,286
  • scoreboard for turf field – $551,973
  • bus garage parking lot – $511,973
  • concession stand with bathrooms – $393,825

In phases 2 and 3, the list includes an accessible playground ($708,885), courtyard design ($511,973), 1,000 seat bleachers with press box ($787,650), bleachers for softball/baseball ($236,295), pickle ball court ($291,430), baseball/softball drainage ($15,753), 10-by-10 foot storage shed ($47,259) and miscellaneous site and lighting upgrades ($551,355).

Bus garage – $574,456 for a roof replacement.

In phase 3, the district should consider an overhead door replacement ($169,943), restroom addition ($70,889) and other mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades ($1.3 million).

Lyndonville already announced parts of phase one have been eliminated, including the turf field, new track and lighting and scoreboard for the turf field.

Under the current maximum cost allowances for state aid, Lyndonville would receive up to $19,572,061 in state funding for construction and another $4,582,426 for incidentals (site work and soft costs), or $24,154,487 altogether.

The construction projects identified by the school committee and Wendel officials totaled $29,522,394 (or $9,950,333 over the maximum state aid.) The incidentals totaled $21,236,830 (or $16,654,494 over the state aid).

The district’s construction committee will meet again this week to review the project and try to narrow the scope.

Parish, the lead project architect, said the construction numbers are conservative, and it’s possible the costs may be less when the project is bid which would allow Lyndonville to include more items in phase one.

Phases two and three would need to be spaced out about every five years to allow Lyndonville to be eligible for more state aid towards a capital project.

Parish suggested the costs would be in line financially for the total project by cutting most of the site improvements, and instead only doing $433,208 in that category – $393,825 for a concession stands and bathrooms, $23,630 for baseball/softball scorebooths, and $15,753 for baseball/softball drainage.

Sharon Smith, the district superintendent, said it was a “gut punch” to have to cut the new track and turf field.

“We’ve taken our hopes and dreams and tried to set priorities,” she said.

Ted Lewis, president of the Lyndonville Board of Education, listens to a presentation from engineers and architects at the Wendel firm on Thursday evening.

Lyndonville school tax rates vary depending on whether towns did reassessments

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 August 2023 at 9:56 am

LYNDONVILLE – The Board on Education on Thursday approved the tax warrant for the 2023-24 school year. There are four towns that have parts of their boundaries in the school district, and the tax rates vary by more than $4 depending on whether there was a town-wide reassessment this year.

Lyndonville’s total tax levy is up 1 percent or by $46,187 to $4,664,927.

Carlton and Ridgeway both did a town-wide reassessment this year that will result in a sharp drop in the tax rates. Carlton is down from $16.56 to $12.17 per $1,000 of assessed property, while Ridgeway’s rate drops from $18.09 to $12.17.

The district also includes Yates and Gaines, which didn’t do a town-wide revaluation. The state is using equalization rates to try to ensure those property owners are paying at a rate that matches their property values.

The Gaines rate will drop from $16.56 to $16.44 while Yates is up from $15.80 to $16.44.

The district will collect 4,664,927 in school taxes from the four towns. That includes $1,300,803 from Carlton (down from $1,346,050 in 2022-23); $28,913 from Gaines (up from $28,504 in 2022-23); $664,333 in Ridgeway (down from the $674,403 in 2022-23); and $2,670,786 from Yates (up from $2,569,781 last year).

The tax rates for the Yates Community Library include Carlton and Ridgeway at 33 cents, and Gaines and Yates at 44 cents. The school district will collect $124,808 for the library.

All Lyndonville students will be offered free breakfasts, lunches this school year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 August 2023 at 8:51 am

LYNDONVILLE – The school district will be making free breakfasts and lunches available to all students this school year.

The district was accepted by the state Department of Education to be included in the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Breakfast/Lunch Program. Lyndonville started offering the free breakfasts and lunches this summer and has served about 2,000 meals.

“That we can feed every child two meals a day that really helps our families,” said Sharon Smith, the district superintendent.

There are about 600 students in the Lyndonville district, including those in prekindergarten.

Lyndonville school officials and the Board of Education decided to apply for the program last school year, and expected Lyndonville would have to pay about $14,000.

But the state will cover the district’s share, so there won’t be any local cost for providing the meals.

To qualify for the program, a district or school building must have an Identified Student Percent (ISP) of at least 40 percent. Lyndonville is at 42 percent, Smith said. She added that 58 percent of the student body is in poverty.

The ISP isn’t determined by student eligible for free and reduced lunch. Instead it depends on SNAP and Medicaid recipients identified through the electronic direct certification matching process (DCMP) and extension of these eligibility benefits to siblings or other household members not matched. It also includes homeless children identified by the homeless liaison, Head Start students, migrant, runaway and foster children certified directly by the state or local foster agency.

Lyndonville families don’t need to register to have access to the meals, Smith said.

The Board of Education on Thursday extended its food service contract with Personal Touch Food Service, Inc. in Buffalo, increasing the amount by 3.5 percent.

The cost for breakfast will increase from $3.0640 to $3.1712 per meal, and lunch will go up from $3.5810 to $3.7063.

Lyndonville celebrates 2 long-time employees who are retiring from school district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 August 2023 at 7:53 am

‘Sonny’ Dent and Gary Wakefield praised for their service

Photo by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Gary “Sonny” Dent, left, and Gary Wakefield celebrate their retirements from Lyndonville Central School on Thursday evening.

They were recognized during the Board of Education meeting, which they had a recess for a reception for the two retirees.

Dent worked for the district for 20 years with the first 15 as a groundskeeper and the past 5 years in maintenance.

“I enjoyed everything about the job,” Dent said. “I loved the kids, and the challenges.”

He said the school district is like a family. He was grateful to be a part of it for two decades.

Dent was praised by Sharon Smith, the district superintendent.

“This place worked because of you, Sonny,” she said. “Everyone here knows it. We are eternally indebted to you.”

Board of Education member Harold Suhr said Dent is “a diamond in the rough” with great character.

“He can do anything and everything, and do it with nothing,” Suhr said. “He’s done a great job. You can’t replace him.”

Wakefield worked 23 years as a custodian for the district. He said he is very thankful for a career in a school setting.

“You see the kids everyday with their smiling faces,” he said. “I made a lot of friends with the teachers.”

Wakefield battled cancer seven years ago and he said the teachers showed him great kindness which helped him get through that health challenge.

Smith said Wakefield greets everyone with a smile and is a big part while the school looks so good.

“He is one of kindest, most thoughtful guys I’ve ever met,” Suhr said during the board meeting. “Gary, your heart is bigger than this entire school building.”

Lyndonville Area Foundation donates to preschooler program at library

Posted 16 August 2023 at 8:25 am

Provided photos: The Yates Community Library has received $1,890 from the Lyndonville Area Foundation for the “Rise and Shine” reading program for preschoolers. Pictured from left include Herbert Bohnet, library trustee; Emily Cebula, library director; Michele Harling, Foundation director; Robin Boyle, teacher; Valerie Wells, Foundation member; and Megan Johnson, Foundation member.

Press Release, Lyndonville Area Foundation

LYNDONVILLE – The Yates Community Library appreciates the Lyndonville Area Foundation Grant of $1,890 to be used toward the “Rise and Shine” reading program for preschoolers.

The Foundation grant will be used to assist in a series of early literacy programs for preschoolers offered at the Yates Community Library in Lyndonville known as “Rise and Shine Reading Time.” The program has been ongoing since the fall of 2018, as presented by Robin Boyle, a retired Lyndonville kindergarten teacher with 30 years of experience.

Emily Cebula, the Yates Community Library Director for 15 years, said the goal of the project is the continued growth of the young participants in a variety of skills that will prepare them for school, and for a lifetime of reading and learning enjoyment. Social and behavioral skills, communication and literary skills, confidence in being able to form questions, listening skills, understanding of story structure and sequence and visual discrimination are developed during the course to provide a stepping stone for academic learning.

Created and conducted by Robin Boyle, it will consist of three series of six programs of 45-minutes each, presented every other week, during the fall, winter and spring of 2023-2024.

Robin Boyle is shown with several preschoolers at the Yates Community Library.

Boyle plans each session to include relevant stories, songs, art projects and group activities, such as her very popular scavenger hunts. She incorporates holidays and seasonal themes into her programs and enjoys actively participating just as much as her students do.

Boyle believes the program is successful because of the commitment that parents and caregivers make to bring the children in each week, the ability to create programs that are based on the individual needs of the preschoolers in small class settings and the support of the Yates Community Library staff.

Cebula credits the success of the program to Boyle’s experience and enthusiasm. She wrote in her application to the Foundation: “The joy of sharing books with peers, of recognizing common experiences, and surprise in discovering new adventures, is a treasure to be carried throughout one’s lifetime.”

To sign up for the program, scheduled to begin in October, please contact Cebula, the library director, at (585)765-9041. The sessions are free but space is limited. Families with children age 2, 3 and 4 who are not enrolled in Universal Pre-K, as well as and homeschoolers, are welcome. Priority is given to families living in the Yates Community Library service area, which is the Lyndonville Central School District.

Lyndonville concert on Sept. 10 will raise funds to repair pipe organ from 1913

Photo by Ginny Kropf: (Left) Many of the pipes of Lyndonville Presbyterian Church’s organ are housed in an inner chamber. Some are made of wood and others of steel. (Right) The Lyndonville Presbyterian Church’s Felgemaker pipe organ dominates the sanctuary. It will be featured in a concert Sept. 10 to raise funds for its needed repairs.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 14 August 2023 at 5:15 pm

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville Presbyterian Church has a deep history, including the historic 1913 Felgemaker pipe organ purchased from the A. B. Felgemaker Organ Company that was founded in Buffalo in 1865 and relocated to Erie, PA in 1875.

As impressive as the organ is, it is in need of repair, and the church is planning a fundraising concert on Sept. 10 titled “Accentuate the Positive,” featuring retired Albion Central School musical director Gary Simboli.

Simboli’s invitation is “Come join me on a journey looking for the ‘positive’ in life. You find what you look for.”

A variety of songs from the American songbook will highlight the positivity all around us, including easy listening, rock’n roll, Broadway and movie standards.

Tickets are $10 at the door. The concert will be from 3 to 4 p.m., and all proceeds will go to the organ fund.

The Lyndonville Presbyterian Church was built in 1830. The sanctuary faced west and had box pews and a balcony. In the 1890s the floor was lowered, and the church was repositioned, and the front was built.

The Henry Hard family, who lived next door to the church, wanted an organ, and in 1913, to honor their son, Daniel, a lawyer in Lockport who died at the age of 40, they purchased the pipe organ in his memory.

Tom Wenhold, organist and music director at the Lyndonville Presbyterian Church, chats with pastor Martha Mitchell.

To demonstrate the complexity of the organ, Tom Wenhold, organist and music director at Lyndonville Presbyterian Church, explained the organ has 1,100 pipes, some made of wood and others of steel. Wenhold has been an organist in Lyndonville for nearly 30 years.

Over the years, the organ console has had to be worked on several times.

“Every time the console was worked on, it was dedicated – once to the Rev. Thomas Tiegh, who served from 1946-1950; and again in 1977 by Fred Bloom, organist for 35 years, in memory of his wife Elinore,” said Mitchell.

Wenhold said the last renovation was in 1990 when it was restored and all the pipes and the workings that run the pipes were rebuilt.

Most of the organ’s 1,100 pipes are housed in an inner chamber.

Today, the plastic contacts in the console are beginning to crumble.

“The problem with that is when the plastic pieces crumble, they fall on other parts and break them or cause them to not work,” Wenhold said.

The proposal is to replace the console with a modern, partially computerized one. It will be solid state and digital, Wenhold said. He said an organ is the closest thing to a computer before we had computers.

“The projected cost of the renovation including the blower is shy of 100,000 dollars,” Wenhold said. “This renovation will give our organ more flexibility, allowing it to transpose and record music.”

“Organists who substitute for Tom love to play this instrument,” the pastor said. “There aren’t that many pipe organs in Orleans County. People want to see it maintained. Concerts here throughout the year benefit the entire Lyndonville community.”

Lyndonville Shoe Trees get a trim to help preserve the local landmark

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 July 2023 at 9:55 am

Provided photos

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville Shoe Trees were given a trim by the Orleans County Department of Public Works on July 7.

Some local residents saw the crew in action and feared the trees were coming down. The DPW took the crowns off, lowering the height and trimmed many of the branches. (One of the trees had a pair of boots screwed into the tree near the crown. Someone must have climbed high to accomplish that feat.)

That should extend the time the trees can safely be part of the landscape and continue to collect flung sneakers, boots and other footwear.

There were four ash trees at the corner of Foss and Lakeshore roads in the Town of Yates, but one of them toppled from a fierce wind storm.

The Orleans County DPW trimmed the Lyndonville Shoe Trees on July 7.

The three remaining trees are in rough shape from the emerald ash borer. The tree trimming on July 7 should give them more time, while given some recently planted shoe trees time to get a bigger for a new generation to enjoy the joy of tossing shoes onto lofty branches.

The Shoe Trees have been collecting footwear since at least 1986, when Earl Baun threw 8 to 10 pairs of shoes in the trees. He was cleaning out his girlfriend’s closet and grabbed a pile of her shoes.

But many people say the Shoe Tree was a phenomenon before that, with people heaving footwear high into the trees a decade or two before Baun did.

The Shoe Tree now has hundreds of shoes nailed to the trunks of the trees or dangling from branches high above. The Shoe Tree is featured on many web sites and was included in a 2008 book called “New York Curiosities.”

Lyndonville Lions complete summer schedule with appreciation concert at town park

Provided photos: (Left) Crash Cadillac performs July 13 at the Yates Town Park. (Right) Lions Club members Nicole Spohr and Wes Bradley serve refreshments during the concert.

Posted 18 July 2023 at 8:33 am

Press Release, Lyndonville Lions Club

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville Lions recently completed their summer events with a Community Appreciation Concert at the Town of Yates Park on the beautiful shores of Lake Ontario.

The event was held at the newly constructed Russ Martino Pavilion. This concert has been carried out over the last 10 years to thank the community for its support during the year. The crowd was entertained by Crash Cadillac with a long playlist of crowd-pleasing songs.  The Lions served grilled hot dogs and soft drinks during the evening event.

The Lyndonville Lions will be idle for the month of August with no scheduled events. The planning committee is working on Lyndonville Lions Inaugural Golf Tournament planned for Sept. 10 at Hickory Ridge Country Club. Information will be available on the Lions Facebook page or by emailing Gwen Large at

Individuals and foursomes are encouraged to get a team together and attend this event.  The tournament will include pre tee off gifts for each golfer, on-course contests and a steak dinner to follow the tournament.

Larry Wolfe, right, presents donated picnic supplies to Camp Rainbow on behalf of the Lions Club.

The Lions Club recently donated picnic supplies to Camp Rainbow in Lyndonville. Ten dozen hot dogs and rolls along with five cases of soda pop were delivered to the staff at Camp Rainbow.  These supplies are expected to be used for a summer cook out for the families and campers at Camp Rainbow this summer.

This camp was started in the 1970s to help the ARC of Orleans County. Two of the original gentlemen who organized and literally help build the camp were Charles Shenberger and Dean Wolfe.

Larry Wolfe, the son of Dean, has been a long-standing member of the Lyndonville Lions.  According to Russ Martino, “Larry has been helpful in every event the Lions hold. His service during the most recent July Fourth Celebration was invaluable. It was a special honor for the club to allow Larry to make the donation to Camp Rainbow.”

The Lyndonville Lions would like to thank all those who contributed and attended the recent July Fourth Celebration. We hope to see you in the fall with upcoming events and wish everyone a safe and happy summer.

2 visit Lyndonville to see Hometown Hero banners of family that served

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Paul Cooper, left, holds the banner of his twin brother Maj. Philip Cooper, while Valerie Wells, coordinator of the Hometown Heroes banners in Lyndonville, holds the banner of Philip’s uncle, Cpl. Harry Cooper, who was killed in action in Germany during World War II.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 15 July 2023 at 8:48 pm

Memorial flags honoring 2 soldiers from Lyndonville now in display in Village Hall

LYNDONVILLE – The importance of honoring local veterans was made evident Wednesday when the family of two Lyndonville natives, whose banners are among Lyndonville’s Hometown Heroes, came to visit.

Paul Cooper and his wife Linda of Novi, Mich. and Paul’s cousin and husband Lindy Cooper and Ron Biersbach of Hamburg came to Lyndonville to meet with Valerie Wells, who coordinates the Home Town Heroes program in Lyndonville, and Steve Goodrich, commander of the Houseman-Tanner American Legion Post.

Paul brought with him the two flags to donate to the village of Lyndonville, which had been placed on the caskets of his twin brother, Maj. Philip Cooper, and uncle, Cpl. Harry Cooper. Harry was killed in action in September, 1944, when his unit entered Germany and his tank was hit and burned. Philip attended West Point, served in the Army in Vietnam and enjoyed an illustrious career.

Paul wanted his ancestors remembered in the community, he said. The flags, along with all of Harry’s possessions had been stored in Paul’s father’s barn and passed to his brother Claude.

“A year ago, Claude contacted me and asked if I wanted them,” Paul said. “I didn’t want them to end up in somebody’s closet, so I took them.”

Meanwhile, Paul paid for a banner for his uncle Harry,  while Phil’s widow, the former Darlene Pahura of Medina, paid for his. The banners hang just south of the village limits across from one of their father’s three farms. It is the farm Harry would have inherited, Paul said.

Wells was instrumental in starting the Hometown Heroes banners in Lyndonville last year. She presented the idea to the Village Board in 2021 and it was decided the funds would run through the Lyndonville Area Foundation.

There are 135 banners displayed this year. Along with the Cooper banners, several of interest include Col. Rick N. Parsons, USAF 1965-1992, USAF Academy Alumni; Ret. Mjr. Gen. Richard D. Kenyon, U.S. Army, Vietnam; and Lt. Col. Ralph E. Smith, U.S. Army, 1965-1995.

The casket flags have an interesting story, in that Harry’s has gold stars, while Philip’s has white. Paul explained when casualties rose during the early months of World War II, the supply of casket flags dropped, so the government requisitioned a small French garment factory to make flags. They had heard of the Gold Star Mothers and assumed the stars should be gold if they were to be used on a veteran’s casket. It is estimated 500 of them were manufactured before they realized their error. It is thought all the gold star flags were used on caskets of United States soldiers killed in Germany.

Paul wonders if the casket of Sgt. Newell Breed, a graduate of Lyndonville Central School’s class of 1943, also had a gold star flag. Breed was killed in Germany March 18, 1945 and was returned to the United States aboard the US Oglethorpe, along with Harry’s remains. Harry was a 1933 graduate of Lyndonville Central School.

(Left) Paul Cooper of Novi, Mich. and his cousin Lindy Cooper Biersbach of Hamburg hold memorial flags which were placed on the caskets of their relatives, Maj. Philip Cooper, who served with the Army in Vietnam and died Jan. 5, 2008 from cancer, and his uncle Cpl. Harry Cooper, who was killed in action Sept. 18, 1943 in Germany. Cooper brought the flags to the village of Lyndonville on Wednesday. (Right) The memorial flags placed on the graves of Lyndonville natives Cpl. Harry Cooper and Maj. Philip Cooper are on display in a case in the Lyndonville Village Hall.

After being killed, Harry was initially buried in a shallow grave near Bitburg, Germany, where it was pointed out to U.S. troops working there in the spring of 1945. His remains were disinterred and reburied in a military cemetery in Hamm, Luxembourg, where they remained until his parents requested they be returned to Lyndonville. His grave is in Hartland Cemetery, Gasport.

The Cooper family have long been pillars of the Lyndonville community. Philip and Paul had an older brother Claude, who all worked on the family’s fruit farm. Philip married the former Darlene Pahura of Medina in the chapel at West Point.

He had graduated from Clarkson College of Technology in Potsdam, majoring in physics, when he was urged by the local U.S. Representative to apply at West Point. He reported to Ranger School at Fort Benning, where he excelled, graduating number one in his class. His first assignment was with the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. He was scheduled to attend flight school, but because of his outstanding record in Ranger School, the Army assigned him to Vietnam.

Operating with the 4th Infantry Division, Philip led long range foot patrols deep into enemy territory, usually out of range of friendly artillery and often out of radio contact with friendly forces. Later, in the 1st Battalion, 10th Cavalry, he experienced intense combat. On one occasion, his personnel carrier sunk in a rice paddy and his crew died, but his strong survival skills enabled him to pull three other soldiers to safety. For another action taking a hill, Phil received a Bronze Star for Valor.

After Vietnam, Philip completed his flight training earning both fixed wing and helicopter ratings.

In 1972, he completed his master’s degree in industrial engineering with a major in computer science at Arizona State University. Next was an assignment to an Army think tank in Bethesda, Md., where he developed a new computer capability to deploy troops where they were needed. This earned him decoration for meritorious service.

In 1976, he was a commandant’s list graduate of the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. This was followed by three years of teaching math at West Point. He headed the advanced calculus program and earned an MBA from Long Island University.  He returned to troop duty in 1979 as executive director of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor. In his last assignment, Philip coordinated all systems and maintenance activities inside Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, for NORAD.

Paul also explained one of Philip’s accomplishments was developing the plastic bread wrapper for Union Carbide.

When health problems forced his retirement, Philip moved to Hudson, Fla., where he did doctoral work at the University of Florida, obtained his real estate license, trained income tax preparers and managed his real estate holdings.

Information provided by Paul states, “Impressive as Phil’s accomplishments were, there is no doubt he would have accomplished even more had he not suffered from severe post-traumatic stress syndrome, due to his combat experience.”

Philip died Jan. 5, 2008 from cancer (which Paul explained was due to Agent Orange) and was interred at West Point on June 9, 2008, the 43rd anniversary of his graduation.

Yates officials begin conversation on how to regulate short-term rentals

Photo by Tom Rivers: Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon speaks to about 40 people on Monday evening during a meeting about regulating short-term rentals in the town. Simon said the town’s current law is outdated and hasn’t kept up with the rise of houses rented out through Airbnbs and Vrbo.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2023 at 11:50 am

LYNDONVILLE – Town of Yates officials expect the town’s law on short-term rentals will be updated, but officials aren’t sure the best way to regulate the sites, which have become increasingly popular through Airbnb and Vrbo.

The Town Board held a two-hour public meeting on Monday evening that was attended by about 40 people. Town Supervisor Jim Simon said it was the beginning of a conversation on how to best balance the desires of people who rent out the sites with the concerns of some of the neighbors who worry about noise, late-night parties and a general uneasiness about changing faces next door.

“We’re trying to inform ourselves to make the nest decision possible,” Simon said.

Two towns in Orleans County recently passed laws regulating short-term rentals. Clarendon is largely keeping a hands-off approach, welcoming the sites and the visitors, Simon said.

The Town of Kendall passed a law in February bans any new short-term rentals in the waterfront districts, excluding bed and breakfasts which require a separate special use permit. Existing STRs are grandfathered in and allowed to continue.

Kendall officials said the waterfront districts have houses closer together on private one-lane roads. The STRs are presenting “parking and traffic impacts,” town officials wrote in the new law.

Kendall also is charging $500 every two years for short-term rentals to register in the town.

Simon said Yates has about a dozen STRs available in the summer through Airbnb and Vrbo, but he said the number of short-term rentals is likely higher.

Yates officials have heard few complaints from residents over the years about the sites. But Simon and board members said they foresee more out-of-town investors buying property in Yates, especially by the lake, to rent out.

Town Board members John Riggi and Harold Suhr said other lakefront communities have seen house prices skyrocket due to investors buying the sites for short-term rental income.

“People are buying up lakefront property,” Riggi said. “My nightmare is having a lakeshore full of property managers.”

In some communities investors are pricing local people out of the market who want to buy lakefront homes as primary residences. Riggi said the STRs as investments have transformed many communities around the state, making it too expensive for locals to buy homes.

But how to keep that from happening in Yates? Board members said they don’t want to see the character of the community changed, and the lakefront becoming exorbitant.

Three STR owners spoke at the meeting and said they keep close tabs on who they rent the sites to, and the revenue is needed to pay the taxes and also improve the properties.

Tom Arlington of Akron owns a cottage on the lake and has been renting it out since 2007. He provides information to the guests about many local businesses and urges them to patronize the community.

Arlington said he would support “a reasonable STR law” but doesn’t want the town going overboard, making too many regulations and imposing higher costs on the sites.

Another STR owner said the owners screen their guests and are responsive to any concerns from neighbors. She said the town could impose fines on STR operators who violate regulations for noise, or too many people and vehicles at the sites. She doesn’t want to see more fees and rules for operators who are already running good operations, and bringing visitors and tourism money into the community.

Paul Lauricella, chairman of the Orleans County Conservative Party and a candidate for the Town Board, urged the town officials to just leave the current law alone, and not impose more regulations on short-term rentals.

“This has been going on for 30 years,” Lauricella said about cottages and homes being rented out. “You (should) do nothing. You’re just going to stir up a hornet’s nest.”

Simon said the town needs to update its law for short-term rentals. That should begin with a definition of what a short-term rental is, he said.

The current town law defines a transient resident as someone staying for up to 30 days.

“The old law doesn’t suffice in today’s day and age,” Simon responded to Lauricella.

The town isn’t aware of all the sites that are rented out in Yates. Simon noted the town requires special use permits for other businesses that operate from homes, but hasn’t been doing that for short-term rentals even though they are functioning as revenue-generating enterprises.

Ken DeRoller, a former county legislator from Kendall, said the issue is a difficult one to regulate to meet the needs of the property owners looking to make some money and also balance the needs of neighbors and the community.

DeRoller would like to see the three lakeshore towns in the county – Carlton, Kendall and Yates – work together and establish consistent regulations for STRs.

One resident urged the town to try to rein in the sites, which can pop up without a neighbor or the town being aware of it.

“We didn’t buy our home to have a motel next to us,” she said.

Yates library hosts ‘Concerts on the Lawn’ this summer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2023 at 7:55 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Vernette Hill sings and Glenn Beard plays bass for the band Feedback based in Hamlin on Monday evening during the Yates Community Library’s “Concerts on the Lawn” series.

The library’s concert series started with the Old Hippies on July 3.

The schedule for the remainder of the series includes Dave Stockton at 11 a.m. on July 17, Ghost Riders at 7 p.m. on July 24, Celtic Spirit at 6:30 p.m. on July 31, the Barker Community Band at 7 p.m. on Aug. 7,  The 3 Dats at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 14 and then Blue Sky at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 21.

The concerts are behind the library at 15 North Main St. The concerts receive funding administered by the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.

Feedback plays music from classic rock, blues, and motown, to country and modern hits.

The band includes Vernette Hill on lead vocals, Bill Tindal on keyboards and percussion, Russ Coriddi on guitar, Glenn Beard on bass, and Nick Russo on drums.

The library on Sunday at 3 p.m. will be hosting Shake on the Lake for a performance of  “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged),” a comedy presented by a theater company based in Perry.

Benefit on Saturday will assist Lyndonville native battling stage 4 laryngeal cancer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 July 2023 at 5:47 pm

Provided photo: Loren Strickland is shown with his wife Pam before his illness.

RIDGEWAY – Friends and family are organizing a benefit on Saturday at the Ridgeway Fire Hall for Loren Strickland, 48, who is currently in hospice care for stage 4 laryngeal cancer.

Strickland lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife Pam, a native of Lockport, and her two teen-age sons. They moved to Kansas about five years ago for a job opportunity.

Loren also has two daughters and a son in Lewiston. Loren’s cancer was in remission following seven weeks of radiation but returned after he was injured in a motorcycle accident. Chemotherapy has failed to slow down the cancer in its return, said Mrs. Strickland, who has been her husband’s full-time caregiver since March.

The couple recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary.

Pam’s close friends, Bridget Damon and Wendy Strong, are the lead organizers for the benefit on Saturday with help from many other family and friends.

Tickets for beef on weck dinners are $10 and there will be many baskets up for raffle, as well as bigger ticket items and 50/50 raffles. There will also be Strickland Strong T-shirts, car decals, bracelets, koozies and keychains available for purchase.

The benefit goes from 1 to 5 p.m. at the fire hall at 11392 Ridge Rd., Medina.

Diocese says fire-damaged Catholic church in Lyndonville won’t be repaired

Photos by Tom Rivers: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is shown on Feb. 28 after a fire caused extensive damage, particularly in the rear of the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 July 2023 at 3:06 pm

LYNDONVILLE – The Diocese of Buffalo announced today that St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lyndonville will not be rebuilt following a fire on Feb. 28 that caused extensive damage to the site at 36 Lake Ave.

The decision announced today follows “a period of consultation with diocesan officials, the pastor and parish leaders from Our Lady of the Lake worship site and its Family of Parishes,” the Diocese said in a news release.

The church and the attached structure will be demolished, said Diocesan spokesman Joe Martone.

“We don’t have a timeframe on when that will happen,” Martone said.

Firefighters were dispatched to the church at 3:41 away with a passerby seeing flames shooting out from the back of the building. The fire started in a classroom structure attached to the church. There was smoke and water damage throughout much of the building.

The pews were covered in soot and soggy insulation from the fire. The walls peeled and the former white interior turned gray and black after the fire.

No Masses have been observed at the site since the fire with St. Joseph’s parishioners welcomed at Catholic churches in Medina and Barker.

“The event of this fire was both shocking and saddening for all of us,” said Pastor Mark Noonan, who leads the family of Catholic churches in Orleans County and eastern Niagara. “We love our churches. Over the course of the past few months, it became apparent that St. Joseph’s worship site could not be sustained long-term, and thus we could not responsibly take the step of rebuilding it following the fire. I know that our entire Catholic community in Eastern Niagara and Orleans counties, Family of Parishes #11, is here to come together and to build one another up in the grace and life of the Holy Spirit.”

St, Mary’s in Medina and St. Patrick’s in Barker will begin to create appropriate memorials honoring St. Joseph’s, the Diocese said.

St, Mary’s is about a 10-minute drive from Lyndonville while St. Patrick’s is about 15 minutes away.

As a result of the pastoral planning process, St. Patrick’s in Barker was linked and then merged with St. Joseph’s in Lyndonville on March 30, 2009. The merged parish was then named Our Lady of the Lake.

Lyndonville native spreads joy as Deadpool character at parades, special events

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 July 2023 at 7:25 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Matt Tabor dressed as Deadpool for the second straight year in Lyndonville’s Fourth of July parade. Tabor appears as the character and other versions of Deadpool to help spread some fun.

LYNDONVILLE – By day Matt Tabor works for National Fuel as a serviceman. He has been doing that job for 10 years.

On weekends Tabor often is in costume in one of his Deadpool characters. He was in the Lyndonville Fourth of July parade on Tuesday as Deadpool, a Marvel Comics character that Tabor likes for his very sarcastic sense of humor.

“I talk the same way and I identify with the character,” said Tabor, a Lyndonville native who now lives in Grand Island.

He creates his own costumes and has different variations of Deadpool. There is Darthpool, Pandapool, Venompool, Santapool and Deadpool Kid.

He also appears as X-Men Trainee, Hannibal Lecter, Ghostface, The Grumpy Pterodactyl, Aquaman and King Shark.

Photos courtesy of Matt Tabor: Matt Tabor has created other Deadpool characters including SantaPool and Wade Wilson, the Deadpool character portrayed by Ryan Reynolds in the X-Men and Marvel movies. The photo at right shows Tabor without a mask.

Tabor, 50, has been a big enthusiast for making characters since he was a kid and part of local haunted houses as fundraisers during Halloween.

He went to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh for special effects and makeup. For many years he appeared at events (comic cons) as a costumed vampire character before shifting to Deadpool about four years ago.

“It brings smiles to peoples’ faces and during Covid that’s what people needed,” Tabor said.

Matt Tabor’s Deadpool characters also include Darthpool and Pandapool.

He used to go to the grocery store wearing his Deadpool costume to try to lift peoples’ spirits during the peak of the Covid restrictions.

Tabor is part of the Western New York Cosplayers, a group with about 35 members who dress up as superheroes and villains. They often visit sick children in hospitals and appear at charity events.

Tabor said his schedule is getting busier and he is becoming more well known as Deadpool and some of the variations he has come up with. He recently attended comic conventions in Watertown and in Vermont.

Tabor makes his appearances, “work permitting.” He will try to keep Lyndonville in his schedule on the Fourth of July so he can visit friends and family, while bringing some added joy along the parade route. He is the son of Mike and Faye Tabor.

For more information, check Tabor’s website at