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Medina voters, in big turnout through absentees, pass school budget, elect 3 to BOE

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 June 2020 at 8:48 pm

MEDINA – The school district today counted about 2 ½ times as many ballots this election, which was done entirely through absentees due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The district’s proposed $40,491,733 budget passed overwhelming, 912 in favor to 203 opposed.

The 1,115 votes counted in the election compare to the 424 cast in the last election, May 21, 2019.

The $40,491,733 budget is up from the $40,284,425 in 2019-20. The tax levy, what the district collects in taxes, remains at $8,641,861. This is the 12th time in the past 13 years the district has either kept taxes flat or cut them.

The budget maintains nearly all academic programs and all extracurricular activities. The budget does eliminate intramural (reducing $24,000) and a summer program in the elementary school (saving $50,000). Medina also is eliminating the director of curriculum and the tax collector position (saving $140,000).

Proposition 2 – Establishment of a General Capital Reserve Fund (Approved – Yes, 895; No, 221)

The district will put up to $4,000,000 in the fund for the purpose of financing capital improvements to the district’s buildings and facilities.

Board of Education Candidates (Elect 3)

• LuAnn Tierney – 916 votes

• Annette Allis – 902 votes

• Arlene Pawlaczyk – 878 votes

Current Board member David Sevenski (who did not seek re-election) had the most write in votes with 11.

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Scouts, veterans in Medina retire hundreds of flags

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Boy Scouts gather around a pile of used flags as they wait for the fire to be lit for the flag retirement ceremony Monday morning at Medina Conservation Club. Flag burning is a longtime tradition of the American Legion, VFW and Scouts.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 June 2020 at 9:18 am

MEDINA – A group of Boy Scouts and their leaders joined members of the American Legion and VFW posts in Medina to participate in a flag retirement ceremony Monday morning at the Conservation Club on Bates Road.

Veteran Dave Kusmierczak read a history of meaning behind the stars and stripes, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Scouts then placed worn flags on a pole and put them in the fire.

Scoutmaster Tim Miller helps hold an American flag while Scouts Tyler Miller, left, and David Vanderwalker cut apart stripes to be placed in the fire.

Kusmierczak explained when a flag is no longer fitting to be displayed, it must be disposed of in a dignified manner. The most common and preferred way to dispose of an American flag is by burning.

Scouts Tyler Miller of Medina and David Vanderwalker of Middleport cut apart a white stripe, a red stripe and the field of stars, placing them individually in the fire.

Dave Kusmierczak (in back), a member of the American Legion and VFW, reads the meaning behind the stars and stripes of the American flag prior to Monday morning’s flag retirement at Medina Conservation Club.

Kusmierczak said the ceremonial flag burning has been a tradition for years and years. He said they often have several flag burnings a year, in addition to Veterans’ Day in November and Flag Day in June, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they haven’t had one since November. Likewise, the Boy Scouts haven’t had one either.

Retired flags are collected at a number of locations throughout the area, including Medina Savings and Loan, Key Bank, Ace Hardware, the Veterans Administration Office in Albion, as well as the VFW and American Legion.

The American Legion in Albion also retired about 1,500 flags on Sunday.

Austin Beutler of Medina places a flag in the fire, during the ceremonial ceremony at Medina Conservation Club. The Scouts traditionally hold a similar ceremony on Flag Day at their camp on School No. 10 Road, but canceled it this year because of the pandemic.

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Medina Railroad Museum looks forward to reopening to public in Phase 4

Photos by Tom Rivers: A crowd of people check out Thomas the Tank Engine in this photo from May 2017. Thomas brought about 10,000 to 12,000 people to Medina for the train’s annual visit. This photo shows the crowd of people in front of the train by the Medina Railroad Museum on West Avenue. Thomas visited Medina for 15 consecutive years until 2020. There is a chance the attraction could be back in August.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 15 June 2020 at 12:24 pm

Museum hopes to host train rides later this year, including Day Out With Thomas

MEDINA – The recent Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to the entire nation, not only affecting businesses, but museums and tourist attractions.

Like other museums, the Medina Railroad Museum, whose operation relies solely on public events, has had to completely shut down during this time. But in spite of that, its leaders are positively moving ahead with plans for the future.

Events on which the museum heavily depends are Day Out With Thomas, Santa and Reindeer Trains and Polar Express, along with Fall Foliage Excursions and a Blues Festival. Day Out With Thomas, which was canceled in May, would have been the 16th year for Thomas in Medina. This year is the 75th Anniversary Celebration Year and Thomas’ birthday, according to museum director Janien Klotzbach.

“A lot of special additions were planned for that event,” Klotzbach said. “We have been working closely with Mattel through this process with weekly conference calls since mid-March. We are staying on top of all government and CDC guidelines and safety regulations, with hopes of still being able to host the event. We have tentatively rescheduled for late August, however, with the timing of reopening in Phase 4 and extreme limits on capacity and attendance allowances for social distancing, it is likely we will not be able to host the event this year.”

Plans for Polar Express and Santa and Reindeer trains are still up in the air, but the museum is hopeful they can take place as usual.

When the pandemic hit, the board and Klotzbach were discussing one of the biggest endeavors since the museum was founded – the purchase of the five coaches owned by the Western New York Railroad Historic Society, which the museum rents for its excursions.

Provided photo: Rick Henn is president of the board of directors for the Medina Railroad Museum.

This pandemic couldn’t have occurred at a worse time, said board president Rick Henn.

Last fall, Henn approached the Western New York Railroad Historic Society with a proposal to purchase the five coaches. The two organizations began discussing the sale and had come to an agreement, when the pandemic put the brakes on everything.

The WNYRHS has agreed to sell the five cars for $450,000 and the Railroad Museum has a donor who will contribute the $50,000 down payment. The museum was originally going to make bi-annual payments at a low interest rate, but with the pandemic creating the possibility of no income for at least a year, the board has reservations about committing to a purchase. The railroad museum realizes, however, having those coaches available is absolutely crucial to their operations and plans for future expansion.

Henn and board member Don Owen met recently with the WNYRHS and discussed a rent-to-own agreement in which Medina would pay the down payment and take possession of the cars. Then, if cars are used for an excursion, which typically cost the museum $1,500 a day, that amount is removed from the principle. If the museum runs no excursions, they only have to pay the interest.

“The deal will definitely benefit both groups,” Henn said. “With Medina in control of the cars we can, as funds become available, start making necessary upgrades to bring them more into line with our passengers’ expectations. WNYRHS will derive income and be relieved of the burden of maintaining the cars. It is truly a win-win situation.”

The WNYRHS facility is located at 100 Lee St. in Buffalo and is called the Heritage Discovery Center. It has displays of railroad memorabilia, but is probably best known for its extensive collection of local railroad personnel files that are available to be researched. There is also a large library operated by the Buffalo Irish Geneological Society which features railroad-related books and genealogical books, as well as other topics. They share the building with the Steel Plant Museum and other not-for-profit organizations.

“The opportunity to purchase these five historic New York Central Bud passenger cars that we lease from WNYRHS is very exciting news, as these cars have been a part of our museum for many, many years,” Klotzbach said. “It is important to both our organization, as well as the WNYRHS, that these very special cars remain in our area and continue to be enjoyed here for many years to come. It is my hope we can acquire these gems, not only to keep them as well preserved as they already are, but also to work toward cosmetic upgrades. Adding air conditioning to the cars would allow us to expand our excursion season into the warmer summer months, which is the peak of the tourist season. This would be an amazing opportunity, not only for us, but for our local community.”

The Medina Railroad Museum will be looking for other donations and grants to help with the purchase.

In addition to purchasing the coaches, the Medina Railroad Museum is working with noted historic structure restoration architect Clinton Brown to determine and maintain the structural integrity of the historic museum.

In the meantime, Klotzbach continues to come up with a plan for reopening, which is difficult because information keeps changing and is sometimes contradictory. At the same time she is trying to balance the costs associated with reopening without knowing how much income the museum can expect. With help from other museum employees, she has created a survey which was sent to everyone on the museum’s e-mail list in early June. Next, she will send it to all their contacts on Facebook.

Hopefully, according to Henn, that will give them some direction in their decision making.

Thanks to a grant from the Small Business Association, the museum has been able to move forward on cataloging and processing the massive collections in the museum’s possession. Just prior to the Covid-19 stay-at-home order the collections manager Kat Schepis and several employees began reorganizing and upgrading the cataloging of the museum’s collections, working toward plans to display artifacts on a rotating basis, as well as having a special featured “artifact of the month,” said Klotzbach.

“We had to halt that process due to the pandemic and have had to wait until restrictions were lifted to allow a very limited staff back into the museum,” Klotzbach said. “We will continue the process, respecting all safety guidelines.”

Henn said one of the most important  things the museum has to do is determine what they want the future of Medina Railroad Museum to look like. It had always been founder Marty Phelps’ dream to create a museum campus with artifacts paying tribute to railroads, firefighters and veterans. The museum today is full of displays honoring all three.

“For me it gets tricky because I know we have to upgrade our displays, but I do not want to completely lose the ‘Marty’ influence,” Henn said.

Klotzbach is Phelps’ daughter, so moving the museum forward and carrying on her father’s legacy is of extreme importance to her.

“My father was always thriving to make the museum bigger and better to reach a ‘world class’ level,” Klotzbach said. “His main objective was to create a place to preserve and commemorate the history of railroading, the fire service and our military – a place for all to enjoy with the best experience possible. This museum is already a pretty remarkable place and with the remarkable team we have and our committed trustees, we believe the Medina Railroad Museum can reach this level, as we all share in his dream and strive to carry our his mission. I believe my father would be very happy to see where is museum is today, and I am very much looking forward to out future growth, even with the challenges we face with this pandemic.”

Viennah, 1, is held by Josh Nickerson of Gerry, near Jamestown, while the bubble machine generates lots of bubbles at the Thomas event in May 2016 at the Medina Railroad Museum. In addition to riding the train, there are numerous activities at the museum and on its grounds for children.

Improvements to the layout are ongoing, with many already made to make it more alive and easier to view. Lights have been installed in buildings on the layout, street lights are operating in little villages and there is a “fire” in the blast furnace in the steel plant.

New track installation, which required some major tear-down and rebuilding of scenery will allow for more variety in routing trains, Henn said. Much of that work is overseen by museum board member Dan Koneski and staff member Jerry Kwiatkowski. A very complex project they are working on is installation of a new signaling system on the layout that will accurately mimic the operation of real railroad signals.

Klotzbach explained a new rail line was added, allowing the model trains to move closely to the edge of the layout for up-close viewing for small children and customers in wheelchairs, who would otherwise struggle to see them in action.

“Adding a new line requires added scenery around that area, and that process takes a great deal of time,” Klotzbach said. “It requires a patience and knowledge to achieve and we are grateful to have such skilled people willing to do this for our museum and for our visitors to enjoy.”

When Phase 4 re-openings are allowed, Medina Railroad Museum will announce its re-opening date on social media pages, as well as on their new website at MedinaRailroadMuseum.org.

Long lines, long wait with much larger food distribution in Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2020 at 8:16 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Owen Foos, right, and Andrew Lafave carry boxes of food to a trunk of a vehicle outside the Calvary Tabernacle Church in Medina on Friday.

There were 352 vehicles that stopped by the church for a food distribution that expanded from one box to three.

The distribution was supposed to be maxed out at 300, but the church was able to accommodate more than 300.

The distribution was scheduled to go from 9:30 to 11:30. Cars were lined up by 8 and the distribution continued until after 12:30 p.m. due to the long lines that stretched out over several streets. Most of the vehicles were in line for hour and a half to 2 hours.

Greg Reed, director of the Orleans County YMCA, hands a box to Andrew Lafave. Some of the YMCA staff helped with the distribution on Friday.

Three different trucks delivered the food on Friday morning. The boxes were in three groups: mixed dairy, cooked meat and produce. Each box was about 25 pounds.

Vince Iorio, pastor of the church, motions for the next vehicle to pull up. The church uses the former Medina High School on Catherine Street.

The next distribution may be moved to the Medina Middle School where there is a bigger parking lot, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Heather Smith, director of the Orleans Community Health Foundation, volunteered at the food distribution with her daughter Gabriella. Smith’s son Isaac and daughter Paige also helped with the effort..

Donna Poore, left, coordinator of the food pantry at Calvary, asks how many are in the household, if there are any senior citizens in the household and what zip code they live in.

Melissa Blanar, right, is director of the Office for the Aging in Orleans County. The OFA handed out 100 washable face masks to seniors and 200 bottles of 2-ounce hand sanitizer. The OFA did the same last Friday during a food distribution in Albion.

The volunteers went through about 1,000 boxes of food on Friday.

This round of food distributions introduces a new state-funded program called Nourish New York. This funding allows Foodlink to purchase local product.

Some of the Foodlink product also is from the federal USDA’s new initiative called CFAP (Coronavirus Food Assistance Program). In this program, distributors who would normally serve schools, restaurants, and municipal programs are able to pre-pack boxes of perishable product and deliver to distributions being done all over the country.

People don’t need to register for the food distribution. They are encouraged to clean out their trunks and keep their windows closed. Volunteers will put a box of food in the trunk and then close the trunk.

The food distributions the next two weeks include:

  • Friday, June 19 – Community Action, Main Street Store, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday, June 24 – beginning at 10 a.m. at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds on Route 31 in Knowlesville (includes one box of produce)
  • Friday, June 26 – Holley Community Center, former Save-A-Lot grocery store parking lot, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

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Farmers’ market in downtown Medina opens for season, with Covid-19 precautions in place

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 12 June 2020 at 9:44 am

Market changes hours for 2020, open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays

Photos courtesy of Chris Busch: Hannah Pollard, a new vendor at the Canal Village Farmers’ Market, sold pies and masks on opening day last Saturday.

MEDINA – Blue skies and sunshine greeted visitors to Medina’s Canal Village Farmers’ Market last Saturday.

Chris Busch, president of Orleans Renaissance Group, which sponsors the market, said market volunteers and vendors were happy to be back for the summer season, and welcomed many regular and new customers.

Greg Canham, a vendor at the Canal Village Farmers’ Market, greets customers at one of the two designated entrances. Covid-19 social distancing signs were donated by Takeform in Medina.

“The market looks essentially the same, with the customary colorful canopies and vendor tables,” Busch said. “However, Covid-19 has forced a few new protocols that differ from years past, and upon a closer look, some changes are evident.”

One noticeable change, not related to Covid-18, is the hours of operation. The market now starts one hour later, at 9 a.m., and closes one hour later, at 2 p.m.

“Over the past several years, we’ve studied our trends and customers have asked if the market could remain open later to allow better access,” said market manager Gail Miller. “We hope these new hours make it possible for more people to come to the market.”

Other changes are definitely Covid-related, Busch said.

“The market has two identified entrances this year to greet customers, offer hand sanitizer and explain our market guidelines,” Miller said. “Being an open air market makes it safer than being in an enclosed space. When everyone comes through the entrances, we are able to ensure there are not too many people in the market at the same time, so maintaining social distancing requirements is easy.”

Market personnel and vendors emphasize if anyone is sick, they should please stay home.

Face masks are required to enter into the market, and vendors and staff are also required to wear face masks at all times. Customers are encouraged to move quickly around the market.

Miller said that on opening day, patrons were very kind and responsible about following the new guidelines.

Vendors still have their products on display, allowing customers to see what is available and ask questions. But only vendors and their staff are allowed to handle products. Customers point to what they would like to purchase and the vendor helps them.

The Canal Village Farmers’ Market opened last Saturday, while observing safety precautions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Social distancing is also required, with customers maintaining a six-foot distance from vendors’ stands, staff and other customers. Reminders are positioned around the market.

Food demos are not allowed this year. Food items available for purchase must be treated as take-out and consumed off the premises.

“Farmers’ markets everywhere have worked hard over the years to encourage people to gather, linger, eat and converse as a community, but unfortunately we can’t do any of that right now,” Miller said. “But we look forward to the day when we can again have the market as a gathering place. Until then we will abide by the state rules and guidelines for a safe environment.”

Miller said products available each Saturday are listed every week on the market’s Facebook page at Canal Village Farmers’ Market.

“As the season progresses, we will have our usual wide variety of offerings, including vegetables and fruit, beef and pork products, pies and cookies, vegetable, herb and flower plants and face masks, in addition to a different local winery, meadery or distillery each week,” Miller said.

Miller said state guidelines initially prohibited some vendors, such as artists and crafters, but that has recently changed.

“Current modifications to state guidelines now allow artists and crafters, so we will definitely be adding them back at the market, starting this Saturday,” Miller said.

For anyone who is uncomfortable coming into the market, has a mobility issue or just needs to be in and out quickly, there are new options available, Miller said.

“An online pre-order option will be available very soon,” she said. “This will enable a customer to select from vendor products offered online. The process will be very simple and user friendly. They just need to go to the online store, open an account, select products and pay in cash only when they pick up their order at the back of the market building between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. The market’s Facebook page will announce further details soon.”

Miller said while most market transactions continue to use cash, several vendors are able to accept cashless transactions on site.

The market accepts Senior Coupons, WIC, SNAP and Fresh Connect Checks and will soon be able to offer Double Up Food Bucks to SNAP recipients. More information is available in at the Market Manager’s tent.

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At ‘Walk for Peace’ in Medina, community leaders promise to ‘become better’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2020 at 10:38 pm

School district wants to hire more African-Americans, include literary works by black authors

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Anita Chinn, center, was among a group carrying a long “Black Lives Matter” poster down East Center Street, on a walk from Rotary Park to State Street Park.

About 100 people participated in a “Walk for Peace & Inclusion” this evening. The event was in response to the killing of George Floyd in custody of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25. Floyd was on the ground and died after being held down for nearly nine minutes while an officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck.

His death has spurred nationwide protests and marches for more than two weeks and already led to legislation being passed in Albany banning chokeholds by police.

More legislation is likely on the way against police brutality and more accountability, including unsealing police officer’s disciplinary records. Many legislators and activists also are calling for spending less money on law enforcement and more on community development.

Elizabeth Novak, 26, of Albion holds up a sign that says, “Your Fight is My Fight!” Novak said she is a proud Mexican-American who supports the Black Lives Matters movement. The other side of the signs said, “Chicanos for BLM.”

These demonstrators hold a sign, “Please I Can’t Breathe” in the walk down East Center Street with about 100 people. George Floyd spoke those words while he was held down by a police officer.

Medina native Carolyn Chinn, now of Georgia, gave the opening remarks. Medina Police Chief Chad Kenward is at left and Mayor Mike Sidari is in back.

Chinn graduated from Medina in 1973. She said her family was the first black family to move to Church Street and had their house burned down. They weren’t wanted in the neighborhood. Two years ago she was back home in Medina, driving a Mercedes-Benz when she said she was pulled over by a Medina police officer for no other reason than “driving while black.”

Jennifer Chinn holds her cousin Mari on the walk on East Center Street to State Street Park. She was at the event, wanting to see the community “come together as one and be united as one.”

She said white people don’t get pulled over for driving a nice car. White people don’t have to talk to their children about how to respond when pulled over by police. “Yes sir, no sir” and keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times, Chinn said.

She said Medina should have more community policing, with officers walking the streets and getting to know residents better.

She said the death of Floyd, which was videotaped, has struck a chord with the country. Floyd cried out for his mother before  becoming unresponsive with an officer’s knee on his neck.

Chinn read the names of more than a dozen other people who have been killed by police officers. She said the country is grappling with discrimination. She said hard discussions are needed.

“I am fighter, I am a survivor,” she said. “We can do this together.”

Mayor Sidari also addressed the group, telling them he has an open mind and open heart. He said the community needs to acknowledge “an imbalance not only today but going back to the beginning of our country.”

“Let’s keep this discussion moving forward,” Sidari said.

The Walk for Peace was organized by Cheryl Thompson, a school district employee.

Medina Police Chief Chad Kenward, a 1992 Medina graduate, said the department strives to be responsive to the community. All officers now wear body cameras, and the department has increased its training, and will do more.

Kenward said he is “disgusted and enraged” at Floyd’s death by the Minneapolis officer.

He said he wants to hear from the community “on where we need to go and how to get there.”

Mark Kruzynski, superintendent of Medina Central School, is joined up front by Dan Doctor, the district’s director of community outreach.

Kruzynski said the district’s workforce doesn’t reflect the makeup of the student body, where about 10 percent of the students are black. Kruzynski said Medina would work to hire more African Americans and also would have students read books by black authors. Right now, all of the books read in the school are by white writers.

“We’re going to review our hiring practices so we have a staff that is more reflective of the community,” Kruzynski said. “We are going to become better, I promise.”

Dan Doctor, the district’s director of community outreach, is shown speaking while someone holds up a sign that says, “Silence is Betrayal.”

Doctor said the community needs to continue a march for justice, for better opportunities for students. The parents and guardians of students need to be more engaged in their kids’ education.

Doctor said it truly takes a community to raise a child. He said the march for justice includes students who excel at school.

“Our actions speak louder than words,” Doctor said. “Faith without works is dead.”

Rich Damey, pastor of Faith Bible Baptist Church, said he is sad that many Americans are marginalized right now. The death of George Floyd has galvanized the country, and highlighted the systemic injustices – “our economic and social systems are very biased.”

Damey urged everyone in the crowd and community to ask themselves what they can do for black lives.

“The voice of the African-American community is being heard throughout the world like never before, in an unprecedented way,” Damey said. “You have the world’s ear.”

Greg Boose, a deacon at Glad Tidings Baptist Church, leads the crowd in singing, “Every Praise.”

Nathaniel Little, elder at Glad Tidings Baptist Church, said God made black and white people in his image. “Until your heart changes there will not be change,” he said.

Anita Chinn and about 100 people knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in memory of George Floyd. That’s how long his was down on the ground with a police officer’s knee on his neck.

Medina Lt. Todd Draper and Police Chief Chad Kenward joined the group in taking a knee in memory of George Floyd.

The group, which included several Medina teachers and staff members, kneels as a tribute to George Floyd.

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Medina police officer, firefighters helped revive young girl who nearly drown

Staff Reports Posted 9 June 2020 at 6:21 pm

MEDINA – A Medina police officer and firefighters were able to help revive a young girl on Friday evening.

A police officer was at a residence one minute after being dispatched at 6:26 p.m. The girl was moved from a pool by a family member and wasn’t conscious or breathing.

Jake Reeves, a Medina police officer, took over CPR from a family member and a neighbor. Reeves began a series of back blows and chest compressions and then carried the child to the ambulance where a team of on- and off-duty firefighters took over patient care.

The child was in cardiac arrest and advanced life support treatments were initiated. Firefighters on scene achieved return of spontaneous circulation and the patient was transported to Medina Memorial Hospital for further care while awaiting a medevac unit from Mercy Flight for transport to Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.

“We have been in contact with the family, although the child is still being treated at the hospital, the child is conscious and talking,” according to a joint press release from the Medina Police and Fire Departments. “The family wishes to remain anonymous at this time but they also would like to express their gratitude to all personnel and agencies involved in this incident.”

This incident highlights the training and hard work of many in the chain of survival – early recognition, calling 911, professional dispatching, bystander CPR, quick response of the Police and Fire Departments, the talented hospital staff, specialty air transport by Mercy Flight and the specialized care offered at Oishei Children’s Hospital. All of those things together has led to a successful outcome, each link in the chain is vital.

Both agencies would like to recognize the efforts of all village police officers and firefighters who responded to this incident. Responding from the Police Department were Officers Reeves, Zangerle and Prawel. From the Fire Department, the on-duty crew of Captain Young and Firefighters Simmons, Urtel and T. Miller. Off-duty crew members were Lieutenants Cooley and Crooks along with Firefighters Fisher and Long.

“I’m really proud of these members of the Medina Fire and Police Departments,” said Fire Chief Matt Jackson. “This was a very stressful incident and time was essential. The teamwork and ability to remain calm while performing at the highest level was a testament to the training and experience these guys face day in and day out. I’m also very happy for this family. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this outcome was the direct result of a collaborative effort by family, the Medina Fire Department, the Medina Police Department, Medina Memorial Hospital, Mercy Flight and Oishei Children’s Hospital. Outstanding job by everyone involved!”

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Medina will split graduation ceremony into 3 outdoor services on June 26

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 June 2020 at 12:04 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from Medina’s graduation in June 2016 shows the Daisy Chain and graduates inside at the High School Auditorium. This year’s commencement will be split into three services and will be held outside at Vets Park.

MEDINA – The school district will have three graduation ceremonies on June 26, with attendance capped at 150, in order to meet the new guidelines from the state.

Medina High School Principal Michael Cavanagh announced today there will be three commencement services for the Class of 2020 at Vets Park, with the services at 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 7 p.m.

Medina has about 110 graduates in the class. They will be grouped alphabetically according to last name.

“We are very pleased that we will be able to keep many of our time-honored traditions such as the Daisy Chain but we are still solidifying many of the details,” Cavanagh said in a notice to the community.

The district will have a rehearsal on June 25 for each of the three ceremonies. Medina will distribute all end-of-year items at the rehearsals, such as graduation attire, scholarships, Top Ten medals and cords.

“Looking forward to a fantastic ending for a truly unprecedented school year,” Cavanagh said.

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Scouts in Medina did drive-in food collection today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 June 2020 at 7:24 pm

Provided photos

MEDINA – Boy Scouts from Troop 28 in Medina held a drive-in “Scouting for Food” event today at The Grove United Methodist Church to benefit local residents.

The troop took safety precautions by wearing masks and gloves, and observing social distancing. Pictured are Adam James Horton, Hunter Walczek, Jensen Knickerbocker, Roman Vella, Nathaniel Miller and Tyler Miller with their leaders Tim Miller, Aaron Thomas and Sam Vella.

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MAAC Thrift Shop plans to reopen on limited basis June 22

Photos by Tom Rivers: The MAAC Thrift Shop has been closed since March 16 and hasn’t been accepting donations.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 6 June 2020 at 8:29 am

MAAC will shift to ‘touchless donation’ system

The Thrift Shop later this month expects to reopen with restrictions.

MEDINA – Cleaning out closets and cupboards is something everyone puts on the back burner, waiting for a rainy day.

And now volunteers at MAAC’s Thrift Shop in Medina fear they are going to be bombarded with donations which people just can’t wait to get rid of.

The Thrift Store is scheduled to open on a limited basis and with restrictions on June 22.

Sue Metzo, a member of MAAC’s board and a volunteer at the Thrift Shop, said they met Thursday afternoon to discuss plans for reopening the store, which has been closed since March 16, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Metzo said they have heard many people say due to being shut in at home, they have finally had the time to sort out those unneeded and unwanted items and now need to dispose of them.

Metzo has searched online for guidelines for thrift stores and thinks they have followed all the rules set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Department of Health.

First of all, she said they will only accept clean, gently used items. The chutes on the Orient Street side of the building will remain closed. Donations will be accepted starting June 15 using a “touchless donation” system. This means the donor will have to wear a face mask and will be directed to place donations in a specified area, allowing for social distancing.

“We have created three areas in a very limited space where items can be quarantined,” Metzo said. “They will have to stay there, untouched, for three days. Therefore, donations will be limited to two bags of clothing per family, per week.”

They will not accept any contractor-size bags, truck loads or trunk loads at this time.  Household items will be limited by size, such as one piece of small furniture or one large tote of small household items.

Customers must wear a mask and will be limited to 10 in the store at one time. Hand sanitizer will be used at the door. No children will be allowed and only one family member at a time. Shopping time will be limited to accommodate more shoppers. Social distancing must be maintained while in the store and at the checkout counter.

Temporary store hours will be 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There will be no Tuesday evening hours at this time.

The Thrift Shop board, which includes Metzo, Donna Barnum, Alice Zacher and Sharon Breckenridge, have followed all the guidelines for a Phase II opening, which includes thoroughly disinfecting everything and installing plexiglass at the register, Metzo said.

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Medina welcomes flowers to downtown

Staff Reports Posted 1 June 2020 at 10:01 pm

Provided photo

MEDINA – The Medina Department of Public Works put out flowers today along Main Street. Mary Lewis, left, and Kathy Blackburn, right, of the Medina Area Partnership’s Beautification Committee and Mayor Mike Sidari were there when the first planters were placed. The Beautification Committee said they are still accepting donations. Stop by Creekside Floral to see Lewis for an application to donate.

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Businesses happy to open doors again on Main Street in Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2020 at 8:52 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Edee Hoffmeister has been a hairdresser for 40 years. Today was the first day she wore a mask and also a face shield while working. It’s required by the state.

“I hate it,” said Hoffmeister, owner of Celebrity Day Spa. “I feel very claustrophobic. But I’m very happy to be open. I’ll do what I have to do.”

Hair salons and barbers have many restrictions as part of Phase 2 of the state reopening the economy. People who enter the business are given a temperature check when they step inside. If it’s a 100 degrees or more, they aren’t allowed to stay inside.

They are asked if they have had any Covid-19 symptoms the past two weeks — cough, fever, chills, or loss of taste or smell.

They are asked if they have had a Covid-19 test in the past 14 days, or if they have been in close contact in the past 14 days with a person who is confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19.

Hoffmeister and her staff also have to have a Covid-19 test every two weeks. She took one in Batavia on Friday.

Her business is significantly curtailed, however. She can cut hair and color it, but she can’t do nails, facials, pedicures or body treatments. She can’t trim a beard.

After a haircut, she has to disinfect the chair and counter and wait 10 minutes before the next customer.

Hoffmeister has been preparing for today for several weeks.

“I’ve taken many, many webinars to keep our customers safe,” Hoffmeister said.

Jaye Sullivan, left, shows Julie Harrington some of the dresses in the infants’ clothing section at Blissett’s Specialty Shop. Sullivan, owner of the business, sells wedding dresses and formal gowns, and also rents out tuxedos.

She said she will have to disinfect any dresses that are tried on. She will use a steamer to do that before the dress can go back on the rack.

She will be doing appointment only for people to look through the formal clothing.

“I think it’s going to be a long time before the businesses get the traffic back to where it was,” she said.

The sign outside Blissett’s reflects life in a pandemic.

Sullivan said many weddings have been rescheduled for next year with some pushed back to 2022. Some of the weddings are going on this year, but in front of small crowds with receptions scheduled for later in the year when the restrictions on crowd sizes are expected to be larger. Right now, the maximum gathering is limited to 10 people.

Businesses also are going to have to do more work with cleaning and disinfecting inside their shops.

Harrington, the customer pictured from Lyndonville, was shopping for a dress today for her granddaughter. Harrington drove down Main Street and noticed more cars parked in the downtown.

“It’s nice to see more people out,” Harrington said.

Mary Lewis, owner of Creekside Floral at 509 Main St., is pictured looking through a window that hangs down as a glass partition in front of the registers.

Lewis wanted something besides plain Plexiglass as a partition. Her employees are wearing masks and hand sanitizer is available in the store. She will limit the number of people inside, but Lewis said that is seldom an issue.

She also has color-coded phones so the same employee answers the same phone each shift.

She has been doing curbside pickup and making deliveries the past 10 weeks, before opening the doors of the store today to the public.

“It feels sort of normal,” she said. “It’s nice to see people. It’s refreshing.”

Lynne Brundage, owner of ellen j goods, greeted customers today at the shop with vintage and antique furniture and home décor. She ellen j goods opened seven years ago. Brundage and her employees are wearing face masks.

She posted a sign on the front door, urging customers to wear a mask if they enter the store at 435 Main St. She has hand sanitizer by the front door.

“People are excited to come in and browse,” she said.

Brundage kept busy the past 10 weeks by shipping items throughout the country. She did more Facebook videos and Instagram posts to highlight items. Today she was happy to see people in person.

Bonnie Heck, owner of Herbalty Cottage, welcomed customers back inside the business at 415 Main St. She sells high-grade organic herbs, teas, balsamic vinegars, gourmet oils and other natural products.

The capacity of the Himalayan Salt Room has been reduced from six to three people.

The store was closed to the public the past 10 weeks, but people could order by phone. Heck would set the orders outside by the door. She was happy to have people back inside today.

“It feels good to be here,” she said. “We’ve missed our customers and clients.”

Heck is wearing a mask inside and asking her customers, too, as well.

She has hand sanitizer for when people enter the store. She will add floor decals on Monday that encourage people to stay six feet apart.

She has reduced the capacity in the store, allowing up to six inside the main store room. She won’t be doing any in-store tastings during Phase 2.

She has a Himalayan Salt Room, and has reduced the capacity from six to three people.

Gloria Fierch, owner of The Book Shoppe, is shown looking through the partition on the front counter, where she also has hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes.

Fierch and her husband Fred bought the book store on Dec. 2. She said people seem a little leery to be out shopping inside stores, due to concerns about Covid-19. She has been handling many orders through deliveries and by shipping books and gifts.

“It’s a big relief,” she said about the store opening its doors once again.

She takes Covid-19 seriously and urges the community to continue to take precautions.

“We need to continue to take measures to combat this so we can move on,” she said.

Laura Gardner owns a lily and a sparrow at 438 Main St. She gave her hand sanitizer a floral design, and her decals on the floor, showing six-feet separation, also have a floral design.

“It’s just a different way of doing things,” she said.

Gardner doesn’t have any employees at the store, which sells designer clothing, leather handbags, perfume, jewelry, vintage glassware and note cards.

She made some sales during the 10-week shutdown, posting products on social media and shipping them through the Postal Service.

“It wasn’t a sustainable way to do business,” she said. “I’m a brick-and-mortar store.”

Susan Fuller, owner of Della’s Chocolates, was able to stay open the past 10 weeks because she is considered a food business. She has run the operation by herself, without any employees.

She put in a partition by the cash register and stepped up the cleaning. She also wears a face mask.

She has done deliveries, curbside service and shipped her chocolate and candy. She is glad more of her neighboring businesses are now open, too.

“If you’re creative, you can make it,” she said about a challenging time to be in business. “It’s good it’s starting to get back to normal, although it will be a new normal.”

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MAAC red barrels get redesign ahead of next Christmas season

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Sherry Tuohey, who heads MAAC’s Red Barrel program at Christmas, holds one of the newly designed barrels which will be distributed throughout the Medina community this holiday season.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 28 May 2020 at 1:51 pm

Sherry Tuohey applies decals at the Methodist Church at the Grove to one of the 40 MAAC Christmas barrels, which have been redesigned in preparation for the Christmas season.

MEDINA – The MAAC Red Barrels, which have been a tradition for decades in Medina, will greet the holiday season this year with a new look.

Sherry Tuohey, who has headed the Red Barrel program for two years, thought it was time to update them and decided this summer was a perfect time to address the idea.

The Red Barrels are how MAAC collects toys and gifts to give to less fortunate families at Christmas time. The program evolved out of a toy drive started about 40 years ago by the Medina Fire Department. Every year, several dozen red barrels are placed at businesses, churches and the library in Medina by local firefighters, who still volunteer to distribute and collect the barrels.

Tuohey had received comments last year about the appearance of the barrels and expected some came back empty because businesses didn’t want to display them.

She brought the problem up at a MAAC committee meeting, saying she thought the barrels should be updated.

“We had noticed we were getting fewer and fewer donations and decided a change might be warranted,” Tuohey said. “We envisioned the barrels with a picture that would catch the attention of the public and encourage them to donate.”

So she contacted Ken Daluisio at the Print Shop, who agreed to work with her. They contacted Renee Vicknair Lama, a Medina native and graphic designer, with whom Daluisio has worked. Lama now lives in Hilton, where she and her husband George run RG Lama Studios. Lama has designed promotional material for many Medina area businesses.

Lama designed a series of designs which feature inspirational sayings and children with their holiday gifts. Daluisio then printed them on large decals.

In the meantime, Tuohey singlehandedly carried all the barrels, up from the basement of the United Methodist Church at the Grove in Medina. Church secretary Bonnie Sutch was able to obtain some extra barrels, bringing their total number to 40 from the previous 36.

Tuohey scrubbed and sanded them and repaired holes and rough spots. Then Daluisio showed her how to apply the decals by measuring the middle point, folding it over and peeling back half of it, in a process called the “hitch technique.” Then after smoothing the first half down, she peeled off the backing on the second half and smoothed that down. The result is new-looking barrels which convey the Christmas spirit.

Tuohey expects there may be many more families in need of assistance this Christmas and she hopes the new-looking barrels will encourage everyone to donate a toy, gift or cash. Every item dropped in a red barrel stays in the area to meet the needs of Medina families, she said.

“Working with Ken and Renee was a wonderful experience, and MAAC is so thankful small business owners in Medina support our Christmas Box Program, by allowing us to display barrels in their establishment,” Tuohey said.

Daluisio said he was happy to give MAAC a deal on the cost to promote this very worthwhile program.

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School bell from 1850 now displayed at Medina HS lobby

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2020 at 12:39 pm

Provided photo: A school bell from the Medina Free Academy is now on display in the lobby at Medina High School.

MEDINA – The lobby in Medina High School now displays a cast-iron bell that used to ring at Medina’s first public school – the Medina Free Academy on Catherine Street.

That school opened in 1851. The bell was made a year earlier in Buffalo. When the Medina Academy opened in 1851, it was only the third school in the state to offer free education for students. Most academies then were tuition-based, Lacy said.

The school was knocked down in 1922 and a new school was built there and served as the high school until 1991. When the Academy building was razed in 1922, the bell was stored in the basement of Central School, an elementary school on South Academy Street.

After fire destroyed Central School in 1967, contractor Carl Petronio Jr. was hired to clean up the rubble and discovered the bell. He removed it to storage and recently donated it to the Medina Historical Society.

Craig Lacy, former Historical Society president, realized the significance of the 700-pound bell. He contacted Barnes Metal Finishing Company, which restored the bell.

Mark Kruzynski, the Medina school superintendent, is happy to have the bell on display in a prominent location in the high school. The district had a base made to display the bell as part of a current capital project. The base looks like Medina sandstone but is actually cultured stone. The district used similar stone with the upgraded entrance to Vets’ Park.

Kruzynski said the bell is an important artifact in the community’s public school history. He also hopes the bell can be used in future graduation ceremonies in the high school. Perhaps the bell could be rung to kick off the commencement ceremony, he said.

“We wanted it to be seen by a lot of people and also to be protected,” Kruzynski said about the location in the school’s lobby.

This image shows the Medina Free Academy, which opened in 1851 with the average attendance of about 300 to 400 students. The bell tower is at top.

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Food Pantry shows appreciation to Aldi grocery workers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 May 2020 at 8:52 am

Provided photo

MEDINA – Denny and Robin Dubai, volunteers at the Medina Emergency Food Pantry At St. Peter’s, donated a sheet pizza to manager Dan Leverenz, left, and the workers at Aldi for their dedicated work during the pandemic. The store is located on Maple Ridge Road.

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