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Orleans County

1,000 attend National Night Out before downpour

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 August 2019 at 10:35 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A crowd of about 1,000 people attended the National Night Out at Bullard Park in Albion this evening. One highlight was the “Battle of Belts.” Dillon Black, front right, and Dan Baase, both of the Albion Police Department, were part of a four-man team of law enforcement officers.

They topped two other adult teams with a time of 51.39 seconds. The teams compete to see who is the fastest getting into car and fastening their seatbelts. Each member then must switch seats and again fasten their seat belts. The time ends when each person has sat in each seat in the car and the horn is honked.

Alayna Flugel and Kasia Robinson, members of the Hip Chicks, are lined up at the start. Their teammates included McKinley Knight and Kaitlyn Viza. They were second among the youth teams in 58.61 seconds. Thy also won for best costume.

Danielle Ludwig and members of the Probation Department hustle to get to the next seat in a car in the Battle of the Belts. They completed the challenge in 52.37 seconds.

Doug Rich, a state trooper, served as one of the officials in the competition. He waits for one of the teams to finish before blowing the whistle.

Julia Knight and the Sassy Safety Girls were the fastest team in 41.68 seconds. Her teammates included Gina Sidari, Autumn Flugel and Liana Flugel.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley served as announcer for the Battle of the Battle of the Belts.

The Albion Fire Department served 800 hot dogs. From left include Janet Cheverie, Sue Papponetti and Dawn Marciszewski.

Albion police officer Karol Hughes, a member of the Orleans County SWAT team, showed the public an armored Humvee used by the team as well as a robot that is used to look at suspicious packages or check vehicles if someone is barricaded inside.

Jaxon Pallister, 8, of Oakfield rides in the bike rodeo under direction by officer Steve Gross of the Medina Police Department.

Rylee Tusing, 2 ½ , of Albion gets fitted for a new bike helmet by Medina Lt. Todd Draper. Rylee is held by her mother, Stephanie Corke.

Th Albion Walmart was among 75 businesses and agencies to participate in National Night Out. Th event was cut short when a downpour hit just after 7 p.m.

Patrick Holman of Medina performed card tricks and magic.

State trooper Kevin Bentley demonstrates a roll-over simulator.

Firefighters Fran Gaylord, left, and Fred Piano help kids through a fire safety house where they can practice a quick exit.

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Fair attendance topped 26,000 last week

Photos by Tom Rivers: Lyric Wallenda, a seventh-generation circus performer with the Wallenda family, twirls upside down as part of a show from Circus Incredible, which performed at the Orleans County 4-H Fair for the first time.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 August 2019 at 5:03 pm

Perfect weather, expanded entertainment attracted crowds

KNOWLESVILLE – Attendance for the Orleans County 4-H Fair last week topped 26,000, which is the most in recent years, according to fair officials.

The weather was ideal for the fair, with no noticeable rain the entire six-day run and no stifling hat to kept h crowds away.

“It was an excellent fair,” said Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, which owns the fairgrounds. “The weather was absolutely perfect.”

Katelyn Spierdowis of Albion waits for her turn to ride her horse last Saturday on the final day of the fair.

Fair officials estimate the attendance at 26,284. They use a formula that includes about 3 people per car as well as other factors. That attendance is up from 24,233 in 2018, and 24,500 in 2017.

The Orleans fair is a youth fair where alcohol isn’t allowed. There also isn’t a demolition derby or big-name bands. The focus is on 4-H exhibitors, with other entertainment, including midway rides.


Joe Cecchini of Medina cleans a cow on July 22, opening day of the fair.

Batt praised a dedicated group of many volunteers for organizing and running the annual event. Many new volunteers stepped up this year for the big event, which included an expanded lineup of entertainment.

“It was really nice with all the volunteers and families, including some new families. We’re getting a new wave of kids. We have a high number of Clover Buds and young kids entering the program.”

Jason Clark of Kendall runs an excavator and pulls small items from holes as part of a challenge from Bentley Brothers at the fair. Clark was one of the few who removed all three items without dinging the walls in the holes.

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Officials work to identify sites by lake in need of flood protection

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson, Legislator John DeFilipps and County Highway Superintendent John Papponetti attended Tuesday’s meeting in Knowlesville for the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Commission. About 50 officials from Orleans and Niagara counties attended the session at the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 July 2019 at 4:26 pm

Orleans leaders have already identified 32 spots for consideration for state funding

KNOWLESVILLE – The state has $300 million to help Lake Ontario communities protect infrastructure, businesses, cultural assets and other important community sites.

Orleans County officials, and leaders in the towns of Yates, Carlton and Kendall have already identified 32 sites at the three lakeshore towns in Orleans that are vulnerable to flooding and erosion.

The state has formed the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative Commission – REDI – to work with municipalities to prioritize the sites for the funding.

New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid discusses the opportunities for funding through the new REDI program from the state.

The REDI Commission met in Knowlesville on Tuesday with about 50 officials from Orleans and Niagara counties.

The commission wants the municipalities to submit sites for consideration by Aug. 2. REDI will refine proposals on Sept. 12, and on Sept. 16 the commission will review regional proposals.

The REDI Commission formed after the second year of flooding and high lake levels on Lake Ontario. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he fears this is the “new normal” along the lake and wants communities to protect key infrastructure, cultural sites and businesses.

New York State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, and praised the governor and State Legislature for allocating funds for help the shoreline communities.

The big task now is identifying the projects.

The REDI Commission will consider several factors in prioritizing funding, including public support for the projects, feasibility of implementation, level and scale of protection, flexibility, durability and long-term effectiveness, cost, economic development, environmental and ecological benefits, and whether alternative measures exhausted.

Orleans County Legislator John DeFilipps takes a photo of a map and list of projects listed for possible funding in Orleans and Niagara counties.

The group will also weigh whether sites are at risk for potential damage from flooding event, if they are a critical facility for public health and safety, capacity of asset to adapt, how long would asset be out of service if exposed to a damaging flood, if the soil underlying the asset is highly erodible, and whether the asset protected by natural features such as dunes, bluffs, barrier islands or trees.

“We want to identify real tangible projects,” Kulleseid said.

Officials in Orleans have identified 32 sites, including several roads, parking areas, water plants, stormwater systems, marinas, docks and other infrastructure.

Some of the sites include:

Carlton – Lakeside Bluff Road, Johnson Creek shoreline, Jones Beach shoreline, Brighton Cliff shoreline, shoreline east of Point Breeze Road, shoreline of Oak Orchard on the Lake Road, Rock Ledge Road shoreline, Lakeshore Road, Cottage Road shoreline, Park Road, peninsula near Oak Orchard, public town road ends and culverts, pumping stations and waterlines, and low-lying spots Lake Ontario State Parkway.

Kendall – Ed Rose Shore, end of Norway Road, Lomond Shore, Peter Smith Road kayak launch, Rout 237 right-of-way to lake, Thompson Road (eroded turnout) and low-lying spots on Lake Ontario State Parkway.

Yates – Town Park and expansion, multiple properties on fire lanes, and Lyndonville water plant.

In addition, the list includes these businesses – Bald Eagle Creek Marina in Kendall, The Cottages in Kendall, Point Breeze businesses and boat launches, and Green Harbor Campground and Marina in Carlton.

This map shows some spots along the shoreline in Orleans County that local officials say are vulnerable to flooding and erosion.

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Sheriff’s Office pursuing grant for defibrillators for patrol cars, will start ‘Shop with a Cop’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 July 2019 at 2:09 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office is applying for a grant to cover the costs of 11 defibrillators for all the patrol cars.

The Sheriff’s Office is applying to the Greater Rochester Health Foundation for $11,627, which would buy portable automated external defibrillators for patrol vehicles and marine units, providing immediate assistance during cardiac emergencies.

The Albion and Holley police departments last year used an $11,700 grant to buy 11 defibrillators. The Greater Rochester Health Foundation paid for those defibrillators for patrol cars, as well as one for the police stations.

Roland Nenni, police chief for both departments, said the Albion and Holley officers go to EMS and fire calls, often the first on the scene. Nenni said the officers often have been the first to respond when someone is in cardiac arrest. Having the defibrillators will increase the chances of saving people having a heart attack. Without a defibrillator, officers can only provide CPR for someone in cardiac arrest.

The Sheriff’s Office last year used a $3,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to buy two defibrillators, one each at the Public Safety Building and the Animal Shelter. Those units have metal boxes and training instructions.

This year, the Sheriff’s Office applied to the Walmart Foundation to start a “Shop with a Cop” program during the holiday season.

The County Legislature on Wednesday accepted the $3,000 grant from Walmart. Sheriff Randy Bower said he expects the Sheriff’s Office will work with the Department of Social Services to pick children for the program, where law enforcement will join children in selecting toys at Walmart.

Bower said many law enforcement agencies run “Shop with a Cop” programs, and the efforts help build positive relationships between law enforcement officers and local families.

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County official recognized as ‘Civil Service Ambassador’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 July 2019 at 4:40 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Orleans County Legislator John DeFilipps, left, presents a “Special Recognition Award” on Wednesday to Jack Welch, the county’s director of personnel and self insurance.

Welch has served the past two years as president of the New York State Association of Personnel and Civil Service Officers.

Last month he was honored with a “Civil Service Ambassador Award” for his “commitment to the principles of merit and fitness, and the effective and efficient administration of the merit system in Orleans County.”

That award was given on June 4 by Lola W. Brabham, acting commissioner of the NYS Department of Civil Service.

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County wants to continue program serving veterans, following incident at fair

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 July 2019 at 10:11 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Urb Bennett, a veteran from Kendall, speaks to the Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday, including chairwoman Lynne Johnson, in back. Bennett asked the county to continue the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program, which provides social opportunities for veterans and their families.

ALBION – A program that provides social opportunities and community connections for veterans and their families is expected to continue despite a verbal altercation at the Orleans County 4-H Fair on Monday during the opening day ceremony.

State Sen. Robert Ortt attended the ceremony and was yelled at by a veteran and also the volunteer coordinator of the program, Catherine Schmidt. She is also the wife of Earl Schmidt, the county’s Veterans Service Agency director.

Ortt was chastised after the flag-raising ceremony for not getting more money for the program. The county initially was awarded a $185,000 grant for the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program. Ortt secured the funding. The grant was reduced to $52,500 for Orleans, with the rest of the grant shared by Genesee and Wyoming counties.

Orleans has about 40,000 people. The grants for the program are $185,000. That is how much Erie County received with a population of nearly 1 million.

“Other counties receive more than we do but we appreciate our funding,” said Lynne Johnson, Legislature chairwoman.

She thanked Ortt for securing money for the program for Orleans, one of 22 counties in the state with a Dwyer program. There are 35 counties without the program.

Legislators also said the county’s per capita allotment is higher than most counties with the program.

David Kusmierczak of Medina also speaks in support of the Dwyer program.

Many veterans attended the Wednesday Legislature meeting to show their support for Catherine Schmidt and her husband Earl, who is on administrative leave and remains a county employee. Nancy Traxler is serving as interim director of the Veterans Service Agency.

“It is our expectation the Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program will continue and will be reorganized,” Johnson said at the meeting.

She again defended Ortt, who served in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan. He wore his veteran’s cap during the ceremony on Monday.

Karen Dawley of Albion reads a letter from her husband Pat Dawley in support of the Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program. Dawley said he made many friends through the program. “It provides a place to talk about problems and demons in a safe place.”

“No one will ever disrespect a man in uniform, not under my watch,” she said.

Urb Bennett, a Vietnam War veteran from Kendall, said Cathy Schmidt did “a great job” leading the program as a volunteer. She organized many outings for veterans and their families to museums, professional sports games, as well as going fishing and having a picnic.

Bennett said an “unfortunate incident” shouldn’t derail the program or its leaders.

Jennifer VanWyke of Carlton said the Dwyer program has helped build a strong network among veterans and their families in Orleans County. She made new friends through the program.

Nancy Traxler, the interim director of the Veterans Service Agency in the county, asked for help in planning and putting on some of the upcoming programs through Dwyer. VanWycke was the first to say she would help.

The state budget for 2019-20 includes $3.75 million for Dwyer. The money wasn’t in the governor’s proposed budget, but county officials said Ortt helped to get the funding restored.

Johnson said the county awaits details on how the funding will be allocated.

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Courthouse dome gets fresh coat of paint, rubberized material

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 July 2019 at 2:03 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A worker is shown at about 1:30 p.m. today repainting the dome on the Orleans County Courthouse. Garland/DBS Inc. of Cleveland is doing the work for $108,916.

Besides a fresh coat of paint, the dome is being coated with a rubberized material to prevent leaks in one of the county’s most iconic structures. The dome has had several leaks. Inside the dome are about a dozen buckets to collect the dripping water after it rains.

The courthouse, which was built in 1858, is the focal point of the Courthouse Square, a district on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Democrats want to be more involved in Orleans, despite being outnumbered by Republicans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 July 2019 at 10:17 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jeanne Crane, chairwoman of the Orleans County Democratic Party, is pictured with Kara Buscaglia, an Amherst town justice, during Sunday’s Orleans County Democratic Party summer picnic. Buscaglia is running for one of the State Supreme Court justice positions for the 8thJudicial District.

ALBION – The Orleans County Democratic Party is looking forward to November’s elections, with candidates stepping forward to run for town and county offices.

Jeanne Crane, chairwoman of the Democrats in Orleans, praised the candidates for running despite being outnumbered by Republicans, who have a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage over Democrats.

The Democrats have many quality candidates for local offices, she said.

Fred Miller of Albion is unopposed for an Orleans County Legislature position, representing the towns of Albion and Gaines.

At the town level, Mike Maak is running for Ridgeway town supervisor. Maak has run for county legislator before.

Democrats also have endorsed Darlene Benton and Terry Wilbert for Albion Town Board seats, and Michael Neidert for town highway superintendent. In Barre, Democrats backed Maureen Beach for town clerk, Rick Root for town justice, and Luann Tierney for Town Board.

In Kendall, Democrats have endorsed Margaret Lynn Szozda for re-election to the Town Board. In Shelby, Democrats backed Darlene Rich for town clerk, and Mike Fuller for highway superintendent. Fuller, the incumbent, lost a close Republican primary on June 25 to Dale Root.

The Orleans County Democratic Party Committee doesn’t cross-endorse Republican candidates at the county level, but the committee is willing to consider an endorsement of Republican candidates at the town level. That is the case with both Neidert and Fuller, who are Republicans.

Provided photo: Nate McMurray, a Congressional candidate in 2018 against Chris Collins, attended Sunday’s picnic. He is shown with Theresa Schmackpfeffer, who volunteered in the kitchen for the chicken barbecue dinners.

McMurray lost a very close election to Collins. McMurray hasn’t committed to whether he is running for Congress again next year. He urged Democrats to be more involved in local government in Orleans County, where Republicans dominate the elected positions.

Thom Jennings served as the auctioneer for items that were donated as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party.

Mike Schmackpfeffer help serve the chicken dinners, Sandra Walter is at left. The Democrats sold 150 chicken barbecue dinners on Sunday. About 75 people attended the event at the QWL Building on Washington Street.

Caleb Beltran, 4, attended the picnic with his family.

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New van will transport veterans to medical appointments

Photos by Ginny Kropf: A new medical transportation van was delivered to the Orleans County Joint Veterans Council Monday morning. Greg Stanton of Medina did the lettering on the van. Dave Kusmierczak of Medina is in back.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 July 2019 at 3:50 pm

ALBION –  A new Ford van was put into service this week by the Orleans County Joint Veterans Council, bringing their fleet to five vehicles which transport veterans to medical appointments.

Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans County Veterans Services Agency, said the Joint Veterans Council received enough donations from the community to purchase the new van. This will replace an aging van, he said.

“These vans and their volunteer drivers allow safe travel for veterans to their medical appointments,” Schmidt said.

He commended Greg Stanton for doing the lettering on the van at a fraction of what it actually cost.

The five-passenger van was delivered Monday morning by Rich Beyer, a salesman at Orleans Ford in Medina.

Last year, the veterans’ medical transportation program made 1,000 trips, taking 1,950 veterans to medical appointments. This also represents 6,000 volunteer hours, Schmidt said.

The program has 22 dedicated volunteer drivers, in addition to 11 office volunteers who coordinate trips and take care of paperwork.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can call 589-2856.

Local veterans gather around the new medical transportation van on Monday morning. From left are Gary Befus with the Sheret American Legion Post in Albion; Ron Ayrault of Holley American Legion; John Pera, County Commander and Post Commander of Holley American Legion; Dave Kusmierczak from Butts-Clark American Legion in Medina; Jack Miles of Albion, a volunteer driver; Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans County Veterans Services Agency and a volunteer driver; Rick Beyer, a salesman with Orleans Ford, who delivered the van; and Fred Heschke, a member of the Butts-Clark American Legion.

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650 cyclists headed to Orleans County today

Staff Reports Posted 7 July 2019 at 9:18 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Some of the cyclists on last year’s Cycle the Erie Canal trip approach Albion on July 9, 2018. Another group of 650 cyclists leaves from Buffalo this morning and hads east to Orleans County.

BUFFALO – More than 650 cyclists are leaving Buffalo this morning and will head about 60 miles east to stay overnight at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

This is the 21st annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour organized by Parks & Trails New York. Cyclists from 39 states, Canada, and Australia have turned out for the trip along the Erie Canal towpath.

Usually the group heads from Buffalo to Medina on the first day. But with construction at the school district, the group will stay in tents at the Fairgrounds.

On Monday, they will continue through Orleans County and will head to Fairport.

The 8-day trip covers about 400 miles and concludes in Albany.

“The 21st annual Cycle the Erie Canal tour is a wonderful way to celebrate the Erie Canal Bicentennial. Plus, it’s fun, healthy, and good for the economy,” says Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin. “We have cyclists aged 5 to 86 from 39 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, two Canadian provinces, Australia and they all get to experience what makes the Erie Canal and upstate New York so special.”

The Erie Canalway Trail contributes significantly to the economy of upstate New York. A recent study shows that the Erie Canalway Trail annually receives close to 1.6 million visits and generates an economic impact of $253 million.

The NYS Canal Corporation and New York Power Authority are Premier State Sponsors of Cycle the Erie Canal. The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor is the event’s Heritage Sponsor and Brookfield is the Supporting Sponsor. Other sponsors include Wegmans, Hodgson Russ, and Capital District Physician’s Health Plan. Eleven regional tourism agencies also sponsor the ride.

Parks & Trails New York is New York’s leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated since 1985 to improving our health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space.

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