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Orleans County

Leg leader’s plea to public: ‘We need a united effort to save local businesses’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 October 2020 at 8:06 am

ALBION – Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson made a plea to the public to support local businesses.

Lynne Johnson

Many of the locally owned operations have struggled during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more people choosing to do online shopping. The state’s restrictions have also reduced capacity at restaurants to 50 percent for indoor seating and to 25 percent for gyms.

Many businesses had to close early in the pandemic when Gov. Cuomo and the state would only allow essential businesses to be open.

“We need a united effort to save local businesses,” Johnson said at the conclusion of Wednesday’s County Legislature meeting. “As winter nears, many local businesses continue to operate with severe restrictions placed on them in the effort to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Johnson said the seven county legislators receive the most phone calls and messages from the public regarding concerns over state restrictions on businesses.

“These restrictions are already having a devastating economic impact locally,” Johnson said. “We all need to realize just how hard it is to sustain a business over a number of months if not longer when you can only operate at 25 percent of your space, as in the case with fitness facilities, or 50 percent of your space with restaurants.”

The upcoming holiday season will be critical for many businesses to survive well into the new year.

“Let’s join together to save our locals,” Johnson said. “We are stronger together in Orleans County.”

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Big early voting numbers continue in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 October 2020 at 12:22 pm

ALBION – Orleans County saw a big increase in early voting this past weekend on the first two days that people had a chance to cast ballots in person. The pace didn’t slow down on Monday and Tuesday.

There were 476 early voters on Monday, followed by 530 on Tuesday.

There were nearly 700 over the weekend, with 364 on Saturday, followed by 332 today.

That means 1,702 people have already voted in person out of about 23,000 registered voters in the county or about 7.4 percent.

The county has already far exceeded the number of early voters in the 2019 general election when only 374 people used the option over nine days. That was the first time people could do early voting in person in Orleans County.

Early voting continues until Nov. 1 at the Board of Elections at the Orleans County Administration Building on Route 31. The hours include:

• Today from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

• Oct. 29-30 (Thursday and Friday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Oct. 31-Nov. 1 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The county has also seen a big increase in requests for absentee ballots. That deadline has passed.

There were 2,885 applications for absentee ballots, which was up from the 952 received in 2016 during the last Presidential election.

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County will cap its payments to community colleges with towns to pick up some of the cost for the first time

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 October 2020 at 9:52 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: Genesee Community College is shown at the main campus in Batavia in this photo from Feb. 13, 2018.

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature for the first time is capping its contribution to community colleges and any amount over that will be passed on to the towns.

The county will cap its share to community colleges at $2,050,000 beginning in 2021, Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of the Orleans County Legislature, advised town officials on Tuesday.

The Legislature already had sent notice to the towns. The topic was discussed on Tuesday evening during the Orleans County Association of Municipalities.

The county will be spending $2,240,251 for community colleges this year. That is $190,251 over the cap it will be setting. The county will pay the full amount this year, but starting in 2021 the towns will pay any local cost over the $2,050,000.

Johnson said the town share will be based on credit hours of residents in those towns. Based on the data in 2019/2020, the additional $190,251 overages for each town would be $40,384 in Albion, $8,283 for Barre, $14,105 in Carlton, $15,040 in Clarendon, $14,096 in Gaines, $9,063 in Kendall, $21,020 in Murray, $34,297 in Ridgeway, $22,198 in Shelby and $11,760 in Yates.

Community colleges were supposed to be funded with the state paying a third, the student paying a third, and the local town/county paying the other third.

But Johnson said the state has pulled back on its contribution, putting more pressure on students and local municipalities.

The County Legislature this afternoon is scheduled to pass a resolution calling on the state to increase funding for community colleges. The Legislature also is scheduled to vote on setting a cap at $2,050,000 for community colleges.

“We just had to draw the line,” Johnson said.

Most community college students from Orleans go to Genesee Community College. But Orleans County has paid towards local students who attend other community colleges in the state, and some are far more costly than GCC, including the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

Sean Pogue, the Barre town supervisor, said the college costs will be difficult for towns, who are stressed to stay under the state-imposed tax cap which is about 2 percent.

“We don’t have any money to play with,” Pogue responded to Johnson. “We’re already at the 2 percent increase. I don’t have any room for this.”

Johnson said the county kept the towns and villages whole with their share of local sales tax. And the county will still be paying about 90 percent of the local community college cost share, based on 2020 numbers.

There is a chance the local share will be under the $2,050,000 county cap next year and the towns won’t have to pay towards the cost.

“There is no way to tell what 2021 will do,” Johnson said. “Will more people go to college? I hope they do. The Orleans County Legislature values our residents expanding their knowledge base.”

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Orleans unemployment drops to 5.5%

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2020 at 9:00 pm

Number of workers in county down by 1,100 in past year

Orleans County’s unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in September, a big drop from the 9.8 percent in August.

The 9.8 percent unemployment rate in August was the first time it dipped under 10 percent since April when it was 15.9 percent. Then the unemployment rate was 11.5 percent in May, 10.8 percent in June and 12.7 percent in July.

The total number of people working in the county has dropped from 17,000 in September 2019 to 15,900 last month, according to the state Department of Labor.

The number of people unemployed increased from 700 to 900 from September 2019 to September 2020.

The 5.5 percent unemployment rate compares to 3.9 percent in September 2019.

Statewide the unemployment rate was 9.4 percent in September, compared to 3.6 percent in September 2019. Nationally the rate was 7.7 percent in September, compared to 3.3 percent a year before.

The unemployment rates for other nearby counties include (with the rate for August in parentheses):

  • Erie, 6.7 percent (10.8 percent)
  • Genesee, 4.8 percent (8.1 percent)
  • Livingston, 4.6 percent (7.6 percent)
  • Monroe, 6.6 percent (10.5 percent)
  • Niagara, 6.6 percent (10.9 percent)
  • Wyoming, 4.4 percent (7.5 percent)

The highest rates in the state are in New York City with 18.8 percent in the Bronx, 14.1 percent in Kings, and 13.8 percent in Queens.

The lowest rates include 4.0 percent in Hamilton County, 4.1 percent in Yates County and 4.3 percent in Tompkins County.

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Big increase in early voting in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 October 2020 at 3:22 pm

Nearly 700 vote this weekend in first chance to cast ballots

Photo courtesy of Scott Bennett: There was a long line outside the Orleans County Administration Building on Saturday morning for the first chance of early voting.

ALBION – Nearly 700 people have cast ballots in early voting this weekend in Orleans County. That is already almost twice the number of early voters a year ago over nine days, the first time there was an early voting option in Orleans County.

There was a long line on Saturday morning just before 9 a.m. at the Orleans County Administration Building.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Early voting is at the Orleans County Administration Building on Route 31.

“It was crazy,” said Scott Bennett, a voting machine technician for the county. “It’s been insane.”

There were 364 early voters on Saturday, followed by 332 today.

“Today was steady,” Bennett said. “Yesterday was swamped.”

The polls were open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Board of Elections at the County Administration Building on Route 31.

When there was early voting for the first time a year ago, there were 32 voters on the first day and then 26 on Sunday, the second day. In the nine days of early voting in 2019, there were 374 early voters out of about 23,000 registered voters in the county.

Early voting continues until Nov. 1 at the Board of Elections.

The schedule includes:

  • Oct. 26 (Monday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 27-28 (Tuesday and Wednesday) from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 29-30 (Thursday and Friday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Janice Grabowski, a county elections commissioner, expects the turnout will remain high due to interest in the presidential election.

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DMV adds appointments for 2 evenings and a Saturday during early voting

Posted 22 October 2020 at 10:32 am

Press Release, Orleans County Chief Administrative Officer Jack Welch

ALBION – We are pleased to announce that the Orleans County Department of Motor Vehicles will have a renewal-only appointments for license, registration and non-driver I.D.s and duplicates during early voting.

This is the first time the DMV will have hours outside the usual 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule from Monday through Friday.

The evening times include Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 27-28) from 5:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. The office will also be open on Saturday, October 31st, from 9 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

“We totally understand the frustration our residents have had in trying to obtain an appointment for renewals at DMV and we hope this opportunity for processing your renewals will allow our residents more flexibility and convenience in obtaining your renewal during these early voting appointments at DMV,” said Jack Welch, Chief Administrative Officer.

These on-line scheduling pages may be located using the County’s DMV webpage (click here) or by clicking here.

The first step in scheduling the appointment is to click on the service you wish to complete, choose a date, and then provide your name and telephone number. The software requires the customer’s name and telephone number as a required field.

By providing a mobile number and an email address, the software will provide a text message confirmation and an email confirmation of your appointment. The last step is confirming that all of the information entered is correct.

Please have the appropriate paperwork completed, Form MV-44 (Application for Permit, License, Non-Driver ID) or present your renewal card or invitation that you received from the State. For Registration Renewals, you will need to have a completed MV-82 (Vehicle Registration/Title Application) or the renewal notice you may have received from the State.  These forms may be found online or in the lobby of the County Office Building.

Access to these online appointments will be approximately six days prior to the dates of these available appointments.

As a reminder, we do have a lockbox in front of the County Office Building for your DMV transactions and the direct number for DMV is (585) 589-3214.

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Absentee ballot applications have tripled in Orleans this election

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2020 at 8:56 am

ALBION – There has been a big increase in applications for absentee ballots, with many choosing to vote by mail rather than in person during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Orleans County Board of Elections has 2,740 absentee ballot applications on file as of Wednesday. That is about triple the 952 absentee ballot applications received in 2016 during the last Presidential election.

The county BOE plans to open and count the ballots on Nov. 10, a week after the Nov. 3 election.

The BOE also will begin nine days of early voting on Saturday. That will continue until Nov. 1.

The early voting option is part of a state mandate to allow greater access to the polls. The county offered early voting for the first time a year ago and then again during the June primary.

Voters can cast their ballots at the Board of Elections in the County Administration Building, located behind the nursing home at 14016 Route 31.

The hours the polls will be open include:

  • Oct. 24-25 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Oct. 26 (Monday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 27-28 (Tuesday and Wednesday) from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 29-30 (Thursday and Friday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The general election is Nov. 3 with polls in the 10 towns in Orleans County open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Food box giveaway attracts hundreds to Fairgrounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2020 at 4:07 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – Ariyanna Boccacci, 14, of Albion helps with a food distribution this afternoon at the Orleans County 4-H fairgrounds. Ariyanna, a 4-H’er, heeded the call for volunteers and helped with the effort.

The Fairgrounds received 3,000 boxes of food – 1,000 each of meat, dairy and produce. Each vehicle could receive one of each.

There were about 500 vehicles in the first hour before slowing down.

There were about 280 units or boxes of each category left at about 3:30 today.

Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, said the delivery was up in the air last week. He put out a call for volunteers on Tuesday when the delivery was confirmed by Foodlink.

There will be another food distribution at the Fairgrounds next Wednesday beginning at about 1:45 p.m.

Joe McCracken of Brockport, a former Orleans County 4-H member, helps with the distribution today for the first time.

There are also two other distributions planned the final two Fridays in October with about 300 boxes expected to be available:

• October 23rd – Ridgeway Fire Department, 11392 Ridge Road, Medina – no lines before 8 a.m. The entrance will be on Horan Road and the line will be facing north towards Ridge Road. Exit will be on to Ridge Road

• October 30th – This event will be at the Community Action Main Street Store, 131 S. Main Street.

Deb Moyer, a mother of a 4-H’er, also assisted today.

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Final public meeting set for proposed priority projects along Erie Canal

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2020 at 12:56 pm

Proposals include building upgrades, a new marina, assistance for restaurants, kayak launches, signage

Courtesy of Labella Associates: A committee looking at ways to better utilize the Erie Canal has suggested a privately owned marina that offers gas and other services would draw more boating traffic to the Albion area.

ALBION – A group that has been meeting for about a year, brainstorming ideas to better utilize the Erie Canal, has identified several projects.

The committee is developing a Canal Corridor Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan for the villages of Albion and Holley, and the towns of Albion, Murray, Gaines, Ridgeway and Shelby. The Village of Medina has developed its own waterfront plan.

Albion and Holley would benefit if there were kayak launches in the villages along the canal, according to the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

The county received a state grant for $62,000 to develop the plan and hired LaBella Associates as a consultant.

The committee will hold a final public meeting Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. at The Lockstone at 160 North Main St. Natasha Wasuck, owner of the Lockstone, is one of the committee members.

The public can attend the meeting in person or check in through Zoom videoconferencing (click here). The meeting ID is 827 3351 7976 and the passcode is 694534. Dial by your location at +1 929 205 6099 US (New York).

The Local Waterfront Advisory Committee will go over the final plan, including eight priority projects. The committee sought projects that provide access to the waterfront, increase recreational opportunities and advance economic development opportunities.

The plan will help the county and participating municipalities with future funding opportunities.

Some of the proposed projects include:

• Canal Corridor Building Assistance Program: would provide grant funding of up to $600,000 to assist multiple buildings or an anchor building with interior and exterior improvements. Albion and Holley have both received New York Main Street grants for building improvements in the downtown.

• Small Business Assistance Program: A countywide program with grant and loan funding to assist new and existing businesses with growth, with restaurants and culinary operations getting the priority.

• Activate the Canal Waterfront: Repurpose underutilized spaces, including parking lots, which could be turned into performance space and improved aesthetically with landscaping and lighting. The initiative would include rear facade upgrades and enhanced water recreation opportunities. The committee used the Village of Albion’s parking lot by the canal near Platt Street as an example of space that could be improved.

The committee suggested Albion redesign and resurface a parking lot by the canal, adding lighting and landscaping and making the space available to be used for concerts and events.

• Increase Water-Based Recreation Facilities: Add kayak and boat launches, piers and tie-ups in the villages of Albion and Holley. The area needs private entities to offer kayak rentals.

• Construct a Marine in Albion: A private marina is needed that offers gas services, tie-ups and other services.

• Install Signage along the Canal: There needs to be signs with distances to the next ports and nearby canal communities. There should also be signs directing people to businesses and services.

• Winter Recreation Program: This could include “pop-up” temporary ice skating rinks, cross country skiing and winter festivals.

• Siphon for Agriculture: Siphoning water from the canal reduces agriculture costs and also can be used to provide water for creeks and fishing.

• Some other projects: Arts along the canal with statues and public art relevant to the canal and county; Trail connections to natural areas (Groth Road in Murray and Presbyterian Road in Knowlesville area); Celebrate the Holley canal loop with pavement, lighting and signage; Attract a rental business offering bikes and kayaks; Promote tugboats; Upgrade the towpath trail surface for bikes, increase the number of events and redevelop the Murray quarry ponds for recreation.

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United Way of Orleans County sets $250K fundraising goal for 2021

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 12 October 2020 at 3:16 pm

In spite of challenges ahead, United Way of Orleans County has announced an ambitious goal of $250,000 for 2021.

‘’This is $50,000 higher than last year’s goal, but we are confident we can hit the number,” said executive director Dean Bellack.

With the restrictions placed on workplaces by the Covid pandemic, United Way acknowledges workplace campaigns will not take place as usual.

“We are making adjustments with electronic giving options and a video presentation,” Bellack said.

Last year United Way was instrumental in $246,500 in grants being received from outside the county. These included funding from the Buffalo Community Response Fund, ESL Savings Bank, United Health Care Blue Fund, Heritage Wind and FEMA.

These dollars were directed to agencies based on the recommendations of the United Way board, with some decision making from community partners, such as Darren Wilson from the Lyndonville Foundation, Bruce Schmidt of Community Action and the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern. Also instrumental in helping decide where funding should go were United Way board members Jodi Gaines and Jackie Gardner.

A consultant is being hired this week to begin work on helping to close the digital divide in the county.

“We are also in the process of putting together the framework for hiring a community grant writer to assist all agencies in bringing in more dollars to help those in need in Orleans County,” Bellack said.

Last Friday, United Way of Orleans County had its first chicken barbecue, which sold 1,000 dinners and netted the agency $4,511.

“We hope everyone enjoyed their dinner and we hope they will all consider a donation to United Way to help us in our mission to help the residents of Orleans County,” Bellack said. “The mission of United Way of Orleans County is to explore every logical partnership and every funding source to impact our community as positively as we can.”

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County auction for properties moved to Nov. 18

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 October 2020 at 11:52 am

ALBION – Orleans County legislators have changed the date for the annual property auction from Oct. 28 to Nov. 18.

The auction for properties with years of unpaid taxes is usually in May and in recent years has been at the Albion Elk’s Lodge.

This year, due to Covid-19, it will be at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds in Knowlesville.

The sales start at 10 a.m. In addition to the sale price and a buyer’s premium, purchasers will be responsible for the 2020 Town and County tax bill including any relevied taxes; any village taxes levied after May 31, 2020, the 2020/2021 school taxes, the 2021 Town and County taxes, as well as penalties and interest.

The total bill must be received by the Orleans County Treasurer’s Office on or before Dec. 21.

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Orleans Dems have a new leader

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 October 2020 at 12:30 pm

Jeff Lewis replaces Jeanne Crane, who led the party for 25 years

Jeff Lewis

CARLTON – Orleans County Democrats have a new leader after long-time party chairwoman Jeanne Crane stepped down.

Crane will continue as a vice chairwoman while Jeff Lewis takes the reins as party leader in Orleans County.

Crane, a retired nurse at Medina Memorial Hospital, has been party chairwoman in Orleans County for about 25 years and has served on the committee for about 50 years.

She said Lewis, a senior vice president with PathStone, has many connections in the region, including with elected officials.

Lewis has worked with PathStone (previously known as Rural Opportunities) since 1976. He lives in Carlton.

He wants to get more people involved in local politics. He welcomes people to connect with the Orleans County Democratic Party on its website (click here) or by sending him an email at goldenjubel@aol.com.

The Democrats in the county are outnumbered by Republicans by 2-to-1, with about 11,000 registered Republicans to about 5,500 Democrats in the county. Republicans fill nearly all of the elected positions at the local level.

“I strongly believe in the two-party system,” Lewis said. “In Orleans County, we’ve never not had the two-party system.”

Lewis said he favors progressive ideas socially, but considers himself a conservative with budgeting and management.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Jeanne Crane is shown during the Fourth of July parade in Lyndonville in 2015.

He is concerned about the federal government’s direction under President Donald Trump. He sees weakened regulations for the environment, a more vulnerable Social Security, uncertainty over health care coverage and a push towards corporate interests over small businesses.

“The institutions that I believe in at the federal level are under attack,” Lewis said.

Lewis urged the community to be engaged in the election process, and share their opinions without disparaging others.

“Being involved in this role is a civic duty,” he said. “I can get along with almost anybody. At the end of the day we might disagree but we can still get along.”

Crane said she has enjoyed serving as party leader for a quarter century, even though it is a difficult challenge for a Democrat in Orleans County.

She appreciates the courage of the local candidates and the passion of the many local party volunteers, who try to get more voters registered.

Crane attended two party national conventions – 2016 when Hillary Clinton was the presidential nominee and 2012 when Barack Obama was seeking a second term.

She has met many high-profile Democrats including Al Gore, Bill and Hillary Clinton at the White House, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Al Sharpton.

She remain on the state committee and on the board of directors for the Democratic Rural Conference.

“I’ve really enjoyed it but it’s time to get younger people involved and new ideas,” Crane said.

She is encouraged by two new members on the local Democratic Party Committee. Beth Wood is serving as secretary and Kriss Sniffen is the treasurer.

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Voters can cast ballots early in person for 9 days before Nov. 3 election

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2020 at 9:34 am

ALBION – Registered voters in Orleans County will have the option to cast their ballots in early voting again this year.

The county will accept ballots at the Board of Elections from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1. The county will have election inspectors on site and residents can vote as in any other election.

The option is part of a state mandate to allow greater access to the polls. The county offered early voting for the first time a year ago and then again during the June primary.

Voters can cast their ballots at the Board of Elections in the County Administration Building, located behind the nursing home at 14016 Route 31.

The county will have four election inspectors on duty – 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats – for early voting.

The hours the polls will be open include:

• Oct. 24-25 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

• Oct. 26 (Monday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Oct. 27-28 (Tuesday and Wednesday) from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

• Oct. 29-30 (Thursday and Friday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Oct. 31-Nov. 1 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The general election is Nov. 3 with polls in the 10 towns in Orleans County open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Those polling sites will all be the same as in the last election except in Carlton, which is shifting from the Town Hall to the Carlton Rec Hall on Route 98.

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Orleans unemployment rate falls below 10% for first time since April

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2020 at 8:33 am

The unemployment rate in Orleans County was at 9.8 percent in August, nearly double what is was in August 2019 when the rate was 5.1 percent, according to the NYS Department of Labor.

The number of people working in Orleans dropped from 16,800 to 15,600 during the 12-month period, while the number of unemployed increased from 900 to 1,700.

The 9.8 percent unemployment rate in Orleans County is the first time it is under 10 percent since April when it was 15.9 percent. Since then the rate has been 11.5 percent in May, 10.8 percent in June and 12.7 percent in July.

The unemployment rates nationally increased from 3.8 percent in August 2019 to 8.5 percent in August 2020. In New York, the rate is up from 4.1 percent to 12.6 percent.

The unemployment rates for other nearby counties include:

  • Erie, 10.8 percent
  • Genesee, 8.1 percent
  • Livingston, 7.6 percent
  • Monroe, 10.5 percent
  • Niagara, 10.9 percent
  • Wyoming, 7.5 percent

The highest rates in the state are 21.1 percent in the Bronx and 16.4 percent in Queens. Hamilton at 5.5 percent and Yates at 6.9 percent have the lowest rates in the state.

Nationally, the number of people working dropped by 10.6 million from August 2019 to August 2020, from 157.8 million to 147.2 million. The number of unemployed in the U.S. increased by 7.5 million.

State-wide, the number of people working is down 824,000 from 9.14 million to 8.32 million. The number of unemployed increased in the state by 806,000 from August 2019 to August 2020.

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Courthouse dome goes pink, purple to highlight causes this month

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2020 at 7:29 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The courthouse dome had a purple tint last night facing Main Street to highlight Domestic Violence Awareness Month during October.

The county’s domestic violence unit responds to about 400 referrals each year.

The other side of the dome is lighted pink this month to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also during October.

About 70 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Orleans County.

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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