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Orleans County

New 180-foot-high radio tower goes up in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 January 2020 at 2:46 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Upstate Tower Construction erected a 180-foot-high radio tower today next to the Orleans County Public Safety Building along Route 31 in Albion.

These workers are connecting the top section of the tower. They are more than 100 feet up high.

This is one of four new radio towers going up in the county. Upstate Tower will also be putting up two other 180-foot-high towers in Kendall near the school’s bus garage and in Yates on Millers Road near the water tank.

The other tower will be 150 feet high and will be near the Holley water tank on Route 237.

The towers are part of a $6 million project to upgrade the emergency communications system in the county. The state awarded Orleans a $5,897,141 grant for four new towers, accompanying communication shelters, technology to connect separate radio systems and new radio channels. The project will strengthen communications between multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

Upstate Tower Construction is doing the site work and concrete foundations for the towers, as well as the installation. The towers were constructed by Nudd Tower in Ontario, NY.

Once the towers are up, the radio tower shelters and emergency standby generators will be installed.

 

The emergency communications system serves firefighters, law enforcement, highway employees, probation and some other municipal workers in the county.

The system currently has poor coverage in the Holley area, along Lake Ontario and some other isolated locations in the county, especially in buildings with thick walls.

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Orleans GOP makes local endorsements, including Cardone for DA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 January 2020 at 10:07 am

No candidate endorsed for county clerk

Photo by Tom Rivers: Joe Cardone has served as Orleans County’s district attorney since March 1992. He is seeking re-election to four more years in the position.

ALBION – Joe Cardone has the backing of the Orleans County Republican Committee for another four-year term as district attorney. Cardone has served as the county’s top prosecutor since 1992.

He met with the Republican Committee on Thursday night at Tillman’s Village Inn and received the group’s endorsement.

Three incumbent county coroners – Scott Schmidt of Medina, Charles Smith of Ridgeway and Rocco Sidari of Albion – also were endorsed for four-year terms.

In the other county-wide position up for election this year, the committee didn’t meet its two-thirds threshold for endorsing a candidate for county clerk.

Karen Lake-Maynard is retiring on Jan. 30. Two Republicans want to succeed her. Diane Shampine is the deputy county clerk and Nadine Hanlon is the clerk of the County Legislature.

With no committee endorsement, both have the option of securing petitions by registered Republicans to be on the ballot and perhaps face off in a June 23 primary.

The Orleans County Republican Committee also endorsed the two incumbent State Assembly members who are seeking re-election. Steve Hawley of Batavia has been in the Assembly since he was elected in a special election on Feb. 28, 2006 for the 139th District, which includes most of Orleans, all of Genesee and part of western Monroe.

Michael Norris of Lockport is seeking a third two-year term in the 144th District, which includes the Town of Shelby in Orleans, and parts of Niagara and Erie counties.

State Sen. Robert Ortt currently is pursuing the 27th Congressional District. A special election likely will be on April 28 to fill the vacant 27th seat. Ortt made it clear to the Orleans County Republican Committee he wants to be the area’s next congressman, said Skip Draper, the Orleans GOP chairman.

Ortt has been the state senator for about five years. The local Republicans didn’t hear from a candidate for the Senate seat. Ortt still has time to pursue the Senate seat if Republican leaders go with another candidate for the 27th.

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Construction starts on new radio towers

Provided photos: Upstate Tower does the site work in Kendall for a soon-to-be erected 180-foot-high radio tower, one of four new ones being constructed in Orleans County. Upstate Tower also is doing site working, including pouring concrete, for the tower sites in Lyndonville and Holley. A new tower will also go up next to the Public Safety Building in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2020 at 10:38 am

Contractors have started work on four new radio towers that soon go up in Orleans County to enhance the emergency communications system.

The towers are part of a $6 million project to upgrade the system in the county. The state awarded Orleans a $5,897,141 grant for four new towers, accompanying communication shelters, technology to connect separate radio systems and new radio channels. The project will strengthen communications between multiple jurisdictions and agencies.

The base for a new radio tower is in place next to the Orleans County Public Safety Building in Albion.

Three of the towers will be 180 feet high and they will be located by the Public Safety Building on Route 31 in Albion, Millers Road in Yates near the water tank, and at the Kendall Central School near the bus garage.

The other tower will be 150 feet high and will be near the Holley water tank on Route 237.

The Orleans County Department of Public Works is putting in all stone access roads and electrical trenching and conduit.

Upstate Tower is doing the site work and concrete foundations, and will be installing the towers that were constructed by Nudd Tower in Ontario, NY.

Once the towers are up, the radio tower shelters and emergency standby generators will be installed.

After that the radio system equipment will be installed in late winter or early spring. This project is administrated by the Orleans County Emergency Management Office.

The emergency communications system serves firefighters, law enforcement, highway employees, probation and some other municipal workers in the county.

The system currently has poor coverage in the Holley area, along Lake Ontario and some other isolated locations in the county, especially in buildings with thick walls.

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County Clerk to retire on Jan. 30 from ‘dream job’

Photos by Tom Rivers: Karen Lake-Maynard, the Orleans County clerk the past 14 years, is retiring on Jan. 30. She has worked 30 years at the County Clerk’s Building, 3 South Main St. She started as an index clerk.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 January 2020 at 5:14 pm

ALBION – Orleans County Clerk Karen Lake-Maynard has announced she is retiring on Jan. 30 after 14 years as the county clerk and 30 years in the clerk’s office.

She started as an index clerk and was promoted to deputy county clerk under Carol Lonnen. When Lonnen retired, Lake-Maynard was elected to succeed her.

“It’s been a dream job,” Lake-Maynard said today from her office at the County Clerk’s Building next to the County Courthouse. “It’s been a pleasure to serve Orleans County.”

Lake-Maynard will be leaving with two years on her term. Diane Shampine, the deputy county clerk, will serve as acting county clerk until the position is up for election in November (unless the governor calls for a special election before then).

Karen Lake-Maynard is shown with some of the index books that list records going back nearly two centuries.

Lake-Maynard of Medina said she was inspired by her father, the late Howard Lake, to pursue a career in public service. Her father was an Orleans County undersheriff and later a Medina village and Ridgeway town justice. Her brother Howard also was Medina’s mayor.

The county clerk oversees 10 employees, including six at the Department of Motor Vehicles at the County Administration Building on Route 31 and four employees at the County Clerk’s Building on Main Street.

Shampine is the deputy county clerk at the Clerk’s Building while Pamela Boyer is deputy county clerk for DMV.

Lake-Maynard said Shampine has the experience to “hit the ground running” without any disruption in the office.

“The county is in good hands with her,” Lake-Maynard said.

The next clerk will have to go through the political process. The Orleans County Republican Party Committee will meet this Thursday to hear from candidates for the position. Nadine Hanlon, clerk of the County Legislature, also is interested in succeeding Lake-Maynard.

The current county clerk said she has strived to lead a user-friendly DMV and clerk’s office. The DMV staff will try to make an extra phone call or offer assistance to fill out forms so people don’t have to make multiple trips to the office, Lake-Maynard said.

The Clerk’s Building has records going back nearly two centuries, including property deeds since 1830. The office is the keeper of filing deeds, mortgages, leases, assignments, discharges, maps, census records, ag districts, business certificates, judgments, federal tax liens, military discharges, naturalization records, inquests, separation agreements and divorce decrees for the entire county.

Those records have all been digitized, and the office has made records increasingly available online.

Lake-Maynard often is at the front counter at the clerk’s office, responding to people’s requests. In recent years, she said many people exploring their genealogy visit the office or send emails looking for information on their families.

Since July 2017, the County Clerk’s Office also has handled pistol permit applications and recertifications. That process was handled by the county judge’s chambers before the change 2 1/2 years ago.

Lake-Maynard said she is proud of the “Thank A Vet” program that she and the office started in 2011. Many local businesses agreed to be in the program offering discounts to local veterans. Lake-Maynard said 400 to 500 veterans have signed up for the program.

“It’s bittersweet,” Lake-Maynard said about her impending retirement. “It’s been a great ride and I’ve had a staff that is second to none.”

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Third class in Leadership Orleans starts a busy new year

Photo by Tom Rivers: The 2020 Leadership Orleans class is pictured on Wednesday during an opening retreat at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville. Pictured, front row, from left: Danielle Figura, Nick Picardo, Lisa Levett, Nancy Traxler, Scott Partyka, Alona Kuhns, Jackie Gardner, Ronald Mannella, Teresa Gaylard and Kristina Gabalski. Back row: Kenneth DeRoller, Melissa Cotter, Michelle Kingdollar, Karen Krieger, Taryn Moyle, Jennifer Buondonno, Heather Smith, Allison Parry-Gurak, Julia Goheen, Christopher Oakes, Michael Weyrauch, Dean Bellack, Tiffany Nesbitt, Matt Minor, Nancy Westlund, Cory Pawlaczyk and Lionel Heydel.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 January 2020 at 6:22 pm

LYNDONVILLE – The third class for Leadership Orleans started this past week with a two-day retreat at the White Birch Golf Course.

The program started in 2018. Each year about 25 community members participate in the program. They meet monthly and will typically spend a full day examining an aspect of the county, and hearing from leaders in different industries, businesses, human services, education and other sectors of the community.

Participants pay a tuition for the program, which also receives $16,000 in funding from the county, as well as many sponsors.

The two-day retreat included several ice breakers to help the class get better acquainted, a personality profile awareness, and discussion about servant leadership.

In coming months the class will have days focused on legislative affairs in February, an adventure leadership day in March, community health in April, education in May, business and culture in June, tourism and recreation in July, agribusiness in August, economic and workforce development in September, simulated society in October, volunteerism in November, and a closing retreat and graduation in December.

Skip Helfrich is the director of Leadership Orleans. He is shown going over a personality profile awareness during the opening retreat for Leadership Orleans at the White Birch Golf Course.

The 2020 class includes:

  • Dean Bellack, Executive Director, United Way of Orleans County
  • Jennifer Buondonno, Teller Supervisor/CSR, Tompkins Bank of Castile
  • Melissa Cotter, Director of Vocational Services, Arc of Genesee Orleans
  • Kenneth DeRoller, County legislator and board member for the County of Orleans Industrial Development Agency
  • Danielle Figura, Clinic Coordinator, Orleans County Mental Health
  • Kristina Gabalski, 4-H Program Coordinator, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Jackie Gardner, Vice President of Client Relations, CRFS – Claims Recovery Financial Services
  • Teresa Gaylard, Children’s Librarian, Hoag Library
  • Julia Goheen, Quality Associate III, Baxter Healthcare
  • Lionel Heydel, Chef, Bent’s Opera House
  • Michelle Kingdollar, Controller, Western New York Energy
  • Karen Krieger, Academic Advisor/Adjunct Faculty, GCC Medina Campus
  • Alona Kuhns, Technical Trainer, Baxter Healthcare
  • Lisa Levett, Office Manager, Kludt Brothers, Inc.
  • Ronald Mannella, Director of Weights and Measures, Orleans County
  • Matt Minor, Senior Loan Officer, Farm Credit East
  • Taryn Moyle, Child Care Resource and Referral Program Director, Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, Inc.
  • Tiffany Nesbitt, Ambassador, Bent’s Opera House
  • Christopher Oakes, Production Manager/Vice President, LynOaken Farms, Inc.
  • Allison Parry-Gurak, Director of Treatment, Albion Clinic, GCASA
  • Scott Partyka, Farmer/Partner, Partyka Farms
  • Cory Pawlaczyk, Buyer, Baxter Healthcare
  • Nick Picardo, Executive Director of Student Services, Kendall Central School District
  • Heather Smith, Executive Director, Orleans Community Health Foundation
  • Nancy Traxler, Director, Orleans County Veterans Service Agency
  • Nancy Westlund, Vice President of Operations, CRFS – Claims Recovery Financial Services
  • Michael Weyrauch, Director of Career & Technical Education and Instructional Services, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

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Orleans and Genesee will share Weights and Measures director

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 January 2020 at 9:31 am

Ronald P. Mannella has worked as Orleans director past 2 years

ALBION – Orleans and Genesee counties will expand their shared services in the Health Department, with the counties having the same Weights and Measures director.

Ronald P. Mannella

Ronald P. Mannella has served in the role in Orleans County the past two years. Genesee County’s director recently left the post to take a job with the state. The two counties have crafted an arrangement where Mannella would head the department in both counties, with Genesee paying 60 percent of the costs and Orleans, 40 percent. Mannella’s weekly hours will increase from 35 to 40 due to the increased workload.

The arrangement offers significant cost savings for both counties, by each not having to pay the full costs for a director.

“We’re confident with Ron and his abilities,” said Paul Pettit, the public health director for the two counties.

The Orleans County Legislature approved the 5-year agreement last month and Genesee is expected to approve it next week.

The two counties first shared a public health director, Pettit, beginning 8 years ago. They have added more shared administrative staff since then, and also have a shared Board of Health.

Although they share some positions, the two counties still have independent public health departments.

Weights and Measures used to be a standalone department, but was moved under public health in each county about two years ago following the retirements of long-time Weights and Measures directors – Craig Lape in Orleans County and Don Luxon in Genesee.

Moving Weights and Measures to the health department provided the director, the only employee in the department, with administrative and support staff in the health department, Pettit said.

Weights and Measures checks weights, distances and volumes of products that are sold to consumers. Orleans County each year does annual inspections of scales and meters, ensuring fairness for consumers and also businesses. (The county seal from Weight and Measures is prominent on gas pumps in the county, for example.)

“The whole goal is to provide consumer protection, to make sure you’re getting what you paid for,” Pettit said. “It also benefits businesses to make sure they’re not giving away too much product.”

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Orleans EDA approves new policy to better accommodate large-scale solar

Photo by Tom Rivers: This team of installers from Sole Contracting in Delaware secures a panel on Feb. 4 at a new solar project next to Albion’s sewer plant on Densmore Road. The project included 3,888 panels.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 January 2020 at 10:42 am

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency this morning approved an amendment to its Uniform Tax Exemption Policy to better address larger-scale solar projects.

The policy amendments gives developers the opportunity to negotiate a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) revenue agreement with multiple municipalities through the EDA.

Currently, the developers need to work with multiple taxing jurisdictions, and the agreements without the EDA are capped at 15 years.

The EDA can negotiate longer deals, sometimes for 25 years or more. The added years often can help companies secure financing and provides a long-term predictable stream of revenue for the municipalities, EDA officials said.

The agency had a public hearing on the proposal on Thursday before it was adopted today.

Jim Whipple, the EDA executive director, said the solar projects typically have been small-scale but large projects are being eyed throughout Western New York, including one in Clarendon. Other towns are being approached for solar projects.

Solar companies last year built projects with several thousand solar panels in Albion by the sewer plant on Densmore Road and in Ridgeway on Route 31 and Allis Road. The Albion project didn’t have a PILOT, while Ridgeway negotiated the deal in its town.

If the EDA approves the updated policy, towns still have the option to negotiate their own PILOTs, Whipple said.

“We’re not going to do it unless the taxing entities want it,” Whipple said this morning.

County Legislator Ken DeRoller, a member of the EDA board of directors, said the EDA isn’t looking to push an unwanted project on the towns.

“There is still home rule and the taxing entities have to come to us,” DeRoller said.

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Orleans EDA now live streaming meetings for new state law

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 January 2020 at 10:29 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Orleans Economic Development Agency had a public hearing today at 11 a.m. to give the community a chance to comment on amendments to an EDA policy that would include solar projects in a Uniform Tax Exemption Policy. The change would make it easier for the EDA to work with municipalities in PILOT agreements for solar, especially larger-scale projects. Pictured from left include: Derek Vallese, Albion Central School business administrator; Gabrielle Barone, EDA vice president of development; Dan Strong, Town of Albion and Gaines code enforcement officer; Brian Napoli, Ridgeway town supervisor; Tony Cammarata, Kendall town supervisor; and Jim Whipple, EDA chief executive officer.

ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency for the first time today live streamed a meeting as part of a new requirement from the state for industrial development agencies.

The governor signed the legislation on Aug. 27, requiring industrial development agencies to live stream meetings beginning Jan. 1. The video recordings must be posted on the agency’s website within 5 days and must be available to the public for five years.

The Orleans EDA had a live recording of the meeting through YouTube and the EDA posted the video on its website today. (Click here to see the video of the 33-minute meeting.)

The EDA has a camera in the corner of their meeting room on the second floor of the Albion Visitor’s Center, 121 North Main Street. The camera is in the upper left corner in the top photo.

When the governor signed the legislation, he made this statement: “Industrial development agencies are tasked with revitalizing communities and fostering economic growth at the local level, but most New Yorkers don’t have time to attend meetings and participate in the process. This new measure will help foster civic engagement and get more residents involved in the meetings and hearings that will ultimately have a huge impact on the future of their communities.”

The EDA for several years on its website has posted agendas and documents from its meetings for the public to see. (Click here to see a link to the agenda and documents for the Jan. 10 EDA board meeting, which will also be live streamed beginning at 8 a.m.)

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Nearly 2,500 acres in Albion, Gaines included in Opportunity Zone

Posted 9 January 2020 at 9:22 am

This map was prepared for the Orleans Economic Development Agency by the Orleans County Department of Planning and Development.

Press Release, Orleans Economic Development Agency

ALBION – The Orleans County Economic Development Agency has announced a census tract in Orleans County has been designated as a Federal Opportunity Zone by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The tract, totaling 2,442 acres, includes the village of Albion and parts of the towns of Albion and Gaines.

“This Opportunity Zone is a welcome designation for the central part of the county,” said Jim Whipple, chief executive officer of the Orleans EDA. “The tax benefits give us new tools to attract potential investment here in areas that are particularly suited for more real estate, retail, commercial and cultural development.”

Opportunity Zones (O-Zones) were added to the tax code by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Dec. 22, 2017. An O-Zone is a low-income census tract with an individual poverty rate of at least 20 percent and median family income no greater than 80 percent of the area median.

As an economic development tool, the zones are designed to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities by providing tax benefits to investors.

“I am very excited about the possibilities for community investment represented by the Federal Opportunity Zone in Orleans County,” said Lynne Johnson, chairwoman of Orleans County Legislature. “Investors will be able to access the extraordinary tax benefits offered by the program by investing in business and reals estate in our own backyard.”

Under certain conditions, investments in O-Zones may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Investors can defer tax on any prior gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund (QOF) until the earlier of the date on which the investment in a QOF is sold or exchanged, or Dec. 31, 2026.

If the QOF investment is held for longer than 5 years, there is a 10 percent exclusion of the deferred gain. If held for more than 7 years, the 10 percent becomes 15 percent. If the investor holds the investment in the Opportunity Fund for at least 10 years, the investor is eligible for an increase in basis of the QOF investment equal to its fair market value on the date that the QOF investment is sold or exchanged.

Individuals can get the tax benefits, even if they don’t live, work or have a business in an opportunity zone. They can invest a recognized gain in a Qualified Opportunity Fund and elect to defer the tax on that gain.

“With over 1,700 parcels in Albion’s village included in the Opportunity Zone, we look forward to working with eligible project developers,” said Eileen Banker, mayor of the Village of Albion.

“The designation of a portion of the Town of Gaines selected as an Opportunity Zone opens the door for investment here,” said Joe Grube, Gaines town supervisor. “The creation of housing or small businesses can help the Town of Gaines by increasing the tax base and bringing new employment opportunities to the area.”

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County legislators pick Lynne Johnson to stay as chairwoman

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 January 2020 at 10:06 am

Bill Eick is new vice chairman of Legislature

Photos by Tom Rivers: Lynne Johnson of Lyndonville was re-elected by her county legislator colleagues on Monday to continue as chairwoman of the seven-member Legislature. She just finished her first two-year term in the role.

ALBION – Lynne Johnson has the unanimous support from her Legislature colleagues to stay as their leader.

During the Legislature’s organizational meeting on Monday afternoon, Johnson was picked as the chairwoman of the seven-member group. Bill Eick of Shelby is the new vice chairman, also getting unanimous support. He succeeds Don Allport.

Johnson just finished her first two-year term as the chairwoman. She has been on the Legislature for 12 years.

“She’s a great leader,” said Legislator Skip Draper. “She pulls everybody together, helping to shape the county in a positive direction.”

Johnson said filling the vacancy in the chief administrative officer is an immediate priority. Chuck Nesbitt served in the position for 14 ½ years. He stepped down last month for a job in the private sector.

Johnson said expanding high-speed internet in the county also remains a top goal. She will be in Syracuse on Thursday for a meeting with Rural Development about a federal grant program that could bring high-speed internet to some underserved areas in Orleans and Niagara counties.

Lynne Johnson signs the oath of office, with County Clerk Karen Lake-Maynard at right.

She also said she will continue to speak out against high Lake Ontario levels that has damaged the shoreline with flooding and erosion. She praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for approving state funding and resources to help the shoreline communities, including $17 million awarded in October for projects in Orleans County.

Johnson said the county and the municipalities along the lake will be busy working to implement those projects through the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative.

The projects include wastewater infrastructure for Kendall and Hamlin, $9,053,000; Yates Town Park upgrades and expansion, $2,531,000; Upgrades to public town road ends/culverts in Kendall, $1,500,000; Point Breeze Boat Launch improvements in Carlton, $751,000; Lakeside Park Road East stabilization in Carlton, $385,000; Lakeside Park Road West improvements in Carlton, $235,000; Thompson Drive turnaround to become beach access in Kendall, $131,000; Route 237 right-of-way in Kendall, $40,000; and installing markers on submerged structures in Orleans and Niagara, $50,000.

The state last month also approved funding for a regional dredging plan that includes the Oak Orchard Harbor at Point Breeze.

“The governor has been very gracious to Orleans County with the grants lately,” Johnson said.

County Legislator Bill Eick of Shelby signs the oath of office administered by County Clerk Karen Lake-Maynard.

Eick, a retired dairy farmer, has been a county legislator for 14 years, and served 20 years on the Shelby Town Board prior to joining the Legislature.

He said the county needs to adjust to the state’s criminal justice reforms, including an expansion of staff for the public defender. The top floor at the County Clerks’ Building, where the Legislature used to meet and have its offices, is being renovated for the Public Defender’s Office. The Legislature has moved to the new addition at the County Administration Building.

Legislators Ken DeRoller, left, and Fred Miller raise their right hands and take the oath of office on Monday afternoon.

Bill Eick’s right hand is shown while he takes the oath.

• During its organizational meeting on Monday, legislators voted to see the salaries for the chairwoman at $18,496 for 2020, $13,985 for the vice chairman and $12,239 for the five other legislators.

• The Legislature also named Don Allport as the Republican majority leader and Fred Miller as the minority leader. Miller is the lone Democrat on the Legislature.

• Legislators also reappointed Nadine Hanlon as clerk of the Legislature and records management officer, Kathy Bogan as the county attorney, and John Papponetti as commissioner of the Department of Public Works.

• The Legislature also approved paying the Orleans Economic Development Agency $190,000 for 2020, in quarterly payments of $47,500, for work to retain and create new jobs in the community.

• The Legislature appointed Skip Draper of Shelby, Paul Hendel of Holley, Carol D’Agostino of Kendall, John Misiti of Medina and Jim Panek of Albion to the Orleans EDA board of directors.

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