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Orleans County

Early voting starts on Saturday for June 23 primaries, special election

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2020 at 9:03 am

Orleans County will have nine days of early voting beginning on Saturday at the Board of Elections at the County Administration Building on Route 31 in Albion.

The voting includes all registered voters in a special election to fill a vacancy in the 27 th Congressional District. There are also primaries at the local level, and state and federal positions, including the Democratic Presidential primary.

The County Board of Elections encourages voters to wear a mask for early voting.

The early voting schedule includes:

  • Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 14, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Monday, June 15, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 16, from noon to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 17, from noon to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Friday, June 19, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 20, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 21, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The elections on the ballot include:

27th Congressional District: The 27th Congressional seat has been vacant since Chris Collins resigned on Sept. 30. Collins was sentenced on Jan. 17 to 26 months in federal prison for participating in a scheme to commit insider trading and for making false statements to federal law enforcement agents when interviewed about his conduct. He also was fined $200,000.

The special election was set for April 28 but was pushed back about two months due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The special election includes the following candidates:

  • Nathan D. McMurray – Democratic, Working Families
  • Chris Jacobs – Republican, Independence
  • Michael J. Gammariello – Green
  • Duane Whitmer – Libertarian

Republican Primary for 27th District: There will also be a Republican primary on June 23 to see who gets the Republican line in the November election for a full two-year term. Jacobs, Beth Parlato and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw are pursuing the Republican line.

• Presidential Primary: A Democratic Presidential primary will go on even though Joe Biden has the nomination secured. His name will be on the ballot, along with other candidates who have withdrawn, including Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

The local primaries include the Orleans County Clerk, and the Republican Committees in Ridgeway and Murray.

County Clerk: There are two Republican candidates are running for Orleans County Clerk. Nadine Hanlon, the current clerk of the County Legislature, is running against Diane Shampine, the current acting clerk. She assumed the post after Karen Lake-Maynard retired.

Republican Committees in Murray and Ridgeway:

In Murray, there are primaries for three of the districts, with three candidates seeking two positions in District 3, District 5 and District 6.

In District 3, the candidates include Kathleen Case, Anthony Peone and Kerri Neale.

In District 5, the candidates include Lynn Wood, Cynthia Oliver and Ronald Vendetti.

In District 6, the candidates include Kellie Gregoire, Robert Miller and Adam R. Moore.

In Ridgeway, there are three candidates for two positions with District 2 on the Ridgeway Republican Committee. The candidates include Virginia Nicholson, David Stalker and Ayesha Kreutz.

All polling sites will be open in each of the 10 towns on June 23 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Orleans won’t have household hazardous waste collection event this year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2020 at 8:17 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Employees with Environmental Enterprises Inc. in Cincinnati sort some the household hazardous waste at one of the stations on August 17, 2018. Orleans hosted a household hazardous waste collection each year since 2015. Before that it was every two years.

ALBION — Orleans County won’t be holding its annual household hazardous waste collection event this year. County officials expect the event to be back next year, likely in August.

The event allows residents to dispose of tires, propane tanks, auto/marine batteries and other hazardous household waste in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

The county typically pays Environmental Enterprises, Inc. of Cincinnati about $18,000 to collect and remove the household hazardous waste, with the state them reimbursing the county about half of the costs.

Orleans County last year accepted tires for the first time. There was a big response from the public with about 1,000 tires dropped off at by the Orleans County Highway Department on West Academy Street.

The county has been holding the household hazardous waste collection on annual basis since 2015. Before that it was biennially.

Last year residents also dropped off 349 propane tanks and 52 auto/marine batteries. They also disposed of oil-based paints, solvents, polishes/waxes, aerosols, pesticides, fluorescent bulbs, adhesives & resins, motor oil & filters, acids, corrosives, antifreeze and other household hazardous waste.

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Rate of unemployment claims starts to slow for first time since mid-March

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 June 2020 at 5:20 pm

4,000 have filed for unemployment in Orleans in past 11 weeks

Orleans County and the state are still seeing large numbers of unemployment claims being filed, but at least the weekly filings are started to decrease.

Last week, there were 136 unemployment claims filed in the county and 13,379 statewide. That was down from 259 in Orleans the previous week and 195,958 statewide during the week of May 23.

The unemployment filings have far exceeded a normal week since mid-March, when the state closed or restricted businesses across the state to try to slow the spread of Covid-19.

In Orleans, the week of March 28 had the most unemployment filings at 824. The state had the most during the week of April 11 with 399,015.

Although the numbers were down last week to one of the lowest levels since late March, they are still significantly higher than the same week a year ago. Orleans had 37 people file for unemployment during the last week of May in 2019, compared to 136 last week.

Statewide, there were 13,379 unemployment filings the last week of May in 2019, compared to 85,479 last week. That’s about five times as many than a year ago.

Orleans County has now had 4,011 unemployment claims in the past 11 weeks. Orleans County has a workforce of about 17,000 people. The 4,011 unemployment claims represent about 23 percent of the workforce.

The state has now had 2,552,683 file for unemployment since March 14.

Here are the weekly filings among the GLOW counties and state-wide:

  • Genesee: 178 (May 30), 383 (May 23), 480 (May 16), 450 (May 9), 482 (May 2), 589 (April 25), 421 (April 18), 931 (April 11), 886 (April 4), 1,308 (March 28), 268 (March 21)
  • Livingston: 210 (May 30), 439 (May 23), 481 (May 16), 412 (May 9), 355 (May 2), 490 (April 25), 403 (April 18), 918 (April 11), 996 (April 4), 1,338 (March 28), 227 (March 21)
  • Orleans: 136 (May 30), 259 (May 23), 298 (May 16), 285 (May 9), 285 (May 2), 326 (April 25), 297 (April 18), 581 (April 11), 595 (April 4), 824 (March 28), 138 (March 21)
  • Wyoming: 75 (May 30), 256 (May 23), 252 (May 16), 228 (May 9), 234 (May 2), 326 (April 25), 266 (April 18), 601 (April 11), 603 (April 4), 837 (March 28), 155 (March 21)
  • Statewide: 85,479 (May 30), 195,948 (May 23), 229,562 (May 16), 203,928 (May 9), 197,607 (May 2), 222,040 (April 25), 207,172 (April 18), 399,015 (April 11), 347,573 (April 4), 369,025 (March 28), 80,753 (March 21)

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Food distributions will be expanded to include meat, dairy and produce

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 June 2020 at 11:28 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Community Action employees distribute Foodlink boxes and also bags of apples from LynOaken Farms on May 1 in Albion.

Food distributions will continue in Orleans County and will be expanded from one to three boxes.

The Orleans County Office for the Aging, Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, and the Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God will team up for the distributions.

There have been Foodlink distributions in April and May, with 300 boxes available for the distributions in Albion and Medina.

The distributions will expand from one to three boxes and Holley will be included this month. The schedule includes:

  • Friday, June 5 – Community Action, Main Street Store, Albion, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Friday, June 12 – Medina Calvary Cupboard, Medina, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Friday, June 19 – Community Action, Main Street Store, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Friday, June 26 – Holley Community Center, Through Community Action, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

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

On a federal level, the USDA has implemented a 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, said Melissa Blanar, OFA director in Orleans County.

These boxes will be packed in three types: Mixed Dairy, Cooked Meat and Produce. Each box will be approximately 25 lbs. and is meant for a family, Blanar said.

During the food distributions in June, each vehicle with have three boxes set in a trunk or back of a truck. There will be 900 boxes at each one, with enough for 300 different families.

The OFA and Community Action want to continue the food distributions in July and August, but they need volunteers to help with the distributions.

Volunteers need to be able to lift 20- to 25-pound boxes. People interested should contact Blanar at the Office for the Aging at 589-3191 or Annette Finch at Community Action, 589-5605.

Blanar said the groups would like to have the food distributions the first and third Fridays in Albion, the second Friday in Medina, and the fourth Friday possibly rotating to other spot sin the county.

The guidelines for the events includes:

  • This will be a drive-thru model with no walk-ins. People must stay in car and have their ID visible and do not roll your window down.
  • Please have trunk cleaned out so boxes of emergency food can be put into it. Have your trunk open and ready. Once your trunk is closed and tapped, you may drive away.
  • This will be a no-touch distribution and proper social distancing must be maintained at all time.

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Moving to Phase 2, ‘something to celebrate,’ public health director says

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2020 at 9:44 am

Pettit urges businesses to work on plans for reopening: ‘My advice is everybody should be ready’

Paul Pettit

Paul Pettit, the public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said start of Phase 2 for the two counties and the Finger Lakes region is “something to celebrate,” especially in the wake of discouraging news about so many community festivals and events being cancelled.

“I want to thank the residents of Genesee and Orleans counties,” Pettit said on Friday during a weekly press briefing. “It’s not easy. It’s not anything anyone wants to do.”

Pettit was speaking about residents being encouraged to stay home as much as possible the past 10 weeks. They have needed to adhere to social distancing and now must wear masks or facial coverings when in stores.

Pettit said residents have overwhelmingly met a new challenge of civic duty.

The public health director knows the restrictions and the shifting guidelines from the state can be frustrating for the community. Friday was much anticipated as the start of Phase 2 for the region. But the announcement from Gov. Cuomo didn’t come until 1 in the afternoon.

Pettit said the local officials often find out the governor’s directives during his daily press conferences. There typically isn’t any lead time for the public health officials, and then they have to wait a few days for more details from the state. Pettit said the frequent directives, with clear guidance, “makes it very challenging” for the local officials.

The businesses that open in Phase 2 will do so differently than before the Covid-19 pandemic. They will have to reduce capacity of people inside their businesses by 50 percent, and will need to insist that people wear masks and maintain social distancing. There needs to be hand sanitizer available and business owners will need to frequently clean spaces used by the public.

The Phase 2 businesses include offices; real estate; in-store retail; vehicle sales, leases and rentals; retail rental, repair, and cleaning; commercial building management; and hair salons and barbershops.

Pettit urged local businesses to have plans ready that include precautions to protect employees and the public from Covid-19.

“To reopen, every business or organization needs to have a plan to reopen,” Pettit said. “The plans need to incorporate all aspects of social distancing, capacity, face masks, and enhanced cleaning to protect employees and people who use the facilities.”

The plans need to be customized to reflect the layout and square footage of the buildings and the public spaces.

“My advice is everybody should be ready,” Pettit said.

Four other regions besides the Finger Lakes also moved to Phase 2: Central New York, North Country, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions.

Local officials from the five regions were vocal in criticizing the state for how Phase 2 was unveiled. The officials said the governor should have given more notice so businesses could schedule employees, order inventory and be ready.

Cuomo, speaking at his news conference on Friday, said experts were continuing to study the data to make sure the Phase 1 opening from May 15 didn’t lead to a spike in hospitalizations from Covid-19.

“Their data has been reviewed and the experts say to us it’s safe to move forward, because people have been smart and you haven’t seen the spike,” Cuomo said about the five regions.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson on Friday afternoon, during a weekly news briefing, said she looks forward to seeing the economy be reopened.

“We are feeling the economic devastation here,” she said. “We have a lot of mom and pop businesses. It’s going to take a long time to recover.”

She praised local agencies that are organizing food distributions and trying to meet peoples’ basic needs. Many people, who have been self sufficient, are lining up at the food distributions, she said.

Bob Duffy

Bob Duffy, the former state lieutenant governor with Cuomo, is leading the Finer Lakes control room, made up of officials from nine counties.

He responded to criticism about the governor’s roll-out of Phase 2.

“The governor always said it would be at least two weeks in between phases,” Duffy said during a Friday afternoon call with reporters.

He said Cuomo wanted to study the data to make sure it was safe to move to Phase 2, without a surge in cases that could overwhelm the hospital system.

Duffy urged the community to continue social distancing, wearing a mask and taking other precautions.

“I think we are on a roll right here,” Duffy said. “We just have to keep going.”

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County historian, who is leaving for job in North Carolina, gets praise by legislators

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 9:32 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard leads a tour and historical presentation to about 200 people on Sept. 13 in downtown Albion. Ballard gave frequent community presentations about local history, wrote a weekly column and worked behind the scenes to modernize the Department of History.

ALBION — Matt Ballard is five-plus years as Orleans County historian took the Department of History to new levels, county legislators said.

He wrote a weekly column highlighting local history, gave many community presentations, developed an online presence for the department, and catalogued the records in the office.

He did it in a part-time role, while working another full-time job and finishing a master’s degree in American History from Brockport State College. (He also has a master’s degree in library science from the University at Buffalo.)

Ballard is leaving Orleans County next month to take a position at the college in North Carolina. He will be assistant director of Collection Strategies at Davidson College.

The seven-member County Legislature on Wednesday presented him with a “Special Recognition Award” for his “outstanding service” as county historian.

Matt Ballard sported an unusual beard style during the June 30 Barre Bicentennial Parade. Ballard competed in a beard contest later that afternoon.

“Your dedication and expertise in modernizing the County’s Department of History along with presentations, articles and tours provided outstanding history to put residents that will forever be widespread, long lasting and extremely appreciated,” the certificate states.

Ballard, 31, started as historian on Feb. 26, 2015. He served in the part-time role while working full-time at Roberts Wesleyan College in North Chili, where he is director of library services.

The historian’s job paid $8,600 in 2019. Ballard said he needed to pick a career, and the library position pays better.

Ballard has been dedicated to the position. When he was on his honeymoon in July 2017, he and his wife Christine planned a trip to England, France and Poland. They visited the Somme American Cemetery in Bony, France and paid their respects at the graves of local soldiers who trained with Company F at the former Medina Armory.

Ballard is the former director of the Cobblestone Museum and then served as its board president. He has been president of the board of trustees for the Orleans County Historical Association and an active member of the Knights of Columbus.

Ballard is an Albion native. He joined Orleans County Genealogical Association when he was 18 and served as treasurer for more than a decade, and was a frequent speaker at the organization’s meetings.

His interest in genealogy led to him pursuing career as a historian and archivist. Ballard added to the Department of History’s digital presence, adding a laptop, email address and updated content on the website.

He has expanded the number subject files from 250 to about 1,400, and that doesn’t include about 750 family files for gathering genealogy materials.

Ballard was named a “Friend of Education” by the Albion school district on April 1, 2019 in appreciation for several projects with seventh-graders. Ballard teamed with Albion’s service learning class to secure a headstone for Civil War veteran John Frost at St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Brown Road in Gaines.

They also added a historical marker at Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon for Charles Herbert Taylor, the only known Orleans County resident killed in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Ballard also helped secure a historical marker for Lemuel Cook of Clarendon, the last living pensioner from the Revolutionary War. That marker is at Cook Cemetery on Munger Road. (Another marker is expected to be dedicated in Holley for home that was a safe house on the Underground Railroad.)

Ballard and the seventh-graders also had a large bronze tablet from World War I placed back at its original location on the Orleans County Courthouse. The historian and students also created interpretive panels in Albion about the Erie Canal and the former Poor House on Countyhouse Road in Albion.

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Orleans County 4-H Fair cancelled for 2020

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kids have fun on one of the Midway rides in this photo from July 30, 2016. About 25,000 to 30,000 people attend the fair.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 28 May 2020 at 9:03 pm

KNOWLESVILLE – It is with a lot of sad hearts the Orleans County 4-H Fair Board, chaired by Zack Welker, announced tonight its decision to cancel the 2020 Orleans County 4-H Fair, citing health and safety as the primary reasons in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fair was scheduled for July 26 to 31. The event usually draws about 25,000 to 30,000 people.

“As a former 4-Her I understand the impact this will have on our county’s youth, and we are working very hard to put alternatives in place to help them stay plugged in and help them with their fair projects,” Welker said. “Although difficult, we feel this is the most responsible decision to make in keeping both those involved in the fair and the public safe and comfortable. We are here to answer any questions and look forward to helping our youth and looking ahead to the 2021 fair.”

Robert Batt, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension for the last five years, has been involved in 4-H since he was 8 years old as a 4-H member.

“Never in our wildest dreams did any of us think the day would come when we would have to cancel the fair,” Batt said. “This would have been the 73rd year of the fair.”

Fair manager Marty Zwifka echoed Batts disappointment, as they reminisced about previous fair experiences.

“We won’t be sleeping in the llama trailer this year,” Zwifka said.

“I’m already saddened about not eating fair cheeseburgers for two years,” Batt said. “It’s the little things like that clicking through my mind, which made the fair so meaningful. It’s all the little pieces which made the experience so unique.”

Batt said the board shed a lot of tears, as have the volunteers and vendors who were active at the fair.

“Our fair board did everything in our power to try and have this fair,” Zwifka said. “Our volunteers have worked countless hours trying to find a solution, and I haven’t slept in two nights.”

Sun streams into the cattle barn in this photo from July 30, 2016.

Batt said they have been talking about the fair for two months and had many meetings.

“We’ve been through a lot of emotions, because the fair means many things for all of us,” he said. “We moved the entry deadline, but finally realized we couldn’t wait any longer.”

Ultimately, they all felt canceling was the best decision.

Batt said that doesn’t mean there won’t be any 4-H activities. He said the fair was always a way to showcase projects of 4-H youth, bring the community together and support agriculture. They are hoping to be able to have some event or events, such as a virtual livestock auction.

“A virtual auction may be better than a live one, because we can reach new people.” Batt said. “At the fair, people have a few hours to attend the auction, where with a virtual one they will have an entire week.”

They are also looking at ways for livestock youth and consumer sciences clubs to show off their projects.

Batt said they may also try and have a drive-through version of the fair’s famous chicken barbecue, pending approval from the Health Department.

Batt and Zwifka said they can understand how they would have felt as kids if the fair were canceled.

“It’s the coolest thing when teens joke about what they used to do and how they would run the fair,” Batt said.

As many as 500 youth are involved in 4-H at Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension. Some clubs have been able to meet online, such as the dog and horse programs, Batt said.

“I have had Senior Council meetings online every week because I wanted the kids to stay connected,” he said.

Batt said a study was done several years ago determining the impact of local fairs on their county, and it was significant, although he said revenue from the Orleans County 4-H Fair all went into programming and projects for the next year’s fair. He said it would, however, be a big loss to their vendors, many of whom will lose their entire season this year.

Like everyone, Batt said they will have wait for another year to gather around the giant apple pie tin, eat something unhealthy and deep fried, show kids how cows are milked and just be together.

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Courthouse dome may be illumined in school colors for grads

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 May 2020 at 10:19 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The courthouse dome was purple in this photo from Oct. 6, 2015 to highlight Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

ALBION – Orleans County would like to light up the county courthouse dome in the different school colors to celebrate the high school graduates of 2020.

Albion school officials asked that the dome be illumined in purple in honor of the graduating class. County officials want to honor that request and also would like to celebrate students from all five districts – Albion, Holley, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina.

John Papponetti, the DPW superintendent, is trying to get the colors to make it happen, county legislators said during their monthly meeting on Wednesday.

In other action on Wednesday, legislators presented several proclamations and special recognition awards including:

• Recognizing National Police Week in Orleans County

National Police Week is set aside to honor America’s law enforcement community for their hard work and dedication in protecting and serving their local communities. The Orleans County Legislature recognizes the Orleans County Deputy Sheriff’s, Albion Police Officers, Medina Police Officers, Holley Police Officers, the New York State Police, and all other law enforcement officials during the week, which was May 10 to May 16.

• Special Recognition Awards to Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, Office for the Aging and the Calvary Cupboard

The County Legislature recognized the three groups for their efforts coordinating Foodlink distributions in Albion and Medina. The three organizations were commended “for helping our residents during this uncertain time in our history and appreciate your services in helping provide comfort and security during times of need by our residents and their families.”

• Proclamation of Older Americans Month in May

“We urge every resident to recognize older adults and the people who support them as essential members of our community.”

• Recognizing Orleans County Correctional Officers

National Correctional Officers Week was May 3-9. The corrections officers at the county jail provide care and custody of about 600 inmates a year.

“Our dedicated Corrections Officers have the responsibility to operate a safe and secure detention facility in compliance with the New York State Corrections Law and with regulations set forth by the New York State Commission of Corrections,” County legislators said.

Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson also noted that no inmates or jail staff have tested positive for Covid-19. She praised Sheriff Chris Bourke and Jail Superintendent Scott Wilson for keeping the virus out of the jail.

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Unemployment rate in Orleans at 15.8%

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 May 2020 at 6:31 pm

State DOL data shows big jump in unemployment

The state Department of Labor today announced the unemployment rates for April in the state and counties. Orleans County is at 15.8 percent and state-wide the rate is at 15.0 percent.

In April 2019, the unemployment rate was 4.2 percent in Orleans and 3.6 percent state-wide.

In March, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in Orleans County and 4.2 percent in the state.

The state DOL report says 14,300 people were working in the county in April, which was down 2,300 from 16,500 in April 2019. The number of unemployed increased by 2,000, from 700 to 2,700.

The Department of Labor reports the unemployment rate for nearby metro areas at 19.2 percent for Buffalo-Niagara Falls and 14.9 percent in Rochester.

The unemployment rates for other nearby counties include Niagara, 21.9 percent; Erie, 18.6 percent; Genesee, 14.4 percent; and Monroe, 15.0 percent.

The state DOL has a list online showing the unemployment rates since January 1976. The 15.0 percent is the highest state-wide rate in the 44 years that records are available. The next highest was 11.2 percent in both January and February 1976.

The last time Orleans County was above 10 percent in unemployment was February 2013 (10.6 percent) and January 2013 (11.2 percent).

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County Tourism urges residents to visit a military memorial

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 May 2020 at 10:35 pm

New online database lists memorials dedicated to soldiers from Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Civil War cannon at Greenwood Cemetery on Route 18 is a memorial for the community’s Civil War veterans.

There won’t be any big parades or official public gatherings in Orleans County on Memorial Day.

Residents can still have a meaningful Memorial Day without a crowd. The Orleans County Tourism Department has created a database of military memorials.

There is a war memorial in all 10 towns in the county. The most remarkable by size and for the number of dead it honors may be the tower at Mount Albion Cemetery, a 68-foot-high sandstone structure that includes the names of 463 county residents killed in the war. The names are in marble slabs inside the tower. That memorial was dedicated in 1876, on the country’s 100th anniversary.

The most recent new memorial is a bronze statue of a soldier that was dedicated on Sept. 7, 2019. That statue honors the soldiers who trained at the former Medina Armory, which is now the Orleans County YMCA.

All of the memorials throughout the county pay homage to sacrifice of soldiers.

“Orleans County’s deepest respect and patriotism is demonstrated in the memorials and monuments scattered throughout the county,” the County Tourism Departments states in a message about the memorials. “Dedicated organizations and individuals have led the efforts to create these monuments in honor of those who served in the Armed Forces and several who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Click here to see the online site about the local memorials dedicated to soldiers from Orleans County.

This memorial in front of the Albion Middle School is a memorial to Orleans County residents who were killed in action during the Vietnam War. The memorial was dedicated on May 24, 1996.

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$12 million water project pitched for Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 May 2020 at 4:04 pm

Project would add new transmission line from Albion water plant to Ridgeway, 2 new water tanks in western Orleans, and interconnection between Albion and Lyndonville plants

File photo by Tom Rivers: The Albion Department of Public Works worked on Jan. 1, 2019 to repair a leak to its main transmission line on Main Street (Route 98). A consultant is suggested a second transmission main be constructed from the Albion water plant, with the new one providing service for Shelby and Ridgeway.

A firm that looked at ways to improve the water system in Orleans County is suggesting an $12 million upgrade in phase 1.

A second phase at $6 million would bring the total costs to $18 million.

The projects would increase water capacity in the county, improve water pressure and fire flows, and keep more water revenue in the county, instead of to outside suppliers.

That added revenue for more in-county water revenue, as well as expected grant funding for the project, would cover the cost for the project, the Wendel engineering firm told municipal officials.

That project would also would have the added benefit of a lower bulk water rate for many of the towns.

“I think you will find the opportunity here is extraordinary and even historic for the county,” said Chuck Nesbitt, a regional manager for Wendel. “It’s a winner for this community.”

Nesbitt is also the former chief administrative officer for Orleans County before leaving that job after 14 years in December to join Wendel.

The firm presented the results of the study on Thursday evening during a Zoom meeting with local elected officials, and highway and water department leaders.

Gerald Summe, executive vice president of Wendel, and Brian Sibiga, an engineer with Wendel, joined Nesbitt in going over the study.

Sibiga said the current system is plagued by numerous dead ends in waterlines, low fire flows, weak water pressure in spots and a lack of redundancy in the main water transmission line for Albion. If that line on Route 98 went down there is another main line to feed the system.

The study included an inventory of water infrastructure in the county, as well as the personnel devoted to maintaining water lines and running water plants.

The study also looked at how new transmission lines could move water to spots in the county that would be ideal for economic development.

Wendel also looked for potential cost savings and efficiencies that will reduce costs and increase capacity.

The current water rates are not consistent among the towns, and “problematically high in some areas.” For example, Ridgeway and Shelby pay a $5.98 rate 1,000 gallons, which is more than double what most of the towns are paying.

Water suppliers

  • The Village of Albion is currently the main water provider in central Orleans with its water plant on Wilson Road by Lake Ontario in Carlton. Albion provides about 1.47 million gallons of water daily for 15,000 customers. Albion’s water plant is designed for 3 million gallons. Albion is utilizing about 49 percent of its capacity.
  • Lyndonville produces about 200,000 gallons of water a day at a plant with a 400,000-gallon peak capacity, or a 50 percent utilization. That plant serves about 2,200 customers.
  • The also use about 460,000 gallons a day from other users — the Niagara County Water District for western Orleans and Monroe County Water Authority in eastern Orleans.

The study focused on how to better utilize and safeguard two water suppliers in the county – Albion and Lyndonville.

Wendel is suggesting an $18 million project with three main capital initiatives for phase 1 that would increase water pressure and fire flows, and also provide more revenue for in-county water suppliers. That revenue would help reduce the overall per-gallon water cost for the towns, and also pay for the capital projects (which would be eligible for state and federal grants).

The project also would give Albion another main transmission line to feed the water districts, instead of relying solely on the Route 98 main.

Phase I: $12 million

These slides are screen shots from a presentation on Thursday by the Wendel engineering firm. This slide shows a map of the county include an outline for a 10-mile tranmsission line in phase 1. It also shows the water pressure in the towns if the project proceeds.

Project 1: 10-mile transmission line from Carlton, down Route 18, south on Townline Road to Route 104 near Kenyonville Road.

Project cost: $8.4 million

Proposed benefits:

  • Supplies water to western/southern side of Orleans County
  • Improves the water flow
  • Gives secondary route to feed water to Barre and Village of Albion, by coming through Shelby
  • Provides and improves service to towns of Yates, Shelby and Ridgeway
  • Reduces water costs in supplied communities

Project 2: Interconnection line at 1,200 feet that would allow Albion to supplement water to Lyndonville and Yates.

Besides the waterline, project would include high-service pump upgrade at Albion water plant, and pressure-reducing valve and meter pit.

Project cost: $892,500

Proposed benefits:

  • Lyndonville’s water treatment plant would remain in service and Albion’s plant would supplement water to Lyndonville and Yates during high demands. Often farmers could use more water for irrigation and would pay for it, but Lyndonville’s system is maxed out at about 200,000 gallons per day. The interconnection would allow for more water to be sold locally and would help farmers boost the quality of their crops.
  • The project would increase water sales for Albion, reduce overall water-per-gallon costs, and improve water quality through interconnections. The regional approach would likely lead to more grants for the water projects.
  • Albion and Lyndonville should also consider sharing operational staff. Albion already has some of its sewer plant employees helping to run the sewer plants in Holley and Elba. Albion could also provide some personnel to help with Lyndonville’s system.

Project 3: Water storage tanks and pump stations in Ridgeway and Shelby

Ridgeway and Shelby each would have a new 250,000 gallon water storage tank, and a new pump station with two booster pumps discharging at 85 PSI (pound-force per square inch).

This project would increase water pressure in Ridgeway from 80 to 103 PSI, to 88 PSI in Shelby and from 55 to 68 PSI in Barre. The pressure would also improve in parts of central Orleans, going from 60 to 89 PSI in Carlton and 70 to 90 PSI in Albion.

The projects would increase the demand for water produced by Albion and Lyndonville to 2.1 million gallons a day, with capacity remaining for another 1.2 million gallons. The two new 250,000-gallon storage tanks would boost storage capacity from 4.75 million gallons to 5.25 million.

Project cost: $3,000,000

Proposed benefits:

  • Increase in regional revenue
  • Increase in water supply by average 344,000 gallons a day. Albion water plant utilization would increase from current 49 percent of capacity to 61 percent.
  • Improve regional water infrastructure
  • Communities would see increase in water pressure, increase in available fire flow and additional storage for Shelby, Ridgeway and Barre.

Outside of Phase 1, the Village of Albion is already working to upgrade its water plant. The village is undertaking a $3,250,000 improvement project.

The project scope includes chemical and ventilation system improvements, clarifier system rehabilitation, filtration system rehabilitation, bolster pump station No. 1 improvements, miscellaneous building repairs and transmission main improvements along Route 98.

Phase 2 project to expand capacity of Albion water plant, $6 million

After phase 1 is complete, Wendel said Albion and the partner municipalities should consider a phase 2 project that would increase the capacity at the Albion water plant from 3 million gallons and 4.5 million.

That $6 million project would involve a high-service pump station upgrade, filtration upgrade, sedimentation improvements, main building expansion, and associated electrical, mechanical and structural upgrades as well as a new SCADA system (supervisory control and data acquisition) to help monitor and operate the water plant.

The consultants say the town water districts in Albion, Barre, Carlton, Gaines, Murray, Shelby and Ridgeway all currently pay $1.2 million annually for water. (This doesn’t count Murray’s water from the Monroe County Water Authority.)

The Village of Albion provides 621,975 of those gallons per day and the Village of Lyndonville’s water plant provides 112,000 gallons per day to customers in Yates.

The Village of Albion sells the water in a bulk rate to the towns for $2.96 per 1,000 gallons. Lyndonville bills Yates a $2.45 rate. Shelby and Ridgeway are charged $5.98 for water they buy from the Village of Medina, which gets its water from the Niagara County Water District.

Wendel said the project would allow Albion to lower its bulk rate to the towns by 30 cents to $2.66 per 1,00 gallons. That would be less than half of what Ridgeway and Shelby are currently paying. Yates could continue with its $2.45 rate paid to Lyndonville.

That reduced rate would save water customers about $240,000 a year in what they are currently paying, Wendel said.

‘Our water system is old. It’s aging. We’re band-aiding when we need to. We’re spending a lot of money operating the way we are now.’ – John Papponetti, Orleans County DPW superintendent

Sibiga, the Wendel engineer, said the municipal leaders should also look to loop districts to remove dead-ends. That would also improve water pressure and quality, and reduce the need for frequent flushing.

He said the additional transmission line from the Albion plant should be considered a high priority.

“A failure could really be catastrophic,” he said a break in the main transmission line. “There is some room for improvement with investment.”

With the plan proposed by Wendel, Albion and Lyndonville would continue to own their water plants, but the towns would each get a vote in a regional water system administrative board that would guide investments and water supply contracts. Each community would get a vote on how the system operates.

That could include having designated personnel for the water system, rather than having each municipality’s highway or DPW workers also have to run the water systems.

The regional approach would significantly increase the chances for federal and state grants, which would help Albion and Lyndonville with funding to upgrade the water systems.

“This would increase capacity for future developments, whether residential of business development,” Sibiga said about the proposed project. “Having large quantities of potable water is critical for our region to compete, and there would be an anticipated decrease in cost to users.”

The Wendel officials asked the municipal leaders to consider the suggestions of the study and work towards an agreement or memorandum of understanding on how to proceed.

Nesbitt said the regional approach would be a big benefit to the local municipalities.

“It would create future opportunities for increased sales and service,” he said.

John Papponetti, the county’s DPW superintendent, said the proposed projects would address many deficiencies in the water system. Papponetti also is an Albion firefighter. His father, Harry, is the Albion fire chief.

“Many of new districts going in that are dead ends and barely meet fire flow standards,” John Papponetti said.

The new transmission line “would be a major, major benefit for the entire area,” he said.

“Our water system is old,” Papponetti said. “It’s aging. We’re band-aiding when we need to. We’re spending a lot of money operating the way we are now.”

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1,200 boxes of produce will be distributed to community on May 29 at Fairgrounds

Posted 22 May 2020 at 4:05 pm

Press Release, Robert Batt, director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County

Provided photo: There will be 1,200 boxes of produce available for free to the community on May 29 at the Fairgrounds in Knowlesville.

KNOWLESVILLE – Next Friday, May 29, we will be distributing USDA farmers-to-families produce boxes at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension is pleased to share that free USDA farmers-to-families food boxes are available for the public on Friday, May 29.

This is a first come, first served opportunity and there are no pre-orders or deliveries available. Distribution will begin at 10 a.m. and will end when all 1,200 boxes have been handed out.

Anyone is welcome to come and pick up a box — this is not limited to families with children. Those interested should pick up at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds at 12690 Rt. 31 in Albion. You will not need to leave your vehicle for drive through pickup, our staff and volunteers will load into your trunk for you. If you have questions please email or call the Cooperative Extension at 585-798-4265 and leave a voice mail staff will monitor and respond.

Each box contains 20 pounds of assorted produce such as: Potatoes (1-5 pounds), Oranges (1-4 pounds), Apples (1-3 pounds), Onions (1-3 pounds), Green vegetables (1-3 pounds of broccoli, cabbage, green pepper, etc.), Carrots (1-2 pounds)

We are grateful for this opportunity to support the community and is thankful to the United States Department of Agriculture and James Desiderio Inc. of Buffalo for helping make this food distribution possible.

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Unemployment claims continue fast rise in Orleans, NYS

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 May 2020 at 12:00 pm

The number of people filing unemployment claims in Orleans County and New York State isn’t slowing down.

The latest data from the State Labor Department show 229,562 people filed unemployment claims last week, which was more than 203,928 the previous week, ending May 9. A year ago during the same week, there were 12,097 unemployment claims in the state, about 5 percent of the number last week.

In Orleans County, 298 people filed for unemployment last week, which was up from 285 the previous week. A year ago during the same week, 30 people filed for unemployment in Orleans County, according to the state DOL.

Since the state closed and restricted many businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2,271,256 have filed unemployment claims in the state in 10 weeks.

In Orleans County, the total unemployment claims in the county is up to 3,616 in the past nine weeks. Orleans County has a workforce of about 17,000 people. The 3,616 unemployment claims represent about 21 percent of the workforce.

Here are the weekly unemployment claims the past nine weeks in the GLOW counties and statewide:

  • Genesee: 480 (May 16), 450 (May 9), 482 (May 2), 589 (April 25), 421 (April 18), 931 (April 11), 886 (April 4), 1,308 (March 28), 268 (March 21)
  • Livingston: 481 (May 16), 412 (May 9), 355 (May 2), 490 (April 25), 403 (April 18), 918 (April 11), 996 (April 4), 1,338 (March 28), 227 (March 21)
  • Orleans: 298 (May 16), 285 (May 9), 285 (May 2), 326 (April 25), 297 (April 18), 581 (April 11), 595 (April 4), 824 (March 28), 138 (March 21)
  • Wyoming: 252 (May 16), 228 (May 9), 234 (May 2), 326 (April 25), 266 (April 18), 601 (April 11), 603 (April 4), 837 (March 28), 155 (March 21)
  • Statewide: 229,562 (May 16), 203,928 (May 9), 197,607 (May 2), 222,040 (April 25), 207,172 (April 18), 399,015 (April 11), 347,573 (April 4), 369,025 (March 28), 80,753 (March 21)

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Orleans is lagging with Census response rate

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 May 2020 at 10:32 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The sign in front of the Hoag Library in Albion on Monday evening notes the Orleans County response rate to the Census. The 48.4 percent rate is among the lowest in Western New York.

Orleans County has one of the lowest response rates to the 2020 Census in Western New York.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports Orleans County response rate is 48.8 percent as of May 17. That is below the state average of 54.3 percent and the national average of 59.6 percent.

In 2010, Orleans had a 66.8 percent response to the Census, which is required to be filled out by law every 10 years.

The county’s response rate is lagging particularly at the lakeshore towns of Yates and Carlton, where there are many seasonal residents. In Yates the response rate is only 33.5 percent and in Carlton it’s 38.5 percent. Residents were urged to fill out the form, which only take s a few minutes online, by April 1.

“The lakeshore remains more problematic,” said Jim Bensley, director of Planning and Development in Orleans County. “And the villages it’s also low. The villages tend to have more renters who can be hard to enumerate.”

Orleans County’s southern towns of Clarendon (62.3 percent), Barre (60.2 percent) and Shelby (57.9 percent) have the highest participation rates with the Census in the county.

Here are the response rates for the 10 towns and four villages in Orleans County:


  • Albion: 45.9 percent
  • Barre: 60.2 percent
  • Carlton: 38.5 percent
  • Clarendon: 62.3 percent
  • Gaines: 49.3 percent
  • Kendall: 43.8 percent
  • Murray: 50.6 percent
  • Ridgeway: 50.7 percent
  • Shelby: 57.9 percent
  • Yates: 33.5 percent


  • Albion: 43.5 percent
  • Holley: 51.7 percent
  • Lyndonville: 52.4 percent
  • Medina: 50.2 percent

Orleans is doing better than some counties in Western New York. Allegany County is at 41.4 percent and Cattaraugus is at 47.1 percent. But Orleans is at least 10 percent behind the rates of its neighbors: Niagara, Genesee and Monroe counties.

Western New York counties

  • Allegany, 41.4 percent
  • Cattaraugus, 47.1 percent
  • Chautauqua, 52.7 percent
  • Erie, 64.9 percent
  • Genesee: 59.6 percent
  • Livingston: 57.8 percent
  • Monroe: 62.3 percent
  • Niagara, 65.5 percent
  • Wyoming: 52.5 percent

Orleans County isn’t alone with a response rate below 50 percent. New York City is at a 49.1 percent response rate. Hamilton County in the Adirondacks is by far the lowest at 6.7 percent. Some other rural counties in upstate also have low response rates:

  • Sullivan, 26.9 percent
  • Delaware, 31.7 percent
  • Lewis, 33.8 percent
  • Jefferson, 40.1 percent
  • Yates, 45.3 percent
  • Otsego, 45.9 percent
  • Herkimer, 47.9 percent
  • Chenango, 49.0 percent
  • Schuyler, 49.3 percent
  • St. Lawrence, 49.8 percent

Orleans County is partnering with the four public libraries in the county to promote filling out the Census. The libraries have public access computers with staff willing to offer assistance with the questionnaire. But the library buildings and computers have all been off-limits to the public since mid-March.

Bensley said the Census will have people going door-to-door to have people complete the Census, but that might not be until the fall.

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County sending 24,000 applications this week for voters who may want absentee ballots

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2020 at 6:25 pm

Federal CARES funding directs $46K to Orleans for added elections costs

ALBION – Registered voters in Orleans County this week should receive applications in the mail whether they want an absentee ballot for the June 23 primary and special election.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order on April 24 mandating that the New York State Board of Elections automatically mail every New Yorker a postage-paid application for an absentee ballot.

In Orleans County, the Board of Elections is mailing that application this week to about 24,000 registered voters.

They need to fill out the application and send it back in a postage-paid envelope to then receive an absentee ballot.

It will cost the county $1.95 for every application that is mailed and then returned by mail. The absentee ballots will cost $1.15 for the postage, sending it to each voter and then with the return postage.

The Board of Elections knows it has 24,000 of the ballot applications to mail. A big wild card is how many voters will return the application and want an absentee ballot.

“We have no idea how many we’ll get back,” said Kathy Case, an elections commissioner for the county. “We’re not even estimating.”

Voters still have the option of voting in person from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 23. There will also be early voting from June 13 to June 21 to cast ballots in person. Elections officials urge voters who go to the polls to wear masks or facial coverings.

The county has been approved for $46,022 in federal CARES funding to help with the added costs with the primary and election.

Those costs won’t be fully known until the BOE receives applications back in the mail. The BOE will pay the postage for returned applications. At that point, the BOE will also know how many absentee ballots it needs to send.

Special election on June 23 will include the following candidates to fill the vacant 27th Congressional District:

  • Nathan D. McMurray – Democratic, Working Families
  • Chris Jacobs – Republican, Independence
  • Michael J. Gammariello – Green
  • Duane Whitmer – Libertarian

The seat was vacated on Sept. 30 with the resignation of Chris Collins, who pleaded guilty to an insider trading scheme.

Democratic Presidential Primary: There will also be a Democratic Presidential Primary that day. The candidates include Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang.

Republican Primary for 27th:  There will also be a Republican primary on June 23 to see who gets the Republican line in the November election for a full two-year term. Jacobs, Beth Parlato and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw are pursuing the Republican line.

Local primaries include County Clerk, Republican Committees in Ridgeway and Murray

Orleans County Clerk: There are two Republican candidates running for Orleans County Clerk. Diane Shampine is the current acting clerk. She assumed the post after Karen Lake-Maynard retired. Shampine was Lake-Maynard’s deputy clerk for 14 years. Nadine Hanlon, current clerk of the County Legislature, also is seeking the position. Hanlon is also a former Kendall town clerk. She is a current member of the Kendall Board of Education.

• Republican Committees in Murray and Ridgeway: There are also primaries to pick members for Republican Committees in Murray and Ridgeway.

In Murray, there are primaries for three of the districts, with three candidates seeking two positions in District 3, District 5 and District 6.

In District 3, the candidates include Kathleen Case, Anthony Peone and Kerri Neale.

In District 5, the candidates include Lynn Wood, Cynthia Oliver and Ronald Vendetti.

In District 6, the candidates include Kellie Gregoire, Robert Miller and Adam R. Moore.

In Ridgeway, there are three candidates for two positions with District 2 on the Ridgeway Republican Committee. The candidates include Virginia Nicholson, David Stalker and Ayesha Kreutz.

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