Find us on Facebook

Orleans County

Cuomo expected to announce $15 million for lakeshore projects in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 October 2019 at 9:00 am

YOUNGSTOWN – Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning will be at Fort Niagara in Youngstown where he is expected to announce funding to protect assets along the lakeshore in Orleans and Niagara counties.

Cuomo will be at the Port of Rochester this afternoon to announce funding for Lake Ontario projects in Monroe County.

The governor formed the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Commission, which has been tasked with divvying up $300 million in funding for eight counties in the state.

The commission identified $30 million of projects in both Orleans and Niagara counties. The governor today is expected to announce which projects will be funded.

Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislature chairwoman, said on Tuesday night that she expects $15 million will be coming to Orleans County. She will be among the local officials at Fort Niagara this morning for the governor’s announcement.

The state is making money available to protect public resources, such as sewer plants, roads and parks. There will also be funding for economic assets, such as marinas and campgrounds.

Click here to see a previous article about the projects under consideration in Orleans County.

Return to top

Orleans lakeshore residents, businesses urged to seek state funding from flooding damage

Posted 18 October 2019 at 3:55 pm

Press Release, Orleans County government

ALBION – Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson and Director of Emergency Management Dale Banker are encouraging all homeowners whose residences suffered damage as a result of this year’s flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline to apply for relief funding as soon as possible.

The application process is underway and applications are now available at the Homes and Community Renewal (click here), the state agency tasked with overseeing the program. All applications must be postmarked by Oct. 31.

As part of the REDI program, the state set aside aside $20 million to help homeowners complete repair projects and build to help prevent damage from the possibility of future flooding. While priority will be given to applications that address damage to primary residences, funding to address damages to secondary homes may be considered following fulfillment of primary residence applications.

In addition, the REDI Commission has decided to allocate $30 million toward private business projects, especially marinas, focused on resiliency. Business owners can click here for more for the program through Empire State Development and to fill out a simple intake form. The full application will follow by late November.

Any questions, please contact the Orleans County Office of Emergency Management at (585) 589-4414.

Return to top

Residents urged to drop off unused prescriptions on Oct. 26 at 3 locations

Posted 16 October 2019 at 3:54 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office will once again participate in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative on Saturday, Oct. 26,  between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

This is a collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Administration, the Orleans County Health Department and the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse (GCASA).

This is a great opportunity for the public to surrender unwanted and/or expired medications for safe and proper disposal. Events such as these have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, as well as increasing awareness of this critical public health issue.

The following are collection points:

• Orleans County Public Safety Building – 13925 State Route 31, Albion

• Holley Fire Department – 7 Thomas St., Holley

• Medina Fire Department – 600 Main St., Medina

Special thanks to the Holley and Medina fire departments for providing space within their facilities for this event.

Return to top

County will have early voting option for 9 days prior to Nov. 5 election

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 October 2019 at 2:55 pm

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

The county will accept ballots at the Board of Elections from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3. 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 state is providing Orleans County with $27,251 towards the cost of implementing the reform.

The state is requiring at least one polling location for early voting for every 50,000 registered voters. The county was able to meet the standard with one polling location because it has 24,590 registered voters.

The Board of Elections moved in July from a suite in the Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Facility to the new addition on 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. 26-27 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Oct. 28 (Monday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Oct. 29-30 (Tuesday and Wednesday) from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Oct. 31-Nov. 1 (Thursday and Friday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nov. 2-3 (Saturday and Sunday) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The general election is Nov. 5 with polls in the 10 towns in Orleans County open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Return to top

Libraries, Leadership Orleans make funding pitch to county legislators

Photos by Tom Rivers: Betty Sue Miller, director of Hoag Library in Albion, said the library runs many programs for the community, including a summer reading program that attracted about 2,000 people.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 October 2019 at 10:43 am

ALBION – It’s budget season for the Orleans County officials, and two groups made pitches for the importance of their programs to the County Legislature.

Leaders of the four public libraries in the county met with the Legislature last week. They touted their summer reading programs, internet access for the public, and numerous other resources and services.

The libraries would like to see $1 per resident in the county budget. That would be $42,883.

The county currently provides $10,087 to the four libraries – Albion (Hoag Library), Holley (Community Free Library), Lyndonville (Yates Community Library) and Medina (Lee-Whedon Memorial Library).

Sandra Shaw of the Community Free Library on Holley said the library connects with people of all ages in the community.

The county was giving $29,914 to be shared among the four libraries as recently as 2002, but that dropped to $7,480 in 2003. Since then, the amount was raised to $12,587 in 2007, $13,617 in 2010, and then was cut to $10,087 in 2011. It hasn’t changed since then.

“We serve everybody,” said Emily Cebula, director of Yates Community Library. “We’re here to get you what you need.”

She told legislators the library organized several programs over the summer with a space theme for a “Universe of Stories.”

Tom Bindeman, executive director of the Nioga Library System

Catherine Cooper, director of Lee-Whedon, said the Medina library had 2,500 participants for 64 summer reading programs.

Betty Sue Miller, director of the Hoag Library, said the county support for libraries is a small percentage of the libraries’ budget. The dollars help provide services, and also send a message to the community that legislators value the four public libraries, Miller said.

Tom Bindeman, director of the Nioga Library Sttem that serves Niagara, Orleans and Genesee counties, said libraries will have a bigger role in the upcoming Census 2020. An accurate count is critical for the local municipalities in their aid from the state and federal governments, Bindeman said.

The census can be filled out electronically for the first time. Bindeman wants an accurate count, because so much government aid is tied to population.

The libraries, with their high-speed internet, will be important spots for the census to be completed.

Leadership Orleans asks county to maintain support

Skip Helfrich, Leadership Orleans director, leads a retreat for the second class of Leadership Orleans this past January.

The county was instrumental in providing funding support for Leadership Orleans. The new program became a reality in 2018 after the County Legislature set aside $33,000 in 2017 to get the program off the ground.

The county contribution was reduced to $22,000 in 2018 and is slated for $16,000 in 2019.

The class has had about 25 members each of the first two years. The year-long program meets monthly and the members comes from a cross section of the community, including government department heads, farm leaders, agency directors and other business officials. The program picked residents who have demonstrated leadership abilities, interest in community affairs, and a commitment to Orleans County’s future.

Each month the group learned about a different sector of the community, including government, arts and culture, volunteerism and non-profit organizations, community health, tourism and recreation, agribusiness, economic & workforce development, and education.

Skip Helfrich, Leadership Orleans director, said the program made 56 site visits last year, and 22 more so far in 2019.

“We’re getting out there experiencing the community,” Helfrich told legislators. “We’re creating countywide exposure in the county with the shakers and movers.”

The program is mostly funded through sponsorships, tuition and other fundraisers. Through its connections with local organizations, Leadership Orleans learned the groups could use more volunteers.

That’s why Leadership Orleans is leading a volunteer fair on Nov. 14 at Hoag Library for community members to meet many of the agencies and service organizations that want more volunteers.

Return to top

County Highway Department to become a Department of Public Works

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 October 2019 at 9:17 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Highway Department, which includes the Buildings and Grounds Department, will have its name dissolved and will become a Department of Public Works.

The County Legislature will have a public hearing on the change at 4:20 p.m. on Nov. 20. The county needs to adopt a local law to change the name of the department.

The proposal also includes changing the title of the highway superintendent to the superintendent of the Department of Public Works.

The Highway Department and Building and Grounds used to be separate with their own department heads. About a decade ago the Buildings and Grounds was moved to be under the Highway Department, under the direction of the highway superintendent.

The Legislature appointed a new highway superintendent on March 27, following the retirement of Jerry Gray. John Papponetti, the new highway leader, has suggested the Highway and Buildings and Grounds become a Department of Public Works.

That is how the highway staffs are known in the local villages. The towns in Orleans County all call them “Highway Departments.”

With the town highway departments, the superintendents are all elected. The DPW leaders are all appointed by the Village Boards. At the county level, the position is made by appointment of the County Legislature.

Return to top

County recognizes Planning Board member for 34 years of service

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2019 at 1:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature last week presented a special recognition award to Tibbs Ahlberg for 34 years of service on the Orleans County Planning Board, including 16 years as vice chairman.

Ahlberg has resigned from the board because he has moved out of Gaines and Orleans County to live in Spencerport.

Ahlberg was joined at the presentation by his wife, Kathy, the retired clerk of the Legislature. Ahlberg was presented a certificate and plaque by James Bensley (second from left), director of the Planning Department, and County Legislator Ken DeRoller.

Bensley said Ahlberg has been a dedicated Planning Board member who was influential in projects in Gaines, especially with the town’s comprehensive plan for land use.

“That’s what makes successful communities,” Bensley said. “It’s when you have long-time volunteers like him.”

Ahlberg served in an at-large position from central Orleans. The County Legislature has to approve his successor for the board.

The Legislature also presented a special recognition award to Jack Welch, the county’s personnel and self insurance director. Legislator John DeFilipps presented the award to Welch for completing the course requirements of the County Government Institute sponsored by The County Government Institute, an educational partnership of New York State Association of Counties and Cornell University.

“The Orleans County Legislature appreciates your commitment to continuing great leadership, integrity and accountability to our employees and to all others that you serve,” the award states.

County Legislator Don Allport presented a proclamation to Sheriff Randy Bower acknowledging Sept. 16-22 as Sheriff’s Week.

Return to top

Robotics team has open house today at Fairgrounds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 September 2019 at 8:15 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Members of the robotics team through the Orleans County 4-H program made a presentation on Wednesday to the Orleans County Legislature. Jack Finley, left, and Zachary Neal showed the county legislators how the robot works, how it can pick up discs and balls.

KNOWLESVILLE – The robotics team through the Orleans County 4-H program will have an open house today from 3 to 6 p.m. at the 4-H Fairgrounds on Route 31. The public is encouraged to check out the robot in action and other team displays.

The program is in its 9thyear in the county and is looking for more participants, mentors and sponsors.

The Orleans team is known as “Hardwired.” It competes in the FIRST Robotics Competition and is also known as team, FRC 4093.

The team has a $15,000 to $20,000 annual budget with sponsors, including Xerox, helping to cover those costs.

“We’re looking to develop more local partnerships,” Jody Neal, one of the team’s mentors, told county legislators during a presentation on Wednesday. His sons, Zachary and Jayden, are both on the team.

The program is part of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). There aren’t many robotics teams from rural areas. Many of the teams are from suburban school districts with full-time staff working with students. The Orleans team is all-volunteer.

In March “Hardwired” competed with 50 teams in the Finger Lakes Regional competition at Rochester Institute of Technology. The Orleans County team finished with a 5-5 record and was ranked 26th overall. The team was 13th for its offensive points.

The five wins is the most since the team started competing in 2012, and the 13th ranking in offense also set a new record for the team.

Each year the team officially starts in January and has six weeks to build a robot. Team members also program the robot. This past season they had to design attachments that could pick up balls and disks. They had to cut metal, run wires and program electronics for the robot. They did a lot of trial and error to build a robot that could accomplish the tasks. They used BCA Ag Technologies on Route 31A as a base of their operations.

The team is looking to have a new base of operations at the fairgrounds with an addition on the Curtis Pavilion. That would be a STEM Shop with space and equipment for the 4-H Robotics program. The STEM Shop would also be available for Extension staff and other programs.

That shop would also be helpful for the team which wants to meet year-round, Neal said.

“They are very dedicated,” Neal said about the team, which currently has nine members.

Return to top

United Way receives $50k grant to help Orleans residents with rent, security deposits

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 September 2019 at 7:58 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Dean Bellack, director of United Way of Orleans County, waves a document informing him that his agency will be receiving $50,000 from a Monroe County benefactor to distribute to an appropriate organization which assists clientele who can’t afford suitable housing. Here, he meets with staff of Community Action, the agency United Way chose to receive the funds. From left are Amy Lester, Finance Operations Assistant with Community Action; Michelle Figueroa, case manager; Annette Finch, director of Community Services; Bellack; and Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action.

ALBION – When Dean Bellack, executive director of United Way of Orleans County, received correspondence from United Way of Greater Rochester early in the summer that his organization would be receiving $50,000 from a Monroe County corporate donor to help with housing needs in Orleans County, he was amazed.

The gift came with the stipulation that United Way must determine the most suitable agency in Orleans County to benefit from this donation. After some careful research, Bellack, who is on Community Action’s FEMA board, chose them and met with staff on Aug. 23 to discuss how this would be implemented.

“I was speechless, but extremely happy when Dean told me,” said Annette Finch, director of Community Services at Community Action. “We experience so many clientele who can’t pay their security deposit. This is going to allow us to help some of the homeless people living in their cars or under bridges.”

“This will greatly reduce the number of people we have to turn away,” said Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action.

The yet unnamed donor has made $450,000 available and chose United Way to administer these funds. The money will be spread to United Ways in Monroe, Orleans, Ontario and Livingston counties. These funds are targeted for rental assistance and can also be used for security deposits. The administration of this funding will be using the United Way Guidelines for ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

“They are using United Way as their most trusted partner to distribute the funds throughout Western New York,” Bellack said.

Finch said applicants for assistance will have to adhere to strict guidelines, most of which are already in place at Community Action.

Fancher said they often get requests for assistance from individuals who fall through the cracks, like the working man who doesn’t make enough to pay for an unexpected expense, such as a car repair. He needs his car to go to work, but paying for the repair would mean he couldn’t meet the rent payment. These funds may be able to help, he said.

The funds will be received in two payments of $25,000 each, with the first payment made on Sept. 1. Agencies will have one year in which to use all the funds.

Return to top

County approves leases for new radio towers in Kendall, Lyndonville and Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 September 2019 at 9:13 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday approved 5-year lease agreements for new communication towers in Lyndonville, Holley and Kendall.

The county won’t be paying to have the towers on the land, but will share 50 percent of any revenue if telecommunications companies co-locate on the towers.

The towers are part of a $6 million project to upgrade the emergency communication 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.

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 tower near the Public Safety Building is on county-owned land and doesn’t require a lease. With the others, the county has leases with the Village of Lyndonville, Village of Holley, and Kendall Central School.

The lease agreements include options to extend at no county cost for four five-year periods, or another 20 years.

Because the towers are under 200 feet in height, they won’t be lighted, said Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director.

The County Legislature on June 26 approved a $452,019 bid from Patriot Towers in Scottsville to supply communication shelters and UPS (uninterruptible power source) for the four sites.

The Legislature also approved a $181,200 bid from Fred Nudd Construction in Ontario, NY for four communication towers.

The new towers should be up by late 2019 or in early 2020.

The new towers and equipment are part of an upgrade to the emergency communications system, which 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.

The county was successful with a grant application through the 2018 Statewide Interoperable Communications Targeted Grant through the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office.

Return to top