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Bridal show returns to ‘Grove’ in Medina on Sunday

Photos by Tom Rivers: Some of the organizers of Sunday’s Bridal Show in Medina include, from left: Larry Eastlack, pastor of the Medina United Methodist Church; Jaye Sullivan, owner of Blissett’s Specialty Shop; Mary Lewis, owner of Creekside Floral; and Sarah Martin, a wedding planner and Blissett’s employee.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2019 at 10:54 am

MEDINA – An event that was popular at Medina a generation ago is coming back on Sunday. The former Apple Grove Inn used to host a bridal show.

The Apple Grove is now owned by the Medina United Methodist Church, which did a big renovation of the building about five years ago. The church will host the bridal and prom show on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at 11004 West Center Street Ext.

The renovation project included creating a stage in the sanctuary and adding theater lighting. Those amenities make the building better suited for the bridal and prom show, including a fashion show at 2 p.m.

Jaye Sullivan, owner of Blissett’s Specialty Shop, was a vendor and helped organize the previous shows. She is excited for Sunday’s event which will showcase many of the services available locally for a wedding and other formal events.

“There is a new sense of community,” she said. “Let’s show this new generation what is available in our town.”

Jaye Sullivan, Blissett’s owner, and Sarah Martin, a Blisset’s employee and wedding planner, are pictured with some of the wedding gowns available at Blissett’s.

Blissett’s has wedding gowns, bridesmaid gowns, tuxedos and other formal wear. Other vendors at the show on Sunday include caterers, photographers, videographers, hairdressers, prop rentals, floral businesses, and venue locations, including the United Methodist Church, which wants to promote its kitchen and fellowship hall for events.

Larry Eastlack, pastor of the church, wanted to bring the bridal show back. He used to work for the Medina Chamber of Commerce in the 1980s. The business district is stronger now, with many businesses that can help with a wedding or other big day.

“Main Street is much healthier now,” he said.

The show is chance for people to get ideas and connect with businesses.

“We need to drive wedding business locally and promote business locally,” said Mary Lewis, owner of Creekside Floral. “There has been a mentality you have to leave town to get some of these services, and that’s not true.”

The show on Sunday will be from 1 to 4 p.m. The first hour there will be drawings for gifts every six minutes. The fashion show will be from 2 to 3 p.m. The final hour will focus on the businesses in the vendors’ hall.

Blissett’s is one of the vendors at Sunday’s bridal show.

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Governor puts AIM funding back in budget for villages, towns

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2019 at 3:59 pm

Money, however, will come from counties’ sales tax

(Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 6:55 p.m. to show the AIM restoration is proposed to come from the county sales tax.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today he was putting $59 million in proposed cuts in AIM funds to towns and villages back into the state budget. However, the funding restoration will come from the local sales tax, not the state.

Orleans County towns and villages stood to have their Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) reduced by $290,276. Those towns and villages already receive a tiny sum compared to counties with cities.

But with the governor’s initial proposed budget, eight of 10 towns in Orleans and all four villages would have been cut to nothing in AIM.

The governor proposed eliminating the funding unless it represented more than 2 percent of a town or village’s budget. Two towns in Orleans are just above the 2 percent threshold. So the governor proposed that Murray keeps its $44,677 and Albion, its $46,944.

The other villages and towns were slated to lose the following in AIM funding:

Villages: Albion, $38,811; Holley, $17,786; Lyndonville, $6,251; and Medina, $45,523.

Towns: Barre, $12,486; Carlton, $13,680; Clarendon, $11,416; Gaines, $21,323; Kendall, $21,299; Shelby, $45,007; Ridgeway, $46,273; and Yates, $10,421.

The governor today announced the budget amendments to ensure towns and villages will not adversely impacted by changes to the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities program.

The governor’s proposal would use additional sales tax revenue from the elimination of the internet tax advantage to keep towns and villages whole. Approximately $59 million in revenues for towns and villages are preserved through this action.

To ensure locals receive these additional resources faster, the State will also implement the Internet sales tax requirements earlier, starting June 1 of this year as opposed to September 1, the date originally proposed in the Executive Budget.

“The original proposal only impacted localities receiving a relatively small amount of money, but I have been contacted by mayors and local officials who say in these tough times it would still be a challenge for them,” Governor Cuomo said. “That is why we are revising the executive budget to use internet sales tax revenue to make these impacted localities whole.”

The elimination of the internet tax advantage was included in Cuomo’s FY 2020 Executive Budget and ensures that out-of-state merchants do not have a price advantage over the state’s retail community, the governor said. New York’s brick and mortar retailers are currently at a disadvantage because many online retail competitors are not collecting sales tax. This unequal treatment is unfair to the retailers who do collect sales tax, the customers who pay sales tax, the public at large who is forsaking state and local revenues, and the people who depend on the public services supported by those revenues, Cuomo said.

On an annual basis, collecting sales tax through internet sales is expected to generate $390 million in additional revenue for local governments.

However, that increase would be used to pay for the AIM restoration, rather than going to boost the local sales tax. Associations that represent counties, towns and villages are criticizing the governor for the proposal.

New York Conference of Mayors represents villages and cities in the state, and protested the AIM cuts. NYCOM Executive Director Peter A. Baynes issued this statement today:

“While we appreciate the fact that the Governor has acknowledged that the elimination of AIM funding would have serious implications for the state’s villages and towns, his ‘restoration’ of this $59 million is in reality a robbing of one property taxpayer to pay another. Rather than playing this shell game, New York State should be fulfilling its obligation to increase its investment in municipal aid and the property tax relief it will generate. Imposing a new mandate on counties to make up for the state’s cut to villages and towns will only further harm New York’s already overburdened taxpayers.”

Association of Towns Executive Director Gerry Geist released this statement:

“Instead of restoring AIM funding and signifying a desire by the state to act as partners with local governments, the Governor’s 30-day amendments would require counties to make up for a town’s lost AIM money with sales tax revenue. Sharing sales tax should be on top of proper state funding. This proposal does nothing to reduce property taxes, and takes money out of one hand to pay the other. Rather than supporting this attempt to pit local governments against each other to the detriment of New Yorkers the Association of Towns continues to call for a full restoration and increase in AIM funding by the state.”

Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of New York State Association of Counties, issued this statement:

“The Governor’s thirty-day amendment ‘fix’ to earlier cuts to the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) uses future Internet sales tax revenue that he is taking from counties to cover forced shortfalls. This is a horrible precedent and unnecessarily shifts the state’s burden to local taxpayers who already pay some of the highest taxes in the nation.

“The state could have used its share of internet sales tax revenue to make municipalities whole. Forcing counties to use a portion of their internet sales tax revenue to reimburse our municipal partners does not help the state reduce property taxes or help to offset the costs of services to our residents. In the end, local homeowners and businesses just keep paying more for decisions made by the state.”

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Bower decides against re-election for sheriff

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2019 at 1:49 pm

Chris Bourke, current undersheriff, will seek position

Photo by Tom Rivers: Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower speaks on July 28, 2016, when James DeFilipps was honored as the 2015 “Deputy of the Year” by the New York State Sheriff’s Association.

ALBION – Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower has announced today he won’t be seeking re-election to a second four-year term as sheriff.

Chris Bourke, the current undersheriff, will be running for sheriff. Bourke has a 35-year career with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

“To fully complete my commitment to this office and run a campaign would compromise one of them or both,” Bower said in a statement.

He said he has met his campaign promises, and praised the staff and deputies at the Sheriff’s Office for making many improvements the past three years.

“A special thanks to all the residents of Orleans County who supported is throughout my term,” Bower said. “I will continue to serve the next 10 months with the passion and commitment as I have since taking office.”

Bower was being challenged for sheriff by Brett Sobieraski, a sergeant with the Rochester Police Department, who lives in Kent. Both sought the Republican Party endorsement. On Saturday, the GOP Committee didn’t make an endorsement because neither candidate met the new threshold for gaining an endorsement of at least 66.7 percent of the votes.

Bower won a hard-fought race in 2015 for sheriff, defeating Tom Drennan, who had the GOP endorsement. Drennan was the chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Office, and said Sobieraski would have been his undersheriff.

Bower ran a high-energy campaign, and had the backing of most of the deputies and the employees at the jail. He has remained highly visible in the community since he was elected.

Bower will be 55 soon after the election and is eligible to retire. He said he will stay active in his retirement, and wants to volunteer with Orleans Recovery Hope, an organization that assists people battling addictions and offers support for their family members.

Bower previously worked nearly 30 years as a county dispatcher in the Public Safety Building.

He highlighted some of the successes in the past three years:

• An increased law enforcement presence in the rural areas of the county, so much that Lyndonville and Kendall school districts each are paying the county $100,000 to have a deputy assigned to the districts as a school resource officer.

• State police patrol cars are now in the county dispatch center.

• The county has expanded animal control services and is having those officers trained as peace officers.

• The Civil Division promptly processes orders of conviction.

• There are expanded services in the county jail to fight the opioid epidemic, including a treatment program. The federal government is funding that program with GCASA providing the treatment.

• Bower said he has strengthened many partnerships locally with churches, Mental Health providers, and the state and federal government to assist people with addictions.

Bower last June received a national award for his work to implement several new initiatives in the county, including expanded substance abuse and mental health services for inmates in the Orleans County Jail. He was honored at the National Sheriffs’ Association Conference in New Orleans with a MAGNUS Leadership Award.

Bourke has been long-time leader at Sheriff’s Office

Chris Bourke

Chris Bourke has been the undersheriff for the past three-plus years. Bourke said Bower has been a strong leader for the Sheriff’s Office.

“I want to continue all of the initiatives the sheriff and his team have started and expand upon those,” Bourke said. “If you put out a list of accomplishments, it’s a long list.”

Bourke said the Sheriff’s Office has strengthened relationships with other local law enforcement departments, including state and federal agencies.

“Those relationships with our partners ultimately benefit all of the citizens of Orleans County,” Bourke said.

He started his career as a correction officer, and then was a deputy sheriff before working 18 years as a lieutenant. He was supervisor of the Marine Patrol, and also was a K9 officer for 20 years, working with four dogs.

Bourke said he will be seeking signatures on the Republican line to be the candidate. A candidate needs 543 signatures from registered Republicans in the county to be on the ballot. If there is more than one candidate, there will be a primary on June 25.

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Triple G named ‘Conservation Farm of the Year’ in Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District on Thursday presented Triple G Farms with the “Conservation Farm of the Year” in Orleans County for 2018. Pictured form left include: Megan McAnn, a technician for Soil & Water; Guy Smith, Triple G co-owner; and Katie Sommerfeldt, Soil & Water district manager.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2019 at 9:32 am

ALBION – A muck farm that started in 1925 was named the 2018 “Conservation Farm of the Year” in Orleans County. Triple G Farms is now run by brothers Guy and Greg Smith, and their nephew Pete Smith.

They grow potatoes and onions on 645 acres of muckland in Barre, Clarendon and Elba.

Megan McAnn, the Soil & Water technician, holds the Ag Environmental Management sign that Triple G can display for its conservation work. Guy Smith, Triple G co-owner, holds the trophy for the award.

Triple G has worked hard to preserve the soil and improve the soil health, putting I many miles of drainage tile, and putting in cover crops and wind breaks. They have also reduced chemical usage through Integrated Pest Management, including field scouting and targeted application of pesticides, the Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District said on Thursday when it presented the farm with the award.

Triple G also has installed an agrichemical handling and mixing facility which prevents pesticides and chemicals from spilling onto the soil.

“Triple G Farms takes pride in packing a quality product to be enjoyed by consumers while proving their excellent stewardship of the land and desire to protect our natural resources,” Sil & Water leaders said in presenting the award at the agency’s annual meeting at Tillman’s Village Inn.

Guy Smith, one of the farm co-owners, thanked Soil & Water staff for their work in helping the farm implement many of the initiatives at the farm.

“The mucklands are highly erodible and we need to preserve it so it’s there for the next generation,” said Smith, who was worked at the farm full-time since 1981.

The farm continuously is focused on drainage tile, putting in new drainage or replacing tile from decades ago that has deteriorated. The tile helps move water off the muck. Smith said the big rain storms used to be an inch, but now they are 2 inches. That water can flood fields and submerge crops without proper drainage.

The cover crops help hold down the soil after a planting or when a field is plowed. Triple G tends to plant barley as a cover crop for onions and rye in its field of potatoes.

“I just want to thank the Soil & Water staff,” Smith said. “Without the staff we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”

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Leadership Orleans spends day learning about local government

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 February 2019 at 8:23 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The second class of Leadership Orleans met Thursday for their monthly session with a focus this time on local government.

The top photo shows a panel at lunch who discussed the local courts system. They include from left: Joanne Best, Orleans County public defender; Kathy Bogan, Orleans County attorney; Dawn Keppler, Shelby town justice; and Sanford Church, Orleans County judge.

The day included a visit to the Orleans County legislative chambers at the County Clerks Building, where the group was welcomed by Chuck Nesbitt, the county chief administrative officer.

Leadership Orleans then heard presentations and a panel discussion by State Assemblyman Steve Hawley; Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislature chairwoman; Brian Sorochty, Village of Holley mayor; and Dick Moy, Town of Clarendon supervisor.

Orleans County Court Judge Sanford Church discusses his job during a lunch presentation hosted by the First Presbyterian Church of Albion. After lunch, Judge Church gave a tour of the County Courthouse to the class, which includes 26 people.

Leadership Orleans spent the afternoon making site visits to the Albion Academy, which hosts the Meals on Wheels program and also has 30 apartments for senior citizens; the Orleans County Administrative Building, which includes many county offices; the Orleans County Public Safety Building; Holley Village Office; Village of Albion Water Treatment Plant; and the Orleans County Highway Department & Buildings and Grounds.

The class listens to the lunchtime panel which discussed the local court system.


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Albion 4th graders showcase local landmarks in art project

Staff Reports Posted 14 February 2019 at 6:35 pm

Photos courtesy of Albion Central School

ALBION – A group of fourth-graders participated in an after-school Art History Club with Mrs. Pritchard and Mrs. Prince. The club was sponsored by the Community Schools grant, which provides extended day and week programs and opportunities for students and families.

The top photo includes, from left: Abigail Kipler, Brown’s Berry Patch; Drayson Shonerd, Hoag Library, Alyssa Adkins, Carl I. Bergerson Middle School, and Drew Pritchard, Santa Claus School.

The Art History Club was a fun way to learn about local history and create an art piece. The students researched various local landmarks. Each student then had an opportunity to choose a favorite landmark and design his/her own 16″ x 20″ rendition of their landmark.

Several different mediums were offered (markers, paint, pastels, oils, etc.) that allowed each student to create unique and creative pieces. Mrs. Prince framed each landmark piece.  The artwork will soon be displayed in the elementary school hallway. The pieces are very colorful and a beautiful representation of our historic landmarks.

Brianna Lewis, Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School; Gloria Cabic, Charles C. D’Amico High School, and Makayla Fidanza, Swan Library.

Erika Hess, Cobblestone School House; Gracie Tardibone, Erie Canal; Rilee Taylor, Cone Zone; and Aliyah Pollock, Downtown Albion Main Street View.

Melia Prince, Cobblestone Church; and Kailyn Smith Holder, Civil War Memorial at Mount Albion Cemetery.

Dulce Sanchez, Oak Orchard River; Analiah Figueroa-Fuentes, Orleans County Courthouse; and Yaritza Fernandez-Perez, Oak Orchard Lighthouse.

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Tax payment deadline extended to Feb. 21 for Barre and Murray

Staff Reports Posted 14 February 2019 at 5:53 pm

Property owners in the Orleans County towns of Barre and Murray have been given three extra weeks to pay their property taxes, due to the rough winter weather that closed government buildings and slowed the Postal Service leading up to the Jan. 31 deadline.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued an executive order extending the property tax payment due date in municipalities impacted by recent winter storms. This extension allows residents to pay their taxes without interest or penalty for an additional 21 days past the final date taxes are due.

The executive order is in direct response to requests by several municipalities whose property tax due dates fell during or shortly after recent storms, but whose residents were unable to make the payments on time due to the disruption of public transportation, utility service and postal operations.

“With several recent winter storms impeding the ability of residents across the state to pay their property taxes on time, I am extending the due date for these payments to ensure New Yorkers are not penalized as a result of Mother Nature’s unpredictability,” Cuomo said. “Dealing with winter weather events is stressful enough, and residents in communities especially hard hit can rest assured they will not be further impacted by these storms.”

The extension was granted to Cayuga, Chautauqua, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence counties, as well as towns in 40 other counties. In addition to Barre and Murray in Orleans, other towns in nearby counties in the extension include: Darien in Genesee, Hartland, Niagara and Pendleton in Niagara County; and Arcade and Covington in Wyoming County.

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Sixth-grader wins Albion spelling bee, advances to regional competition

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2019 at 2:48 pm

Photo courtesy of Albion Central School

ALBION – Adam Burlison, an Albion sixth-grader, is congratulated by Middle School Principal Brad Pritchard after Adam won the Albion Middle School spelling bee on Wednesday.

Adam topped 20 students in grades 6 through 8 in the Albion competition. He correctly spelled the word “writhing” for his final word to win the spelling bee.

He advances to the regional contest on March 23 at 10 a.m. at Batavia High School.

Adam in 2017 won the Western New York spelling bee in Grand Island, which featured 46 of the top spellers in WNY from grades 4 and 5.

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Soil and Water’s new manager has deep local roots

Photo by Tom Rivers: Katie Sommerfeldt, the new manager for the Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District, is pictured at the office at 446 West Ave., Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2019 at 8:35 am

Katie Sommerfeldt leads agency that works with farmers, highway departments and local residents

ALBION – Katie Sommerfeldt has a found a career combining her love for the outdoors, agriculture and science, while working in her home community.

Sommerfeldt, 30, has worked the past 7 ½ years for the Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District. On Jan. 1, she took over as manager, following the retirement of Dennis Kirby, who remains with the agency in a part-time role.

Provided photos: Sommerfeldt looks over a culvert that Soil & Water helped replace.

Soil & Water works to solve drainage issues, and protect water quality and valuable farming soil.

“I like the interactions with the community and the problem solving,” Sommerfeldt said during an interview at her office at 446 West Ave. Soil & Water shares a building with the Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Soil & Water’s staff of three full-time employees work with other government agencies, including the state Department of Environmental Conservation, for permits for  many of the projects.

Sommerfeldt spent her first 7 ½ years with Soil & Water as a water quality technician. She surveyed and designed many of the projects. She also worked on many of the grant projects, where the state government helps pay for stream crossings, manure lagoon, agrichemical handling and mixing facilities, covered feedlots and other projects that help keep nutrients and chemicals out of the waterways.

Soil & Water currently is working on about $2 million of grant projects. The landowners are paying $1,201,837 towards the work with the state government kicking in $859,513 for the projects.

Sommerfeldt has proven she can juggle the many demands of the position, said John Kast, a member of the board of directors.

“She has impressed us,” Kast said. “She has is good self motivator and she is very personable. She gets along with all of the farmers. She has good relationships with the highway superintendents and landowners.”

Sommerfeldt uses a hydroseeder with Warren Kruger, the Kendall town highway superintendent.

Kast praised Dennis Kirby for being a good mentor to Sommerfeldt and helping to prepare her to lead the agency.

Kast Farms has worked with Sommerfeldt and Soil & Water to design and install drainage tile, and to replace a culvert for a stream crossing in Carlton.

Sommerfeldt does some of the preliminary engineering work, which speeds up the timeline for projects, which often need a final stamp of approval from an engineer.

Sommerfeldt is the granddaughter of Fred Sommerfeldt, a beef farmer and owner of Honest Hill Farms on Route 237 in Clarendon.

After she graduated from Albion, she earned a debree in environmental science from Brockport State College. She worked at Intergrow Greenhouses in Gaines during high school and college. She also had a summer job maintaining trail and running the weedwhacker at Hamlin Bach State Park.

Other jobs included working with the state Department of Agriculture and Markets doing a plum pox survey and also for Ag & Markets as an apple quality inspector.

She feels like she has found her calling at Soil & Water, brainstorming ways to clean ditches, design manure storage systems and divert runoff.

Soil & Water is available for free consultation and design for landowners, who have drainage problems. Sometimes that means Sommerfeldt has to negotiate solutions among several neighbors to keep water moving through ditches and culverts.

She also works closely with NRCS and the other agencies, to try to get funding for projects.

Some of the grants Soil & Water currently are working on include:

• NYS Ag Non Point Source, Round 22 Cover Crop grant (for the installation of cover crops on multiple farms throughout the county)

• NYS Ag Non Point Source, Round 23 Covered Feedlot grant (for the installation of a covered feedlot on a beef farm to reduce nutrient runoff when animals are feeding)

• NYS Ag Non Point Source, Round 24 Agrichemical Handling Facilities grant (for the installation of 3 agrichemical handling and mixing facilities, so the farmers have a safe place to mix pesticides and if a spill happens it is contained in the building not running off into the environment)

• NYS Ag Non Point Source, Round 24 Waste Storage grant (for the installation of an earthen manure lagoon at a dairy farm)

• Ten grants through NYS Grown and Certified that will help fund 5 variable tower rate sprayers with sensors, which spray where fruit trees are and not in lanes and open space; 4 micro-irrigation drip lines for apple orchards; and one agrichemical handling facility.

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Potholes proliferate after recent harsh weather

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 February 2019 at 12:09 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – West Center Street (Route 31) in Medina is littered with potholes. The freeze and thaw cycle is wreaking havoc on the pavement.

I think the stretch of Route 31 in the village of Medina may be the most pothole-plagued in the county.

It’s been too cold for highway crews to get out and effectively patch the potholes.

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