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Olde Dogge Inn owner has found homes for 425 dogs from Puerto Rico

Photos by Tom Rivers: Jennifer Stilwell, right, is with Ana, and Renee Ebbs, an Olde Dogge employee for 5 years, is with Lola. The two dogs are from Puerto Rico. Stilwell created a non-profit organization, MAD Rescue of WNY, to adopt out dogs from Puerto Rico. Ebbs is instrumental in the program and also makes a blanket for each rescue dog.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2018 at 9:06 am

ALBION – Jennifer Stilwell was on a family vacation about four years ago in Puerto Rico when she saw dogs roaming the streets, beaches and parking lots. Many of the animals had also been hit by cars and were lying dead alongside roads.

The Stilwells were driving and noticed one emaciated dog in the street. Jennifer insisted the family stop and help the animal.

Jennifer Stilwell holds Patria, a small dog that will be adopted by a Toronto family on Aug. 22. This dog is one of the 32 that arrived two weeks ago at Olde Dogge Inn from Puerto Rico.

Stilwell is the owner of the Olde Dogge Inn in Albion. In the past four years she has helped adopt out 425 street dogs from Puerto Rico. In March, her organization received the final approval to be a non-profit organization.

MAD (Make A Difference) Rescue of Western NY has a shelter in Puerto Rico where dogs are nurtured back to health before they are brought to Albion. They are spayed, neutered and fed. Some receive heartworm medication and medical care. Some of the dogs also stay with foster families in Puerto Rico until MAD Rescue finds a home for them in WNY.

“It’s what makes me happy, just helping these dogs,” Stilwell said at Olde Dogge, which she opened in 2000 at 14472 Ridge Rd. “They have nobody else. When you see them going from laying half dead on the side of the road to watching the TV with a family, it is the best feeling.”

Stilwell estimated about half of the 425 dogs have been adopted by families in Orleans County, with many others accepted into homes in Buffalo, Rochester and Toronto. Some dogs have gone to families in Ithaca, Binghamton, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

She lists the animals on the Pet Finder website and typically spends two to three hours each evening reviewing applications and checking references. The MAD Dog Rescue Facebook page shows many of the newly adopted dogs with their smiling families.

Provided photo: Some of the 32 dogs from Puerto Rico are shown when they arrived at Olde Dogge Inn. Almost all of the dogs have been adopted by families.

Most weeks she finds homes for two dogs from Puerto Rico. But the past two weeks have been particularly busy because 32 dogs arrived on Aug. 3.

Those dogs were flown from San Juan to Miami. From there, a volunteer from Buffalo and his son drove the dogs in an air-conditioned vehicle to Albion.

Stilwell said the father and son are examples of the many devoted volunteers who make MAD Rescue possible. Other volunteers will pick up dogs at the Buffalo airport and drive them, sometimes late at night in the winter, to Albion.

Stilwell at first worked with “Save a Sato” in Puerto Rico. Satos are “street dogs” in Puerto Rico. In January, she got the final approval for MAD Rescue of WNY. She remains in contact with Save A Sato, but most of the dogs that reach Albion now come from MAD Rescue, which has two board members from Puerto Rico, who run the MAD Rescue site there.

Going on vacation to the island four years ago was an eye-opener that pulled on Stilwell’s heart.
“Dogs there are not viewed like family members like dogs are here,” she said. “The shelters are full and you see dogs all over. Even on the beach, there are dogs all around you. You see them dead by the side of the road, like you see deer here.”

The hurricane about a year ago exacerbated the street dog problem in Puerto Rico, Stilwell said. Many families fled the island and couldn’t take their dogs with them.

Stilwell is committed to the cause, to finding loving homes for the animals. She is looking to retire from owning the Olde Dogge, hopefully not too far into the future, and would like to devote more time to MAD Rescue.

“These dogs need us,” she said.

For more on MAD Rescue, click here.

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Nearly 400 will participate in Saturday’s Metro 10

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2018 at 7:32 am

Change in course due to road work puts start on Main Street

Photos by Tom Rivers: Runners head north on Route 98 on Aug. 22, 2015 during the first Metro 10 race in Albion.

ALBION – The fourth annual Metro 10 will be Saturday morning in Albion with about 400 participants. The community is urged to come out and cheer on the runners and, for the first time, the cyclists who will be in the event.

Motorists are also urged to show patience and caution while participants are out on the road. The bike race starts at 7 a.m. on Main Street. The 10-mile run starts at 8 with a 5-mile run option starting about 8:05 to 8:10.

The routes for the cyclists and runners were planned to begin and end near Bullard Park on Route 31, but road work on the state road forced organizers to change the courses.

The start is now on Main Street in downtown Albion with the finish on East Bank Street, right before Main Street. The 10-mile course goes as far east as Densmore Road.

A post-race party, including music from Bobby and Pedestrians, will be in the downtown on East Bank and Platt streets. The party had been at Bullard the first three Metro 10s.

Thom Jennings, the race organizer, said the changes in the course put a bigger focus on the historic downtown.

“It’s been a challenge to redo the course but it’s a real opportunity to be in the downtown,” Jennings said. “People will be able to hang out downtown and enjoy the architecture.”

The race is unusual in that participants pick a “team,” either Rochester or Buffalo. Participants contribute to their metro’s point total. The first three years Rochester won the Metro Cup over Buffalo. Rochester has the edge over Buffalo in overall participants on Saturday, but Buffalo could still pull off a win with speedy runners and cyclists if they win enough age-group awards.

Stan Farone is shown July 9 in Albion riding his bicycle as part of the Cycling the Erie Canal event that went from Buffalo to Albany over 8 days. Farone, an Albion village trustee, will ride his bike 10 miles in Saturday’s Metro 10.

Four of the Albion Village Board members will be in the race. Mayor Eileen Banker and trustees Stan Farone and Gary Katsanis will be in the 10-mile bike race, and Mattea Navarra will join the runners.

Banker has been training with two of her friends, going on bike rides topping 20 miles. She said the Metro 10 provided the motivation to get out on her bike.

Farone has twice been on the 8-day “Cycling the Erie Canal” trip that goes from Buffalo to Albany, about 350 miles. He recommended the Metro 10 add the biking component this year.

There are about 40 signed up for the bike on Saturday, and most of them will then do either the 5- or 10-mile run, Jennings said.

Banker commended Jennings and the event organizers for the Metro 10.

“It’s a great idea to have the Rochester vs Buffalo because we’re right in the middle,” she said. “We need to do more to bring people in.”

Jennings said the village has been very supportive with the event, especially with the Police Department and Department of Public Works providing traffic control and other assistance. The towns of Albion and Gaines also back the event.

The community is welcome to attend the post-race celebration, which includes a food truck, beer garden and other vendors. Non-race participants have to pay for any food and alcohol, while cyclists and runners can enjoy the post-race festivities as part of their entry fee.

Proceeds from the race go towards the Warrior House in Shelby, which provides a hunting retreat for wounded veterans or children who have lost a parent in war.

Each cyclist and runner will receive a medal at the finish line, which will be presented by a veteran.

For more on Metro 10, click here.

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DOT says Route 31 paving in Albion will start Aug. 27

Posted 16 August 2018 at 3:05 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Killian Construction of Rochester uses a milling machine to remove and grind the pavement on Route 31 in Albion in this photo from Aug. 8 in front of Rite Aid and Advance Auto Parts.

Local highway departments, including the Town of Murray, then hauled away the material.

Route 31 will be repaved beginning Aug.27 by Keeler Construction, weather permitting, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation said today. Orleans Hub previously reported the repaving wouldn’t occur until September.

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New Albion teachers are ready for school year

Posted 16 August 2018 at 2:39 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The new teachers hired for this school year at Albion Central School attended today’s Albion Rotary Club meeting at Tillman’s Village Inn. The school year starts on Sept. 5.

Pictured from left include: Melody Vanacore, kindergarten teacher (she served as a long-term sub last year in the elementary school as a librarian); Kyle Syck, a 2001 Albion graduate who will be a technology teacher; Eric Johns, high school biology teacher; Paige Levandowski, a 2012 Albion graduate who will be a career and technology teacher; Sara Jones, elementary school librarian; and Amanda Flagler, fourth grade teacher.

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With new waterfront plan, Medina aims to dream big

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 August 2018 at 10:03 am

Waterfalls access, more canal amenities, more downtown businesses, and revamped playgrounds

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kimberly Baptiste, project leader of the Medina Local Waterfront Development Plan, meets with committee members on Wednesday during the kickoff meeting for the project. Baptiste works for Bergmann Associates, a firm hired to help Medina create the new plan. Committee members pictured from clockwise by Baptiste include Lisa Tombari, Tim Elliott, Chris Goyette, Marty Busch, Debbie Padoleski, Mike Sidari, Chris Busch and Kathy Blackburn.

MEDINA – A committee tasked with reimagining the Medina waterfront met for the first time Wednesday evening as part of an initiative to better capitalize on the Erie Canal, Glenwood Lake and other nearby assets, including the historic downtown.

The Village of Medina was awarded a $37,500 state grant in December to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. The LWRP is critical for developing a plan, both short-term and long-term, for the waterfront and also to help Medina pursue public and private investment for projects to make the waterfront and nearby areas more attractive.

Many state grants, for example, want to know if projects are in line with a LWRP. Medina currently does not have that kind of plan and it has hurt the community’s chances for funding, including a $10 million downtown revitalization grant. That money last year went to the City of Batavia. Medina isn’t applying this year partly because it doesn’t have the LWRP in place, Mayor Mike Sidari said.

He is on the LWRP group which includes members of the Village Board, Planning Board, Medina Business Association and other community members.

The committee said the village has come a long way in the past 20 to 30 years, with a vibrant downtown, other projects completed, and many well-attended community events. However, the Canal Basin is falling short of its potential for local residents and for attracting more visitors.

“Twenty years ago we did a lot on the waterfront and then it stopped,” said Marty Busch, the village’s code enforcement officer. “We have to keep going.”

Medina has a wide basin at the canal and it has docks for boaters and bathrooms by the canal. But Busch said it needs a launch for boaters and kayakers.

Mary Lewis, owner of Creekside Floral and a committee member, said a top priority for the LWRP should be a plan for making the Medina Waterfalls more accessible to the public. Many people take a treacherous path on private property right now to see the falls. Lewis and other committee members said the waterfalls should be safely accessible to the public. That site, if publicly accessible, would be a big draw for the community.

Lewis has her floral business on Main Street. The first floor shops are mostly full in the downtown, but Lewis said there is room for more small businesses in the downtown buildings. She would like to see the total number double or triple in the downtown, to make the business district an even greater draw. The LWRP should include ideas to boost more entrepreneurs in the community, she said.

The Hydrobikes and kayaks for Pedal and Paddle Medina are docked in Medina’s Canal Basin. Some members on a committee to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program want to add a launch for boats and kayaks.

The plan should also address the need to upgrade village parks with new playground equipment, and perhaps walking trails and other amenities. (Mayor Sidari and Village Trustee Tim Elliott said new playground equipment will be installed at Butts Park in September.)

Chris Busch, chairman of the Village Planning Board and also the Tree Board, said some community members had big dreams for Medina 20-30 years ago. Back then the pessimists made it more difficult to get projects in motion, but some optimists persevered.

“People don’t realize what we have,” Busch said. “There’s defeatism.”

The Medina Waterfalls are one of the most striking sights in Orleans County, yet there isn’t public access that gives a good look at the natural wonder.

Busch and others on the current committee said naysayers remain vocal in the community, and they need to be swayed about Medina’s assets and the community’s potential.

“Many have said, ‘We’re not Fairport,’” Busch said. “They act like this is our lot in life and we need to accept it. But we’ve come a long way and we have more to go.”

The LWRP will do an inventory of the assets in the community and look for ways to better capitalize on those resources, and also add more amenities.

The committee will meet again in September and October, and there will be at least three public meetings for residents to provide input.

The goal is to have a draft plan complete in March, and to send it to the state Department of State for approval. That document can then be used to help Medina pursue public and private financing for identified projects.

Orleans County also received a $62,000 state grant in December to develop a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for the canal communities outside the Village of Medina. That includes the towns of Shelby, Ridgeway, Gaines, Albion and Murray, and the villages of Albion and Holley. That project is expected to start soon.

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Cobblestone Museum has on-line petition to oppose Dollar General

Photo by Tom Rivers: The cobblestone schoolhouse was built in 1849 and is part of the Cobblestone Museum campus that has declared a National Historic Landmark, the only historic site in Orleans County with such designation from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 August 2018 at 5:41 pm

Former director asks Gaines for one-year moratorium on new projects in Historic District

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum is stepping up its efforts to send a message to Gaines town officials and the developer for a new Dollar General that a new store shouldn’t be built in the historic district on Ridge Road, which includes several cobblestone buildings from the 1830s to 1850s.

The museum has already collected 300 petitions with people opposing construction of a new Dollar General across Route 104 from a cobblestone schoolhouse that was built in 1849. That schoolhouse is part of the museum’s campus that has been declared a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1993.

“Please help keep our Historic District intact! Say no to Dollar General in their request to build a store across the street from the National Historic Landmark Cobblestone Schoolhouse.” That is what a new on-line petition states from the Cobblestone Museum. (Click here to see the petition.)

Museum Director Doug Farley and Bill Lattin, the retired director, attended Monday’s Town Board meeting to state their opposition to the Dollar General in the historic district. Lattin, a former Gaines town supervisor, asked the board to consider a one-year moratorium on new construction in the historic district.

The state agency that works with communities to help preserve historic sites across New York last week sent a letter to the Town of Gaines asking that an alternative site for the store be found.

“It is our opinion that the construction of a generic retail building at this location will significantly alter the District 5 Schoolhouse’s visual environment and setting,” Sloane Bullough, Historic Sites Restoration Coordinator for the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, wrote on Aug. 9 to Michael Grabowski, chairman of the Gaines Zoning Board of Appeals which is reviewing the project.

“The introduction of a modern generic commercial store with its associated 45 space parking and service areas will greatly impact the historic character of the National Landmark school as well as the two other nearby Landmarked cobblestone buildings.”

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Holley Rotary welcomes new foreign exchange student

Staff Reports Posted 15 August 2018 at 12:18 pm

Photo courtesy of John Heise

HOLLEY – Holley Rotary Club President Bob Miller welcomes Janne Grasshoff of Berlin, Germany to the club’s meeting on Monday.

Janne is Rotary’s new inbound exchange student. Miller presented her with a club golf shirt and a club hat.

Janne will spend the school year in Holley. She follows Lara Braun of Switzerland as a Rotary exchange student at Holley. Rotary has welcomed exchange students to Holley for many years, and the Holley Club also sends Holley students to study abroad in other countries for a year.

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Medina restaurant pays homage to canal, while showing confidence in community’s future

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 August 2018 at 11:48 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: There isn’t an obvious sign on the storefront that says Mile 303. Look for this sign with the horse. Tim Hungerford, the owner, said he enjoys discovering bars and restaurants that aren’t always prominently marked.

MEDINA – A new restaurant in downtown Medina honors the community’s connection to the Erie Canal, while trying to “push the envelope” culturally with the food, alcohol and artwork.

Tim Hungerford opened Mile 303 on May 5 at 416 Main St. A long blue table is a sculpture designed to represent the canal. The sculpture also serves as the bar and the table tops.

Hungerford’s brother Brian, an architect in Chicago, designed the sculpture and Tim built it in a course of a year, using maple wood.

The wall facing the bar also includes a mural with a canal theme, featuring celestial horses pulling a canal boat. Even the name of the establishment, Mile 303, is connected to the canal. Medina’s mile marker by the lift bridge is 303. The canal runs 363 miles from Buffalo to Albany.

Hungerford and his wife, Teresa Misiti, bought the building five years ago and created a loft apartment for their family on the third floor. The second floor is used for their work offices.

Hungerford is a software developer and his wife has her doctorate degree and works as an environmental engineer. They have three daughters.

“We bought the building to be part of the effort to push Medina forward,” Hungerford said.

Tim Hungerford and his wife Teresa Misiti are pictured inside Mile 303 with their daughters, from left: Lou, Netta and Elsie.

As a kid Hungerford picked up cigarette butts and other trash at the Curry Building on Main Street, which is owned by his father, Roger Hungerford.

Tim has experienced his father’s commitment to Medina and Tim wants to make his own contributions to his hometown. Roger owns the Olde Pickle Factory and is working to turn the old high school into apartments and renovate the Bent’s Opera Hall. He also led the Sigma International company in Medina before selling it to Baxter in 2012.

Tim Hungerford was eager to leave Medina when he graduated at 18. After living in several major cities including New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, Hungerford wanted to come back home in 2013.

He and his wife, also a Medina native, were expecting their first child. They wanted to be close to family and contribute to downtown atmosphere and rebirth of Main Street, and bring some urban ethos.

They bought the building at 416 Main St., and set about a major transformation of the site.

Alex Shepherd of Kenmore created the mural. Hungerford said he has plans for two more murals.

The first floor at 416 Main St. had most previously been home to FastFitness, which moved to West Avenue across from the library in September 2013. The top floor hadn’t been occupied in about 70 years. The second floor hadn’t been used, except for storage, for about 30 years.

The building renovations were a major effort and involved filling 38 dumpsters holding 2 ½ tons. The items were all carried out by hand.

With Mile 303, they wanted to create a cultural experience, where customers are exposed to art while tasting “modern and fresh food on the lighter side.”

The walls have framed moss art which was created by a botanist, Elizabeth Thomas, of Buffalo. She has recently moved to Chicago.

Benjamin Pecoraro is the head chef and he prepares the meals in kitchen out in the open in front of customers. The menu has a strong focus on seasonal, organic, locally produced food and small batch artisanal spirits.

“It’s local-ingredients driven,” Hungerford said.

He has known Pecoraro for 20 years, with the two playing in bands together.

The bar side includes custom cocktails and beer from local craft to Genny Light. Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina supplies white and red wine on tap, as well as cider, in addition to a bottled wine list.

Hungerford said the menu and beers will change frequently. The restaurant and bar is open Thursday though Sunday.

For more on Mile 303, click here.

Hungerford and Misiti also have plans to open a general store next door that he wants to be “a Viddler’s in a modern format,” Hungerford said referring to the popular store in East Aurora. The Medina site will have canned alcoholic products, gifts and other items.

This shows part of the mural inside Mile 303. Hungerford believes art projects can add to Medina’s quality of life and entice more visitors to the community.

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Milling work reaches Walmart on Route 31

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 August 2018 at 7:28 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

(Editor’s Note: This story was updated with the start date for paving to be Aug. 27, not in September as was reported earlier.)

ALBION – The state Department of Transportation has removed the pavement on Route 31 in the Village of Albion as part of a milling project. The DOT reached Walmart on Tuesday, just past the village line. The state last week starting removing the pavement in a project that goes from Butts Road to Walmart.

Keeler Construction will repave the road beginning on Aug. 27.

The project has slowed down and delayed traffic.

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Assemblyman from Bronx tours Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 August 2018 at 5:42 pm

Hawley invites colleague from Albany to see local agriculture, downtown business district

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Mayor Mike Sidari of Medina, right, gives Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (left), a Democrat from the Bronx, a tour of Main Street in Medina this afternoon along with Assemblyman Steve Hawley, a Republican from Batavia.

Hawley invited Benedetto to see some of the 139th Assembly District, which includes most of Orleans, all of Genesee and a portion of western Monroe.

Hawley and Benedetto say they are good friends who got to know each other on the Veterans’ Committee in the Assembly. Benedetto was the committee chairman with Hawley the ranking member.

“This brings about a more upstate-downstate respect for each other,” Hawley said about welcoming a downstate Democrat to the local community for a tour. “We treat each other with respect whether we agree or disagree.”

Today was the first time Benedetto has been in Orleans County. He has been to Western New York before, visiting Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Before seeing downtown Medina, Hawley showed him the Green Harbor Campgrounds & Marina in Lyndonville, LynOaken Farms in Lyndonville, and Torrey Farms in Yates. They had lunch at Avanti’s in Medina.

Hawley will go to the Bronx to see Benedetto’s district. This is the fourth Assembly member Hawley has hosted from the other side of the state.

Benedetto said he was grateful for the chance to meet some of the local farmers and business owners.

“You find out we’re all people and we’re more alike than different,” he said.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and Medina Mayor Mike Sidari are pictured in downtown Medina. Sidari told the two Assembly members there are 95 businesses in the downtown business district with near full occupancy in the downtown.

“This is America,” Hawley said in showing Benedetto around Medina. “This is an American Main Street. It’s gorgeous.”

During the tour of Green Harbor Campgrounds & Harbor, Hawley highlighted the impact from last year’s flooding on Lake Ontario and the difficulty some business owners are having in accessing state funding that was intended to help homeowners and businesses recover from the damage.

At LynOaken and Torrey Farms, Benedetto was shown some of the latest trends and investments in agriculture, including a rotary milking parlor at Torrey’s dairy farm on Route 18 in Yates.

After lunch at Avanti’s, Benedetto and Hawley were scheduled to go to Genesee County to see Z&M (Landpro Equipment) in Oakfield, Genesee Community College in Batavia, Chapin Manufacturing in Batavia, Batavia Downs and then have dinner at Fortunes restaurant at the Downs.

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