2 solar projects in Ridgeway approved by County Planning Board

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 November 2020 at 8:40 am

RIDGEWAY – The Orleans County Planning Board has recommended the Town of Ridgeway approve the site plans and give a permit for two solar projects on the south side of Ridge Road near North Gravel Road (Route 63).

The projects, west of North Gravel Road, would total 8 megawatts, and both are on land owned by Richard Fisher. TJA Clean Energy in New Bedford, Mass. is the developer of the project. The company split it into two separate projects because it is limited to 5 megawatts on a parcel, Mike Frateschi, TJA Clean Energy engineer, told the Orleans County Planning Board during its monthly meeting on Thursday evening.

One of the projects at 11074 Ridge Rd. is for 3 megawatts and would use 16 acres of a 70-acre site.

There will be 40 125kW string inverters and 10,946 solar panels for the 3-megawatt project. There will be 158 racks that are 8 feet high, 3 ½ feet wide and 6 ½ feet in length.

The project will have screening, a decommissioning plan and an access road going south that is 5,330 feet long. The planners said TJA needs to get an opinion from the county’s Emergency Management Office on the width of the access road. TJA is planning for the gravel road to be 16 feet wide, but Dan Strong of the Planning Board said 20 feet wide may be needed.

The 5-megawatt solar production facility would be at 11074 Ridge Rd. This project would use 23 acres on a 98-acre site.

It will have 17,524 solar panels on 241 racks. The site will have screening. There is already a natural tree forest buffer. Like the 3-megawatt project, planners put a condition on the project for an opinion on the width of the access road from Emergency Management.

Both projects are for land that is zoned Agricultural-Residential.

Fire caused extensive damage to Ridgeway home last night

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 November 2020 at 2:23 pm

RIDGEWAY – A fire that started in the kitchen caused extensive damage to a house on Presbyterian Road in Ridgeway last night.

Ronald Schompert was treated for smoke inhalation at a hospital. He was cooking at about 11 p.m. when the fire started in the kitchen.

He was unable to put out the fire and ran outside, yelling for help. A neighbor called 911. A Ridgeway firefighter also saw the scene from the road and called 911.

The fire quickly spread throughout the first and second floors of the house causing extensive damage, said Jeff Gifaldi, chief deputy for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

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Target shooters charged after causing $65K damage to Helena chemical tank in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 September 2020 at 11:23 am

RIDGEWAY – Five people who were target shooting Monday allegedly caused significant damage to a chemical tank at Helena Agri-Enterprises LLC on Allis Road in Ridgeway.

The Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to Helena at 4:45 p.m. for a chemical tank leaking its contents. Upon firefighters’ arrival it was determined that the tanks were punctured by bullets with bullets ricocheting off the tanks and building, Sheriff Chris Bourke said today.

The holding tanks at Helena suffered about $65,000 in damage, according to a preliminary estimate from the company.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, NYS DEC, State Police and Medina Police Department all responded to the scene. After a search of the surrounding fields, five individuals were located south of the facility.

The five people admitted of target shooting and disclosed to deputies the location in the woods, Bourke said.

Investigation at the scene revealed that the shooting lane they were using was directly in line with the chemical tank and building.

Two juveniles and three adults were arrested and charged with Reckless Endangerment in the second degree and Criminal Mischief in the fourth degree.

The three adults charged include Jared S. Silva, 41; Stephen J. Jackson, 41; and Joe W. Jackson, 34.

All five were issued appearance tickets and the three adults are to appear in the Town of Ridgeway Court on Oct. 5.

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Food distributions will continue in October

Photos by Tom Rivers: There was a long line of vehicles on Horan Road this morning for a food distribution at the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company parking lot. The delivery truck was about two hours later than expected. The distribution didn’t get started until about 10 a.m. Some of the vehicles were parked on Horan Road for four hours.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2020 at 4:02 pm

MEDINA – There won’t be any more food distributions in Orleans County this month, but there will be more in October.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday approved an additional $1 billion in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program through the end of October. The USDA this week hit a milestone by distributing more than 90 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the USDA said.

Candace Pitts, a volunteer from the Iroquois Job Corps Center in Shelby, helps get boxes of produce ready. There were three sets of boxes – meat, dairy and produce – as well as these boxes with oranges, peppers, grapes and 2 half-gallons of milk.

Local agencies are working on the details for the distributions next month. There aren’t expected to be any more at the 4-H Fairgrounds. The Cornell Cooperative Extension had been giving out 1,200 boxes of produce the second and fourth Wednesdays, and often hands 450 boxes of meat and dairy.

The tentative schedule for October includes:

• Friday, October 2 – Community Action Main Street Store, Albion

• Friday, October 9 – Holley/Clarendon with location to be determined.

Melissa Blanar, director of the Office for the Aging in Orleans County, said she is working on the details for distributions on Oct. 23 and Oct. 30.

The truck pulled into the parking lot just before 10 a.m. There was some confusion because the previous food distribution was at Medina High School’s parking lot. This time it was at the Ridgeway fire hall lot.

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Ridgeway Planning Board weighs solar project on Swett Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 September 2020 at 9:03 pm

RIDGEWAY – The Town Planning Board held a public hearing this evening by phone conference for a 3.19 Megawatt solar energy project at 2800 Swett Rd.

Next Era will need a special use permit for the project. The company also needs to have the site plan approved by the town.

The company expects to hear at the next Planning Board meeting on Sept. 9 whether Ridgeway deems the project won’t have a negative environmental impact or if it could have an environmental impact and more studies are needed.

Some local residents have expressed concern about the project.

One neighbor who called in for the public hearing said it would be an “eyesore” and detriment to the community.

“It’s no different than having a junkyard next to your house,” the resident said.

He also said the town should detail the revenue from the project for the town, county and school district.

Bridget O’Toole, an attorney with Zoghlin Law, represents Ridgeway Residents Against Industrial Solar. She has asked the Planning Board to make positive declaration of environmental significance, which would require additional environmental studies from the company. She also has asked the town to deny the application outright.

The MRB Group is reviewing the project on behalf of the town. An MRB representative told the Planning Board that Next Era has diligent in working to address concerns. The company will have plans for landscaping, decommissioning and drainage, among other issues.

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Glenwood Lake is popular for people who enjoy the great outdoors

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 August 2020 at 9:48 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Casey Burch, 10, of Gasport is fishing on Thursday evening at Glenwood Lake with her family.

Her grandfather, Leon Green, said Glenwood is a nice spot to catch black bass, walleye, catfish, suckers – “mostly everything.”

This group of kayakers was out on Glenwood Lake in a class run by the Orleans County YMCA. The five-week class meets on Thursday at 6 p.m. Thursday was the first week of the class. They will be at different bodies of water in Medina.

These buddies were out on the lake, enjoying the sunshine and weather.

The forecast for the next few days includes a mostly sunny day today with a high of 78, followed a high near 80 and sunny on Saturday, and high of 85 and sunny on Sunday.

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Group removes debris from Oak Orchard Creek

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2020 at 1:13 pm

Provided photos

RIDGEWAY – Brenden Zukowski, a member of the Oak Orchard Creekers, hauls debris he pulled from the Oak Orchard Creek on Monday.

A group from the Creekers pulled out tires and garbage from the creek, between Slade Road and Townline Road. The creek has become very popular with kayakers.

These Oak Orchard Creek members are pictured with some of the debris they hauled out of the creek on Monday. Pictured from left include Jesse Sponaugle, Brenden Zukowski and Dewey Cox, all of Medina.

Chewy Lee, Richy Lamont and Mike Brendlinger also are members who helped with the cleanup. They and others hunt of trash usually at least once a week. They have put garbage cans along the creek to encourage people to not litter in the water.

Lee started the group and wants to make the creek more inviting to the public.

“The motivation comes from the amount of glass and trash we see all over the side of the river and in the river,” Lee said. “We hold on to our boats and snorkel for glass and trash. We fill our canoes up with trash and float them down to a spot to unload. Any items that are lost we try to return to the owner.”

Jesse Sponaugle found this phone in the creek. One of the iPhones fished out of the water by the group was only two weeks old and still worked. It was returned the owner who donated trash bags for the cleanups.

The Creekers pictures of many of the items they find on their Facebook page. That could include glasses, googles, Smartphones, driver’s licenses, fishing poles and lawn chairs.

The group welcomes more volunteers. Click here to be directed to their Facebook page.

“We have taken several truck loads out of the river and are getting a lot of thanks from the community,” Lee said. “We all grew up on the creek and if we want big changes we need big efforts.”

Dewey Cox pulled this large plastic pipe out of the water.

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2,500 to 3,000 partake in Fair Food Fest

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 July 2020 at 11:18 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – Carl Aldinger cooks French fries and chicken fingers on Sunday at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

He works in the Morrell’s Potato House Fries food booth, one of the eight food vendors that were at the fairgrounds from Friday through Sunday.

About 2,500 to 3,000 people stopped by for the “Fair Food Fest,” said Robert Batt, executive director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, which owns the fairgrounds.

The Extension wanted to give people a taste of the fair because the week-long event in late July has been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event was take-out only with no tables to sit down and eat. People had to return to their vehicles with their food.

Batt said many of the fair food vendors have had nearly all of their events cancelled this year. The Extension wanted to give the vendors a chance to make some money during a tough economic time for them.

Scott Kolassa of Churchville runs a taffy, candy apple, cotton candy and fudge booth, as well as a lemonade stand. He suggested the fair food fest.

“It was nice to see the familiar faces and old friends,” he said.

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Crusaders cancel motorcycle racing season in Medina

Photo by Tom Rivers: This photo from June 16, 2018 shows young riders during a training class at the Crusaders Motorcycle Club. The Crusaders hold clinics for riders, ages 4 to 8, at the race track on Culvert Road. The class provides riders with basic riding/racing skills. They are taught what all the different colored flags represent, how to watch for the green race light and to practice their starting skills.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 July 2020 at 11:32 am

Dirt track on Culvert Road has hosted races since 1957

MEDINA – The Crusaders Motorcycle Club announced today the dirt track on Culvert Road won’t be hosting any races this year.

The season usually goes from June through August with races on some Sundays. Club leaders were hoping they could host some races before the summer was over, but they made the announcement today there won’t be any competitions at the track.

The club has been in frequent contact with the local Health Department and leaders of the Finger Lakes Region about hosting races. The Crusaders draw several hundred people for their races.

“Our number one priority has always been safety and the cost and liability is too great for us to take the chance and race with the number of racers and spectators that we get at the track,” Brandi DiMatteo, one of the club leaders, posted on the Crusaders Facebook page this morning. “We have decided that all parking spots and seasons passes will just roll over for next year, if for whatever reason you would like your money back – please reach out to us.”

The Crusaders have hosted motorcycle races since 1957.

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Results for Republican Committee races in Murray, Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 July 2020 at 5:24 pm

The Orleans County Board of Elections counted absentee ballots today for the Republican Committee races in the towns of Murray and Ridgeway.

This reports shows the in-person voting, plus the absentees, followed by the total.

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

District 3

Kerri Neale: 28 in-person, 22 absentees for 50 total.

Kathleen Case: 17 in-person, 19 absentees for 36 total.

Anthony Peone: 18 in-person, 13 absentees for 31 total.

District 5

Lynn Wood: 41 in-person, 12 absentees for 53 total.

Cynthia Oliver: 42 in-person, 11 absentees for 53 total.

Ronald Vendetti: 12 in-person, 3 absentees for 15 total.

District 6

Adam R. Moore: 47 in-person, 23 absentees for 70 total.

Kellie Gregoire: 35 in-person, 20 absentees for 55 total.

Robert Miller: 25 in-person, 19 absentees for 44 total.

In Ridgeway, there are three candidates for two positions from District 2.

Virginia Nicholson: 24 in-person, 28 absentees for 52 total.

Ayesha Kreutz: 16 in-person, 28 absentees for 44 total.

David Stalker: 22 in-person, 7 absentees for 29 total.

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Hometown Hero banners in Medina for first time include a Civil War soldier

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Patty Blackburn stands in Rotary Park holding a picture of her great-grandfather Henry Waters, a Civil War veteran whose banner hangs on East Center Street at the four corners in Medina.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 29 June 2020 at 10:07 am

Henry Waters Jr., after serving under General Grant, returned to Medina and became a community leader

MEDINA – Patty Blackburn is very proud of her ancestry, especially her great-grandfather who served in the Civil War. Last year she was looking at the banners which had been hung throughout Medina paying tribute to veterans from Medina who have served their country, and realized there were no veterans from the Civil War.

Patty Blackburn of Medina holds a pin which belonged to her great-grandfather Henry Waters, who served in the Civil War. He is the first Civil War soldier to be honored on a banner in downtown Medina.

Mary Woodruff, a Ridgeway town councilwoman, coordinated the effort to get the banners in Medina. There are 107 banners of veterans so far, with more expected next year.

“I thought it was such an honorable thing for Mary Woodruff to do,” Blackburn said. “When I realized there were no soldiers from the Civil War I asked if she would like one. I had been looking at this picture of Henry on my wall all my life. He had it made for his wife when he went to war.”

Blackburn took down the picture of her great-grandfather Henry Waters Jr., gathered up his memorabilia and called Woodruff.

Blackburn said Henry was 25 when he bought a $40 Sharps rifle and went to war. He served with the 151st New York Volunteers under General Grant and the Grand Army of the Republic. Henry was in the honor guard when General Lee left the court house at Appomattox after surrendering.

“The men were told to be 100 percent respectful to Lee,” Blackburn said. “Lee had gone to the court house alone, because he didn’t want his men to be humiliated.”

Henry served at many battles of the Civil War, including Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Third Winchester and Appomattox. He was separated from Federal service in Washington, D.C. on June 26, 1865.

Henry was born on April 11, 1837 in Palmyra, one year after the Alamo, Blackburn explained. His parents were one of the early settlers of Ridge Road. His father Henry first went to Batavia in 1828 and after looking about the section for a week, he returned home where he decided to remain, as land in the Holland tract was too expensive considering the amount of work which would have to be done to prepare it for cultivation.

Then in the fall of 1829, Henry was attracted to a group of pioneers traveling from Connecticut and he joined them, traveling with them to Batavia. At this point he learned of a former acquaintance who had taken up land northwest of what is now Albion, and Henry decided to pay him a visit and look at land there.

He set forth upon his horse and made good time until he reached the Alabama swamp, where he became confused and decided to return to Batavia. His next attempt was in the company of Uri Moore, who at the time was in Batavia conducting business at the Holland Land Office. Henry rode with Moore as far as his hotel in Medina, where he stayed the night, continuing to Ridgeway the next day.

Henry returned to Palmyra to get his family, sending them on the canal. He and his son Henry Jr. then rode on horses and drove a team of oxen hitched to a wagon loaded with essentials. Their new home was the large cobblestone house at the corner of Ridge Road and Oak Orchard River Road. Blackburn said there was a general store on the first floor.

This cobblestone house at the corner of Ridge Road and Oak Orchard River Road at Oak Orchard on the Ridge is the ancestral home of Patty Blackburn of Medina. Her great-grandfather Henry Waters Jr., who lived there, is the first Civil War soldier to be memorialized on one of the banners hanging throughout downtown Medina.

Henry Jr. went to school at Oak Orchard on the Ridge and was very attentive, except for several days one spring when high water washed out the log bridge on Oak Orchard Creek. His father was one of the settlers who went to Rochester and insisted upon an improved road through the flats, and succeeded in getting a log bottom road, which was a vast improvement.

Provided photos: Alonzo Waters is a great-uncle of Patty Blackburn of Medina. He served in the 308th Field Artillery 78th Division during World War I. Blackburn’s great-grandfather was in the Civil War, and she has had his picture put on one of the banners paying tribute to veterans, which line the streets downtown.

Gilbert Howell, a colonel who served in the War of 1812 in the local area, took up the land on the corner of Ridge Road, south of the Waters’ property. Howell did considerable work for Henry in exchange for help in building his first buildings.

Henry Jr. married Triphene Achilles, daughter of Alfred Achilles, who took up 149 acres adjoining Henry in 1837. Henry purchased land adjoining his parents, where he lived all his life. He died Oct. 30, 1903.

Henry Jr. had a son Frank, who served the town of Ridgeway as supervisor from 1908 to 1911, and was chosen chairman of the board in 1910. He was elected to the Assembly in 1910 and re-elected in 1911. Information provided by Blackburn states Frank purchased the 20-room brick home on Ridge Road near his boyhood home, which he named “Riverside.” Blackburn said she thought his boyhood home was the large cobblestone home on the corner of Ridge Road and Oak Orchard River Road, but she had never heard it referred to as “Riverside.”

No one can confirm there was a brick home, and it is believed it is a reference to the cobblestone home, as there is no information available about a second 20-room home in the area. However, William Mesler, who has lived across the road for 70 years, said the back of the cobblestone home was partly brick.

Mesler also provided information about having talked to Jennie Beals, who lived in the hollow near the creek and told him there used to be a tunnel running from her house to the cobblestone house which was part of the Underground Railroad. Mesler then said a member of the Waters family years ago lived in a big house on Oak Orchard Creek Road, north of the cobblestone house, but he didn’t know which Waters.

Patty Blackburn’s cousin Robert Waters also served his county as a member of the Army during World War II.

Former Orleans County historian Bill Lattin checked an 1813 atlas in his possession and came up with the following information.

The Honorable Frank Waters (Frank Jr.’s father) purchased 26 acres at Oak Orchard Village on Ridge Road. It consisted of 10 acres of apple trees, five acres of peach trees and 2 acres of pear trees. Crops raised were wheat, corn and potatoes, which thrived because of a good well and the creek nearby.

It also describes a “commodious farm mansion of 20 rooms built of stone,” (obviously referring to Riverside) and a grain barn, storage house, tenant house and cooper shop.

Henry Waters Jr. isn’t the only veteran in Blackburn’s past who served his country. Her parents were Lewis and Dorothy Waters. Lewis was a brother of Alonzo Waters,  noted publisher of the Medina Journal Register, Harold Waters and Viola Waters. Alonzo served with the 308th Field Artillery 78th Division during World War I. Alonzo’s son was the late Robert Waters, pillar of the Medina community who also became publisher of the Medina Journal Register. Robert served with U.S. Army during World War II.

Blackburn thinks it would be appropriate for the next round of banners to include Alonzo and Robert.

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Republicans vote for committee members in Murray, Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2020 at 11:22 pm

Republicans in Murray and Ridgeway voted in primaries for their committee members. Absentee ballots will be counted on July 1. The Board of Elections didn’t have a breakdown on how many were received so far for each district.

• 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.

Nicholson leads with 24 votes, followed by 22 for Stalker, and 16 for Kreutz.

• 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. Neale leads with 28 votes, followed by 18 for Peone and 17 for Case.

In District 5, the candidates include Lynn Wood, Cynthia Oliver and Ronald Vendetti. Oliver has 42, followed by 41 for Wood and 12 for Vendetti.

In District 6, the candidates include Kellie Gregoire, Robert Miller and Adam R. Moore. Moore leads with 47, followed by 35 for Gregoire and 25 for Miller.

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Father’s Day chicken barbecue sells out fast in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 June 2020 at 1:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – The firemen’s sauce is added to chicken during today’s barbecue at the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company.

The 800 chicken dinners sold out fast in the drive-through event. They were all gone by 11:44 a.m.

Ricky Tuohey, a Ridgeway firefighter, helps serve the chicken barbecues today.

The event was scheduled to start at 11 a.m., but the fire company started to serve the meals around 10 a.m. due to a lineup of vehicles.

Deputy Fire Chief Jason Bessel, left, and Fire Chief  Pat Kelly work in the fire pits with the last batch of chicken. Firefighters arrived at 6 a.m. to start cooking the chicken.

Bessel and Kelly said the fire company has lost about $10,000 with cancelled fundraisers during the Covid-19 pandemic, including a gun and money raffle in May.

The fire company expects to make about $2,000 from today’s chicken barbecue. Kelly and the fire company also wanted to keep the event going, which has been a Father’s Day tradition the past 49 years.

Today’s chicken barbecue was drive-through only. Usually many people prefer to eat the meals inside the fire hall. But the fire hall remains closed to big crowds. The state currently has limited social gatherings to no more than 25 people.

Joleen Bessel, left, and Valerie Busch add bottles of water to the meals.

This group works on the dinners in the kitchen. Henry Charache scoops the beans into the meal container. Tracey Hendrick, center, is president of the auxiliary and April Fearby, right, is vice president. They had three lines going during the busiest time.

Justin McAdoo wheels some of the meals to a truck bay, where they were picked up in a drive-through lane. Some of the children of the firefighters hitched a ride in the bottom of the cart.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson helped take the orders.

Kristin McAdoo, first assistant chief for the Ridgeway, collects the money.

Ridgeway’s next big fundraiser will be a gun and cash raffle on Oct. 9.

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