Bridge closes on 104 in Ridgeway with new span expected to open in September

Staff Reports Posted 27 April 2021 at 4:49 pm

RIDGEWAY – The New York State Department of Transportation is advising motorists that the bridge carrying Route 104 over Oak Orchard Creek in the Town of Ridgeway is now closed to accommodate construction.

Contractors will replace the existing structure with a new multi-girder bridge that features upgraded bridge shoulders and an improved hydraulic opening.

The new bridge is expected to open to traffic in September. A signed detour is currently in place for motorists to use Route 98, Route 31A, Route 63 and Route 104. Local roads near the bridge will be accessible during construction.

The bridge is being replaced by Union Concrete and Construction Corp. of West Seneca. The $2.65 million bridge replacement is 80 percent funded by the federal government with the state paying the other 20 percent.

The new bridge will replace one from 1954. The new bridge is a single span multi-girder bridge featuring two 12-foot-wide travel lanes and two 6-foot-wide shoulders. New approaches will also be constructed as part of the project. The new bridge is expected to last at least 75 years.

Bridge replacement over Oak Orchard not expected to interfere with kayakers

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 April 2021 at 2:09 pm

Courtesy of DOT: This map shows where the bridge will be replaced on Route 104 in the Town of Ridgeway.

RIDGEWAY – The upcoming bridge replacement on Route 104 over the Oak Orchard Creek has caused concern for the growing kayaking community.

The Oak orchard has become a very popular spot for kayakers, who pass underneath the bridge over Route 104.

That bridge will be closed to motorists beginning in two weeks on April 26 with an anticipated reopening in early September.

Union Concrete and Construction Corp. of West Seneca is the general contractor on the project. John Olinger, Ridgeway highway superintendent, spoke with Union officials and the company said the Oak Orchard will remain open to kayakers.

“During the project they will have signs and a spotter to direct all river traffic,” Olinger said today. “Union Concrete is the company that is doing the work , and have plenty of safety measures in place so everyone stays safe. They will be working 6 days a week and have Sunday off.”

There will be times when no traffic will be allowed such as when they are removing steel or setting or removing parts of the new or old bridge, said Town Supervisor Brian Napoli.

The state Department of Transportation is overseeing the $2.65 million bridge replacement, which is 80 percent funded by the federal government with the state paying the other 20 percent.

The new bridge will replace one from 1954. The new bridge is a single span multi-girder bridge featuring two 12-foot-wide travel lanes and two 6-foot-wide shoulders. New approaches will also be constructed as part of the project. The new bridge is expected to last at least 75 years.

Camp Rainbow returns this summer after missing 2020 due to Covid

Posted 9 April 2021 at 12:47 pm

Press Release, Arc of Genesee Orleans

Provided photo: Jenifer Batt, director of Camp Rainbow, is pictured with camp friends Keira and Jackson during a recent sunny afternoon at the camp in Ridgeway on Townline Road.

RIDGEWAY – Camp Rainbow will be open this summer following a pandemic shutdown that closed the site in 2020 for the first time in 50 years.

Located at 2272 Yates-Carlton Townline Road, Camp Rainbow is a five-week day camp operated by the Arc of Genesee Orleans.

The 2021 season kicks off July 12 and runs through August 13 and each session lasts one week, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Camp is open to all children ages 5 – 21 and younger children must have finished their first year of elementary school. Campers over 16 must still be in school to attend.

“Our goal is to run camp as close to a typical camp season as possible, however, I know we will need to make some adjustments due to Covid protocols,” said Jenifer Batt, camp director.

Guidelines are coming from the state and adjustments will be made to meet the guidelines. “I’m predicting an awesome summer camp season,” Batt said.

The camp schedule includes daily participation in arts and crafts, music, nature and science, and athletics programming, under the supervision of a team of enthusiastic camp counselors. The camp nurse is on-site at all times during the camp day.

Two wholesome meals are offered daily at no charge, through the assistance of the Summer Food Service Program offered by the New York State Department of Education. With parental consent, children will enjoy free swim time under the supervision of a certified lifeguard in our beautiful 4-foot in-ground swimming pool.

A number of week-long scholarships are available that include the cost of tuition, meals and transportation for a week of camp. Campers can come for a week, multiple weeks, or the entire five weeks. However, scholarships are for one week only in order to give as many kids as possible the camp experience. Regular cost for camp is $25 a day for tuition and $16 a day for transportation.

Parents can also provide their own transportation to and from camp. Transportation and scholarships are limited so it is important to get applications in soon found on the Camp Rainbow page of the Arc’s website (click here). Applications are due May 21. If you have questions or need assistance with completing or returning the application, please call Jenifer Batt at 585-589-5516 or email jbatt@arcgo.org.

Positions are also available for people looking for a fun and rewarding work experience this summer at Camp Rainbow. Openings are listed on the Arc of Genesee Orleans website (click here).

Camp History – The Shenberger family generously donated the property that is home to Camp Rainbow. They wanted to help create a place where children with disabilities had opportunities for fun and interaction. Volunteers then spent hundreds of hours clearing the land and building the facilities.

While Camp Rainbow was originally designed to meet the needs of children with developmental and/or physical disabilities, it was opened up to all children ages 5 to 21 in 1992.  Since that time, Camp Rainbow has encouraged friendships and understanding among all children, promoting integration and inclusion.

Community was creative with early bridges over Oak Orchard in Ridgeway

Posted 7 April 2021 at 3:57 pm

Current bridge on 104 will soon be replaced

Photographs courtesy of Town of Ridgeway Historian’s office: This view shows the iron bridge over Oak Orchard Creek, looking west on Ridge Road.

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

“Illuminating Orleans” – V. 1, No 10

RIDGEWAY – Which are you most likely to say, “The bridge is out?” or “The bridge is closed?”

This topic generated some lively discussion. An informal survey found that more people are likely to say “closed” rather than “out.”

Regardless of preferred usage, inconvenience ensues when a bridge is “closed” or “out” as those who travel or live on Route 104 will find when the bridge over the Oak Orchard Creek on Route 104 will soon close to traffic for five months.

Oak Orchard Creek originates in the Tonawanda Swamp. Joined by numerous streams as well as Otter Creek and Marsh Creek, it flows into Lake Ontario at the Oak Orchard Harbor.

Crossing the Oak Orchard Creek proved challenging for the early settlers. Describing his family’s journey in 1810, Seymour Murdock recalled that the area of bank cleared for crossing was designed for “Yankee” wagons which were narrow. However, their wagon was a wider Pennsylvania wagon, and the crossing proved very difficult. One little brother fell out and would have been left behind, had he not yelled lustily.

Later view of the iron bridge over Oak Orchard Creek on Ridge Road

For many years, a felled tree, with its upper limbs trimmed would serve as a footbridge. In 1825, the Supervisors of Orleans County were authorized by the Legislature to raise $1,000 by tax to build a plank bridge over the Oak Orchard Creek.

This plank bridge greatly facilitated travel along Route 104, but it deteriorated over time. In October 1876, a herd of 21 fat cattle caused it to give way when they crossed. The cattle were not injured though they fell 18 feet. According to the Medina Tribune, the bridge was “a total wreck.” However, “travel on this road will not be obstructed by this accident.”

The plank bridge was replaced by an iron bridge. By the 1950s, this bridge was no longer suited to the increased volume of vehicular traffic. Also, the curved approach and narrow width were cited as factors in several accidents. A new, wider bridge was built by the State Dept. of Public Works in 1954, at a cost of $175,000. The curve was straightened by moving the highway several yards to the north of the original highway. The bridge was resurfaced in 1981.

The new bridge will replace the bridge built in 1954. Featuring two 12-foot wide travel lanes, wider shoulders and new approaches, it is to be built by the Union Concrete and Construction Corporation of West Seneca. The cost of bridge-building has increased since 1954, from $175,000 to $2.65 million. The new bridge is expected to last 75 years, so we will not need to debate whether that particular bridge is “closed” or “out” until 2096.

View of Oak Orchard Creek bridge, looking east on Ridge Road

Knowlesville lift bridge closed to traffic until April 16

Staff Reports Posted 5 April 2021 at 3:35 pm

KNOWLESVILLE – The State Department of Transportation temporarily has closed the lift bridge in Knowlesville to traffic to accommodate maintenance work by the State Canal Corporation.

The bridge is expected to be closed until April 16, the DOT said in a news advisory.

A signed detour is in place for motorists to use Route 104, Eagle Harbor Waterport Road and Route 31.

Motorists are reminded that fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone. In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license.

Route 104 bridge in Ridgeway will close from late April through early September

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 March 2021 at 8:28 am

This map from the NYS Department of Transportation shows the location of the bridge on Route 104 over Oak Orchard Creek.

RIDGEWAY — The bridge on Route 104 over Oak Orchard Creek in Ridgeway will be closing to traffic on April 26 with an anticipated reopening in early September.

The bridge is being replaced by Union Concrete and Construction Corp. of West Seneca. The company advised Town of Ridgeway officials this week of the impending closure.

A detour will send larger trucks to Route 98 in Gaines-Albion, Route 31 from Albion to Medina and Route 63 from Ridgeway to Medina.

The $2.65 million bridge replacement is 80 percent funded by the federal government with the state paying the other 20 percent.

The new bridge will replace one from 1954. The new bridge is a single span multi-girder bridge featuring two 12-foot-wide travel lanes and two 6-foot-wide shoulders. New approaches will also be constructed as part of the project. The new bridge is expected to last at least 75 years.

Barn in Ridgeway destroyed in fire, more than 50 animals killed

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 February 2021 at 11:28 am

Horse gets out but turkeys, chickens, pheasants and rabbits don’t survive

Photo by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – A barn at 10320 Ridge Rd., just east of the Niagara-Orleans County line, was destroyed this morning by a fire.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 7:26 a.m. and arrived to see the barn completely engulfed with flames, said Kyle Morgan, the Ridgeway second assistant fire chief.

The fire also damaged the back porch of the house, but firefighters were able to prevent the blaze from spreading beyond the porch and also to a neighboring home.

Kelly Waters, owner of the property, said a passerby banged on the door in the morning to say the barn was on fire. Waters said a horse got out of the barn, but other animals perished in the fire, including 10 turkeys, 30 chickens, 14 pheasants and four rabbits.

Waters, a former firefighter, said he took many precautions to keep the barn safe.

“Right now we’re not sure what happened,” he said about the cause of the fire.

Ridgeway firefighters were joined at the scene by Medina, Lyndonville, Shelby, Middleport and Hartland.

Morgan said a nearby fire hydrant was buried in snow. Firefighters had to shovel out near the hydrant before they could use it for water. Morgan urged people to clear snow from hydrants.

Hawley announces work on 2 state-owned bridges moving forward in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 January 2021 at 4:11 pm

Projects includes 237 in Murray over canal and 31 in Ridgeway over railroad

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, announced plans the state is working to finalize plans for bridge deck maintenance on two bridges in Orleans County.

One of the projects includes the bridge on Route 237 over the Erie Canal in the town of Murray. The work will be completed either this year or in 2022 depending on public safety factors and contractor resource availability, Hawley said.

The bridge will need to be closed for six weeks as maintenance work takes place, at which point a detour will be established directing motorists to use NY-31, NY-387 and NY-104.

“This maintenance work will help insure this bridge continues to safely serve our community for decades to come, and I am grateful to everybody at the Department of Transportation involved in making this much-needed project a reality,” Hawley said.

The DOT also is planning maintenance work on the bridge deck of the Route 31 bridge over the Falls Road Railroad in the town of Ridgeway, near the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds. The work will be completed either this year or in 2022 depending on public safety factors and contractor resource availability, Hawley said.

The bridge will need to be closed for six weeks as maintenance work takes place, at which point a detour will be established directing motorists to use NY-63, NY-31A, and NY-98 . Both lanes of traffic near the bridge will be open during the annual Orleans County 4-H Fair at the end of July.

“I am glad to see that this project will be able to move forward in the near future without disrupting the annual Orleans County 4-H Fair,” Hawley said. “This maintenance work will keep this bridge safe and operational for years to come, and I’m grateful to everyone at the Department of Transportation involved in planning this important project.”

Icicles in Canal Culvert draw photo enthusiasts

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2020 at 11:32 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – I’ve seen the icicles inside the Canal Culvert before, but I wanted to see them again. I stopped by this morning at one of Orleans County’s most iconic structures. The culvert is the only place where traffic goes under the canal.

The freezing temperatures and the seeping water in the tunnel have proved ideal for icicles.

Mark Eaton of Medina came out to get some photos of the icicles. He knows when the temperatures drop below freezing in November and December, the icicles will probably be hanging in the Culvert.

There are sidewalks on each side of the road in the Culvert for people to walk through the passage.

Most of the big icicles are concentrated on the west side of the Culvert.

Photos of the Culvert with the icicles have been popular on social media locally.

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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