Scouts clean up trash at Canal Culvert

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2024 at 1:11 pm

Photos submitted by John Dieter, Scoutmaster of Troop 35

RIDGEWAY – Boy Scouts and parents from Troop 35 in Medina this past Saturday organized a garbage cleanup at the Canal Culvert, the spot where the road goes under the canal on Culvert Road.

Scouts picked up litter at the Culvert, and also along the towpaths both east and west to the nearest canal bridges.

Several bags of garbage, plastic chairs, and a bicycle were removed from canal banks. This event was part of the Canal Sweep cleanup program that is held annually.

Meat Raffle proves popular as new fundraiser for Medina Rotary

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 March 2024 at 12:47 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Art Doldan, owner of ArtyParty716, spins the wheel on Friday night during a meat raffle fundraiser for the Medina Rotary Club. Gary Lawton of the Rotary Club is at right in back.

Rotary held the event for the first time as a fundraiser to support community projects.

About 150 people attended the raffle at the Ridgeway Fire Hall.

The crowd holds up $2 to have a chance in one of the rounds. They would get four chances to win different meat products for those $2.

There were 12 rounds in all with chances to win chicken fingers, pickle chips, pizza logs, bacon, burgers, state fair sausage, strips, prime rib, pork chops, pork butt, chuck roast, ribeye steak, shrimp, poppers, stuffed chicken, boneless breast, turkey breast, surf/turf and wings.

Art Doldan pulls the 50/50 ticket in a bucket held by Stephanie Mason from the Rotary Club, and the lead organizer of the meat raffle. The 50/50 split was about $800.

Mason has been to other meat raffles and she said they are fun events, while raising money for a good cause.

The Rotary Club expected the event raised $3,000 to $5,000 last night for the club to give towards community causes.

Carl Tuohey and his son Jackson get the meat ready for the winners.

Art Doldan walks past baskets up for raffle. He said the meat raffles are soaring in popularity. He is based out of Williamsville. Last year he did 37 meat raffles from Jan. 1 to June 1. This year he is scheduled to have 65 in those five months.

The events raise an average of $6,000 to $8,000, and some top $20,000.

“These events have really blossomed,” he said. “People love it.”

County planners support trailer rental business in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2024 at 11:10 am

Zoning change recommended for truck terminal in Shelby

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board is recommending the Town of Ridgeway approve a business that stores and rents trailers for road use.

Reginald Cichocki wants to park and store empty trailers at 12620 Ridge Rd. in a general business district. Cichocki could have up to 100 empty trailers on the site.

He also will have a 6-foot-high chain link fence along the roadside that would be 350 feet long with a 30-foot sliding gate.

The fence will provide a barrier for safety and offer some privacy from the surrounding area and passing vehicles, county planners said.

In another referral, the Planning Board on Thursday recommended the Town of Shelby change the zoning at 11697 Sanderson Rd. from agricultural/residential to general commercial.

This 6.3-acre property has been a truck terminal for at least 50 years, planners said. The property should have been zoned for business many years ago but Dan Wolfe, the Shelby code enforcement officer, said the town appears to have made an oversight.

Planners were concerned the change could be seen as “spot zoning” but the property is near the ethanol plant on Route 31A and touches a light industrial district.

“It should be rezoned general business,” Wolfe said about the property that is listed for sale. “It gives more options to prospective businesses.”

Planners also voted to keep Brian Napoli of Ridgeway as the board’s chairman and Dan Strong of Carlton as the vice chairman.

Historical marker in Ridgeway about 1st religious society gets spruced up

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 January 2024 at 7:55 pm

Provided photo

RIDGEWAY – Kevin DeHollander is shown with a freshly painted historical marker on Presbyterian Road. He is shown on Tuesday after Melissa Ierlan delivered the marker to the site in Knowlesville.

The marker notes that the first religious society in the Town of Ridgeway was organized in August 1817 and the first church was dedicated in 1832. This marker originally was put up in 1932.

Irelan has now scraped and repainted nearly 40 of the markers.

County awards $678K construction bid for bridge over Jeddo Creek in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 January 2024 at 12:15 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature on Tuesday approved a bid for $678,014 to replace the County Line Bridge over Jeddo Creek in the Town of Ridgeway.

J. Bognar Construction of Sardinia submitted the lowest bridge for the project. The bridge replacement is funded 95 percent by the federal government, with the county picking up the remaining 5 percent, county legislators said.

Construction is expected to start in the spring.

Crusaders racing for 66th season at Culvert Road track in Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 June 2023 at 12:41 pm

Provided photos

RIDGEWAY – The Crusaders Motorcycle Club will be racing today as part of the 66th season of flat track racing on Culvert Road.

Today’s events are highlighted by the annual memorial race in honor of past friends and family. The gates opened at 7:30 a.m. with practice starting at 11:30 a.m. and racing beginning at 12:30 p.m. at 3312 Culvert Rd.

Our 2023 events include the Men’s Mad Dawg Race on June 18, the Women’s Mad Dawg Race on July 9, the Men’s Mad Dawg Race on July 23, and a rain date for Aug. 27 if needed. The Crusaders have updates on the club’s Facebook page and website.

Jude Lacy of Medina is pictured on a 125 4-Stroke from a race on May 21. He placed 2nd overall in the 125 4 Stroke Class in our 2022 race season.

The Crusaders also had their Kiddie Kamp on Saturday. The 50cc Kiddie Kamp participants are shown with Brad Hazel and Austin Luczak, who are local pro riders who taught the class.

The training session is for riders ages 4 to 8. The class provides young riders with basic riding and racing skills. The participants are taught what all the different colored flags represent, how to watch for the green race light and to practice their starting skills.

They also learn how to maneuver around the corners. By the end of the day all the riders pick up their speed and increase their riding skills.

Scouts from Medina cleared trash from Culvert area for Canal Clean Sweep

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 April 2023 at 7:30 am

Provided photos

RIDGEWAY – Scouts from Troop 35 cleaned up garbage on Saturday around the Culvert Road tunnel under the canal. They also picked up garbage on the towpath from the culvert to the Beals Road bridge. The effort was part of the 18th annual Canal Clean Sweep.

Scouts in picture in front of culvert from left to right include Nicholas Reese, Vinny Gray, Briley Allen, Jimmy Dieter, Kam Kassey, Jake Gidley, Scoutmaster John Dieter and Cole Herman

The Scouts filled some big bags with trash.

All villages, nearly all towns in Orleans ask county to share more sales tax

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 April 2023 at 12:23 pm

Ridgeway declines to pass resolution seeking more sales tax money but urges county to take ‘serious look’ at issue

The 10 towns and four villages in Orleans County are nearly unanimous is asking the County Legislature to increase the local sales tax revenue shared with the local municipalities.

The Clarendon Town Board in the past two months has urged the towns and villages to seek more of the local sales tax, which hasn’t increased for the towns and villages since 2001, despite more than doubling in that time.

All four villages – Albion, Holley, Lyndonville and Medina – have passed formal resolutions asking for more money in the local sales tax, which last year totaled $22.5 million collected in the county. The Orleans County Legislature has kept the amount capped to the four villages and 10 towns at $1,366,671 since 2001.

“Our concern is the towns and villages have stayed absolutely flat while our expenses, like everybody else’s, have gone sky high,” said Mark Bower, the Holley mayor.

Eight of the Town Boards also have passed resolutions, asking the county for more of the sales tax. That includes Albion, Barre, Carlton, Clarendon, Kendall, Murray, Shelby and Yates.

The Ridgeway Town Board declined to pass a resolution, but did offer a letter of support to look at the issue. The Gaines Town Board has yet to vote on the matter.

Brian Napoli, the Ridgeway town supervisor, said he agrees with county legislators who have said the county faces a potential $1 million tax shift with the state if the county is forced to pick up more of the Medicaid burden. That issue is expected to be settled with the new state budget, which is now three weeks late.

Lynne Johnson, the County Legislature chairwoman, said the county is in limbo while waiting for the state budget to be approved to see how if the county will get hit with more Medicaid costs, as well as an increase in assigned counsel rates. Those two issues could have a $1.3 million impact on the county budget resulting in about a 7 percent tax increase.

“We understand the fiscal constraints and unfunded mandates that the State imposes on the County and we understand the many questions that currently remain unanswered concerning funding and increased unfunded mandates due to the lack of the State to pass a budget on time,” Napoli wrote in a letter April 18 to the county legislators.

However, he urged the legislators to take a “serious look” at sharing more sales tax with the towns and villages. More sales tax for Ridgeway would assist the Town Board in offsetting possible tax increases at the town level, Napoli said.

“The Town also faces economic pressures to keep the town tax rate within the tax cap while providing the needed services to the Town residents,” Napoli wrote in his letter.

The resolution approved by the four villages and eight towns seeks 14 percent of the total sales tax to be shared with towns and villages to seek 14 percent of the total. That’s what they received in 1996.

To get to 14 percent of $22.5 million, the county would have to increase the amount to towns and villages to $3,150,000 – a $1,783,329 increase. In 1996, the local sales tax revenue was $9,499,138.

The amounts allocated for the villages and towns for 2023 includes:

• Villages ($378,777 total) – Albion, $165,309; Holley, $46,545; Lyndonville, $14,876; and Medina, $152,047.

• Towns ($987,894 total) – Albion, $123,953; Barre, $64,536; Carlton, $95,418; Clarendon, $116,261; Gaines, $88,267; Kendall, $86,813; Murray, $122,421; Ridgeway, $130,057; Shelby, $103,489; and Yates, $66,679.

Dan Thurber retiring from Oak Orchard Assembly of God

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 31 March 2023 at 9:41 pm

Church on Ridge Road welcoming new pastor to the pulpit

Photos by Ginny Kropf: The Revs. Dan Thurber, left, and Bryan McDowell talk at the altar of Oak Orchard Assembly of God Church, after a dinner this evening to welcome the Rev. McDowell as new pastor. The Rev. Thurber will preach his last sermon on Sunday.

MEDINA – The Rev. Dan Thurber is retiring and will preach his last sermon on Sunday as pastor of Oak Orchard Assembly of God.

The Rev. Thurber has served the church as pastor for 21 years, having taken over from his father, the Rev. Stan Thurber, in 2002. The church was the Oak Orchard Betterment Society when the Rev. Stan took over in 1961 and founded the Assembly of God. The Rev. Dan served in many capacities during his father’s 41 years as pastor, including youth pastor for 15 years and business administrator.

Dan said his decision to retire was the result of a distinct message from God, who told him specifically it was time for him to retire, he said.

Coming out of Covid was difficult, he said, which played a part in announcing his decision to retire at their annual business meeting in January 2022.  On Dec. 22, 2022, the church elected the Rev. Bryan McDowell as their new pastor.

The Rev. McDowell was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in Saratoga Springs, where his grandfather Percy Davis was named to the Harness Racing Hall of Fame. His grandparents both still live there, he said, which may have played a part in his decision to return to New York.

The Rev. McDowell served in Connecticut for a time, and lastly, in Wisconsin for six years. He and his wife Whitney have three children, Elias, 7; Aurora, 2; and Theo, 3 weeks.

“We had been praying about a transition,” the Rev. McDowell said. “I had lived in New York as a child, so when God opened this door, we pursued it.”

They waited for the birth of Theo to make the move to Lyndonville, where they have purchased a house, he said.

The Rev. McDowell is excited to begin his new duties and continue what the Rev. Dan Thurber has started.

“A priority is building relationships with the congregation, and then see what God brings to us,” McDowell said.

“I will support Bryan as pastor, and this will always be my church home,” the Rev. Thurber said.

Oak Orchard Assembly of God has Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. Sundays, worship at 10:30 a.m.; children’s church; Sunday family night; adult praise, prayer and share; Bible kids night for ages 4 -11 and youth 12 – 18; and prayer and Bible study on Wednesday night.

The Rev. Dan Thurber and wife Diane, left, and church board members enjoy coffee with the Rev. Bryan McDowell and his wife Whitney this evening. The Rev. McDowell will assume duties as new pastor next Sunday, replacing the Rev. Thurber, who will retire after Sunday’s sermon.

Medina Village Board urges Ridgeway, County BOE to keep polling site in village

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2023 at 7:43 am

MEDINA – The Orleans County Board of Elections is encouraging the Town of Ridgeway to consolidate its polling locations to one spot at the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company on Route 104.

The BOE urged the town to no longer use the Town Hall on West Avenue as a polling location. Moving it to the fire hall would save about $500 on the cost of elections inspectors for general elections, and about $1,250 on the cost for primaries, according to the BOE.

Currently the fire hall is used as the pilling site for districts 1, 3, 6 and 7, while the town hall is used for districts 2, 4 and 5. Ridgeway is the only town in Orleans County that doesn’t have a consolidated polling location.

The Board of Elections said the fire hall has more parking spaces and more privacy inside for voters.

But Mayor Mike Sidari said it is a longer drive for voters, especially for senior citizens on what can often be cold days in early November for elections.

“This would be a huge hindrance to our village residents,” Sidari said about consolidating all polling sites. “It’s going to be hard for our elderly.”

The Village Board agreed to send a letter to Brian Napoli, the Ridgeway town supervisor, rging Ridgeway not to move the Town Hall polling sites to the fire hall.

Sidari and the Village Board members said they appreciated Napoli sought their opinion before making a decision.

Company in Ridgeway that uses bugs to control plant pests is expanding

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 February 2023 at 3:27 pm

Sierra Biological has new building, growing workforce

Photos by Tom Rivers: Casey Decker recently sold his company, Sierra Biological, to Beneficial Insectary. Decker will stay on as leader of Sierra Biological on Swett Road in Ridgeway. The company distributes nematodes and other insects to control pests that can damage or destroy plants that produce vegetables, flowers, fruits and cannabis.

RIDGEWAY – A company on Swett Road in Ridgeway has built an army of tiny insects that are used for pest control to help farmers and greenhouse operators produce crops – flowers, fruits, vegetables and cannabis.

Sierra Biological moved its operations to Ridgeway in May 2016. Casey Decker, the company’s CEO, founded the company in California. He was operating it in an out building at his home with his wife Nina.

They needed more room for the business. But real estate is very expensive in California. Decker had a big client at a greenhouse in Canada just over the border from Western New York. He also had a customer in Buffalo.

Decker scouted sites in WNY and settled on a former collision shop on Swett Road in Ridgeway.

The business has steadily grown since then, and currently has 10 employees. Decker put in climate-controlled rooms and has maxed out the space.

Sierra Biological is set to grow more. It has a new 10,800-square-foot facility next door and last month closed a deal with Beneficial Insectary Inc., where that company now has 100 percent equity of Sierra. Decker will stay on overseeing Sierra Biological.

Tyler Palmer, manager of Sierra Biological in Ridgeway, examines aphids that are growing on oat plants. These plant with aphids that don’t harm the plant will then be introduced to parasitic wasps that will wipe out other aphids threatening the oats. Sierra Biological offers an alternative to using pesticides and other chemical sprays that Palmer said can be costly and sometimes damage the plants as well as the targeted insects.

Decker said the deal with Beneficial Insectary consolidates a long-standing and successful collaboration between the two companies, and gives Sierra Biological access to more products and technological to grow the business in Ridgeway.

“It is a logical and mutually beneficial way to give our excellent collaboration with Beneficial Insectary a more structural and permanent character,” Decker said. “I will continue to lead Sierra Biological and will further operate as an independent distributor with a regional focus in the Northeast. My clients value our quality, reliability, and personal service. The logistical and administrative benefits of a closer relationship with Beneficial Insectary will mean I can dedicate more of my time to serving their needs.”

Cliff Noorlander, CEO of Beneficial Insectary, issued this statement: “I look forward to continuing my excellent working relationship with Casey within this new setting. It consolidates our long-standing relationship with Sierra Biological.

“We’ll be able to realize many operational synergies which will allow Casey to focus even more on serving his customers,” Noorlander said. “As part of the Biobest Group, I value the independence with which Beneficial Insectary can continue to operate and grow. I firmly intend to work in the same spirit with Sierra Biological.

“In addition to operational synergies, Sierra Biological brings certain in-house production and research programs. We look forward to the opportunity to further develop these relying on the resources and know-how of the group. Sierra’s technologies include nematodes and new technologies to control cannabis pests, which we will aim to leverage as part of our offering to this important market segment.”

Casey Decker and Tyler Palmer are shown inside a new facility on Swett Road with two floors of climate-controlled rooms. The space triples the size of Sierra Biological in Ridgeway.

Decker said he is thankful for his career working to control insects to help his customers grow more vibrant crops with bigger yields.

Sierra Biological can help farmers and greenhouse operators scout pests that are damaging plants and crops, and develop a strategy to reduce or eliminate those pests, and do it in a way that is natural without any pesticides.

“It’s mentally stimulating and not mind-numbing,” Decker said. “There is something every day that is different and each problem has 20 possible solutions.”

Decker said he was fortunate when not long after moving to Ridgeway he got a knock on the door from Tyler Palmer, who was then a recent graduate of Morrisville State College with an associate’s degree in diesel technology and a bachelor’s in renewable energy.

He had worked for a wind turbine company and then Western New York Energy in Medina.

Nematodes will be introduced into these wax worms, and then released by customers to target a predator, which could be grubs. Many customers use these nematodes on their lawns in Canada. Sierra Biological has insects that will destroy thrips, spider mites, aphids and fungus gnats, as well as other plant pests.

Palmer, a Lyndonville native, welcomed the chance to help grow Sierra Biological and help the customers grow their crops in a very earth-friendly approach.

He has been a manager at Sierra Biological for six years. He likes the science behind the job.

“We replicate nature in a lab,” he said. “We’re just bringing what Mother Nature did inside.”

Sierra is sought after by organic farms and greenhouses, as well as conventional operators. They’re approach – introducing pests that prey on insects damaging plants – has saved customers from costly pesticides and sprays, and resulted in more robust yields.

“We’re an alternative to pesticides,” Palmer said.

Ridgeway Hotel helped bring in new year for 1887

Courtesy of the Medina Historical Society – Invitation to a New Year’s Party at the Ridgeway Hotel, Friday, Dec. 31, 1886.

Posted 30 December 2022 at 7:53 pm

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

Illuminating Orleans, Vol. 2, No. 42

RIDGEWAY – “Fall in, ye lovers of Mirth, and enjoy a Dance to be given at RIDGEWAY HOTEL”

On this weekend, some 136 years ago, “Lovers of Mirth” attended a New Year’s Party at the Ridgeway Hotel. The hotel was a well-known landmark on Ridge Road, having operated as a tavern and stagecoach stop since 1811.

J.P. Tenbrook acquired the hotel in 1883. The Medina Register of October 4, 1883 noted that “John is popular in Niagara County and doubtless will be in his new quarters.”

Tenbrook was no stranger to the hotel business. His father, William, owned several hotels in Lockport and Olcott. His brother A.H. owned the Shelby Center Hotel for several years.

In Ridgeway, Tenbrook energetically set about organizing a series of parties held throughout the year – George Washington’s Birthday, July 4th, Harvest Celebrations. There are several specific newspaper references to the colorful invitations which he used.

Reporting on the 1888 New Year’s Party, the Medina Register of January 3, 1889, called it “A Grand Success”. The event was attended by 152 couples, which surpassed previous records.

“There was not a soul here who did not thoroughly enjoy the fine music and the excellent repast. The fact that Mr. Tenbrook’s parties are so well attended speaks better than words for the manner in which they are conducted.”

Elsewhere, he is referred to as “a genial host.” As a measure of his popularity, the hotel is referenced on several occasions with his name – “Tenbrook Hall”, “Tenbrook’s Hotel”.

He sold the hotel to D. Donovan in 1896. At the time of his death in 1910, Tenbrook was proprietor of the Waverly Hotel in Niagara Falls.

Postcard view of the Ridgeway Hotel on Ridge Road/Route 104. Remarkably, the building which then housed the hotel still stands and its appearance has not greatly changed. Note the hitching posts on Angling Road.

Abundant Harvest church sells 200 beef on weck dinners at apple festival

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 October 2022 at 4:43 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – The United Methodist Church of the Abundant Harvest welcomed the community for its annual Apple Festival on Saturday in Knowlesville.

Church volunteers served 200 beef and weck dinners and also many apple and pumpkin pies.

Paul Dresser, left, and Kathy Luescher, right, were among the church workers who were busy in the kitchen making the dinners that included potatoes and salads.

The fellowship hall was filled with vendors. There were about 20 vendors total including Judy Szulis, who was selling Tupperware. She has been selling Tupperware for 15 years and was happy to show off new colors and sustainable products.

“It’s not your grandmother’s Tupperware,” Szulis said.

Annette Mrzywka of Holley was among the vendors. She and her mother Sue Lear and daughter Natalie Mrzywka team in “Stitched After Hours.” They make reading pillows, dog bandanas, stockings, bibs and other embroidered items.

Their most popular item on Saturday was a Buffalo Bills-themed dog bandana.

Ridgeway Town Board approves $60K in ARPA funds for fire company

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 August 2022 at 7:36 am

Money will help make up for cancelled fundraisers during Covid pandemic

RIDGEWAY – The Ridgeway Town Board has approved $60,000 in the town’s allotment of American Rescue Plan Act funds to go to the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company.

Town Supervisor Brian Napoli said the federal money will help make up for the cancelled fundraisers during the Covid pandemic.

“This money will help support and equip the department,” Napoli said. “We are allowed to do this as they are a non-profit organization that has been affected by the Covid shutdown.”

The Town Board voted on Monday to approve $60,000 for the fire company.

Napoli said Ridgeway has been awarded $316,000 in ARPA funding. The board so far has approved $200,000 in ARPA towards Water District No. 15, and $25,000 towards internet/broadband expansion.

“Of the remaining $31,000, we are looking at other projects, but have not decided on them,” Napoli said.

Kiddie Camp returns Saturday at Crusaders Motorcycle Club

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 July 2022 at 9:16 am

Culvert Road track hosts 2 more races in 65th season

File photos by Tom Rivers: Kevin Hazel, president of the Crusaders Motorcycle, watches young riders and shouts encouragement during a training camp on June 16, 2018. He encourages the young riders to keep their elbows up, look ahead and concentrate on the racetrack.

RIDGEWAY – The Crusaders Motorcycle Club has a busy weekend.

The club will have its annual free training session on Saturday for 50cc riders, ages 4 to 8. This class provides young riders with basic riding and racing skills. The participants will be taught what all the different colored flags represent, how to watch for the green race light and to practice their starting skills.

They will also learn how to maneuver around the corners. By the end of the day all the riders will be picking up their speed and increasing their riding skills.

These riders head off the track after taking a few laps during the training camp on June 16, 2018.

On Sunday the Crusaders will host its annual memorial race in honor of past friends and family. This year marks the Crusaders 65th year of Flat Track Racing on Culvert Road in Ridgeway. Gates open at 7:30 a.m. Practice starts at 11:30 a.m. and racing begins at 12:30 p.m. at 3312 Culvert Rd. Admission is $15 and kids 12 and under are free with an adult.

The final race of the season will be the Women’s Mad Dawg Race on July 31 with a rain date  for Aug. 28 if needed. The Crusaders have updates on their Facebook page and on their website (click here).

Provided photo: These racers head down a turn at the track on Culvert Road. There are races this Sunday and on July 31.