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Knowlesville Airport will get new life, with flying lessons

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 31 May 2020 at 9:52 am

John Follman buys airport that was created by Felstead family

Photo by Ginny Kropf: John Follman of Kenyonville stands next to his Ercoupe which he keeps at Knowlesville Airport on Taylor Hill Road. He recently bought the airport from Ron Felstead, whose father Herb developed the runway shortly after purchasing the small farm from Charles Curtain in the 1940s.

KNOWLESVILLE – A quaint runway carved out of a farm field will continue to see flying activity after the recent purchase by a former Air Force pilot and soon-to-be-retired captain for Southwest Airlines.

John Follman of Kenyonville has purchased the property known as Knowlesville Airport and owned by the family of Herb Felstead since the end of World War II.

The runway was developed by Herb, who grew up on a farm north of Knowlesville and became fascinated with airplanes the first time he was hoeing in the garden as a child and saw a plane fly over.

Herb soloed in the early 1940s out of the old Medina Airport on Marshall Road, but World War II broke out and civilian flying was not allowed. As soon as the war ended, Herb went back to flying, got his private pilot’s license in 1946 and bought a Piper Cub, according to son Ron Felstead of Medina, who is also a pilot.

“Dad’s hobby became my career field,” said Ron, who learned to fly at Genesee County Airport in Batavia and soloed in 1957.

Provided photos: Knowlesville Airport was a beehive of activity during its peak years as shown is this picture provided by Ron Felstead, whose father Herb built the airport.

Although Herb loved flying, he was also a good mechanic and that became his career field. He operated a repair shop on Route 31 at the end of Knowlesville Road, until he retired and sold it to Allan Kropf for a Ziebart Rustproofing shop.

Herb and his wife Irene purchased the small farm on Taylor Hill Road from Charles Curtain with the intention of building a runway, according to Ron. The late Zeke Royal of Culvert Road, who was Ron’s first flight school student, helped Herb build the runway and put up one of the first hangars.

Ron’s brother Gary also became a commercial pilot, flying F106s with the Montana National Guard for 20 years, advancing to squadron commander flying F16s.

John Follman, the new owner of Knowlesville Airport, is shown here with an AIM-17 missile being tested on the F-16s which he flew out of Niagara Falls Air Force Base. Follman is now a captain for Southwest Airlines, and plans to teach flying at Knowlesville when he retires in September.

Ron’s son Keith became a pilot, soloing on his 16th birthday in December 1984. His dad was his flight instructor.

Ron had received his commercial pilot’s license and began giving flight instruction in 1962 at Cornell University in an ROTC training program with the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. He soloed Gary during that time.

After two years, Ron went to work at Page Airways in Rochester doing charter corporate flights and giving flying lessons. He next gave flying lessons at Edison Tech and Occupational Center in Rochester. Between flying at Page Airways and Edison Tech Ron was  a flight instructor at Genesee County Airport and an FAA pilot examiner for four years.

After Herb died in 1986, Ron acquired the airport. While he was honored to care for the airport and carry on his father’s tradition, he said it was a lot of work. It was sometimes difficult to keep the runway mowed, a job which he enjoyed, but which required five to six hours, while still holding down his job and teaching flying.

In its peak years of operation, Knowlesville Airport was home to 14 hangars. In the mid 1990s, Governor Pataki used the airport to land in his helicopter when he came to Orleans County to announce funds for the towpath trail in Knowlesville. Ron said he couldn’t believe it when the governor’s office called and asked if they could land there. Ron asked if they realized it was a short, grass field, and was told the governor would be arriving in a helicopter.

Ron wasn’t too optimistic when he decided to put the airport up for sale.

“I didn’t think there’d be many people out there looking to buy an airport,” he said. “But I was thrilled when I heard from John. I couldn’t be happier to have someone carry on what my father started.”

John Follman, left, is shown with Jon Weiss, a check airman for Southwest Airlines and classmate of Follman’s from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Follman was completing his work for upgrade to captain. They both served together in the 10th Squadron at the Air Force Academy.

Follman, who has an illustrious career as a pilot, was born in Ithaca in 1955. His family moved to Pine Hill in 1964, when his father, who worked for Farm Bureau, was transferred to Orleans County. John attended fourth grade at Albion Grammar School, then his family moved to Kenyonville in 1965 and he graduated from Lyndonville Central School in 1973

“In high school, someone once said to me that I had to decide what I wanted to do after graduation, or I’d end up flipping hamburgers all my life,” John said.

Perhaps John inherited his love of flying from his father John Sr., who learned to fly from Ron. John Sr. had bought a Stinson with Doug Lockwood and used to take his son John flying over Lake Ontario.

After high school John was accepted at the Air Force Academy Prep School, where the first plane he flew was a T41, the Air Force version of a Cessna 172. He graduated in 1978 and came home to marry his high school sweetheart Yvonne Strickland.

In June 1978, Follman went for pilot training at Williams Air Force Base in Phoenix. He was in the first class of the fiscal year 1980, graduating in October 1979. He stayed there to take pilot instructor training in the spring of 1980. He became an instructor on the Northrup T38 for three years.

By then he and Yvonne had two children and he went to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas, where he flew the RF-4C fighter. Next came three years (1984 – 1987) at Zweibrücken Air Base in Germany, which is now closed. When he came home, they were looking for pilots at Niagara Falls Air Force Base, which was flying F4C and D Phantom jets. He also flew air defense versions of the ADF16, and ended flying KC135s refueling aircraft, including the Stealth.

When Follman retired as a lieutenant colonel from the 107th National Guard Refueling Wing in January 2000, he went to work for the former Northwest Airlines, flying DC9s with them for seven years. In December 2006, he went to work for Southwest, where he will retire, effective September 30.

This is Knowlesville Airport on Taylor Hill Road (Townline Road) looking to the west. Herb Felstead lived on the property and ran an auto repair shop on Route 31 at the end of Knowlesville Road. He built the airport, which at one time housed 14 hangars. The airport is about to see new life with the recent purchase by commercial pilot John Follman of Kenyonville, who plans to give flying lessons from there and Gaines Valley.

He learned Knowlesville Airport was for sale when he attended a wedding where he met the grandson of the late Dwight “Buzz” Hill, whose home was next to the Felstead property.

“Jeremy Hill asked me if I knew the airport was for sale,” Follman said. “This was a Saturday and on Sunday I called realtor Jeanne Whipple and told her I was interested. I made an offer and after some negotiating, Ron and I made a deal.”

This is the first time the airport won’t be owned by a Felstead, Follman said.

Follman owns an Ercoupe 415C, which he keeps at Knowlesville Airport, and a Cessna 150, which he keeps at Gaines Valley Airport and will use to give flying lessons.

He plans to use both airports for his flight instruction, doing classroom work at Gaines Valley and utilizing Knowlesville Airport for “engine out” exercises, touch and goes, and pattern entry.

He is thrilled to be able to keep planes flying at Knowlesville Airport.

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Firefighters give new recruit a big surprise on 16th birthday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 April 2020 at 10:03 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – A brigade of fire trucks heads down Knowlesville Road at about 5 p.m. today to surprise Justin McAdoo on his 16th birthday.

(Click here to see a video of the fire trucks going past McAdoo’s home.)

Justin McAdoo is surprised by the processional of fire trucks from Ridgeway, Lyndonville, Shelby and East Shelby. His mother, Kristin McAdoo, is the first assistant chief for the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company. Justin’s father Ken and grandfather Don Marchner are both past chiefs for Ridgeway.

Justin has looked forward to joining the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company for many years. When he turned 16, he intended to fill out the application and join.

But the fire company has been on pause with no regular meetings, per orders from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to attempt to avoid gatherings of people.

Justin also wanted to start driving today but the DMV is limited right now. Justin, like all students, also has been out of school for five weeks and counting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A fire truck has a birthday greeting for Justin, using his nickname Buford.

Pat Kelly, the Ridgeway fire chief, said Justin has been around the fire hall and firefighters for many years.

“He’s been a diehard fire buff,” Kelly said. “He wanted to join the fire department but couldn’t. Everything is on hold. We wanted to help make the day special and give him some incentive to get through these tough times.”

Tyler Luckman climbs out of a Ridgeway fire truck that included a birthday greeting for McAdoo.

Justin McAdoo said he is appreciated the effort to give him a surprise on his birthday.

Don Marchner, Justin’s grandfather, hands Justin an application to the join the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company.

Justin filled it out. He said he wants to be a career firefighter. He looks forward to taking the basic firefighting class once the classes start again.

Don Marcher administers the oath of office to Justin. That was also a surprise for Justin. He was told he would have to wait until after the pandemic to be accepted into the department. But the fire company held a quick meeting outside the fire hall and accepted Justin as a member.

Marchner said he was thrilled to administer the oath to his grandson.

“I feel good to have three generations involved now,” Marchner said. “He has had a love of fire trucks since he was a young shaver.”

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Carlton, Ridgeway town offices closed to public

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 March 2020 at 12:09 pm

Ridgeway and Carlton town offices are closed to the public until further notice.

Any tax payments in Carlton can be made online though the link provided on the town website.

Any other payments can be made by using the drop box located in the zoning enforcer’s door.  Please put any payments in an envelope with a name and phone number. If there are any questions or concerns please call the Town Hall at 585-682-4358.

In Ridgeway, the Town Court will be closed to the to the public in cooperation with the directive sent by Governor Cuomo, said Town Supervisor Brian Napoli.

The Town Board’s regular meeting today will go on as scheduled.

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Small congregation at Jeddo keeps the faith

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Peggy Wright of Medina preaches to a congregation of three at the Jeddo Chapel on Route 104. The supporters are determined to keep the church going, in spite of a declining membership.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 23 February 2020 at 9:34 am

3 steady attendees are committed to keeping open a church that dates back nearly two centuries

The Jeddo Chapel on Ridge Road has a sign out front inviting people to service and coffee hour, but rarely are there more than three there.

MEDINA – A tiny church in Jeddo has been part of the Jeddo community for 183 years, and although it struggles, devoted followers are determined to keep it going.

Officially called the Jeddo Community Chapel, the church is simply known as “Jeddo Chapel,” and while it once was a thriving congregation and hub of the community, it now opens its doors every Sunday to a congregation of three – maybe 10 on a special day.

Peggy Wright of Medina, who started attending the church in 1998, has been preaching the sermon for the past several years.

Attendees on a recent Sunday were Rob Johnson of County Line Road, Chris Craft who lives across the road, and Terry Mahnke of West Shelby Road. All three have families who formerly attended the church, and it is in their memories the three attend now.

Johnson started attending the church after moving back to the area five years ago. His great-great-grandfather Truman Johnson used to attend and was superintendent of the Sunday School for 50 years.

“He used to come to church on his sleigh, picking up kids along the way,” Johnson said.

Craft’s father was a Mason, and in November it will be 100 years since the family moved from Barker to their home across the street, where they started attending the Jeddo Chapel. The Masons played a big part in the history of the church, at one time giving them their lodge. Craft still lives across the street, and even though he also belongs to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Medina, Craft volunteers to turn the heat on each Sunday at Jeddo Chapel.

Three people who regularly attend the Jeddo Chapel are, from left, Chris Craft, who lives across the road; Rob Johnson of County Line Road; and Terry Mahnke of West Shelby Road. The families of all three attended the church in the past.

Mahnke’s mother used to attend the Jeddo church. Mahnke started coming because she had become acquainted with Wright when her daughter Hannah attended Wright’s pre-school.

“Hannah encouraged me,” Mahnke said. “She would come home from pre-school and ask me why we didn’t go to church.”

Wright said she began attending the church after her family became dissatisfied with the pastor of their former church.

“We were looking for a church, and as we had lived on County Line Road, we knew a lot of people who attended the Jeddo Chapel,” Wright said. “And their beliefs fell in line with mine.”

The pastor at that time was away a lot and asked Wright to fill in for him. The parishioners liked the way she preached, even though she has no official training.

The Rev. Richard Heitzenrater eventually took over, and when he left it was voted in April 2011 to close the church, as so many members were no longer attending.

The Rev. David Horner, however, who lived down the street, was married to the former Emily Bird, whose parents were faithful supporters of the church. The Rev. Horner had promised Emily’s father Horace he would make sure the Chapel never closed its doors.

“As I had been filling in on and off, Pastor Horner asked if I would be willing to assume the position of preacher,” Wright said.

Even though he has moved out of state, the Rev. Horner still supports the church.

Another parishioner, Duane Swann, offered to be organist, and for a while they had a handful of followers, which included Craft and the late MaryAnn Davis.

Wright and her small congregation are hoping to spur a revival, but they know it won’t be the first. In a record of its history, the church has undergone several revivals.

After a recent Sunday service, those in attendance had lunch in the small dining room.  Clockwise from left are Rob Johnson, pastor Peg Wright, Chris Craft and guest Allan Kropf.

The earliest recollections of religious meetings in Jeddo are in 1837, when a Sunday School was organized in the Jeddo School House and the pastor of Johnson Creek Baptist Church began holding evening meetings in the school house. These continued until the people of the community felt a better place should be provided for worship.

The building was originally owned by the Good Templars Lodge, who offered it to the Johnson Creek Baptist Church, if they do the work to make the building suitable for the Lodge to meet. In the spring of 1887, work was begun and everyone in the community turned out to help dig out the basement and make a more substantial foundation for the building.

Farmers brought their teams and wagons and drew the stones that made the wall for the church. The stones came from an old abandoned Free Will Baptist Church which stood on Fruit Avenue, on the farm later owned by Paul Blackburn. The land on which the Johnson Creek Baptist Church stood had been purchased by the Good Templars from Josiah Payne, who lived next door. The Templars then deeded it to the Johnson Creek Baptist Church.

The Good Templars were given a lease of 99 years on the hall and could use it when it was not in use by the church.

Also about this time, the Jeddo Chapel Society was formed. The ladies agreed to pay all of the church expenses, including repairs, janitor, fuel and lights. They did so until the early 1950s.

In 1888, Mrs. William Bird’s sister Nellie Clark started a Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, which continued for 50 years. The women helped paper the chapel and bought the first carpet. When the time came for seats, Almer J. Brown donated red oak logs from his farm, which became the Bird farm. Will Bird was working for Brown at the time and drew the logs to Middleport to be sawed. He brought the lumber back to John Singleton’s wagon shop, the brick building next door, which later was Brewer’s Store.


‘Although our numbers have gradually decreased, we still feel the Lord wants us to continue worshiping him at this locality. Once again, we are praying for a revival that will reach our neighbors and beyond, and we will once again see the pews in this beloved church filled.’ – Peggy Wright, preacher at Jeddo Chapel


Gus Smith, who lived across the street where the Crafts now live, made the black walnut book racks now in use and put them on the pews. The organ is the one that was brought from the Sunday School which met in the Jeddo School House. In 1895, Mrs. Truman Johnson became organist, and then pianist. She continued for more than 50 years. (Rob Johnson explained that every generation of his family had a Truman, and he has a brother Truman today).

It was a long time before the church had a bell. For years the Good Templars and the Christian Endeavor Society had socials to raise money for the Bell Fund. It was eventually purchased with an additional gift from Josiah Payne.

The history of the church was compiled by William Bird’s wife Sarah.

“This chapel means so much to me, for I have been interested in it for 70 years,” she wrote in 1957. “How well I remember 70 years ago when it was dedicated,” she said. “I trust the future generations will take the interest, not only in keeping the building in repairs, but also assisting in the church services.”

Wright said the Jeddo Chapel continued to grow many years after as the community’s residents sacrificed, labored and gave their all. She said the community’s heart was in Jeddo Chapel and a need was soon evident for expansion. As in the past, Josiah Payne came to their rescue, and in February 1923 he deeded the land under the present kitchen to the Chapel. No one remembers who built the kitchen, Wright said, but the fact remains that the cooperative efforts of the Jeddo community made it possible.

In the spring of 1954, the Chapel was almost sold again and its doors closed, as was the school house. However, people worked and sacrificed as before, Wright said. An organ was purchased in 1959 and paid for in full in 1960. Carpet was installed, a furnace was put in and many more activities prevailed. Although enthusiasm continued and people gave their best, the Jeddo Chapel was once again instructed to close its books on April 22, 1961 and seek a more efficient means of existence within the Hartland Baptist structure.

The church bell may have been stilled, but in the hearts of Jeddo residents, the spirit had not died. For in the summer of 1974, a handful of Christian pioneers reorganized the Chapel’s Sunday School. By winter of 1974-75, worship had resumed with 15 charter members and incorporation as a full recognized American Baptist Church. They were received into membership of the American Baptist Churches of the Niagara Frontier on Feb. 8, 1975.

Wright said she is happy to lead worship at the tiny church. She researches her sermon each week and prints a weekly program. She said she spends some time every day working on something for the church. They have no organist or pianist any more, but Wright bravely leads the few in singing the hymns.

She takes no regular salary, and she said expenses are paid out of the collections taken each week. If there is anything left over after the bills are paid, that is her salary.

“Although our numbers have gradually decreased, we still feel the Lord wants us to continue worshiping him at this locality,” Wright said. “Once again, we are praying for a revival that will reach our neighbors and beyond, and we will once again see the pews in this beloved church filled.

The members are contemplating having a dinner at the church in the near future, in hopes the public will come and develop an interest in their congregation.

Worship is at 10 a.m. Sunday, and the church would welcome any visitors.

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Barre, Ridgeway seek moratorium on battery storage facilities for solar

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 February 2020 at 10:35 am

The towns of Barre and Ridgeway are seeking a six-month moratorium on applications to construct battery storage facilities for solar projects.

The Orleans County Planning will review the requests during its monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 27) in Conference Room C, County Administration Building, on Route 31.

The County Planning Board makes recommendations to the towns on zoning and land use requests.

Barre and Ridgeway are seeking a moratorium so the towns can review their zoning and perhaps update the regulations.

The Planning Board on Feb. 27 also will review the site plan for a beauty salon in Ridgeway at 3930 Salt Works Road in the Light Industrial District.

Planners will also make a recommendation for Yates to either approve or deny an area variance, the site plan and a special use permit for  a telecommunications tower at 1200 County Line Road in the Agricultural/Residential District.

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New lotto winner, 30, is cancer survivor, mom of 3

Photos by Tom Rivers: Nichole Williams and her husband Rusty hold a ceremonial check for $1 million this afternoon at the Crosby’s in Elba, where the winning ticket was purchased on Jan. 11.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 February 2020 at 3:22 pm

ELBA — A Knowlesville woman who recently fought cancer said a $1 million winning lottery ticket will pay off medical bills and help her start a college or career fund for her three children.

Nichole Williams, 30, was introduced today as a lotto winner by New York Lottery personality Yolanda Vega. Williams didn’t actually buy the winning scratch-off ticket from the Triple Double 777 Red Hot game.

It was given to her by a friend from Pembroke for Williams’ 30th birthday. She celebrated with family and friends on Jan. 11 at the VFW in Medina. Williams said she had only bought two lottery tickets in her life – both duds.

Her friend bought her four tickets for her birthday. Williams scratched them off the next day at her home in Knowlesville. The first two weren’t winners. On the third one, Williams won $5 and that made her happy.

Nichole Williams celebrates winning the big prize with New York Lottery personality Yolanda Vega.

When she scratched off the fourth ticket, she was confused. She isn’t familiar with the scratch-off games. The rules said if you get a row of three symbols that all match, you win the prize next to the symbols. Williams scratched off three lightning bolts. Next to those symbols it said, “JACKPOT 1 million.”

She looked at the ticket, flipping it over several times, for about 20 minutes. Finally, she called her father, an Orleans County deputy sheriff and frequent lottery player. She asked him if he thought she had won.

Her father wasn’t familiar with the game, but he thought it sounded like a winner. She went to see him and he checked the game’s rules. They felt more convinced the ticket was a jackpot winner.

Williams took the ticket to the Crosby’s in Albion and received confirmation it won the biggest prize. The next day she went to the Lottery’s office in Buffalo to claim the jackpot.

“It’s definitely a blessing,” Williams told reporters today. “It’s definitely a huge weight lifted off my shoulders that I can provide college for my kids or if they don’t want to go to college we can put it towards a tech school or whatever else they want to do.”

Nichole Williams is interviewed by Yolanda Vega. Williams works at the Orchard Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina and plans to continue in the job.

Williams and her husband Rusty have three children, ages 5, 7 and 11. About a year ago in January she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. After seven surgeries she was declared in remission. But that wasn’t before going into septic shock.

She appreciates the care she received at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo. She decided to pursue a career helping patients.

Williams is currently working at the Orchard Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina. She is a unit assistant and expects to be a certified nursing assistant in about month. She has no plans to stop working.

“I love my job,” she said. “I love taking care of the residents there.”

Her husband is a truck driver. They were living in Maryland before moving to Orleans County about three years ago to be closer to family and much more affordable housing. They said it was too costly to raise a family in Maryland.

Williams accepted a lump sum of $537,440. She is grateful for her friend buying the lottery ticket. Williams offered the friend some of the winnings, but the friend refused, telling Williams she deserves it.

“I told them right away,” she said about calling her friend to share the news. “They were extremely happy for me.”

(Click here to see a video of Nichole Williams with Yolanda Vega at Crosby’s in Elba.)

Williams’ winning ticket shows three lightning bolts in the top right line, followed by “JACKPOT” as the prize.

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400 attend benefit for motorcycle racer, who amazes with recovery from crash

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2020 at 10:27 am

Jeremy Higgins urges people to keep working hard and not let setbacks discourage them

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Jeremy Higgins and his wife Amber are pictured on Saturday during a benefit dinner at the Ridgeway Fire Hall. About 400 people attended the Jeremy Higgins Road to Recovery Benefit which was organized by the Crusaders Motorcycle Club, where Higgins is a four-time track champion.

Higgins was badly hurt with a traumatic brain injury on Sept. 2 while racing at the Springfield Mile in Springfield, Missouri. He has made significant progress after being in a coma after the accident.

“He amazes us everyday,” said Brian Hazel, the Crusaders president. “He’s like a walking miracle. We’re all so happy he has come as far as he has.”

Higgins, during a speech at the benefit, thanked his wife for her steadfast support the past five months.

“It was a scary time for me,” Higgins told the crowd at the Ridgeway fire hall. “I can’t thank my wife enough. She has been my rock solid anchor. She has stood by me the whole time. She has been a rock star. I appreciate you being so strong.”

Brandi DiMatteo helps serve the dinners with Seth Karas at right. The Crusaders planned to sell 382 dinners. They wanted to cap it at 382, to represent Jeremy’s racing number of 82.

Higgins, 27, of Batavia started racing at the Crusaders track on Culvert Road in Medina when he was 3. He turned professional when he was 16 and has competed the past decade at the top tracks across the country.

The benefit on Saturday included two officials from the Welland Motorcycle Club in Ontario, Canada. Joe Montorani, the Welland president, said the racing community is tight-knit.

“Being here is supporting motorcycling any way we can,” he said.

Doug Herman helped cook the spaghetti for the big dinner.

There were 150 items in a basket raffle. Kerry Lonnen, a Crusaders volunteer, led the effort to collect donations for the auction. Many of the Crusaders members, Jeremy Higgins’ family and friends, and Crusaders riders also secured many donations for the event.

“He is such a nice guy with a nice family,” Lonnen said. “The racing community is such a competitive sport on the track. Off the track it’s friends and family.”

Jeremy Higgins drops a ticket for one of the items at the auction. His father-in-law, Darryl Baer, is back left laughing at a joke.

Higgins thanked the people at the benefit for their support since the accident. That has been a huge boost as he has tackled physical therapy. He said it has been a difficult journey, struggling with his balance and needing a walker during the early stages of his recovery.

“Once I set my mind to things, I was determined to get it done,” Higgins told the Crusaders crowd. “I did whatever I had to do to get the job done.”

Higgins told the crowd he feels nearly fully recovered – “I have a little bit of vision issues and a little bit of memory issues.”

He is grateful for the progress.

“I’m 99 percent to where I was before this accident,” he said. “Which is insane because the brain surgeon and everybody were blown away that I even woke up. They could not believe the injuries I sustained and was able to live with.”

Hazel, the Crusaders president, praised Higgins for working so hard on his recovery.

“This kid is amazing,” Hazel said. “He is not a quitter. He is going places.”

Higgins urged people facing their own challenges to not let setbacks discourage them.

“I’m no motivational speaker or anything like that,” Higgins told the crowd. “I have down times and I have up times. The biggest thing when you are facing a life challenge like I have your biggest enemy is you. If you put your head down and you put in the work, things will happen. You have to have faith in that and keep going for your targets.

“I don’t care if it’s pasta dinner on Wednesday night or racing grand national on Saturday morning, it doesn’t matter what you do just put all of you into it and things will happen.”

The Front Porch Pickers performed during the benefit on Saturday.

Dave and Rhonda Waters welcome people to the benefit on Saturday. Jeremy Higgins raced on the Waters Autobody Racing team for several years.

The Crusaders also presented their annual awards Saturday. Ryan Wells was named the 2019 Track Champion.

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Ridgeway Fire Company installs officers, honors dedicated members

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Firefighters salute as Charles Smith rings the bell in memory of Royce Caleb, a 55-year-member of the Ridgeway Fire Company, and his wife Bev, who both died in 2019.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 January 2020 at 11:04 am

Harriet Petrie gets a hug from Ridgeway firefighters Tyler Luckman and Jason Bessel, after presenting them with a set of New York hooks and Haylo LED safety flares, in memory of her late husband Larry.

RIDGEWAY – Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company installed new officers and recognized dedicated members at its annual banquet Saturday night.

David Green of East Shelby was master of ceremonies, and began the evening by introducing distinguished guests, which included local law enforcement, politicians and representatives from other fire companies.

First Assistant Chief Kristin McAdoo presented training certificates to those firefighters in attendance, followed by presentation of awards for years of service. Service awards went to Dave Monagan, 50 years; Robin Gardner and Brian Withey, 40 years; Dell Stork, his son Ron Stork and Guy Scribner, 30 years (Dell also served 30 years in the Medina Fire Department); Francis Woodward, Tom Rushing and Kristin McAdoo, 25 years; and Matt Natale, 10 years.

Chantelle Blackburn chose April Fearby as recipient of the President’s Award.

“She’s here all the time and does things we didn’t even know needed to be done,” Blackburn said. “She deserves this award more than anyone.”

Fearby presented tokens of appreciation to several members who assisted her throughout the year.

Joshua Klotzbach, who was chosen Firefighter of the Year, was not able to attend because he was serving in the military with the National Guard.

Ladies Auxiliary president Tracey Hendrick announced Harriet Petrie as the Auxiliary Member of the Year.

“She is always here and really took over the reins,” Hendrick said.

Firematic officers of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company for 2020 were sworn in Saturday night by Orleans I, Dale Banker (standing at rear). From left are Zachary Blackburn, EMS lieutenant; Chantelle Blackburn, EMS captain; Tyler Luckman, firematic captain; Matthew Natale, second assistant chief; Kristin McAdoo, first assistant chief; Jason Bessel, deputy chief; Donald Marchner, safety officer; Michael Kelly, fire police captain; and Rick Harmer, fire police lieutenant. Partially visible standing at rear is installing officer, Dale Banker, Orleans I.

Orleans I Dale Banker was the installing officer, who swore in the following officers:

Executive officers – Donald Marchner, president; April Fearby, vice president; Chantelle Blackburn, secretary; Samantha Raduns, treasurer; Zachary Blackburn, sergeant-at-arms; and trustees Paul Wengrzycki (three years), Kyle Morgan (two years) and Francis Woodward, one year.

Firematic officers – Patrick Kelly, chief; Jason Bessel, deputy chief; Kristin McAdoo, first assistant chief; Matthew Natale, second assistant chief; Tyler Luckman, firematic captain; Kyle Morgan, firematic lieutenant; Donald Marchner, safety officer; Michael Kelly, fire police captain; Chantelle Blackburn, EMS captain; and Zachary Blackburn, EMS lieutenant.

Officers of Ridgeway Fire Company’s Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in at their annual banquet Saturday night. From left are Harriet Petrie, chaplain; Joelle Brown, secretary/treasurer; Melissa Harmer, vice president; and Tracey Hendrick, president.

Officers of the Ladies Auxiliary were sworn in by Ridgeway town clerk Karen Kaiser. They are Tracey Hendrick, president; Melissa Hansler, vice president; Joelle Brown, secretary/treasurer; and Harriet Petrie, chaplain.

April Fearby thanks those who helped her during the year, after being named recipient of the President’s Award during the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company’s annual installation dinner Saturday night. Seated at left is first assistant chief Kristin McAdoo.

Charles Smith conducted a service paying tribute to 55-year member Royce Caleb. He and his wife Bev, who was a member of the Auxiliary, died during 2019.

Smith rang a bell three times, which signifies a firefighter has fallen.

Tracey Hendrick recognized Auxiliary members for their years of service. They were Effie McAdoo, 25 years; Donna Lockwood and Joleen Bessel, 10 years.

As has been customary each year since her husband died, Harriet Petrie has presented a gift in his memory to the fire company. Saturday night she gave firefighters Jason Bessel and Tyler Luckman a pair of New York hooks and a set of Haylo LED safety flares.

Don Palmer, a member of the fire company for 35 years, stood up to thank the department for allowing him to remain a member, in spite of the fact he cannot see.

“Even though I am totally blind, they accept me, and for that I say thank you,” Palmer said.

The Rev. Dan Thurber closed the evening with a prayer, saying how thankful he was, as a resident and pastor of the church just down the road, to have the Ridgeway Fire Company protecting them.

Executive officers of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company who were installed Saturday night are, from left: Zachary Blackburn, sergeant-at-arms; Chantelle Blackburn, secretary; Samantha Raduns, treasurer; Francis Woodward, director for one year; Donald Marchner, president; April Fearby, vice president; and Paul Wengrzycki, director for three years.

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Ridgeway town officials take the oath of office

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 January 2020 at 5:49 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Duane Payne, a new member of the Ridgeway Town Board, raises his right hand and takes the oath of office this afternoon during Ridgeway’s organizational meeting. Payne was elected to the board in November.

John Olinger, the Ridgeway highway superintendent, signs the oath of office, which was administered by Town Clerk Karen Kaiser. Olinger was first appointed to position on March 23 following the retirement of Mark Goheen. Olinger was elected to the position in November. He has worked in the Highway Department since 2012, starting as a motor equipment operator.

Brian Napoli takes the oath of office for a new term as the town supervisor. He was re-elected in November in an election with two other candidates.

Mary Woodruff also takes the oath of office after being re-elected to the Town Board in November.

Town Board adopts new ethics policy

During the organizational meeting, the board approved several appointments and also adopted a new ethics policy. That policy states town elected and appointed officials shall not serve as a committee member, chairman, vice chairman or officer of a town political party.

Councilman David Stalker, a member of the Ridgeway Town Republican Committee, said he thinks the policy was drafted to target him. Stalker was endorsed by the Ridgeway Republican Committee last year for town supervisor. Napoli would defeat him in an election that also included Michael Maak.

Stalker noted that many elected officials across the county serve on the town and county Republican committees.

The Ridgeway policy will allow current town officials to continue in their roles on the Ridgeway Republican Committee, or be grandfathered in.

Stalker abstained in the vote for the new policy, while the four other board members approved it.

Brian Napoli, the town supervisor, said the nine-page policy is likely the most comprehensive among the 10 towns in the county.

Councilman Jeff Toussaint said he supports not having active Republican Committee members on the Town Board.

“Otherwise you try to serve two masters and there is the chance for conflict,” he said.

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Knowlesville congregation, with sadness, says goodbye to church building

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2019 at 8:33 am

Congregation will continue to have events at fellowship hall, hold services at Millville

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Rev. Sara Merle, pastor of the United Methodist churches in Knowlesville and Millville from 2000 to 2005, attended a deconsecration service for the Knowlesville church building on Saturday. That service was a chance for people to say goodbye to the building and reflect on friendships and major life moments through the church.

KNOWLESVILLE – The congregation at the former Knowelsville United Methodist Church gathered on Saturday to deconsecrate the church building on Knowlesville Road.

The building needs capital improvements – a new furnace and handicapped accessibility, and is for sale. Saturday’s service declared the site is no longer and church building and has been released “for any honorable use.”

The congregation continues to use the fellowship hall across the street for Sunday school and events, including its popular pie shop, apple festival and fish fries.

The congregation also is part of the United Methodist Church of Abundant Harvest, which holds its services at 11 a.m. on Sundays in Millville.

The church at 3622 Knowlesville Rd. is for sale. It needs some capital improvements that church members found daunting.

Saturday’s service was like a reunion, with former church pastors coming back for the special service.

Sara Merle was the church pastor from 2000 to 2005. One of her first duties as pastor in Knowlesville was blessing the church’s beef booth, which church volunteers have continued to run during the Orleans County 4-H Fair for a week in late July.

She praised the church for its outreach ministries, and creative ways to connect with the community. Merle, who now attends a church in Hilton as a parishioner, said she is grateful for the chance to lead the Knowlesville and Millville congregations for the five years.

“It only enhanced my journey of faith,” she said.

Chris Wylie was the church’s pastor beginning in 2013. He led efforts to bring multi-media technology into the Millville site and pushed for the pie shop at the Knowlesville fellowship hall. Wylie, who has cerebral palsy, guided the Knowlesville and Millville congregations into a merger, effective Jan. 1, 2015, as the United Methodist Church of the Abundant Harvest.

Wylie now lives in Lewiston.

“Sometimes with ministry you don’t know where God will take you,” he said. “Ministry isn’t about the location where you are, it’s about the people coming together.”

Erica Wanecski shared how the church has long tried to build people’s faith while having fun.

“Throughout the years they’ve had their arms open to the community in a wonderful way,” she said. “It’s a building we won’t have anymore. But we’re going to go on with our arms open like we have through the years.”

Phil Lilley was married at the Knowlesville church about 30 years ago. He said the church has offered many children’s programs and activities for the community.

The congregation also has been fortunate to have so many “fantastic pastors,” he said.

Brenda Busch spoke during the service. She lives close by the church and has been attending frequently since 2005.

“I wanted to find a church where I feel comfortable,” she said. “Here everyone is friendly.”

Lorraine Luckman said the church has been part of her life for many years. Two of her children were married at the church building.

“It was always family,” she said about the congregation. “I just felt at home in that building.”

The Rev. Garry McCaffery, who became pastor July 1, acknowledged it can be difficult for a congregation to say goodbye to a building that feels like a home. He said the Knowlesville site has “provided refuge and hope for God’s people.”

The congregation will continue to carry out a noble mission.

“God continues to bless, continues to move and work among the people who gather in this place,” he said.

About 50 people attended the deconsecration service at the Knowlesville fellowship hall for the church building across the street.

The read the following declaration of purpose:

“The time has come for this congregation of Christ’s holy Church, under God’s leadership, to take leave of the church building. It has been consecrated for the ministry of God’s Holy Word and Sacraments. It has provided refuge and comfort for God’s people. It has served well our holy faith. It is fitting, therefore, that we should take our leave of this consecrated house, lifting up our hearts in thanksgiving for this common store of memories.”

The group then read this declaration of deconsecration:

“The building located at 3622 Knowlesville Road, having been consecrated and named the United Methodist Church of the Abundant Harvest, Knowlesville location, formerly known as the Knowlesville United Methodist Church, together with the land on which it stands and all objects remaining in it, we now deconsecrate and release for any honorable use. We declare that it is no longer the place of meeting of a United Methodist Congregation.”

Robin Watts said the church is a welcoming community.

Nate Johnidas, an acolyte, extinguishes the candles at the alter. He spoke during the service and thanked the church members for their support over the years.

“I’m thankful to everyone who helped me along the path of my life,” he said.

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