East Shelby Ladies Auxiliary recognizes dedicated members, including two for 50 years

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 28 April 2021 at 7:09 am

Provided photos: Gerry Zinkievich, left, of East Shelby and Doris Antinore of Albion were recognized at the April meeting of the East Shelby Ladies Auxiliary for 50 years of membership. Debbie Green was elected vice president of the East Shelby Ladies Auxiliary.

EAST SHELBY – The East Shelby Ladies Auxiliary recognized its slate of officers and dedicated members at its April meeting.

President Bronwyn Green said because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the fire company did not have its annual banquet in March this year, so members were honored at the regular meeting.

The slate of officers recognized were Bronwyn Green, president; Debbie Green, vice president; Sawyer Green, secretary; Carol Lonnen, treasurer and chaplain; sunshine, Jessie Green; historian, Wanda Dingman; three-year trustee, Shirley Printup; two-year trustee, Elaine Newton; and one-year trustee, Sue Green.

Gerry Zinkievich and Doris Antinore each received certificates for 50 years of membership. Other service certificates were awarded to Sue Green, 35 years; Debbie Green, 40 years; and Marcia Walter, 45 years.

Other special recognitions included the Steward’s award, which was presented to Sawyer Green for her service to the fire company during the 2020 year; and the Ladies Auxiliary President’s Award, given to Carol Lonnen.

During the past year and restrictions due to Covid-19, the Auxiliary has been conducting most of its business through its phone tree, Bronwyn Green said.

Sawyer Green, left, has been elected secretary of the East Shelby Ladies Auxiliary. Carol Lonnen, treasurer and chaplain of the East Shelby Ladies Auxiliary, was presented with the President’s Award at their April meeting. The award would have been presented at the annual banquet, which was canceled this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Beef slaughter plant in Shelby approved by OC Planning Board

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 April 2021 at 11:56 am

SHELBY – The Orleans County Planning Board gave its support for a new agricultural processing facility at 4765 South Gravel Rd.

Phil and Dawn Keppler are applying to build the new 9,640 square feet beef slaughter plant would be part of the SK Herefords Premium Beef farm, which is owned by the Kepplers and David Schubel. The new processing facility will only serve the beef animals raised by SK Herefords.

“Slaughtering facilities are few and far between, and they are expensive,” said Jim Bensley, the county’s planning director.

SK Herefords currently sell the beef to many farm markets in Western New York. The new processing facility will include space for a retail outlet for the meat. The processing facility also will have an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Planning Board recommended the Town of Shelby approve the site plan, issue a permit and also approve a variance because the project is 7 feet short of the 500 feet required in the Shelby code for distance from a neighboring property line. The facility would be 493 feet from the northern property line.

The project also includes 10 parking spaces on the west side of the facility, and a loading/unloading area on the south side. The building would be set back 80 feet from the road.

The project needs a final OK from the Town of Shelby Planning Board.

In other action:

• The Orleans County Planning Board also recommended Shelby approve the site plan for an antique retail sales business at 4237 South Gravel Rd. in General Business District.

Filomena’s Favorites, which has about 25 vendors currently on East Center Street in downtown Medina, is looking to relocate to the former Old Mill Run restaurant.

Some students return to Iroquois Job Corps with more headed to the center

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 April 2021 at 10:04 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Students studying to be clinical medical assistants learn to draw blood at the Iroquois Job Corps Center.

MEDINA – Like so many companies and schools, the Covid pandemic took a toll on students and learning at the Iroquois Job Corps.

Luke Kantor

The Job Corps was shut down in March 2020 when orders were issued to send all Job Corps students home and put a temporary hold on admitting new students. They didn’t start bringing back students until November, when they were allowed back in small groups.

In December 2020, it was announced the Job Corps’ new year would begin under the leadership of Education and Training Resources headquartered in Bowling Green, Ky. ETR formerly managed the Iroquois Job Corps for a number of years and won the contract back in December, according to Center Director Dennis Essom in the December newsletter.

Luke Kantor, manager of Outreach and Admissions/Career Readiness/Career Transition, said during the pandemic students were on distance learning and now some would prefer not to come back in person. Students at home were issued Chromebooks and wireless hotspots, and instructors created virtual classrooms to work with students, so they could continue their education.

A student lays bricks in the masonry class at Iroquois Job Corps. Bricklaying is one of half a dozen careers students can train for at the Job Corps.

As of March, 40 students were on site and 110 were waiting to get in. Each group brought back to the Center must quarantine for two weeks. The Iroquois Job Corps Center has the capacity for 225 students.

Training is offered as a certified nursing assistant, clinical medical assistant and in electrical, carpentry, bricklaying and painting fields, as well as high school equivalency.

Kantor said a student who graduates from the bricklaying program can start working with a union at $42 an hour. He also said a student can’t learn bricklaying on a computer. They need to be on site.

The bricklaying program has recently acquired a new piece of equipment called a brick mule. It is a mix of robotics and masonry, Kantor said. It can pick up blocks as heavy as 200 pounds and put them in place.

The goal of ETR and Job Corps is to promote more connections to the community. There is a focus on bringing in more local students, rather than those from the big cities, Kantor said. A Community Relations Council, which meets four times a year, and Work Force Council, which meets twice a year, are made up of members from the community.

Also, the Job Corps is encouraging females to train the fields of skilled trades, such as carpentry, stone/brick masonry, commercial painting and electrical.

Kantor also noted the Job Corps not only works with at-risk students, but those who’ve done well and graduated from high school and BOCES.

“If they are looking for extra training, we can provide it,” he said.

Kantor said staff is working on a virtual job fair and with a virtual military recruiting meeting.

Retired sheriff honored for 60 years of service to East Shelby Fire Company

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 March 2021 at 10:39 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: David Green, second from left, is presented a “Special Recognition Award” from Orleans County Legislator Bill Eick and an award from the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York by Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator. Debbie Taylor, the East Shelby fire chief, joined Green at the County Legislature’s chambers for the awards for his 60 years of service with the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

ALBION — David Green, a retired Orleans County sheriff and fire coordinator, was recognized during Wednesday’s County Legislature meeting with a “Special Recognition Award” for his 60 years of service to the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

“Through you selflessness and extreme commitment as a firefighter in your community your efforts have provided a positive impact on the health and safety of the residents of the fire district,” the citation stated from the Legislature.

Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management coordinator, also presented Green with a proclamation from the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York for the 60 years of volunteer service.

The County Legislature also recognized Charles Ralph for his 50 years as a member of the East Shelby Fire Department. Mr. Ralph wasn’t at Wednesday’s Legislature meeting.

East Shelby recognizes dedicated firefighters, including 50-year member

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 4 March 2021 at 1:16 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Charlie Ralph, right, and his son Todd hold a wooden clock presented to him by Mike Fuller, left, in honor of Charlie’s 50 years of membership in the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

EAST SHELBY – The East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company took the opportunity to honor dedicated members during their March meeting Tuesday night.

The honors would have been awarded during the fire company’s annual banquet the first Saturday in March, however, the pandemic prevented that, so they decided to award the honors at their meeting.

“These people were certainly deserving to be recognized,” said David Green, a 60-year member of the fire company.

Officers of the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company were sworn in by Orleans Emergency Management Coordinator Dale Banker during the monthly fire department meeting Tuesday night.

Dale Banker, director of Orleans County Emergency Management, installed the following line officers for 2021:

Chief – Deb Taylor; 1st asst. chief – Devin Taylor; 2nd asst. chief – Andy Beach; 3rd asst. chief – Dennis MacDonald; captain – Jeff Taylor; lieutenant – Sharon Grimes; fire police captain – Laura Fields; and safe/training officer – Todd Ralph.

Administrative officers installed were:

President – Mike Fuller; vice president – Joe Newton; secretary – Karen Bracey; treasurer – Allen Turner; trustees – Gordon Reigle, Ken Printup, Norm Beherend and Alan Lonnen; and steward – Dave Green.

Certificates for years of membership were presented to Josh Green, five years; Sharon Grimes and Devin Taylor, 10 years; Matt Grimes and Joe Newton, 15 years;  Laura Fields and Amy Herman, 20 years; Ken McPherson and Allen Turner, 35 years; Mike Zelazny, 45 years; Charles Ralph, 50 years; and David Green, 60 years.

Ralph also received a large wooden American flag with a clock for his years of service to the fire company.

Mike Fuller presented the President’s Award to Deb Taylor, the first woman chief of East Shelby Volunteer Fire Department, at their March meeting Tuesday night.

Mike Fuller presented his President’s Award to Debbie Taylor, who last year became the fire company’s first woman chief.

“She spent a lot of time here during the Covid pandemic, making sure everything was safe,” Fuller said. “Her leadership is what made it all happen.”

An EMS award was presented for only the second year by Fuller, who chose Dennis MacDonald for the honor.

“He has been heavily involved all year, and goes to all the calls,” Fuller said.

Steve Wolter, left, received the Chief’s Award from Andy Beach Tuesday night at the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s March meeting.

Andy Beach said the Firefighter of the Year was somebody behind the scenes at any fire or whatever else is going on, shutting down the roads and making it safe.

“He puts in a lot of time as a fire police,” Beach said, naming Steve Wolter as recipient of the award.

Beach also presented his Chief’s Award, saying he thought about it long and hard.

“This year the award goes to the entire East Shelby Fire Company, who have been great during my last four years,” Beach said.

The award was accepted by Mike Fuller.

The final award was presented by Deb Taylor to Andy Beach, who she said has contributed to the betterment of the fire company.

Dennis MacDonald, left, received the EMS Award from East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s president Mike Fuller at their March meeting.

Shelby man who had heart transplant 30 years ago fought Covid past 2 months

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 25 January 2021 at 8:54 pm

Mike Hodgins leaves Buffalo hospital after difficult ordeal to rehab at Medina Memorial

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Looking frail and thin after spending two months at Buffalo Mercy Hospital battling Covid, Mike Hodgins is surrounded by son Greg Hodgins, wife Kathy and daughter Alisha Duffina.

SHELBY – Miracles do happen.

Ask Kathy Hodgins of Shelby, whose husband Mike just spent two months in Buffalo Mercy Hospital, recovering from Covid-19.

Mike, 59, contracted Covid from his wife Kathy, who isn’t sure where she got it.

The last time she saw Mike was when she dropped him off at the door of Medina Memorial Hospital on Nov. 28. Because of Covid restrictions, she couldn’t even go in with him.

Later that night he was transferred to Buffalo Mercy Hospital, the only place they could find who had an ICU bed available.

The situation was dire, because Mike had a heart transplant 30 years ago, and doctors said he would need a miracle to survive Covid, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans in the past year.

Their miracle was realized this afternoon when Kathy and their children Greg Hodgins and Alisha Duffina brought Mike from Buffalo Mercy to Medina Memorial Hospital, where he will spend seven to 10 days in rehab to regain his strength.

Kathy Hodgins waves as she catches the first glimpse of her husband Mike being wheeled down the ramp at Buffalo Mercy Hospital. It was the first time she had seen him in two months.

While at Buffalo Mercy, Mike spent three weeks on a ventilator, while doctors kept him sedated. During that time, his blood pressure would plummet. Doctors also feared kidney failure.

During his ordeal, Mike developed abdominal bleeding and his epiglottis became paralyzed, meaning he can’t swallow anything by mouth. When he tries to, it goes down his windpipe instead of into his stomach. This resulted in a feeding tube in his stomach, which he still has.

Doctors are hopeful his epiglottis will return to normal so the feeding tube can be removed.

When Kathy learned Mike was going to be discharged and transported to Medina, she insisted on picking him up herself, so she could at least spend some precious time with him.

Alisha drove home, so Mike and Kathy sit in the back seat, where they hugged and held hands all the way home.

Mike Hodgins is wheeled down the ramp at Buffalo Mercy Hospital Monday by an aide named Thi, as his family waits to transfer him to Medina Memorial Hospital for rehab.

Kathy is convinced it is their faith which brought Mike through this ordeal. She said, even in his sedated state, he could hear her voice and she called the hospital every day. She would ask the nurse to put the phone to Mike’s ear and she would repeat that she loved him.

“Every day while he was on a respirator, I called and told him I loved him,” Kathy said. “Then I prayed with him every single day.”

She said it is the most powerless feeling not to be able to see your loved one who is so sick. She said the only exceptions to allowing visitors was in end-of-life situations, and she is thankful they didn’t get to that.

“It’s been quite the journey,” she said.

After getting Mike to Medina Memorial Hospital, the family, along with his brother and sister, stood under his window and waved to him. They are counting the days until they can bring him home.

Kathy Hodgins of Shelby hugs her husband Mike as she sees him for the first since Nov. 28, when he was taken to Buffalo Mercy Hospital with Covid. She brought him to Medina Memorial Hospital Monday, where he will undergo rehab.

Company outlines plan for 1,300-acre solar project in Barre, Shelby

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 December 2020 at 10:21 pm

Community Energy says construction of 200-megawatt Orleans Solar could start in 2022, be complete in 2023

This is the proposed layout for Orleans Solar in Barre and Shelby.

BARRE – A company wants to build Orleans Solar, a 200-megawatt solar energy project in the towns of Barre and Shelby.

Community Energy went over the project in an online forum this evening. The project would cover 1,300 acres, with about 75 percent in Barre and 25 percent in Shelby.

Community Energy expects it will complete the permitting process by the second quarter in 2022, with construction to commence in the third quarter of 2022. Interconnection to the grid would be complete in the third quarter 2023, with construction done the fourth quarter that year.

That was the timeframe presented by Joe Green, director of development for the company based near Philadelphia, Pa.

The layout of the project would be from east of East Shelby Road in Shelby, past Burns Road in Barre. The solar project is in a sparsely populated part of the two towns near the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. A main transmission line from National Grid runs through the project. Community Energy won’t need any battery storage facilities for the project, with the power going right into the grid, Green said.

Most of the land is currently used for corn and soybean farming. Community Energy is working with 10 landowners on the project.

Community Energy did the first and only large-scale solar project so far to make it through the Article 10 siting process for renewable energy in New York. Mohawk Solar in Montgomery County is a 95-megawatt project, less than half of what is proposed with Orleans Solar.

With Mohawk Solar, Community Energy is paying the taxing jurisdictions $300,000 annually, with 2 percent increases. That is $3,333 per megawatt the first year.

If Community Energy reaches a PILOT for payments to taxing jurisdictions at the same $3,333 level, the total revenue paid to the taxing jurisdictions would be about $667,000.

Green said the company wants to work on the PILOT agreement with the local government leaders in 2021. “We haven’t had those discussions yet,” he said about the PILOT.

The project should have 5-6 full-time equivalent employees. Construction is expected to be between $200 million to $250 million, Green said, with 170 construction workers on site for about six months.

The state is moving to a new siting process for large-scale renewable energy, from Article 10 to 94-C. James Muscato, an attorney assisting the company with the siting process, said 94-C should allow projects around the state to be sited “in a more uniform fashion.”

Community Energy needs to work with several state agencies and the host municipalities as part of the review.

“The project must be designed to avoid or minimize, to the maximum extent practicable, potentially significant adverse environmental impacts,” Muscato said.

The company needs to provide $200,000 in intervenor funds – $1,000 per megawatt – for the municipalities and community organizations to hire experts to review the application.

Community Energy is working to delineate wetlands and streams. The company will establish boundaries of all wetlands and streams on lands with the project, and will need to minimize impacts or avoid those areas.

It is also doing its avian studies in consultation with US Fish and Wildlife Service, NY Natural Heritage Program and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The company has done multiple habitat evaluations and has identified northern harriers, short-eared owls and upland sandpipers.

The company will also be providing visual impact studies as part of the project with simulations throughout the 2-mile visual study area.

For more on Orleans Solar, click here.

Debbie Taylor, new East Shelby fire chief, first woman to lead fire department in Orleans County

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Debbie Taylor of East Shelby poses with the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company’s newest piece of equipment, a pumper/tanker, which she will be driving a lot more, now that she’s been named fire chief of the department. She is the first woman to serve in that position in Orleans County.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 12 November 2020 at 1:03 pm

‘She’ll be a role model for any lady who wants to become a firefighter or EMS member.’ – Dale Banker, county EMO director

EAST SHELBY – When Debbie Taylor first joined East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company at age 21, she had no thought of becoming a longtime member, let alone, be named fire chief, the first woman from Orleans County in that role.

Taylor received the honor at the fire company’s Nov. 3 meeting.

David Green, who will celebrate 60 years as a member on Dec. 13, has served in many positions, including chief. He had nothing but praise for Taylor, who he called loyal, hard working and dedicated.

“She’s been a member for quite a few years, and she works hard,” Green said. “She is quick to learn things, she’s well organized and she’s got the personality to do a really great job.”

Taylor changed positions with former chief Andy Beach, who has a new baby at home and is very busy on his farm. He was anxious to step down, Taylor said.

After joining East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company at age 21, Taylor moved away and then came back and rejoined. She’s been a member now for 16 years. She said joining the fire company was a natural thing.

“I grew up watching the TV show ‘Emergency,” and when I married Jeff, both he and his father were members of East Shelby fire company.”

When she first joined, she said the thought of becoming chief wasn’t even on her radar.

“I just wanted to do something for my community,” she said.

Debbie Taylor, who was just elected chief of the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company on Nov. 3, is dwarfed next to their new pumper/tanker, Truck No. 36.

Serving the fire company is a family activity of the Taylors. Husband Jeff is fire captain and son Devin is first assistant chief. Debbie has worked her way up from lieutenant, to captain and 2nd assistant chief. She hopes to some day pass the chief’s hat to her son.

“There is no competition among us,” Debbie said. “We have a great fire company and we all work very well together. The fire company is my second family.”

Jeff was first assistant chief, and he stepped back so Devin and Debbie could advance.

Debbie drives school bus for the Medina School District, so she would usually be free to answer a fire call.

“I’m still going to be learning things, with all the modern technology,” Debbie said. “It’s always changing.”

‘We have a great fire company and we all work very well together. The fire company is my second family.’ – Debbie Taylor, East Shelby fire chief

She is not intimidated by driving even the biggest fire truck. She has had her CDL license since she was 19 and got it to drive milk truck.

The biggest challenge, Debbie said, is the fact of the unknown when responding to a call.

“You don’t know what you’re going to encounter,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of help from Dale Banker, director of Orleans County Emergency Management, and Jerry Bentley (deputy coordinator).”

Banker said having the first woman chief is a great thing for the county.

“She’ll be a role model for any lady who wants to become a firefighter or EMS member,” he said. “As long as they are properly trained, a woman can do well in a firefighting role.”

He said the county is fortunate to have several women coming up the ranks, any one of whom he wouldn’t be surprised to see become chief of their fire company. These include Kristin McAdoo, who is assistant chief of Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company; Crystal Luckman and her sister Tiffany Petry in Shelby; Sue Maslyn, EMS captain in Kendall; Patty Knapp, EMS captain in Holley; and Robin Hughson, captain in Carlton.

“I look forward to working with Debbie, or any of the ladies,” Banker said. “With the shortage of firefighters and EMS personnel, these women fill an important role.”

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Shelby makes Alex Baker, 7, an honorary firefighter

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2020 at 9:35 am

Boy with sensory processing disorder welcomed at firehall

Photos by Tom Rivers: Alex Baker, 7, received a certificate from the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company, designating him as an honorary member. He received the recognition on Monday during a meeting of the fire company. He is pictured with his family: parents William Baker and Candice Vought, and brothers Ryan and Adam.

SHELBY – Alex Baker looks forward to stopping by the Shelby fire hall every Tuesday evening. He and his mother, Candice Vought, will bring firefighters cookies and brownies.

The firefighters will give him a short ride in a fire truck.

The gestures and acceptance are much appreciated by Alex’s family. Alex, who turns 8 next month, has a sensory processing disorder. That makes it difficult for him to be around a lot of people or in buildings with unpredictable noises.

Alex made his first visit to the fire hall about a month ago. He was very reluctant to go inside.

But the firefighters proved friendly and welcoming.

“It’s still new to him, but he is happy and walks right into the building,” said his mother.

Alex Baker is congratulated on being a new honorary member of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. Tim Petry, Shelby president, shakes Alex’s hand. Fire Chief Jason Watts also welcomed Alex as an honorary member. Alex is joined up front by his mother, Candice Vought.

The firefighters have noticed he feels more comfortable and doesn’t shy away.

“He is really coming out of his shell,” said Tim Petry, president of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company.

Petry and Fire Chief Jason Watts made Alex an honorary member of the fire company on Monday. They presented him with a certificate during the fire company’s monthly meeting.

Alex’s brothers – Ryan, 13, and Adam, 10 – have joined a youth group through the fire company that meets Tuesday evenings. Alex looks forward to joining too when he is 10.

Alex enjoys watching the cartoon, Fireman Sam, and admires firefighters. Besides riding in the fire trucks, he has watched firefighters do an extrication drill, tearing apart a car.

She and Alex’s father also wanted firefighters and police officers to get to know Alex and understand his disability in case they ever encounter him in an emergency.

“We wanted to get him involved in the community,” said his mother.

William Baker said the firefighters have been kind to his son.

“I was surprised that they have been very open to him,” he said. “That makes Alex want to see them again.”

Alex Baker and his mother Candice Vought are pictured with Shelby Fire Chief Jason Watts, left, and President Tim Petry.

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Lyons donates drone to Shelby Volunteer Fire Company

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 November 2020 at 9:11 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

SHELBY – Jeff Lyons (right), owner of Lyons Emergency Services, presents a new drone to Shelby Fire Chief Jason Watts on Monday during the fire company’s monthly business meeting.

Lyons, a member of the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company, said the drone will assist Shelby firefighters with searches, especially in the swamp and can also give a quick aerial view of large fires, showing if flames are coming through a roof.

“You can cover a lot of ground quickly,” Lyons said.

Two Shelby firefighters will be trained and certified to operate the drone.

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EDA approves PILOT plan with ethanol plant paying about $1 million annually to local munies

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 October 2020 at 12:19 pm

MEDINA – The Orleans Economic Development Agency approved a payment in lieu of taxes plan for Western New York Energy, where the company will pay about $1 million annually the next 20 years to three local governments.

The PILOT plan goes from 2021-22 to 2040-41, with the company paying $890,000 the first year to the Town of Shelby, Orleans County and Medina central School. The PILOT payment will increase 1 percent annually over 20 years to $1,075,218 in 2040-41.

The PILOT agreement was approved this morning the Orleans EDA board of directors as part of a $25 million expansion at the company on Bates Road. The 6,050-foot expansion will allow the company to produce high-grade ethanol for Covid-19 hand sanitizer products and distillation-grade ethanol for distilleries and similar end-users.

WNY Energy currently operates a 90,000-square-foot ethanol manufactory facility at 4141 Bates Road

As part of the expansion the company expects to create 10 new jobs at average salary of $55,000, while retaining 47 other full-time positions, the EDA said.

The PILOT will save the company about $611,000 annually in what it would pay in property taxes if fully assessed. The EDA also approved a sales tax exemption estimated at $16,000.

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Shelby fire destroys barn, badly damages apartment and workshop

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 September 2020 at 7:06 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

SHELBY – A fast-moving fire devoured a barn on West Shelby Road late this afternoon. The barn is owned by Darrel Barnes. The fire also badly damaged a workshop and apartment owned by Barnes.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at about 5 p.m. Barnes had removed a section of the barn and was burning some of the old wood. He said the fire sparked to the barn and quickly spread. He tried to put it out with a hose, but the fire quickly engulfed the barn in flames.

“I couldn’t believe all of a sudden it was whoosh,” he said. “I couldn’t put it out.”

Barnes said no one was injured in the fire.

Shelby, Medina and several other fire companies were at the scene, using tankers to haul water to put out the flames.

Orleans County fire investigators were also on the scene to confirm the cause.

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WNY Energy eyes $25 million addition to produce high-purity ethanol

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2020 at 8:12 pm

SHELBY — Western New York Energy is considering a $25 million upgrade to its Bates Road plant for the company to produce high-purity ethanol.

That ethanol would be sold for beverage, pharmaceutical and industrial purposes, allowing the company to diversify its revenue stream and provide a supply with a known demand in the state, the company stated in an application to the Orleans County Planning Board and Town of Shelby.

The County Planning Board this evening voted in favor of the site plan and also a variance request for the project.

Tim Winters, company president and CEO, spoke with the board and said the ethanol plant was able to provide alcohol for sanitizer during the Covid crisis.

“That allowed us to keep the doors open and maintain the workforce,” he said.

The company has seen there is a proven need for higher-purity alcohol from natural fermentation, rather than synthetic processes, Winters said.

The company opened in Medina 13 years ago and produces about 60 million gallons of ethanol annually from about 20 million bushels of corn.

The expansion would allow the company to add at least eight full-time employees, and buy 5 to 10 percent more corn, Winters said.

The high-purity ethanol would be used for products “in dire need” and not available on a commercial scale, Winters told the Planning Board. The higher-grade ethanol will support sanitizer production, craft distilleries and other industrial businesses in NY, the company stated in the application.

Paul Hendel, a Planning Board member from Murray, said Western New York Energy has been a proven good business partner for the county and region. Hendel is also chairman of the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

“We’re fortunate to have them here in Western New York,” Hendel said.

County Legislator Ken DeRoller praised the company for pursuing an “amazing diversification.”

“You’re getting ahead of the curve,” DeRoller said.

The company is looking at about a 6,000-square foot addition to accommodate the new equipment and a building for loading and storage of high-purity ethanol.

WNY Energy anticipates the construction to be complete by September 2021.

The company needs a variance because the tallest distillation tower will be about 150 feet tall, above the town’s 35-foot maximum. However that isn’t as tall as some of the grain handling equipment at the plant.

The County Planning Board recommended Shelby approve the variance and also the site plan for the project.

In other action tonight, the Orleans County Planning Board:

Recommended the Town of Gaines Planning Board approve the site plan for David Oakley, owner of Woodside Granite Industries, to put a 50-by-60 addition on the south side of the current monument business. The property is located at the corner of of Ridge Road and Gaines Basin Road.

Oakley said the addition would mainly be used to store monuments.

Recommended the Town of Barre Planning Board approve a special use permit for Keeler Construction to add an electrical control building, which Keeler said would allow the company to remove temporary facilities, improving electrical safety.

The electrical control building would be built at 14120 West Lee Rd. at Barre Stone Products.

The cast-in-place concrete building will accommodate electrical starters and controls in a controlled atmosphere to protect equipment and improve safety for servicing equipment, Keeler said in the application. The building will allow Keeler to remove trailers with motor controllers, starters and generators no longer being used. The generators have been replaced with a service from National Grid.

Recommended the Town of Clarendon approve revisions to the zoning ordinance to allow for large-scale solar and battery energy storage systems for the projects.

Supported the site plan and special use permit request by Kerri and Cole Glover to operate wedding and events venue, and a bed and breakfast at 13800 West County House Rd. in Albion at the former Pillars. The couple doesn’t intend to run a separate bed and breakfast business but wants to make that option available for wedding parties.

The new business would be known as Maison Albion. They want to expand the parking at the site.

Voted in support of a special use permit for a recreational pond in the Town of Ridgeway. Steven Miller wants to build the 40,000-square-foot pond at 10749 Ridge Rd.

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6 months after getting Covid, Shelby town clerk still fights fatigue

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 20 September 2020 at 8:55 am

Darlene and Mike Rich battle lingering effects from virus

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Shelby Town Clerk Darlene Rich and her husband Mike stand in their home in Shelby six months after contracting Covid-19. The couple says they still aren’t back to normal.

MEDINA – It has been a little more than six months since Shelby Town Clerk Darlene Rich became Orleans County’s first confirmed case of Covid-19.

Three weeks later, her husband Mike was diagnosed with it.

Now, neither says they are back to normal, and continue to fight fatigue.

The Riches’ ordeal began March 10 when they left the Buffalo Niagara International Airport for a vacation in Florida. Two days later Darlene started coughing.

“That brought on an asthma attack and I started using an inhaler, but it didn’t help much,” Darlene said. “The news on Friday the 13th was all about Covid and its symptoms. Mike went and bought a thermometer and my temperature was 101.5. Then it became hard to breathe and we called the ER. I had a chest X-ray and the doctor said I had pneumonia in my right lung and had the symptoms of Covid, so on Monday he would send my results to the Health Department and I had to quarantine until then.”

The Riches let their motel know they had to stay in their room and they brought them breakfast. Darlene’s temperature the whole weekend was 104.5 and she took Tylenol and Motrin. Then the hospital called and said she tested positive for the virus. The Health Department gave them instructions and told them to stay there for now. For an entire week, Darlene ate very little and just wanted to sleep.

“I was scared. I figured I’d probably end up dying,” Darlene said.

The Riches thought back where they had been the first two days in Florida. They had been on a helicopter ride, and Give the Kids the World in Kissimmee, where they had been several times in the past with their son Mikey. They saw the paving stone they bought their son, who died in March 1997 at the age of 23. The had also taken an airboat ride with many other people. And they wanted to call everybody they had been in contact with to let them know. Several days later they received a gift basket thanking them for their consideration.

By the end of the week they had canceled their flight home and rented a car, and that Friday they started the drive home.

The trip was a nightmare.

First, Darlene was worried sick about Mike driving the entire way as she usually did a lot of the driving. All the stores were closed and the truck stops were barricaded. If one was open, they only had port-a-johns.

Mike had bought a cooler and made egg salad sandwiches. They ate them and apples on the way home.

While still in Florida, they had called the Orleans County Health Department, where they were connected with a nurse who made regular calls to the couple in Florida and continued to support them after they returned home.

They got home on a Sunday and on Monday and Tuesday the Health Department came and tested Darlene. Both tests were still positive.

Mike, in the meantime, was on pins and needles. The arthritis medication he takes compromises his immune system, and he figured if he caught the virus he would probably die.

Almost three weeks later, their worst fears came true when Mike tested positive.

“We both had a loss of appetite big time and awful exhaustion,” Darlene said. “Even now I go to work and come home and sit in the chair and fall asleep for an hour.”

Darlene went back to work the end of May, but was only able to work half days. Mike, who works for General Motors in Rochester, was able to go back the middle of June, but also still has a hard time with the fatigue.

Their doctors can’t assure them they will ever be totally over the effects.

In spite of it all, Darlene said they were both fortunate that they apparently had a light case.

“Nobody really knows anything about it,” she said. “We were lucky.”

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County Planning Bd backs new 165-foot phone tower in Shelby

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 July 2020 at 8:02 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Planning Board backed plans for a new 165-foot-high phone tower in Shelby.

Tarpon Towers II and Bell Atlantic Mobile are pursuing the project for Verizon Wireless. The tower would be a monopole and would have options for other companies to collocate.

It will be located on vacant agricultural land near a wooded area on 5093 Creek Rd., one land owned by Edward Zelazny.

“Hopefully it will improve communication in the area because I got to tell you we have a lot of dead spots,” Dan Wolfe, the town code enforcement officer, told Planning Board members.

Tarpon Towers, in the application for the tower, acknowledged there are dead spots in the area and the tower will improve phone service.

The project needs a height variance from Shelby, which caps the size of towers at 35 feet. The County Planning Board recommended that Shelby approve the variance, the site plan and a special use permit for the project.

The Planning Board also recommended the Town of Gaines approve a project at 3278 Oak Orchard Rd.

Dennis “D.J.” Button wants to move his business, Digital Ink Arts, from downtown Albion to his garage. He would like to put on a 1,200 square foot addition (30 by 40 feet) for the apparel printing business.

The town requires a 15-foot setback from the neighboring property line. Button only has 6 feet of space from the end of his garage to the neighbor’s property line. He also would need to share the neighbor’s driveway for the business.

The County Planning Board recommended Gaines approve the variance, the site plan and a special use permit for Button. The county recommended Gaines have the right-of-way agreement in writing with the neighbor regarding the driveway.

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