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NY gives dentists OK to reopen on Monday
Posted 31 May 2020 at 2:49 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York dentists can reopen statewide tomorrow.

Dentists’ offices will be subject to state guidance on best practices for safety and social distancing. The Governor also updated New Yorkers on the state’s progress during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. New cases, hospitalizations, intubations and deaths are all declining as of yesterday.

“The reduction in New York’s new Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, intubations and other metrics represent tremendous progress from where we were,” Governor Cuomo said. “We have gone through hell and back – we are on the other side and it’s a lesson for all of us, and we need to stay vigilant as we reopen different parts of the state so that we don’t backslide. I am also authorizing dentists to resume their practices statewide starting tomorrow as long as they follow health and safety guidelines that the state is laying out and that we have been discussing with them.”

The Governor also confirmed 1,110 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 370,770 confirmed cases in New York State.

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NY’s weekly deaths from Covid-19 continue steady decline

Photo by Tom Rivers: The American flag is lowered at The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Center, where 26 residents have died from Covid-19. The total confirmed deaths in the state is now at 23,854 due to Covid-19, including 36 in Orleans County.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 May 2020 at 1:11 pm

The weekly number of deaths in New York State from Covid-19 continued to decline last week. There were 505 deaths from Covid-19 in the state last week, which was down 31 percent from the 730 the previous week.

There were 56 confirmed deaths on Saturday from Covid-19 in the state. That is a significant drop from the high of 799 on April 8.

“Fifty-six, in this absurd reality that we live in it’s very good news,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a noon news conference today. “This reduction in the number of deaths is tremendous progress from where we were.”

The weekly number of deaths have continued to decline since a peak of 5,226 deaths the week of April 5-11.

The state has begun to reopen the economy in most regions of the state. Orleans County is in the Finger Lakes Region moved to Phase 2 Friday afternoon.

The 505 deaths last week is an average of about 72 aday. That is down from an average of 104 daily the previous week, and less than half of the 158 daily average two weeks earlier.

Week of May 24-30: (505 deaths)

• May 24; 96; May 25, 73; May 26, 74; May 27, 74; May 28, 67; May 29, 67; May 30, 56.

Week of May 17-23: (730 deaths)

• May 17, 106; May 18, 105; May 19, 112; May 20; 105; May 21, 109; May 22, 84; and May 23, 109.

Week of May 10-16: (1,107 deaths)

• May 10, 161; May 11, 195; May 12, 166; May 13; 157; May 14, 132; May 15, 157; and May 16, 139.

Week of May 3-9: (1,568 deaths)

• May 3, 226; May 4, 230; May 5, 232; May 6, 231: May 7, 216; May 8, 226; May 9, 207.

Week of April 26-May 2: (2,176 deaths)

• April 26, 337; April 27, 335; April 28, 330; April 29, 306; April 30, 289; May 1, 299; May 2, 280.

Week of April 19-25: (3,097 deaths)

• April 19, 478; April 20, 481; April 21, 474; April 22, 438; April 23, 422; April 24, 437; April 25, 367.

Week of April 12-18: (4,484 deaths)

• April 12 (Easter), 671; April 13, 778; April 14, 752; April 15, 606; April 16, 630; April 17, 540; April 18, 507.

Week of April 5-11: (5,226 deaths)

• April 5, 599; April 6, 731; April 7, 779; April 8, 799; April 9, 777; April 10, 783; April 11, 758.

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Governor: 200 more state troopers will be in Rochester tonight
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 May 2020 at 12:31 pm

National Guard will be on standby

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said 200 state troopers will be in Rochester tonight and the National Guard will be on standby after a night of looting in the city.

Cuomo said he supports peaceful protests against police brutality and systemic discrimination.

But he said breaking into businesses and burning down buildings makes no sense and dishonors the memory of George Floyd, who died on Monday while be held down by a Minneapolis police officer. The officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes while Floyd was down on the ground.

Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

“Mr. Floyd was not violent,” Cuomo said today at a noon press conference. “That’s what makes the killing more outrageous. When you are violent, it creates a scapegoat to shift the blame. It allows someone to tweet about looting instead of murder by a police officer. It furthers the politics of division.”

Destroying neighborhoods, in protest of Floyd’s death, insults Floyd’s memory, the governor said.

“It dishonors Mr. Floyd’s death,” Cuomo said. “Mr. Floyd was not violent.”

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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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Sunday Morning Positive Perks from your Sassy Small Town Missus
Posted 31 May 2020 at 8:00 am

Rediscovering a creative pastime

Have you ever had an adventure you wanted to tackle but it just seemed too complicated?

I felt that way about photography for as long as I can remember.

In 1987 I was required to take it as part of my journalism degree. Cameras required film and we processed images in a dark room with trays, tongs and a red light outside the door so no one would enter the room and risk prematurely exposing the images.

Enjoying the creativity, my work managed to score me a passing grade. After college I went into banking and photography went on the “back burner.” I would watch over the years as people would take oodles of pictures. Couldn’t believe all those photos were really going to be looked at again. When I wanted to remember something, I just looked at it real hard, closed my eyes, took a mental snapshot and filed it away in my brain in that special folder I can’t seem to ever find.

Fast forward a decade later and a new career requires some photo skills and cameras are now digital. Geesh, things did get complicated! For two more decades when I would write my “things to do” list for the year, at the top of the list was become a better photographer.

Two things held me back. First, I am a bit frugal and investing in a good camera seemed too big a luxury. Second, it just seemed too mind boggling when I tried to tackle the process.

With this blog I realized I needed to take the plunge. So I asked a photographer, an instructor and a novice what camera was the best for my price range. For that kind of investment it needed to be the right one. Three decades after my first test of photography I dug into some savings and purchased a beautiful camera.

Now it was time for some lessons. I went to my good friend, YouTube, and found a free course. Each night was filled with studies and practice sessions. Now every time I head out the door, with camera in hand, a true adventure is about to take place.

When out and about I take more time to look around and see what the world is offering for inspiration because like many of you, if I am not inspired, I am not motivated.

Yesterday morning I popped out of bed like a Pop-Tart eager for the adventure me and my camera were about to go on. Each frame I try to remember the rules and when I arrive home the first thing I do is upload the pictures to see how I did.

Many end up in trash, but there are usually a few keepers.

There is a long way to go on this adventure of photography and so much to still learn. We are never too old to retry something that gives us happiness.

If there is something you have always wanted to do but the time was not right, when you see that door open, run through it because the joy it could bring might open up a whole new world ready to frame. “Great Photos are Not Taken They Are Made” – same with Life. 😊

To see my first AM encounter with my new camera (you will never guess) and share your inspiring story, visit my blog live online at and catch up on weekly photo perks and past posts. Like and share your comments. Happy Perks to Everyone!

Deborah London

Businesses happy to open doors again on Main Street in Medina
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2020 at 8:52 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – Edee Hoffmeister has been a hairdresser for 40 years. Today was the first day she wore a mask and also a face shield while working. It’s required by the state.

“I hate it,” said Hoffmeister, owner of Celebrity Day Spa. “I feel very claustrophobic. But I’m very happy to be open. I’ll do what I have to do.”

Hair salons and barbers have many restrictions as part of Phase 2 of the state reopening the economy. People who enter the business are given a temperature check when they step inside. If it’s a 100 degrees or more, they aren’t allowed to stay inside.

They are asked if they have had any Covid-19 symptoms the past two weeks — cough, fever, chills, or loss of taste or smell.

They are asked if they have had a Covid-19 test in the past 14 days, or if they have been in close contact in the past 14 days with a person who is confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19.

Hoffmeister and her staff also have to have a Covid-19 test every two weeks. She took one in Batavia on Friday.

Her business is significantly curtailed, however. She can cut hair and color it, but she can’t do nails, facials, pedicures or body treatments. She can’t trim a beard.

After a haircut, she has to disinfect the chair and counter and wait 10 minutes before the next customer.

Hoffmeister has been preparing for today for several weeks.

“I’ve taken many, many webinars to keep our customers safe,” Hoffmeister said.

Jaye Sullivan, left, shows Julie Harrington some of the dresses in the infants’ clothing section at Blissett’s Specialty Shop. Sullivan, owner of the business, sells wedding dresses and formal gowns, and also rents out tuxedos.

She said she will have to disinfect any dresses that are tried on. She will use a steamer to do that before the dress can go back on the rack.

She will be doing appointment only for people to look through the formal clothing.

“I think it’s going to be a long time before the businesses get the traffic back to where it was,” she said.

The sign outside Blissett’s reflects life in a pandemic.

Sullivan said many weddings have been rescheduled for next year with some pushed back to 2022. Some of the weddings are going on this year, but in front of small crowds with receptions scheduled for later in the year when the restrictions on crowd sizes are expected to be larger. Right now, the maximum gathering is limited to 10 people.

Businesses also are going to have to do more work with cleaning and disinfecting inside their shops.

Harrington, the customer pictured from Lyndonville, was shopping for a dress today for her granddaughter. Harrington drove down Main Street and noticed more cars parked in the downtown.

“It’s nice to see more people out,” Harrington said.

Mary Lewis, owner of Creekside Floral at 509 Main St., is pictured looking through a window that hangs down as a glass partition in front of the registers.

Lewis wanted something besides plain Plexiglass as a partition. Her employees are wearing masks and hand sanitizer is available in the store. She will limit the number of people inside, but Lewis said that is seldom an issue.

She also has color-coded phones so the same employee answers the same phone each shift.

She has been doing curbside pickup and making deliveries the past 10 weeks, before opening the doors of the store today to the public.

“It feels sort of normal,” she said. “It’s nice to see people. It’s refreshing.”

Lynne Brundage, owner of ellen j goods, greeted customers today at the shop with vintage and antique furniture and home décor. She ellen j goods opened seven years ago. Brundage and her employees are wearing face masks.

She posted a sign on the front door, urging customers to wear a mask if they enter the store at 435 Main St. She has hand sanitizer by the front door.

“People are excited to come in and browse,” she said.

Brundage kept busy the past 10 weeks by shipping items throughout the country. She did more Facebook videos and Instagram posts to highlight items. Today she was happy to see people in person.

Bonnie Heck, owner of Herbalty Cottage, welcomed customers back inside the business at 415 Main St. She sells high-grade organic herbs, teas, balsamic vinegars, gourmet oils and other natural products.

The capacity of the Himalayan Salt Room has been reduced from six to three people.

The store was closed to the public the past 10 weeks, but people could order by phone. Heck would set the orders outside by the door. She was happy to have people back inside today.

“It feels good to be here,” she said. “We’ve missed our customers and clients.”

Heck is wearing a mask inside and asking her customers, too, as well.

She has hand sanitizer for when people enter the store. She will add floor decals on Monday that encourage people to stay six feet apart.

She has reduced the capacity in the store, allowing up to six inside the main store room. She won’t be doing any in-store tastings during Phase 2.

She has a Himalayan Salt Room, and has reduced the capacity from six to three people.

Gloria Fierch, owner of The Book Shoppe, is shown looking through the partition on the front counter, where she also has hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes.

Fierch and her husband Fred bought the book store on Dec. 2. She said people seem a little leery to be out shopping inside stores, due to concerns about Covid-19. She has been handling many orders through deliveries and by shipping books and gifts.

“It’s a big relief,” she said about the store opening its doors once again.

She takes Covid-19 seriously and urges the community to continue to take precautions.

“We need to continue to take measures to combat this so we can move on,” she said.

Laura Gardner owns a lily and a sparrow at 438 Main St. She gave her hand sanitizer a floral design, and her decals on the floor, showing six-feet separation, also have a floral design.

“It’s just a different way of doing things,” she said.

Gardner doesn’t have any employees at the store, which sells designer clothing, leather handbags, perfume, jewelry, vintage glassware and note cards.

She made some sales during the 10-week shutdown, posting products on social media and shipping them through the Postal Service.

“It wasn’t a sustainable way to do business,” she said. “I’m a brick-and-mortar store.”

Susan Fuller, owner of Della’s Chocolates, was able to stay open the past 10 weeks because she is considered a food business. She has run the operation by herself, without any employees.

She put in a partition by the cash register and stepped up the cleaning. She also wears a face mask.

She has done deliveries, curbside service and shipped her chocolate and candy. She is glad more of her neighboring businesses are now open, too.

“If you’re creative, you can make it,” she said about a challenging time to be in business. “It’s good it’s starting to get back to normal, although it will be a new normal.”

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Cuomo signs into law measure providing death benefits for families of frontline government workers
Staff Reports Posted 30 May 2020 at 4:55 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed into law a new measure providing death benefits to the families of frontline workers who lost their lives fighting the Covid-19 pandemic in New York.

The bill, S.8427/A.10528, establishes a Covid-19 death benefit for the families of state and local government employees who have been on the front lines of response to this public health emergency.

“This new law will provide death benefits to the families of state and local government frontline workers who died from Covid-19 and gave their lives for us,” Governor Cuomo said. “It is the least we can do to say thank you, and we honor you, and we remember you. We will be there to support your families going forward. And we say to their families, we thank you, we grieve for your loss, and we will always be there for you the way your loved one was there for us.”

The governor called the frontline workers, “modern day heroes.” He praised them for going to work at a time when people were encouraged to stay home as much as possible due to the danger of Covid-19.

“What would have happened if the doctors didn’t show up and the bus drivers didn’t show up and the subway conductors didn’t show up and the food delivery people didn’t show up and the pharmacists didn’t show up and the delivery women and men didn’t show up?” Cuomo said. “What would have happened if there was no food on the shelves? What would have happened if there was no one in the emergency room when you showed up? You want to talk about crisis, you want to talk about pain.”

The workers continued to do their jobs, putting themselves at risk for others.

“They were New Yorkers, they were linked by the commonality of humanity and their better angels said get past your fear,” Cuomo said. “Get past your weakness. Don’t stay home. Rise up. Be strong. Be better than you think you can be yourself. Get in touch with your strength and hear that strength and they did it. We acted as one. This diverse community of New York, people from all over the globe. Different languages. We acted as one. Many of those people gave their lives for us during that time. They gave their lives because we asked them to show up for us and they did.”

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Orleans has 4 new Covid-19 cases, including 3 at Orchard Rehab and Nursing Center
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2020 at 4:32 pm

There are four more confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Orleans County, with one of them a community resident and the other three at the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina.

Orleans County has now had 225 confirmed cases of Covid-19. The Orchard nursing home now has now had 40 cases among its residents.

Genesee County also has two new confirmed cases, both community members, bringing the Genesee total to 188, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported this afternoon.

Contact tracing has been initiated and all who have had direct contact with the individuals will be notified by Health Department staff. There is currently no further information to release on ages and location. Mapping to include the positive cases from the weekend will be updated on Monday afternoon by the Health Departments.

“Now that we are in Phase 2 we ask residents to continue social distancing, mask wearing, and proper hygiene even in the company of whom we trust the most – family, friends, and co-workers,” according to a news release from the Health Departments. “We also ask residents to be respectful of the business owners and wear masks while you are in their establishment. If you are unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition, call the business and ask for curbside delivery. We can all show people that we care and respect them by continuing these practices to keep everyone safe.”

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Moving to Phase 2, ‘something to celebrate,’ public health director says
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 May 2020 at 9:44 am

Pettit urges businesses to work on plans for reopening: ‘My advice is everybody should be ready’

Paul Pettit

Paul Pettit, the public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said start of Phase 2 for the two counties and the Finger Lakes region is “something to celebrate,” especially in the wake of discouraging news about so many community festivals and events being cancelled.

“I want to thank the residents of Genesee and Orleans counties,” Pettit said on Friday during a weekly press briefing. “It’s not easy. It’s not anything anyone wants to do.”

Pettit was speaking about residents being encouraged to stay home as much as possible the past 10 weeks. They have needed to adhere to social distancing and now must wear masks or facial coverings when in stores.

Pettit said residents have overwhelmingly met a new challenge of civic duty.

The public health director knows the restrictions and the shifting guidelines from the state can be frustrating for the community. Friday was much anticipated as the start of Phase 2 for the region. But the announcement from Gov. Cuomo didn’t come until 1 in the afternoon.

Pettit said the local officials often find out the governor’s directives during his daily press conferences. There typically isn’t any lead time for the public health officials, and then they have to wait a few days for more details from the state. Pettit said the frequent directives, with clear guidance, “makes it very challenging” for the local officials.

The businesses that open in Phase 2 will do so differently than before the Covid-19 pandemic. They will have to reduce capacity of people inside their businesses by 50 percent, and will need to insist that people wear masks and maintain social distancing. There needs to be hand sanitizer available and business owners will need to frequently clean spaces used by the public.

The Phase 2 businesses include offices; real estate; in-store retail; vehicle sales, leases and rentals; retail rental, repair, and cleaning; commercial building management; and hair salons and barbershops.

Pettit urged local businesses to have plans ready that include precautions to protect employees and the public from Covid-19.

“To reopen, every business or organization needs to have a plan to reopen,” Pettit said. “The plans need to incorporate all aspects of social distancing, capacity, face masks, and enhanced cleaning to protect employees and people who use the facilities.”

The plans need to be customized to reflect the layout and square footage of the buildings and the public spaces.

“My advice is everybody should be ready,” Pettit said.

Four other regions besides the Finger Lakes also moved to Phase 2: Central New York, North Country, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley regions.

Local officials from the five regions were vocal in criticizing the state for how Phase 2 was unveiled. The officials said the governor should have given more notice so businesses could schedule employees, order inventory and be ready.

Cuomo, speaking at his news conference on Friday, said experts were continuing to study the data to make sure the Phase 1 opening from May 15 didn’t lead to a spike in hospitalizations from Covid-19.

“Their data has been reviewed and the experts say to us it’s safe to move forward, because people have been smart and you haven’t seen the spike,” Cuomo said about the five regions.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson on Friday afternoon, during a weekly news briefing, said she looks forward to seeing the economy be reopened.

“We are feeling the economic devastation here,” she said. “We have a lot of mom and pop businesses. It’s going to take a long time to recover.”

She praised local agencies that are organizing food distributions and trying to meet peoples’ basic needs. Many people, who have been self sufficient, are lining up at the food distributions, she said.

Bob Duffy

Bob Duffy, the former state lieutenant governor with Cuomo, is leading the Finer Lakes control room, made up of officials from nine counties.

He responded to criticism about the governor’s roll-out of Phase 2.

“The governor always said it would be at least two weeks in between phases,” Duffy said during a Friday afternoon call with reporters.

He said Cuomo wanted to study the data to make sure it was safe to move to Phase 2, without a surge in cases that could overwhelm the hospital system.

Duffy urged the community to continue social distancing, wearing a mask and taking other precautions.

“I think we are on a roll right here,” Duffy said. “We just have to keep going.”

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Men dressed up as brides in popular fundraisers a century ago
By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 30 May 2020 at 8:34 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 2, No. 28

ALBION – Over 100 years ago, “Womanless Weddings” were commonplace throughout the United States. Dating back into the 19th century, faux nuptials were held in the South as a means for raising money for charities, churches, and community organizations. As interest in their inherent humor began to rise, the events spread like a wildfire across the entire country.

The Womanless Wedding was an opportunity for men to dress up as women, don some makeup, and over exaggerate femininity. These gentlemen would kiss members of the crowd (men and women alike), flash their garters, adjust whatever they may have rigged up for breasts, and act in a generally “naughty” manner all for a few laughs.

Naturally, these became popular events as community members had no qualms about paying a little money to see their neighbors dressed as women. Publishers eventually developed scripts for such programs and each event became a true dramatic performance. One such set of lines from a 1936 program closes with the minister introducing the newlyweds:

Minister: “Then, in the name of I-wouldn’t-‘a’-thought-it, I pronounce you man and…Two dollars and seventy-five cents, please?”

Groom: “What’s the seventy-five cents for? You promised to splice us for two dollars.”

Minister: “That’s for having to look at the bride all during the ceremony…”

This image shows Eugene W. “Bud” Wilcox, Jr. dressed as Theda Bara for a Womanless Wedding hosted by the Albion Rotary Club for the benefit of the Crippled Children Fund. Quite the saucy personality, Bara was an early silent film actress who became well known as one of the earliest sex symbols in U.S. cinema.

Wilcox was born on February 20, 1891 to Eugene and Alice Wilcox, growing up on West Park Street in Albion. Following graduation from the Albion High School, Wilcox enrolled at Lehigh University where he became a prominent athlete while studying business and participating as a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity.

After he completed his degree in 1915, “Bud” enlisted with the U.S. Navy during the First World War and was stationed in New Orleans as a Chief Storekeeper. Five days after the conclusion of the war, he was commissioned as an Ensign and remained in the U.S. Naval Reserves until the end of 1919. Upon his return to Albion he worked as a clerk in his father’s hardware store located at 98 Main Street, eventually taking ownership of the business. The building and hardware store still exist today, now as Family Hardware owned by Fred Miller.

Wilcox was a charter member of Albion’s Rotary Club, an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and a member of the Elks and Renovation Lodges of Albion.

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Extension distributes all 1,200 boxes of produce today
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 9:24 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Peggy-Jo Gabalski carries a 20-pound box of produce to a vehicle today while it was raining during a food distribution at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

KNOWLESVILLE – The 1,200 boxes of produce were in demand today at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The cars started to line up by 7 for a food distribution that was scheduled to start at 10. But with cars lined up on Wood Road and getting near Route 31, the distribution started early.

There was steady demand for the next several hours. At 3:50, the last box was set into a trunk and all 1,200 boxes were gone.

Staff and volunteers from the Cornell Cooperative Extension organized the event and provided the brawn, putting the boxes in trunks and in the back of trucks.

The distribution was a USDA farmers-to-families produce initiative. The boxes included potatoes (1-5 pounds), oranges (1-4 pounds), apples (1-3 pounds), onions (1-3 pounds), green vegetables (1-3 pounds of broccoli, cabbage, green pepper, etc.), and carrots (1-2 pounds). The cabbage, apples and onions all came from Orleans County farms.

James Desiderio Inc. of Buffalo served as the distributor of the produce.

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2 more deaths, 10 more cases of Covid-19 in Orleans
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 5:42 pm

Orleans County has suffered two more deaths from Covid-19, both residents of the Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Medina.

The county has now had 36 people die from Covid-19. Orchard has had nine of its residents die from Covid-19.

The county also has 10 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, bringing the total cases since mid-March to 221.

One of the new positive individuals resides in Albion, three live in Ridgeway, one is a resident of The Villages of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation Center in Albion, and five of the new positive individuals live at Orchard Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

The Villages has now had 89 of its resident with confirmed cases of Covid-19, while Orchard has had 37 cases.

Of the new confirmed cases, one is under age 20, one is in the 20s, two are in the 50s, two are in the 60s, three are in their 70s, and one is in the 90s.

Two of the new positive cases were on mandatory quarantine prior to testing, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments said.

One more person has recovered from Covid-19, bringing the total recoveries in the county to 73.

Nineteen people from the county are currently hospitalized from Covid-19.

In Genesee County, there is one more confirmed case, bringing the county’s total to 186. The person who tested positive lives in Batavia and is in the 20s. The person was on mandatory quarantine prior to becoming symptomatic.

Two of the total active positive cases in Genesee are hospitalized.

Click here to see an online map with information about the confirmed cases in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

From the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments:

The facility breakdown only shows the total positive cases from those facilities from there has been a positive swab for COVID-19.

Phase 2 is now open in the Finger Lakes region! There are still limitations. We encourage business owners to go to the NY Forward website and click on Phase Two for more information.

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Picketers were outside nursing home in Albion where 26 have died from Covid-19
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 3:58 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – About a dozen picketers were outside The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center in Albion today for about an hour.

They said they wanted to show support for the staff and residents at a nursing home where 26 people have died from Covid-19. The Villages has had 88 of its residents test positive for Covid-19.

Picketers faulted management of the facility for not providing staff with enough personal protective equipment (gowns, masks, N-95 respirators) to prevent workers from becoming infected and spreading the virus.

Richard Brakenbury holds a sign that says, “I Miss My Wife” during the picket. His wife of 61 years, Connie Brakenbury, died on May 12. The family said she contracted Covid-19 at The Villages while in the rehab section. She was trying to build back her strength after being dehydrated and feeling weak. She was at The Villages for 20 days.

Mr. Brakenbury said his wife was put in a room with someone who was Covid-19 positive.

The facility has had nearly all of its residents test positive for Covid-19. Those that are negative have recently been moved to a sister facility in Williamsville that is also owned by Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC.

The nursing home in Albion used to be owned by the county. It was sold for $7.8 million on Feb. 6, 2014 to Comprehensive.

Angelo and Ondrea Pate were among the picketers today. Connie Brakenbury is Mrs. Pate’s mother.

Ondrea Pate worked 7 years as an LPN at The Villages. She picketed several times in 2013 when the county announced it would be selling the facility due to the deficits that topped $2 million.

Pate worried then that privatization would result in frequent staff turnover and less accountability to the community.

She left 18 months after the sale, became an registered nurse and now works in Brockport.

The management at The Villages has done a poor job communicating with the community about what’s going on inside the nursing home, and sharing a strategy to slow the spread of the virus and save residents’ lives, Pate said.

She started an online petition for a change in the director of nursing. That petition has 1,400 supporters.

Pate said the deaths were unnecessary if the proper precautions were taken.

“It should never have happened,” she said about the high loss of life. “It’s heart-breaking.”

Amanda Dixon, a former employee who worked in human resources, was among the picketers today.

The State Attorney General’s Office, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, Orleans County District Attorney’s Office, and State Department of Health are all investigating how The Villages has responded to Covid-19.

The Villages passed a state DOH inspection on April 29, but in a May 9 inspection the facility was cited for immediate jeopardy, where noncompliance puts residents in serious harm, according to a May 27 article in The Buffalo News.

The Villages took action and the immediate jeopardy was lifted, although the state DOH continues to closely monitor the nursing home, The Buffalo News reported.

Pate wants a leadership change at The Villages, particularly with the director of nursing.

She hopes the picket today, across the street from the nursing home, sent a message to staff and residents that community members are pushing for a safer nursing home.

“We want to support the residents and staff and show them we are here for them,” Pate said. “We want to make it better.”

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Phase 2 of reopening starts now for Orleans, Finger Lakes
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 1:48 pm

Orleans County and the other eight counties in Finger Lakes region was given the go-ahead by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to proceed to Phase 2 of reopening the state’s economy.

Cuomo made the announcement during a 1 p.m. news conference. The reopening is effective immediately.

The businesses that open will do so differently than before the Covid-19 pandemic. They will have to reduce capacity of people inside their businesses by 50 percent, and will need to insist that people wear masks and maintain social distancing.

The Phase 2 businesses include offices; real estate; in-store retail; vehicle sales, leases and rentals; retail rental, repair, and cleaning; commercial building management; and hair salons and barbershops.

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Produce boxes go quickly at fairgrounds
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2020 at 12:36 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

KNOWLESVILLE – Boxes of produce are stacked on pallets at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds this morning as part of a distribution from the USDA farmers-to-families produce initiative.

Their were cars lined up on Wood Road by 7 this morning for the distribution that was scheduled to start at 10.

By 11 a.m., about 800 boxes had been picked up out of the 1,200. Each box weighs about 20 pounds.

John Gabalski carries a box to one of the vehicles. He volunteered to help with the distribution.

Jose Iniquez, a member of the board of directors for the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension, loads a box into a truck of a car. It started raining hard at about 10:30. Iniguez is vice president of Lamont Fruit Farms in Waterport.

Aeddon Cayea of Medina also volunteered during the distribution.

The USDA farmers-to-families produce boxes include potatoes (1-5 pounds), oranges (1-4 pounds), apples (1-3 pounds), onions (1-3 pounds), green vegetables (1-3 pounds of broccoli, cabbage, green pepper, etc.), and carrots (1-2 pounds). The cabbage, apples and onions all came from Orleans County farms.

James Desiderio Inc. of Buffalo served as the distributor of the produce.

Robert Batt, CCE executive director, urged people to call the office today at 798-4265 to see if boxes are left. Given how fast the boxes were going at the beginning of the distribution, he didn’t expect they would last too long during the day.

Some of the boxes went to Community Action’s food pantry, Calvary Tabernacle’s food pantry in Medina and some to the Arc of Genesee Orleans.

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