Morning rainbow gets day off to a good start
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2021 at 8:06 am

Photos courtesy of Mike Zeliff

LYNDONVILLE – Mike Zeliff sent in these photos this morning of a rainbow that stretched out in the sky near his home on South Lyndonville Road in Lyndonville.

“We were enjoying our morning cup of coffee when this rainbow appeared,” Zeliff said.

This weekend the forecast calls for highs of 74 today and 72 on Sunday. There is a chance of showers and thunderstorms before noon today. It will be mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

The highs for next few days include 80 on Monday, 79 on Tuesday, 72 on Wednesday and 65 on Thursday and Friday.

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Purple Eagles down Lakemen on Homecoming
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 17 September 2021 at 10:26 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s Brendan LeBaron returns a pass interception for a touchdown during the Purple Eagles Homecoming victory over Wilson this evening.

Two early touchdowns set up by turnovers ignited Albion to a 42-16 Homecoming victory over Wilson this evening.

A fumble recovery by Alex Hafner started a big first half for the Albion defensive unit.

It took just three plays for the Purple Eagles offense to capitalize. Quarterback Amari Jones first hooked up with Javon Jones for a big 29 yard gain and then two plays later he connected with Jahmeek Riley for a 21 yard scoring strike with 8:19 to go in the opening quarter.

It took Albion just 1:16 to find the end zone again. The Purple Eagles got the ball right back on a pass interception by Dallas Ecker and on the first play from scrimmage Sh’kwe Riley broke loose for a 58 yard touchdown run. Amari Jones added the two-point conversion run to make it 14-0.

The Purple Eagles defensive unit got a touchdown of their own midway through the second quarter as Brendan LeBaron intercepted a pass and returned it 40 yards for a score and a 20-0 Albion lead.

The Purple Eagles advantage soared to 28-0 midway through the third period as Sh’kwe Riley again broke loose this time for a 60 yard TD run down the sideline. Amari Jones connected with Jahmeek Riley for the two point conversion pass.

Albion tacked on two more scores in the first three minutes of the final quarter on runs of 13 yards by Amari Jones and 17 yards by Sh’kwe Riley who also tacked on the two-point conversion run.

The Purple Eagles defense came up with two  more turnovers in the second half, the first on a steal of the ball by Jacob Hughson after a Wilson pass completion, and the second on a fumble recovery by Jahmeek Riley.

Wilson backup quarterback Drew Dabill ran 9 yards for a touchdown late in the third quarter and passed 50 yards to Paul Smith for another score in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

Albion stays unbeaten at 3-0 and Wilson slips to 2-1.

Akron 22, Newfane 21

Akron rallied to nip visiting Newfane 22-21 in a C North Division contest.

Brody Hibbard scored the game winning touchdown with just 52 seconds remaining to keep Akron undefeated at 3-0.

Albion’s Sh’kwe Riley scores the first of his three touchdowns.

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Investigator with Sheriff’s Office opens new fitness studio in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 September 2021 at 4:08 pm

Shannon Brett, a certified personal trainer, offers many classes from beginner to advanced

Photo by Tom Rivers: Shannon Brett has opened Project: U in the second floor of 116 North Main St., Albion. Some of the classes include spin, Tabata (high-intensity interval training), Silver Sneakers, boot camp, strength workout, Barre (combining ballet, yoga and Pilates), yoga and TRX suspension training.

ALBION – It was about a decade ago when Shannon Brett was inside the Orleans County Courthouse when a teen bolted from the building.

Brett, an investigator with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, took off running after the person. She didn’t have to go far before the teen was apprehended. Brett was gasping for air.

“I could barely breathe,” she said. “I was coughing and hacking. I realized how out of shape I was.”

Brett signed up for a gym membership in Brockport, and the beginning was “horrible.” Her body didn’t like the exercise and she didn’t like the atmosphere, with lots of tough guys and not a lot of instruction on how to use the machines.

Brett learned how to use the different exercise machines, and found herself helping a lot of new people at the gym. She got in better shape and took that experience to help others embrace a more active lifestyle.

Brett became a certified personal trainer and an instructor at The Whole Approach in Holley. On Sept. 7, she opened her own fitness studio – Project: U – in Albion at 116 North Main St., in the second floor of what was once a dance studio.

The floor mat from that studio works well for the group exercises at Project: U. Brett also has 7 stationary bikes for spin classes and TRX suspension straps.

Brett, 44, expects to retire next year from a law enforcement career. She started 19 ½ years ago with the Sheriff’s Office. She said fitness is a passion and she wants to share that with others.

“The project is you and your project starts here,” she said today in the studio. “I want to bring in people to work on their fitness journey.”

She and her two instructors offer classes at beginning, intermediate and more advanced levels. As a certified personal trainer, Brett also can work one on one with people to develop a plan for fitness goals whether building strength, cardio or losing some weight.

Her classes are welcoming and nonjudgmental, with the members offering encouragement to each other. Most of the classes are smaller with up to 10 people. But she also will work with people individually.

“Not everyone feels comfortable walking into a gym or a fitness studio,” Brett said. “With some one-on-one training, they can build that confidence.”

Project: U will celebrate its grand opening on Sept. 25 and the public is welcome to stop by and try a mini session of the classes. The schedule that day includes: Tabata at 10 a.m., Pound at 10:30, Yoga at 11, Spin at 11:30, Barre at noon and TRX at 12:30. Click here for more information or email

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Some delays in garbage collection today due to staffing shortages
Posted 17 September 2021 at 3:08 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Chief Administrative Officer Jack Welch

ALBION – Orleans County works closely with Modern Disposal Services to provide a countywide solid waste program for all of our residents who participate in our program. From time to time, we unfortunately experience some delays in providing this service as scheduled.

Today’s delays are related to the universal staffing problem all employers are having this year. Employees are changing jobs or taking unexpected time off and there is not enough capacity with the employees who do report to work to complete the scheduled assigned tasks or routes.  Therefore solid waste pickups are delayed for one day.

The routes affected today are all of the routes in the town of Clarendon. In the town of Murray we have Route 31, Hindsburg Road, Fancher Road, and Route 237 north of Holley.  All of today’s affected routes will be picked up on Saturday.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this creates for our residents along the affected routes,” said Jack Welch, county chief administrative officer.“If these residents leave out their solid waste, Modern Disposal will have your items collected as soon as Modern is able on Saturday.”

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Canal water again being used to supplement flows in local streams to boost fishing
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 September 2021 at 10:17 am

This map from the State Canal Corp. shows where the state will be using canal water to supplement local tributaries and boost fishing opportunities for the fall salmon runs.

ALBION – Last year the State Canal Corp. tried a pilot program, releasing water from the canal into local tributaries for the fall fishing runs.

The program was deemed a success and it will continue this year. The Canal Corp. on Thursday started releasing water into tributaries and will keep doing that until Dec. 13.

That will extend the fall fishing season, and should ensure adequate water flow in streams for salmon, trout and steelhead to swim upstream.

The schedule for releasing water includes:

  • Increased flows from Sept. 16 through Dec. 13 for Oak Orchard River in Orleans County, Sandy Creek in Orleans and Monroe counties, and Eighteen Mile Creek in Niagara.
  • The flows will be increased from Nov. 4 through Dec. 13 for Johnson Creek in Orleans and Niagara counties, and Salmon Creek in Orleans and Monroe counties.

Fishing has a $28 million annual impact in Orleans County. The local officials say the extended season will be a boost for local restaurants, lodging establishments and other businesses.

The project is part of the “Reimagine the Canals” initiative to better utilize the canal and support many recreational opportunities along the canal system.

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Child car seat checks will be available Saturday and on Sept. 25
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 September 2021 at 9:37 am

ALBION – There will be child car seat checks on Saturday and again the following Saturday, Sept. 25, Orleans County Sheriff Chris Bourke said.

The car seat check on Saturday will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Orleans County Public Safety Building parking lot on Route 31.

The Sheriff’s Office and Albion Police Department are collaborating on a child car seat check on Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Save-A-Lot parking lot on Route 31.

According to data, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages of 1 to 13, Bourke said.

“Preventative measures, such as proper installation of car seats, boosters and seat belts can lower many deaths and injuries,” he said. “Educating parents and caregivers on proper installation of car seats is critical to saving young lives.”

There will be certified child passenger safety technicians available to inspect car/booster seats to assure children are in the correct seat for their size and age.

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$4,500 from golf tournament goes to transportation program for seniors
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 September 2021 at 8:46 am

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Becky Karls (left), one of the organizers of a July 15 golf tournament for the Albion Rotary Club, presents a $4,500 ceremonial check to Melissa Blanar, director of the Orleans County Office for the Aging on Thursday at the OFA office.

The funds will support a volunteer transportation program that was started in 2019 by the OFA. That program is seeing more demand since Community Action ended a transportation program on Sept. 1 for senior citizens citing a deficit with CATS. Communtiy Action would take local seniors to appointments, including to see doctors out of county.

CATS provided 5,388 rides for seniors in 2020, and transported 2,759 seniors this year through July 31, according to data from the Office for the Aging.

Blanar said the local seniors are “facing a transportation crisis.” She has reached out to other providers and they are much more costly than CATS.

She said the volunteer program is seeing more demand, but there aren’t enough drivers. That program helps adults over age 60.

“The demand we are seeing now is more than we can handle,” Blanar said.

Those drivers, who receive a mileage reimbursement, will take people to medical appointments, grocery stores, nursing homes to visit loved ones and other appointments.

The volunteer program peaked with 18 drivers and currently has 12. Blanar said all drivers must be 18. There is a strong need for drivers will to take seniors to appointments in Monroe, Erie and Genesee counties.

Last year, the volunteers did 252 rides for 12 months. This year, in the first six months of 2021, the volunteers were already up to 236 rides, Blanar said.

The agency suggests riders make a $5 donation for trips within the county and $15 outside Orleans, but that isn’t required. The Office for the Aging also is encouraging seniors to try the RTS public transportation but that agency is often locked into a schedule and it can be difficult to link up with other buses for trips out of county.

For more information about the volunteer program, either as a driver or rider, contact the OFA at (585) 589-3191.

The Rotary Club also shared $1,000 for the July 15 tournament with the leadership Orleans program.

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DAR promotes Constitution Week from Sept. 17-23
Posted 16 September 2021 at 7:53 pm

Press Release, Orleans County DAR

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution urges Americans to reflect on the United States Constitution during this month’s annual observance in honor this foundational document of national governance.

“There are two documents of paramount importance to American history: the Declaration of Independence, which forged our national identity, and the United States Constitution, which set forth the framework for the federal government that functions to this day,” said DAR President General Denise Doring VanBuren. “While Independence Day is a well-recognized and beloved national holiday, fewer people know about Constitution Week, an annual commemoration of the living document that upholds and protects the freedoms central to our American way of life.”

The DAR initiated the observance in 1955, when the service organization petitioned the U.S. Congress to dedicate September 17–23 of each year to the commemoration of Constitution Week. Congress adopted the resolution, and on August 2, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into Public Law #915. The celebration’s goals are threefold: to encourage the study of the historical events that led to the framing of the Constitution in September 1787; to remind the public that the Constitution is the basis of America’s great heritage and the foundation for its way of life; and to emphasize U.S. citizens’ responsibility to protect, defend and preserve the U.S. Constitution.

DAR has been the foremost advocate for the awareness, promotion and celebration of Constitution Week. The annual observance provides innumerable opportunities for educational initiatives and community outreach, two mission areas of crucial importance to the National Society. By fostering knowledge of, and appreciation for, the Constitution and the inalienable rights it affords to all Americans, DAR helps to keep alive the memory of the men and women who secured our nation’s foundational liberties.

“In communities across America, Daughters will erect hundreds of community displays, sponsor municipal proclamations, ring bells and stage programs to raise awareness of the Constitution’s tenets and importance. We invite everyone to join us in celebrating this powerful document, which has enabled our democracy within a republic for more than two centuries. We hope that all Americans will learn more about the Constitution and its immense impact on our nation,” VanBuren said.

One of the largest patriotic women’s organizations in the world, DAR has more than 190,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters across the country and several foreign countries. DAR members promote historic preservation, education and patriotism via commemorative events, scholarships and educational initiatives, citizenship programs, service to veterans, meaningful community service and more. For additional information about DAR and its relevant mission, visit

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Active Covid cases in Genesee, Orleans top 200 for first time since April 28
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 September 2021 at 5:23 pm

The number of active Covid cases in Genesee and Orleans counties is over 200 for the first time since April 28, according to data from the two counties.

The number of active cases is at 204 today, with 119 in Orleans and 84 in Genesee. That is up from 183 on Monday (97 in Orleans and 86 in Genesee). A week ago there were 144 cases in the two counties with 77 in Orleans and 67 in Genesee.

Orleans County is reporting 44 new active cases since Monday, and the new cases are in the age groups of 0-19, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s  and 60s.

Orleans currently has four residents who are hospitalized due to Covid.

The county is reporting 21 more of the previous positive individuals have completed their 10-day isolation and been removed from mandatory isolation.

Genesee County is reporting 46 new positive cases since Monday, and those cases are in the age groups of 0-19, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Genesee has 14 residents hospitalized due to Covid, according to the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

Genesee has 40 more of the previous positive individuals who have completed their 10-day isolation and been removed from mandatory isolation.

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Orchard nursing home will have memorial service Tuesday for 30 residents who died from Covid during pandemic
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 September 2021 at 4:22 pm

File photo by Tom Rivers: The flag was lowered in May 2020 at the former Orchard Manor (now known as Orchard Rehabilitation & Nursing Center). The flags were lowered statewide out of respect for people who died from Covid-19.

MEDINA – The Orchard Rehabilitation & Nursing Center on Bates Road in Medina will be holding a memorial service at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in honor of the 30 residents who died due to Covid-19.

The service will be outdoors at the front entrance. The service also will acknowledge the sacrifices and strength shown by many in enduring the pandemic.

Orleans County has had 83 confirmed deaths from Covid during the 18 months of the pandemic.

Orchard Rehabilitation & Nursing Center will be honoring each of the 30 residents who passed away from Covid.

Martin MacKenzie, Orchard’s administrator, will speak during the service. There will also be a bird release, a prayer and moment of silence, Taps and a gun salute. Punch and cookies will be available following the ceremony.

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Local father and son win 90-mile canoe challenge in Adirondacks
Posted 16 September 2021 at 2:15 pm

Courtesy of Alicia Vanderwalker

Photos courtesy of Alicia Vanderwalker: Todd Vanderwalker and his father Dan compete in the Adirondack Canoe Classic, a 90-mile event over three days.

The Adirondack Canoe Classic — known as the 90-Miler — is an Adirondack tradition dating back to 1983. The annual event, which takes place over three days in September, takes paddlers from Old Forge to Saranac Lake, the first 90 miles of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.

The first 3 years of the race, Hartland resident Dan Vanderwalker competed winning 1st place all three years with then partner Kurt Knisley for his first and third year and Greg Denzel for his second year. Vanderwalker went on to compete and win several other areas races during that time.

In 2019 Dan’s 38-year-old son, Todd competed in the race with his 16-year-old daughter FaithAnn, proudly carrying on his father’s legacy and taking home 1st place in their class.

In 2020 due to Covid the race was cancelled and this year when it was announced that the race would go on Todd was hopeful to compete again, he even entered and won a 10-mile Round the Mountain Canoe race with his son David in the spring extending his families paddling experience.

It was not looking like Todd would be able to compete in the 90 miler though as his daughter, FaithAnn just left for college and his son had athletic commitments that weekend. It was then that Todd talked to his dad about his desire to still compete and the duo spent the summer training weekly to be ready for the race. Dan lost almost 30 pounds during the 3 months of training and both paddled, walked and ran 2-3 times weekly to build endurance. Todd’s goal was just to be able to complete the race with his dad and create memories, but not Dan. He said if he was doing it, he was in it to win it.

The race was held Sept. 10-12 and started with 238 boats on the water. Competitors race canoes, and kayaks in various classes of size, style and amount of racers ranging from one-man canoe or kayaks to war canoes that held multiple paddlers.

Dan and Todd Vanderwalker hold their first place awards for winning the competition.

In order to compete in the canoe classic event organizers through the Northern Forest Canoe Trail advise that you must: “Be prepared, mentally and physically. The 90-Miler is a backcountry race — when on the course, you are often miles away from immediate medical care or rescue. The weather can be very hot or very cold, and wind is almost always a factor. There are mile-long portages, big open lakes, twisty beaver-dammed streams and shallow rivers with so many twists and turns it is hard to keep track of where you are.”

The course description is as follows:

  • Day One – Start at Old Forge on Old Forge Pond; paddle and carry through the Fulton Chain of Lakes; and then continue on to Raquette Lake, the Marion River and the Eckford Chain of Lakes ending in Blue Mountain Lake. DISTANCE: 35 miles CARRIES: Four (3.5 miles total).
  • Day Two – Start at Bissell’s on Long Lake; paddle down Long Lake and into the Raquette River; carry around Raquette Falls; and then continue on the Raquette to a finish at the NYS Raquette River Boat Launch on Routes 3 & 30 (approximately 5 miles east of the village of Tupper Lake). DISTANCE: 30 miles CARRIES: One (1.25 miles total).
  • Day Three: Start at Fish Creek Campground; paddle down Upper Saranac Lake and carry to Middle Saranac Lake; and then paddle across Middle Saranac Lake and into the Saranac River, carrying around the Upper State Locks. Continue into Lower Saranac Lake and another section of the Saranac River; carry around the Lower State Locks; and then continue across Oseetah Lake and Lake Flower to finish the race at Riverfront Park in Saranac Lake Village. DISTANCE: 25 miles CARRIES: Three (0.5 mile total).

The Vanderwalkers had Todd’s wife, Alicia, pit crewing for them. Alicia’s job was to meet them at portages to provide hydration, supplementation and encouragement. She also shuttled them from one place to the next each day as each night they stayed in a different state campground on the route.

On Saturday Alicia even borrowed a local residents canoe to get out to the duo as they paddled to get them fresh drinks, gel packs and sports bars so they did not have to lose momentum paddling toward shore because there was no portage in the area.

It was a weekend filled with memories, wild and windy weather several boats capsizing and in the end a legacy that continues as Dan and Todd took home first place in the C-2 Mens Masters Class bringing Dan’s paddling legacy full circle.

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Fundraiser on Oct. 17 will support baby Koleson and his family
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 September 2021 at 11:48 am

MEDINA – There will be a fundraiser on Oct. 17 from 3 to 6 p.m. at leonard Oakes Estate Winery to support newborn baby Koleson Meakin, and his parents, Brady and Dominique.

Koleson was born Aug. 31 with Lissencephaly, which is a rare, gene-linked brain malformation characterized by the absence of normal folds in the cerebral cortex and an abnormally small head.

Pam Eaton of Hometown Wellness Center is organizing the benefit to assist the family with the cost of caring for Koleson.

“They are great people,” Eaton said about the young couple.

Dominique Meakin works for Eaton as one of the instructors of the wellness center on Pearl Street.

Eaton said there has already been a strong response from the community with donations, gift certificates and baskets.

“It goes to show what a community will do for each other when needed,” Eaton said.

Eaton said people can reach out to her through Facebook or by calling (585) 409-3452 to make donations or to volunteer at the event.

The event at Leonard Oakes will include orchard rides, live music and the basket raffle.

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Governor suspends state hiring freeze implemented during pandemic
Posted 16 September 2021 at 11:14 am

Hochul cites state’s improved financial position

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the suspension of the state hiring freeze through the end of the fiscal year, supporting Covid-19 recovery efforts.

The hiring freeze suspension comes after the Governor released the updated State Financial Plan projecting $2.1 billion in revenue above projections as the economic recovery beats expectations. While agencies are now able to hire without first obtaining a waiver from the Division of the Budget, they must prioritize hiring for their core missions and continue to prudently manage their resources.

“As we continue to combat the pandemic, we must keep New York moving forward and that includes building our workforce to ensure we can support New Yorkers at the highest level,” Governor Hochul said. “However, we must continue to act responsibly and prudently with the state’s finances as we work to slow the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 and help to ensure all businesses and New Yorkers remain safe.”

Lifting the hiring freeze through the end of the fiscal year will enable state agencies to grow their workforces after the number of workers in Executive Agencies declined from approximately 118,000 full-time employees to approximately 107,500 full-time employees between March 2020 and August 2021, driven by attrition.

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Jacobs wins award for being ‘champion’ of adult education
Posted 16 September 2021 at 11:11 am

Press Release, Congressman Chris Jacobs

ORCHARD PARK – Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) has been awarded the Adult Education Champion Award presented by the Coalition on Adult Basic Education.

Jacobs was presented the award by Lisa Lee – Executive Director of CORE Learning Centers and State Advocacy Fellow for the Coalition on Adult Basic Education.

“Congressman Jacobs answered our call and advocated tirelessly on our behalf to get funding released – preventing further shut-downs and staff lay-offs – giving our students with continued educational opportunities and access to needed services,” Lee said. “As a State Advocacy Fellow and member of the Coalition on Adult Education and member of the New York Association of Adult Continuing and Community Education, I am proud to honor Congressman Chris Jacobs’ efforts as a Champion for Adult Education in NYS and across the country.”

The Adult Education Champion Award is awarded to legislative leaders for their work advocating for the needs of adult learners. They are awarded as part of National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.

“Congressman Jacobs has been a long-time supporter of adult literacy efforts in Western New York and across NYS. He has championed our mission and recognizes the importance of all people being able to read, write and speak English in order to be most successful in life,” said Tara Schafer, executive director Literacy Buffalo Niagara. “We would like to congratulate Congressman Jacobs and thank him for advocating on behalf of Literacy Buffalo Niagara and the 147,000 people that struggle with literacy in our region.”

“I am deeply humbled and honored to receive this award from the Coalition on Adult Basic Education,” Jacobs said. “I have spent my professional career tirelessly advocating for quality education for our Western New York students, and I will continue that advocacy for years to come. I want to commend CORE and Literacy Buffalo Niagara for the incredible work they are doing to help adult learners realize new opportunities and reach their full potential. It is important work, and I will continue to be a strong federal partner with them to ensure our students get the resources they need.”

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