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Concert by canal in Albion cancelled this evening
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2019 at 3:51 pm

ALBION – The kickoff concert for Albion’s “Concerts on the Canal” series this evening has been cancelled due to rain in the forecast.

Sweet Tumbleweed will make up the concert on Aug. 22. The band plays soft rock, Americana, blues and country.

The concert series is every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the gazebo behind the Albion fire hall.

The concert lineup for 2019 includes: June 20, Crandall, Wood and Main; June 27, The Trellis Cooper Band; July 11, Eagle Creek; July 18, Creek Band; Aug. 1, The Dave Viterna Group; Aug. 8, Jonesie & the Cruisers; Aug. 15, Who Dats; and Aug. 22, Sweet Tumbleweed.

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Albion Rotary presents $3,000 in scholarships
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2019 at 3:31 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers

ALBION – The Albion Rotary Club awarded $3,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors today. Pictured, from left, include Harrison Brown, Mckenna Boyer and Jacob Ettinger. They are pictured by the Rotary sign outside Tillman’s Village Inn.

Harrison Brown won the $1,250 Edward Archbald Memorial Scholarship, given to a senior who shares Archbald’s love of sports, recreational activities, community service and work experience. Harrison is an Eagle Scout who has been active in the FFA. He also was a captain for the varsity soccer team, which enjoyed a winning season this fall, and was a leader on the swim team which won a Sectional title. He will be in the Army ROTC as a student at Cornell University. He would like to be the eighth generation of his family to work with the Brown fruit farm, which started 214 years ago.

Mckenna Boyer won the Dick Eddy “Service Above Self” Scholarship, a $1,250 award that is given to a student committed to community service and leadership, and who displays high potential for future accomplishment. McKenna has been her class president, and has been active in the school’s music program, as well as the Rotary Interact Club. She has volunteered at Rotary events, including the golf tournament, St. Patrick’s ham dinner and the hot dog stand at the Strawberry Festival. She will be majoring in business at Genesee Community College.

Jacob Ettinger was awarded the $500 Rotary Career Advancement Prize for a senior committed to community service, school activities and work experience. Jacob has been active in the school’s music program and also performs in the quartet known as The Billies. He also is on the masterminds and chess teams. He wants to be a civil engineer and will begin his studies this fall at GCC majoring in engineering science.

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Hawley joins farmers in rally at state capitol
Posted 13 June 2019 at 2:53 pm

Press Release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley

Provided photo: Assemblyman Steve Hawley meets with Maureen Torrey, center, of Elba and Shelley Stein of Le Roy, both from Grow-NY, at Wednesday’s New York Farm Bureau Rally in Albany.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) met with supporters at a rally in Albany on Wednesday organized by the New York Farm Bureau and Grow-NY regarding the concerns of allowing farm workers to unionize.

Hawley, the former owner and operator of Hawley Farms in Batavia, is a longtime member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee and has been outspoken on the damaging effects labor regulations would have on the family farming industry.

“I was proud to stand with dedicated farmers, activists and producers yesterday in Albany as we push back against labor regulations being advanced by New York City politicians,” Hawley said. “Our family farms are already struggling under suffocating minimum-wage mandates and low commodity prices, and to regulate an industry which thrives off the necessity to operate unique hours at different times would be devastating.”

Net farm income is down 50 percent from just a few years ago and farmers have little to no control over the prices they receive for what they produce, unlike most manufacturers who can set their own prices. According to a 2019 report from Farm Credit East, mandatory overtime would increase labor costs on farms by almost $300 million and decrease net farm income by almost 25 percent.

“We know what works best for our family farms and that is the ability to regulate their own labor to produce the best results,” Hawley said. “I will continue to stand in the way of harmful farm mandates as session nears its end next week.”

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4 sentenced in County Court today all receive some incarceration
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2019 at 12:04 pm

ALBION – Four people were sentenced in Orleans County Court today and all received some incarceration.

Luis Ramos-Perez, 30, received the longest sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison. He was charged with DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle after being stopped on Dec. 14 in Albion. He registered a BAC of 0.15 percent, about double the legal limit. He has two prior charged for driving under the influence or intoxicated.

He was recently released from prison when he was arrested again for another DWI.

Ramos-Perez apologized in court. He spoke through an interpreter.

“I just want to say I feel bad for I did,” he said. “I do accept that I have problems with alcohol.”

Ramos-Perez has family in the area, including children.

County Court Judge Sanford Church said Ramos-Perez has proven to be a danger to other people on the road. The judge also revoked the driver’s license for Ramos-Perez for a year.

Michael J. Miller II, 44, of Medina was sentenced to six months in the county jail and five years of probation.

He was charged on Sept. 22 on Townline Road in Yates and registered a .24 BAC, which is three times the legal limit. This is his third DWI offense and all have been with a BAC over .20 percent, the judge said.

“I apologize for the decisions I made that night,” Miller said.

His attorney, Neil Gunther, asked for only probation or weekends in jail. But Judge Church said Miller has shown he is a danger to the community by driving when he is highly impaired.

• A Batavia man was sentenced to two months of weekends in jail plus five years of probation.

Dominic Bennett, 27, previously pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the third degree. He was in a one-car accident on Oct. 27 on Route 31 in Albion, and was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He has recovered from his injuries.

Spencer Freeman, 20, of Albion also was sentenced to two months of weekends in jail and five years of probation.

He previously pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and criminal possession of stolen property in the seventh degree.

He admitted to having about $1,500 worth of stolen items on Nov. 13, including a Play Station, an Alexa, X-Box and flat-screen television. Freeman also said he had Xanax bars, which are a controlled substance.

The weekends in jail will allow him to continue his full-time job.

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Lyndonville man faces drug charges after MVA
Staff Reports Posted 13 June 2019 at 11:42 am

LYNDONVILLE – A Lyndonville resident faces several charges after a two-car motor vehicle accident on May 29.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office responded to Platten Road in Lyndonville for a two-car MVA. Upon arrival, deputies observed one vehicle crashed into a tree and another on the shoulder of the road near the other vehicle, Undersheriff Chris Bourke said today.

During the investigation of the accident, it is alleged that Bryan Babcock, 29, of Lyndonville was westbound when he crossed over the lane and struck another vehicle.

Several hypodermic syringes and baggies containing a whitish power were recovered from Babcock, who was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs, and possession of a hypodermic instrument.

He was issued an appearance ticket and is scheduled to return to the Town of Yates Court.

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Lakeshore flood watch issued for Friday
Staff Reports Posted 13 June 2019 at 7:57 am

The National Weather Service has issued a lakeshore flood watch for Orleans and Niagara counties on Friday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The combination of record high lake levels and moderately strong west winds will result in greater wave action and an increase in lakeshore flooding on the shoreline of Lake Ontario, the Weather Service said.

Lakeshore flooding may increase, especially in bays, inlets, and other low-lying areas along the shoreline. The wave action will produce an increase in shoreline erosion, the Weather Service said.

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Albion summer parks program will continue but not at Bullard
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 June 2019 at 7:11 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: The summer park supervisors in Albion include, front row, from left: Mckenna Boyer, Preston Flugel and Gerardo Solis. Back row: Kiara Smith, Caitlynn Snook, Kaitlyn Van Skiver, Laureen Freeman and Sarah Graham.

ALBION – The Village of Albion will continue its summer parks program, but this summer the program will be at Veteran’s Park at the corner of Linwood Avenue and Brown Road.

There will be park supervisors on duty from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from Monday through Friday. They will lead supervised recreational games and activities. The program starts on Wednesday, June 26, and continues until Friday, July 26.

There will arts and crafts, water games, obstacle courses, bowling trips at Oak Orchard Lanes and many other activities. A senior citizen picnic is planned for July 23. A GaGa Ball Pit also has been added at Veteran’s Park for this summer, said John Grillo, the recreation director for Albion.

The program is free to children in the Albion school district. Parents and guardians are urged to attend registration the first week of the parks program to meet the supervisors and fill out important paperwork.

The summer parks program is usually based at Bullard Park, but that site on Route 31 is under construction with a new splash pad, amphitheater, bathrooms and other improvements.

Veteran’s Park is smaller than Bullard and that will make it challenging for some of the games, especially for the older kids. The popular children’s carnival won’t happen this year because there isn’t enough space at Veteran’s Park for the event.

The parks program holds several weekly camps. Those camps will continue this summer, except for baseball. That camp has been at Bullard, but there isn’t enough room for it at Veteran’s Park.

The parks program will also offer the following camps: wrestling for grades 6-12 at the Albion High School gym, July 1-5, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; volleyball for grades 6-12 at Albion HS gym, July 1-5, from 10 a.m. to noon; tennis for grades 5-12 at Albion HS tennis courts, July 8-12, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; and tennis for grades 5-12 at Albion HS tennis courts, July 15-19, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

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Assembly passes driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants; Hawley and Norris vote against it
Staff Reports Posted 12 June 2019 at 8:39 pm

The State Assembly has passed the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act, also known as the Green Light Bill. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the legislation will create safer roads for all New Yorkers, boost the state’s economy and protect hardworking New Yorkers and their families.

“While opponents continue to spread misinformation and stoke fears about the bill’s intent and consequences, the Assembly Majority will continue to put the needs of New Yorkers first,” Heastie said. “The legislation passed today will promote public safety, protect our state’s economy and ensure every New Yorker can integrate into their community and care for their family. Making sure that every driver is trained, tested and insured will make New York’s roads safer for everyone and ensure that our industries have the labor they need to keep our economy moving.”

The Driver’s License and Privacy Act would expand the types of proof of identity that could be submitted with an application for a non-commercial driver’s license that does not meet federal standards for identification. An applicant without a Social Security Number could instead submit a signed affidavit that they have not been issued a Social Security Number.

Twelve states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license, many of which have reported fewer accidents and traffic fatalities, Heastie said in a news release.

A 2017 Stanford University study found that California’s law expanding access to drivers’ licenses led to a drop in hit-and-run accidents between seven and 10 percent, or approximately 4,000 fewer hit-and-run accidents, and saving not-at-fault drivers $3.5 million in out-of-pocket expenses for car repairs.

Today’s legislation would make everyday tasks such as getting to work, shopping for groceries or picking up kids from school vastly easier for an estimated 265,000 people in New York, including 64,000 north of New York City. The policy change would generate an estimated $57 million in combined government revenues that would recur annually, as well as a $26 million one-time boost in revenues as more people get licenses.

“What many people do not realize is that undocumented immigrants are already on the road, but they are doing so without a license or insurance. Safe roads mean every driver is properly licensed, informed of traffic laws, passes a driver’s test, and is operating a registered, inspected and insured vehicle,” said Transportation Committee Chairman William Magnarelli. “Today’s legislation will also allow police to verify motorist identity and review their traffic record. It is truly in the best interest of traffic safety for all New Yorkers.”

Two local Assembly members opposed the legislation.

“Being in the United States is a privilege, and having a driver’s license is something that should only be allowed for those who are here legally,” said Assemblyman Michael Norris, R-Lockport. “This bill to provide driver’s licenses to illegal undocumented immigrants poses a litany of serious concerns, especially in terms of law enforcement, voter fraud and licenses being used to purchase long gun firearms like shotguns or rifles. For these reasons, I proudly voted against the bill when it came up for a vote in the Assembly committee process and I will be voting no again on it today.”

Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, issued this statement: “This sends a dangerous message to society – it’s acceptable to enter our country illegally and continue to break the law because you will be rewarded.

“Downstate politicians continue to peddle handouts and shortcuts for everyone but the middle class. Felons get pay raises, illegals get driver’s licenses and sex offenders get voting rights. Make no mistake, this is a step toward allowing illegals to vote in our elections.

“Recent polling shows the majority of the state opposes this radical proposal but New York City politicians are more concerned with scoring political points against President Trump than following public sentiment – a disgraceful day in Albany.”

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New recycling carts being distributed in Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers: The new 96-gallon recycling totes were delivered to parts of the Village of Albion today, including these ones on Chamberlain Street.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2019 at 4:40 pm

ALBION – The new recycling carts are being distributed in Orleans County. There are about 15,000 to be delivered.

It will take about three weeks for Rehrig Pacific Company of Erie, Pa. to deliver them the 15,000 addresses in the county. The task will be completed by June 30, county officials said.

The new 96-gallon capacity wheeled cart are replacing 18-gallon bins. The new totes can be used right away.

The smaller bins can be kept by residents, or they can put them out to be taken by Modern Recycling. The bins should be labelled “Take Me” if residents don’t want them.

Modern said the bins can be handy to collect recyclables inside a house and then dumped into the cart.

The new recycling totes replace the smaller 18-gallon bins. The new totes have green covers to make it clear the totes hold recycling.

The county contracts with Modern for garbage and recycling pickup. The company will switch to every other week collection for recycling beginning July 1. Garbage will still be picked up weekly.

The County Legislature in February approved spending $776,500 for 15,444 recycling carts. Those costs are coming out of the fee in the county taxes for garbage and recycling for residents. The county is seeking a state grant for half of the costs. If the grant comes through, the county will use that to pay off a lease payment it took out to cover half of the expense.

The new carts, at $50.28 each, hold 96 gallons. Rehrig Pacific Company of Erie, Pa. is the contractor for the new totes.

Each tote has a number with bar code and an RFID so the totes can be tracked. Residents should write down their totes’ identification numbers to make sure they aren’t mixed up with their neighbors’.

The switch to the larger carts will make it easier for Modern Disposal to pick up recycling, and should hold off increases in the costs for picking up garbage and recycling for the next few years, county officials said.

For more information, click here.

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Volunteers put bird feeders, bird houses at local nursing homes
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2019 at 2:03 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Tim Tierney fills a bird feeder at The Village of Orleans, a nursing home in Albion. Tierney stops by weekly to fill two bird feeders at the nursing home. He is shown today at the birdfeeder in front of the nursing home near Route 31. There is another birdfeeder in the garden of the nursing home.

The Orleans County Bluebird Society and the Albion Betterment Committee have been working to add birdhouses and birdfeeders. The Bluebird Society is April added 16 bird houses to the Orchard Manor nursing home in Medina.

“Perhaps it is because they are often colorful and can fly that songbirds are able to lift our spirits,” said Gary Kent, a leader with the Betterment Committee and Blue Bird Society. “Or it may be that their songs can be delightful. The ability to brighten days becomes especially important for those who sometimes feel virtually trapped in nursing homes.”

Clarence Winkelmann built the two bird feeders at The Villages about three years ago. He recently made 16 bird houses for the Orchard Manor nursing home in Medina. Those bird houses were put at Orchard Manor about two months ago. Winkelmann said he would soon put a new roof on the bird feeder he is pictured with.

Winkelmann and Tierney agreed that the bird feeders and bird houses have been an easy way to boost the quality of life for nursing home residents.

Tom Fuller of Medina installed 16 bluebird boxes at Orchard Manor in April. Kent thanked Barry Neal of Country Contracting for donating the ¾ inch exterior plywood used to build the bird houses.

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Amphitheater takes shape at Bullard Park in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2019 at 12:09 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A new amphitheater is going up at Bullard Park in Albion. Workers for Titan Construction in Gasport are shown today, building the structure that will be used for concerts and other events in the future.

The amphitheater is part of $800,000 in improvements at the park, including a splash pad, new bathrooms and pavilion.

The village in December 2016 was awarded a $499,605 state grant for Bullard projects. The village also received $97,500 from the county and $45,000 from the town of Albion, money that was through a revolving-loan fund that needed to be spent for handicapped accessibility at the park. Those funds will be used for sidewalks to the amphitheater and splash pad, to make them accessible to people in a wheelchair.

The Albion DPW is providing $166,370 of in kind services as part of Albion’s local share for the state grant. The DPW took down a pavilion and storage building last fall to make way for the new utility building. The DPW also ran a new sewer line across Route 31 near the Bullard entrance. That sewer line will service the park.

Titan Construction works on the amphitheater today. The amphitheater won’t be ready in time for the Rock the Park music festival on Aug. 3. That event has been expanded to the Albion Summer Festival featuring Rock the Park 6.

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Mustangs face state semifinal test Friday
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 12 June 2019 at 10:14 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman -Anchoring the Medina lineup at the plate heading into Friday’s state semifinal is this group of six .300 plus hitters. From left are Chris Goyette, Brian Fry, Zach Fike, Nate Sherman, AJ Seefeldt and Joe Cecchini.

Two teams seeking their first ever berth in the state baseball championship game will collide Friday as Medina takes on Schuylerville in the state Class B semifinals at 2 p.m. at Broome County Community College near Binghamton.

The victor will face the winner of the 5 p.m. semi between defending champion Center Moriches and Susquehanna Valley in the championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Binghamton University.

“It will be a great experience,” said Medina Coach Jon Sherman.

Medina, which brings a school record 21-2 mark into its second ever appearance in the state semis, advanced by defeating LeRoy 10-2 in the Far West Regional. The Mustangs previous semifinal appearance was in 2003, a 9-1 loss to Carle Place.

Medina catcher Austin Mosher is flanked here by starting pitchers Chris Goyette, left, and Trevor Luthart.

Schuylerville, which is 17-7, is making its first ever appearance in the semis and its first in the state playoffs since 2005, advanced by blanking Ogdensburg 4-0 in the Capital District Regional.

Not surprisingly for two teams which have both rattled off six straight playoff victories to reach the Final Four, the Mustangs and Black Horses have plenty in common besides similar nicknames mainly steady pitching and defense and timely hitting.

The Black Horses pitching and defense has been particularly stingy in postseason play having given up a total of only 4 runs in six games while the offense has scored 53.

The 4-0 win over Ogdensburg well reflects that as steady defense backed the 4 hit shutout pitching of junior Alex Vallee who had just 1 strikeout. At the plate, the Black Horses were led by junior Ryan Yandow who had an RBI double in the third inning and a two-run single in the fifth and senior Paul Harshberger who had an RBI double in the fifth.

Prior to that, Schuylerville defeated Northeastern Clinton 11-1 in the sub regional after defeating Mechanicville 12-3 for the Section II Class B title. The Black Horses first three sectional games were shutout wins 9-0 over Cobleskill, 10-0 over Catskill and 7-0 over Coxsackie-Athens.

Matt Saj, left, is a starter in the outfield for the Mustangs while Xander Payne has seen action both on the mound and in the outfield.

“They do seem pretty similar to us,” said Sherman. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We have to stay disciplined at the plate and make the necessary adjustments the second time through the order, keep getting steady pitching and make the plays defensively. And defensively I don’t think there’s a better combination around up the middle then we have at shortstop and second base with Brian and AJ. They are both silky smooth and offensively they can really hit.”

Medina’s road to the Final four, which was capped off by last Saturday’s 10-2 Regional win over LeRoy, has also included consecutive Section VI Class B1 wins over CSAT (3-0), Newfane (6-0), Olean (12-1) and rival Albion (10-6) in the championship game followed by a 15-4 win over defending champion Roy-Hart in the overall Section VI Class B title contest.

Medina’s very youthful and versatile lineup has been led on the mound by the trio of junior Trevor Luthart (10 wins with 96 strikeouts in 68 innings), junior Chris Goyette (4 wins, 57 strikeouts in 34 innings) and freshman Zach Fike (4 wins, 51 strikeouts in 26 innings).

When not on the mound Luthart plays first base, Goyette second or third and Fike first.

At the plate, the Mustangs have been led by  sophomore shortstop/pitcher Brian Fry (.507 average with 31 RBI), sophomore second baseman/shortstop AJ Seefeldt (.480, 41 RBI), Goyette (.378, 31 RBI), junior centerfielder Nate Sherman (.319, 27 RBI), freshman third baseman/outfielder), Joe Cecchini (.317, 19 RBI) and Fike (.302, 27 RBI).

Sophomore Austin Mosher handles the catching chores and senior Matt Saj rounds out the outfield. Senior Rickie Pitts, sophomores Corey Saj and Tyler Chinn, freshman Xander Payne and eighth grader Aidan Paul have also seen time in the outfield. Payne and Paul have also seen time on the mound.

“We’re young but we’ve got good experience,” said Sherman. “These guys, especially our core group, have played a lot of baseball. They’ve played in a lot of national level tournaments and have faced a lot of top level teams.”

Medina’s appearance will make the eighth time a Niagara-Orleans League school has reached the Final Four. The Wilson team in 1983 has been the only one to date to claim a state crown.

The previous N-O appearances were as follows:

1982 – Class C-D – Wilson – defeated Draper 13-8 in semis; lost to Little Falls 12-5 in the finals

1983 – Class C-D – Wilson – defeated Mattituck 4-3 in the semifinals; defeated Rome Catholic 5-2 in the finals

1996 – Class C – Wilson – lost to Catskill 5-4

1999 – Class B – Albion – lost to Johnson City 9-1 in the semifinals

2003 – Class B – Medina – lost to Carle Place 9-1 in the semifinals

2004 – Class B – Newfane – defeated Skaneateles 7-1 in the semifinals; lost to Windsor 10-4 in the finals

2018 – Class B – Roy-Hart – lost to Seton Catholic 7-1 in the semifinals.

‘Way to go, man’ – Bellavia says he’s humbled to receive nation’s highest honor

Photos by Tom Rivers: David Bellavia of Waterport speaks during a news conference on Tuesday at the US Army Recruiting Station in Cheektowaga.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2019 at 8:21 am

Bellavia wants to highlight service of Iraq War vets

CHEEKTOWAGA – When Bill Bellavia talked with his son, David, the father would praise him for his service in the Army and other accomplishments.

“Way to go, man,” Bellavia would tell his son.

Dr. Bellavia, a Medina dentist, was the only one who used that phrase with David, until October when the younger Bellavia was on the phone with President Donald Trump. The president told Bellavia he would be receiving the Medal of Honor.

“‘Good job, David. Way to go, man.’ That’s what the president said and I haven’t heard anyone say that to me but my father and it just brought me right back down to Earth,” Bellavia shared with reporters on Tuesday.

On Monday, the White House announced the medal would be awarded on June 25. Monday was the 75th birthday of Bill Bellavia, David’s father. Bill was a well-known dentist who wrote many op-eds for the local newspapers. He died on Dec. 6, 2017 after a long fight with cancer. David is the youngest of four sons.

David Bellavia said his service in the Army brought added purpose and direction to his life.

“It was pretty crazy that the White House announcement came on his birthday, but my dad was my hero. I loved him,” David Bellavia said.

His father was a big Buffalo Bills fan and would send his son long letters, detailing every play in a Bills game. It was as if the father and son were watching the game together, and brought some normalcy to the stress of being in a war zone.

Bellavia said he joined the Army after a home invasion at his parents’ home. Bellavia didn’t like feeling like a victim.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army as an infantryman in 1999 and worked about two years in recruiting for the Army while his infant son received medical care in Syarcuse. Bellavia on Tuesday said he appreciated that compassion from the Army.

“I’m forever grateful to the United States Army,” Bellavia told reporters during a news conference at the Army Recruiting Station in Cheektowaga. “They gave my life purpose and direction. They gave my life meaning and value. I’m a better human being because of my service and I think most of the people I served with can tell you the same thing. I encourage any man or woman that wants to become an individual in their community to serve the United States military.”

In 2001, Bellavia had a decision to make. He could change his military occupational specialty, submit a hardship discharge, or remain as an infantryman. He chose to stay in the infantry after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bellavia’s unit in 2003 deployed to Kosovo for nine months and then was sent directly to Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. From February 2004 to February 2005, Bellavia and the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, were stationed in the Diyala Province along the Iranian border. His task force took part in the battles for Najaf, Mosul, Baqubah, Muqdadiyah and Fallujah.

He is being honored for actions on his 29thbirthday, when he and his platoon were clearing buildings in Fallujah. The first nine buildings were unoccupied. The 10thhad insurgents inside and they were determined to kill the American soldiers.

Bellavia engaged the attackers, providing cover for his soldiers to get outside. He then re-entered the house and killed four insurgents and seriously wounded another.

His actions were described by Michael Ware, a Time correspondent. Bellavia said Ware is the “Ernie Pyle” of this generation of war correspondents. That reporting likely is a big factor Bellavia is getting the Medal of Honor.

Bellavia said many soldiers are deserving of the Medal of Honor. He listed five from his unit – commanding officer Ed Iwan, company commander Sean Sims, task force sergeant major Steven Faulkenburg, scout J.C. Matteson and staff sergeant Scott Lawson. All were heroic, saving men in the face of extreme danger. Iwan, Sims, Falkenburg and Matteson were killed in Iraq. Lawson died on March 13, 2019.

“I’m trying to bring those families to Washington so we can all share in this together,” Bellavia said about those men in his unit.

He recalled a team leader who saved a platoon from entering a building with an IED, which would have killed the platoon.

“I think of young men who pull their buddies out of doorways,” Bellavia said. “We literally live minute to minute in a firefight and anything can change. You don’t have time to immediately keep a scorecard on who’s doing what and who’s where in a firefight. It’s about survivability, it’s about coming home and achieving mission success.”

Photo courtesy of Army: David Bellaria, third from left in second row, is pictured with his unit in Iraq.

Ware, the journalist, was with Bellavia in the house on Nov. 10, 2004. Bellavia single-handedly saved an entire squad, risking his life while under heavy fire inside a house.

“His actions stand as a testament to those who put everything on the line as they do the grim work required to keep each other safe and alive on the battlefield,” the Department of Defense states in its summary of why Bellavia is being awarded the nation’s highest honor.

Bellavia was awarded the Silver Star in 2005 and was nominated for the Medal of Honor more than a decade ago. He didn’t get a phone call from Presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama, the final approval for the honor.

In August he was told he would be getting an important phone call from a top leader in the Department of Defense. Bellavia didn’t know why or who the official was. Two months later, it was President Trump, the commander in chief, on the phone.

Bellavia said his life has changed and he will advocate for veterans and promote the military as a desired option for young men and women.

The news of the award was reported on Friday. It’s been a whirlwind since then for Bellavia, who works as a talk show host in Buffalo for WBEN.

“I never expected this much love and support and kindness,” Bellavia told reporters. “It really has meant a lot.”

He noted many veterans, especially those from the Vietnam War era, were treated poorly by the public and felt they needed to be quiet about their service. Bellavia said their valor is honorable, and all veterans should feel pride.

“It seems we have learned some of those lessons,” Bellavia said. “I just wish that more Vietnam veterans, Korean War, World War II, everyone, guys at VA hospitals could feel half of the love that Western New York has given to me.”

‘All I’ve ever wanted to do is serve my country. I happen to think veterans make the best neighbors you can have. I think we make great employees. I think we make great teachers. I think we make great friends.’

He wants to continue to highlight the service of all veterans, and the ultimate sacrifice of Gold Star families.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do is serve my country,” he said. “I happen to think veterans make the best neighbors you can have. I think we make great employees. I think we make great teachers. I think we make great friends.”

Bellavia joined the Army when he was 23. He was older than most of the soldiers. He tried to be a big brother to many of them, to look out for the soldiers in his unit who were across the world from the families.

“If there’s anything that can come out of this hopefully young people in Western New York will see their country as more worthy than anything else in their life,” he said. “We are a very special institution, the United States Army. I encourage young people to look at that as an opportunity to better themselves but more importantly better their communities and their country.”

Bellavia said he was fortunate to grow up in Lyndonville. He played on the sports teams and performed in the school musicals. He was Jack in the show, Into the Woods.

“In Lyndonville I was blessed,” he told the reporters on Tuesday. “In a small high school you can be on a sports team, you can be in a play and you can play an instrument. In some big high schools you can’t do that. You have to choose. You’re either a sports guys, a music guy or you’re in the science club. In Lyndonville because we were so small we could all do the same thing. I just loved being on teams. I loved even losing. I loved being a part of a culture where we all shared something together. Win or lose we were part of something. I was really enamored by that whole thing. I found those guys in college. I found those guys in the Army. I’m really motivated by that dynamic in a group. We share things. We experience things. I love that camaraderie.”

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County celebrates completion of big addition to administration building
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2019 at 9:56 pm

Employees will move into new space over the next month

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Orleans County officials held a ribbon-cutting and open house today for the new 23,000-square-foot addition to the County Administration Building.

The new addition will provide offices for about 50 county employees, as well as other meeting rooms and the Legislature’s chambers.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson cuts the ribbon for the new building. She is joined by County Legislators Bill Eick, left, and John DeFilipps. Gerald Summe, right, is executive vice president of Wendel. That firm served as construction manager for the project. Eick and DeFilipps were on the construction committee for the project, along with Chuck Nesbitt, the chief administrative officer.

The Information Technology department moved into the building about two weeks ago to get the computer system ready for the employees. The legislative staff and county administrative officer will move from the County Clerks’ Building to the new site the end of next week.

Then the Public Health Department will move from its space next to the nursing home. The Public Health Department works out of what used to be a wing for the nursing home. Many of those offices used to be rooms for nursing home residents. The setup isn’t efficient for a modern office, county officials said.

The Board of Elections also works out of a wing in the nursing home. The Board of Elections will move to the new building in early July, after the June 25 primary.

County Legislator Bill Eick, left, and Peter Houseknecht, the deputy highway superintendent, look out from the atrium in the second floor of the new building. The project included an expanded parking lot. About 60 spaces were added.

The county had a ground-breaking ceremony for the building on April 25, 2018. The Legislature approved a maximum bond of $10,063,881 for the addition the building on Route 31, behind the nursing home. The bond is expected to be about $6.5 million due to grants for the project. The county has already been approved for a $3,682,748 state grant towards the project and State Sen. Robert Ortt also secured a $200,000 state grant.

The larger grant includes funds to create space at the neighboring Mental Health Building for a primary doctor from Oak Orchard Health. Mental Health also has two therapists working out of Oak Orchard Health’s site on Route 31 in Albion. That building has a renovated office and entrance.

The Board of Elections and Public Health Department have been leasing space from Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services. Comprehensive purchased the former county-owned nursing home for $7.8 million in January 2014. The county has been leasing space from Comprehensive for Elections and Public Health because those offices are part of the nursing home complex.

Moving those offices from those sites will spare the county from paying those lease payments. The money the county was paying for the lease will go towards paying the debt for the addition.

A new meeting room can accommodate about 60 people, twice the room as the current meeting space for the County Legislature. It will hold its first session in the new meeting room on June 26.

County officials say the new space is much more accessible to the public. This is the view from the Legislature chairman’s spot.

Chuck Nesbitt, the chief administrative officer, leads a tour through the building, which includes a scanner to walk through as an added safety feature.

Stan Dudek, the retired chief administrative officer, gives Lynne Johnson positive feedback about the new facility.

The new building is connected to the original Administration Building. There are currently about 125 people working out of the original building for the Department of Social Services, Office for the Aging, Job Development, Tourism, Planning and Development, Department of Motor Vehicles, and Personnel.

Chuck Nesbitt shows a meeting room that is part of the suite for the Public Health Department.

This space will be used by the Board of Elections when that office moves over next month.

Lynne Johnson thanked residents and the county employees for their patience during the construction project.

She also thanked the contractors, including Holdsworth Klimowski Construction of Victor, which was the general contractor for the project. Suburban Electric of Albion did the electrical work for the new building.

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Maple Ridge Corridor focus of June 20 meeting in Medina
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2019 at 6:16 pm

MEDINA – There will be an open house, public presentation and opportunity for residents to comment on the future of the Maple Ridge Corridor. Medina High School is hosting the June 20 meeting from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

The meeting will be in the school cafeteria. The session begins with an open house at 4:30, followed by a presentation at 5 p.m. The presentation will cover the project goals, history, and illustrate the alternatives under consideration.

An interactive session then will follow at 5:30 p.m. where residents are encouraged to share their opinions about the alternative futures for Maple Ridge Road.

The village was approved for a $50,000 grant to study pedestrian and bicycle accommodations on Maple Ridge Road, from Bates Road to the former Ames Plaza.

The study may help Medina make its case for a state grant to help pay for sidewalks on that stretch of Maple Ridge. The $50,000 grant from the Genesee Transportation Council includes a $5,000 local match from the village.

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