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GCC names outstanding instructors, students of semester at Orleans campus centers

Posted 6 December 2019 at 3:12 pm

Press Release, Genesee Community College

ALBION/MEDINA – Each semester, GCC Campus Centers in Albion and Medina recognize one instructor and one student from each campus center for their outstanding instructional and/or academic performances.

The nominations have been made, the committee has decided and James Simon, associate dean at Medina and Albion Campus Centers, proudly announces the Fall 2019 Instructors and Students of the Semester.

From the Albion Campus Center, located at 456 West Ave.

Kevin Gardner

Mr. Kevin Gardner has been named Instructor of the Semester. Students who nominated Kevin appreciated his ability to make learning fun stating, “Mr. Gardner makes his students feel comfortable asking questions… I have learned so much in his class and realize now how much I enjoy writing,” and “He does his best to help us understand why things are the way they are.”

Gardner is a graduate of Albion High School and received his BA and MA in English/Creative Writing through GCC and SUNY Brockport. He is married and enjoys family time at his home in Brockport with four children, two grandchildren and two cats. One of his cats, Chester, is often used as the subject of his lessons and his students find it “comical but informational.” When he’s not teaching, Kevin enjoys writing, woodworking and watching Empire Boulevard. In this holiday season you may also find him reading his current favorite, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

In his teaching tenure, Gardner has taught at SUNY Brockport and GCC, tutored for Pearson Smarthinking Services, edited the Oak Orchard Review and he currently serves as test proctor at GCC’s Orleans County Campus Centers. When asked if he would change his career choice, he simply stated that he might have started teaching sooner. He is a big fan of GCC and all it has to offer, calling it “a great place to start the rest of your life.” His advice to new instructors? “Be kind. Be fair.” Words he, himself, tries to live by.

Laurie Marchner

The Albion Campus Center Student of the Semester has been awarded to Laurie Marchner of Medina. Laurie is an adult student pursuing an AAS degree in Business Administration and is expected to graduate in the Fall of 2020. She chose to further her education at GCC so that she could have more opportunities. Her hobbies include spending time with her pets, reading, crafting and helping others. She currently serves as a volunteer emergency medical technician.

On the nomination form, one of Laurie’s instructors wrote, “Laurie brings wisdom and positive energy into the classroom every day. Not only does she have valuable things to say, but her approach often contains humor and makes us laugh… Her light presents the foundation for building a creative environment so that everyone has the opportunity to learn and grow.” Her instructor concluded, “I look forward to hearing about the positive impact she has yet to make on the world.”

From the Medina Campus Center, located at 11470 Maple Ridge Rd.

Dr. Melinda Grube

• Dr. Melinda Grube has been named Instructor of the Semester for the Fall 2019 semester. This is her first semester at GCC as a Western Civilization instructor. She also teaches history at Cayuga Community College and performs historical impressions of famous people including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Abigail Adams. Dr. Grube earned her Ph.D. from Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. Grube’s students reported that she “has opened a new way of learning in such an exciting manner” and “she challenges our minds and challenges us to listen to other ideas and beliefs, to see things in a new perspective, and to allow us to step out of our comfort zone to see that maybe there are other ways and more solutions.” One of the nominations forms read, “I was not looking forward to a three-hour history class. I was completely shocked and very engaged in the materiel due to the way she uses her teaching strategies.”

“The world is astonishingly beautiful, exquisitely painful and fabulously complex. The best moments in teaching are when students are not afraid to explore it with me,” Dr. Grube said. “I tell any new instructor, never take yourself too seriously. It isn’t actually about you.”

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Grube enjoys reading everything from Quest and Friends Journal to the Nature Conservancy, and her favorite TV program is Star Trek. She is married with three children and resides in Medina with an unidentified number of pets. When asked about her first semester as part of GCC’s Medina Campus Center, she responded, “The Medina Campus Center is the most supportive and friendly environment I have ever encountered.”

Uriah Allis

The Student of the Semester in Medina for the Fall 2019 is Uriah Allis from Gasport. Uriah is pursuing an AAS in Nursing and after he completes his degree, he plans to work as a pediatric nurse and write novels and screenplays for the television industry. He would also like to travel around the world and bike the Great Wall of China. In his spare time, Uriah volunteers at a homeless shelter in Lockport.

Instructors who nominated Uriah observed he is an exceptionally hard worker but also he goes out of his way to organize a variety of study groups that are open to everyone, noting, “Uriah has taken a sincere interest in ensuring the success of his fellow classmates. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.” Another nominee noted: “He is a mature student who will make an amazing nurse someday.”

Uriah has made a difference at the Medina Campus Center not only as a student in class, but as a concerned citizen at the Medina Campus Center, overall. His presence inspires kindness and compassion from everyone.

When asked why he decided to attend college, Uriah shared, “I’ve heard great things about GCC’s Nursing Program, which is what I ultimately wanted to get into. I also took a lovely summer class at the GCC Albion Campus Center in 2017 with Derek Maxfield.”

Uriah enjoys writing novels and short stories, reading of any kind, running and cycling, listening to a variety of music and podcasts, as well as roasting and making “pour-over coffee.” Major influences in his life include and start with Jesus Christ, and of course parents and friends, but also admittedly film directors such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson.

Uriah’s advice to new students is to greet everyone you meet, whether faculty, staff or your fellow students with a smile and “how-do-you-do.”

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3 senior citizens recognized as dedicated community volunteers

Photos by Tom Rivers: Florence Surdi of Albion is recognized on Thursday as one of two outstanding senior citizens from Orleans County who will be honored in Albany on May 22 during an awards program at the State Capitol. Melissa Blanar, director of the Orleans County Office for the Aging, is at left, and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley is at right.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 May 2018 at 8:31 am

KNOWLESVILLE – Three senior citizens in Orleans County were honored on Thursday for their commitment to community service in retirement.

The Orleans County Office for the Aging held its annual Spring Jubilee program to celebrate “Older Americans Month.” About 200 seniors attended the program at the Trolley Building of the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

The OFA accepted nominations for outstanding seniors from the community. An advisory council then picked the two seniors who would represent the county in Albany during an awards program on May 22.

Florence Surdi, 88, volunteers with Hospice of Orleans, the American Red Cross, Office for the Aging, Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern and Holy Family Parish.

Surdi worked five years at Kodak before going back to school to earn a nursing degree. She worked in many doctors’ offices in a 35-year career.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley thanks the seniors for their many years of service to the community.

Surdi has been a very active volunteer the past 12 years, and is a past winner of Hospice’s “Volunteer of the Year.” At Hospice, she provides companionship to terminally ill patients. She also helps with the administrative office at Hospice.

“Florence calmly and efficiently handles any task she is given,” the nominator wrote about Surdi.

At the OFA she assists with the newsletter and a volunteer driver. As a driver, she took an elderly man to visit his wife in a nursing home for five years.

She also helps the American Red Cross during blood drives. When the Ministry of Concern needs to assemble a mailing, Surdi can be counted on.

At Holy Family Parish, she is active with two charitable organizations, the Ladies of Charity and Catholic Daughters.

“Mrs. Surdi always serves the community with a giving and open heart,” the nominator wrote. “She brings her compassion for others and a fabulous sense of humor to her volunteer work.”

Surdi encouraged more seniors to volunteer, saying she has made many friends in the community through serving the different organizations.

“You will find while volunteering it doesn’t seem like working at all,” she said. “It’s very interesting, you learn a lot, and besides that, it’s fun.”

Don Snyder of Albion was recognized Thursday for his community service as a senior citizen.

Don Snyder has been very busy in retirement, helping church leaders respond to the opioid crisis in Orleans County. Snyder, who is retired as a chaplain in the state correction system, was nominated for the senior citizen award by Sheriff Randy Bower.

Snyder was instrumental in setting up the Sheriffs CARE (Community Addiction Rehabilitation Education) as well as an on-call chaplains’ team. He has been active in helping the community establish an addiction recovery program and is a trained recovery coach.

For the past two years he has been a member of the Genesee Orleans Wyoming Opioid Task Force meetings. He also serves on the Orleans County Mental Health Service Board, which oversees delivery of mental health services in the community.

He also is a board member for the Oak Orchard Assembly of God in Medina, the Grace House in Buffalo/Saving Grace Ministries, and From the Inside Out Ministries.

Snyder also volunteers with the American Red Cross’s Disaster Action Team, responding when people are made homeless, and he participates in Pastors Aligned for Community Transformation.

“With our ever growing opiate epidemic, many times hand in hand with mental illness, Don has volunteered his time as well as getting others involved to assist our community to educate and rehabilitate those struggling,” Bower said.

Snyder said people need to be involved in community issues, especially when they are a resource or can connect people to resources for help.

Patricia Cammarata of Albion receives certificates of commendation for her volunteer service.

Snyder and Surdi will both be recognized in Albany for their volunteer work. Patricia Cammarata also was recognized during the Senior Jubilee on Thursday.

Cammarata worked as a licensed master social worker in children’s mental health. She volunteers with the Catholic Charities Friendly Phones Program, and has been a trustee on the Swan Library Board of Trustees and a member of the Albion Historic Preservation Commission.

She was nominated for the award by Catholic Charities.

“She has happily and consistently made calls or visits to socially isolated elders in our community,” the nominator said. “She has provided friendship and empathy in each relationship, improving the lives of our members significantly.”

The Albion High School Women’s and Men’s Select Chorus performed several songs for the seniors. The group has about 40 members and is led by director Gary Simboli.

Sophia Zambito has a solo in “Draw the Circle Wide.”

Arella Ives also was a featured soloist in the “Draw the Circle Wide.”

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Kendall Lions give awards, including ‘Citizens of the Year’

Staff Reports Posted 18 June 2017 at 8:57 am

Provided photos: Bill and Dorrie Hardenbrook were honored as Citizens of the Year by the Kendall Lions Club on Thursday. They are pictured with John Becker, right, a member of the Lions Club.

KENDALL – The Kendall Lions Club held its annual Officer Installation and Awards dinner on Thursday at the Kendall Fire Hall.

The Lions Club honored Bill and Dorrie Hardenbrook as as Citizens of the Year. The Hardenbrooks were honored for their extensive service to the community especially through their many years of work with the Kendall Fire Department and Ladies Auxiliary.

The following were also recognized:

The Lions honored Kendall Highway Superintendent Warren Kruger (left) with a special Appreciation Award for his outstanding service to our community with special thanks for his leadership in the recent windstorm and lakeshore emergencies. He is pictured with Tony Cammarata, the Town Supervisor and Lions Club member.

Lion Candy Minigiello was honored as Lion of the Year for her service to the club and community. She is pictured with Lions Club President Tom Minigiello.

The highest award available for the Lions Club in New York State, the Robert J Uplinger Distinguished Service Award, was presented to Lions Don and June Knapp and outgoing president Lion Tom Minigiello. These honorees poses the highest examples of Lionistic character, ideals, purpose and service.

Lion Don Knapp, a member of the Clarendon Lions Club and his wife June, a member of the Kendall Club are Lion’s Lions. In addition to exemplary service to their own clubs and several other local clubs they are active at both the district and state levels. During the winter months while living in Florida the volunteer their service to the Bradenton Lions Club.

Tom Minigiello, the club’s outgoing president, quickly assumed a leadership role after joining the Kendall Lions Club. He served two terms as president as well as being an active participant in club service.

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Governor pushes $5K awards for outstanding public employees

Posted 16 January 2017 at 12:36 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Empire Star Public Service Award – a $5,000 professional development scholarship for public employees who have distinguished themselves through meaningful contributions to state government and have demonstrated their dedication to serve with a high level of performance, integrity and pride.

“Every day, the hardworking men and women who comprise state’s public workforce strive to serve and help improve the lives of their fellow New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “There are those however, that go beyond simply what is routinely asked of them and display an admirable level of dedication and pride in their work. These individuals serve as a model of what all of us in public service should aspire to become and with the Empire Star Award, we will not only recognize them for their contributions to building a better New York, but support them as they continue to develop as professionals.”

New York State’s public workforce is comprised of a diverse and dedicated group of remarkable men and women who provide invaluable services to millions of their fellow New Yorkers every day. From plow drivers, to home health aides, to first responders, engineers, nurses, research scientists, and more, this workforce boasts many of the nation’s best and brightest professionals. While every employee’s contribution is important and appreciated, many individual contributors often stand-out by exceeding what is simply expected of them in their day-to-day work as well as in unforeseen circumstances and emergencies.

The Empire Star Public Service Award will highlight the significant contributions that our public employees make to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of New York; strengthen employee engagement and commitment to their jobs; provide management with a new tool to acknowledge the significant contributions that our public employees make every day; as well as promote New York State as an employer that recognizes the contributions of its workforce.

Individuals or teams will be nominated by their fellow state employees via the Empire Star Public Service Award website and an Awards Selection Committee will review all nominations and recommend winners to the Governor. Empire Star awardees may use their scholarship for professional development, which can include participating in advanced training via classroom or on-line courses, matriculating in college or community college classes that will benefit them in their current public employment, as well as for materials and equipment to support additional training.

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Chamber seeks award nominations for businesses, citizens

Staff Reports Posted 16 July 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce invites its members to nominate businesses, organizations and individuals who have helped the local business community.

The honorees will be recognized on Sept. 18 at Tillman’s Historic Village Inn to celebrate business in Orleans County.

The Chamber is seeking nominations for awards in the following categories:

Business of the Year: This award is presented to a business that has experienced significant overall achievements/success throughout the year.

Businessperson of the Year: This award is presented to an individual with a long-term record of outstanding business achievements.

Phoenix Award: This award is presented to an organization or business that has successfully adapted or re-used an existing facility.

New Business of the Year: This award is presented to a business or organization that has opened in the past year.

Community Service Award: This award is presented to a business, organization or individual that has provided meaningful contributions to the community in either professional or non-professional spheres.

Agricultural Business of the Year: This award is presented to an agricultural business that has experienced significant overall achievements/success throughout the year.

Small Business of the Year: This award is presented to a small business (50 employees or less) that has experienced significant achievements/success throughout the year.

Last year’s winners include: Business of the Year, Brunner International; New Business of the Year, BAD-AsH-BBQ; Entrepreneurial Excellence, Precision Packaging Products; Phoenix Award, Fair Haven Treasures; Community Service, Anni Skowneski and Kenneth DeRoller; Lifetime Achievement, Bruce Krenning and Marcia Tuohey; and Agricultural Business of the Year: Lake Ontario Fruit.

For more information, call the Chamber at (585) 589-7727 or click here.

Chamber seeks award nominations for businesses, citizens

Staff Reports Posted 9 August 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce invites its members to nominate businesses, organizations and individuals who have helped the local business community.

The Chamber has set a Friday deadline for nominations for awards in the following categories:

Business of the Year: This award is presented to a business that has experienced significant overall achievements/success throughout the year. (Must be a Chamber member)

Lifetime Achievement: This award is presented to an individual with a long-term record of outstanding business achievements. (Must be a Chamber member)

Entrepreneurial Excellence: This award is presented to a company demonstrating a unique approach to business that has resulted in a strategic advantage in the marketplace through the use of cutting edge technology or other innovative methods. (Must be a Chamber member)

Phoenix Award: This award is presented to an organization or business that has successfully adapted or re-used an existing facility. (Must be a Chamber member)

New Business of the Year: This award is presented to a business or organization that has opened in the past year. (Does not need to be a Chamber member)

Community Service: This award is presented to a business, organization or individual that has provided meaningful contributions to the community in either professional or non-professional spheres. (Does not need to be a Chamber member)

The honorees will be recognized during an awards program in September. For more on the Chamber, click here.

Last year’s winners include:

Baxter Healthcare Corp. in Medina as Business of the Year, Hojack’s Bar & Grille in Carlton as New Business of the Year, for Entrepreneurial Excellence, Roger Andrews of Evans Ace Hardware with the Phoenix Award, GLOW YMCA in Medina for Community Service, Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse for Community Service, Jodi Gaines of Claims Recovery Financial Services for Lifetime Achievement, the late Judy Christopher of Albion for Lifetime Achievement, and Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension for Agricultural Business of the Year.

Barre native named Military Citizen of the Year

Posted 23 November 2013 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Marat of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, poses with Hampton, Va., civic leaders at a Military Recognition Luncheon. Marat was the Air Force 2013 Military Citizen of the Year for her volunteer efforts. From left to right: Hampton Mayor George Wallace, Marat, Newport News Mayor McKinley Price and Mike Kuhns, Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce president.

Article courtesy of 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, VA. – For the past four years, while assigned to the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Marat has faithfully served her country, but also dedicated her time in the local area as a volunteer. Marat worked countless hours performing special services and charitable deeds in the community.

As a result of her commitment to community service and volunteerism, she was awarded the Military Citizen of the Year Award by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce during a ceremony Nov. 12 at the Crowne Plaza Hampton-Marina Hotel in Hampton.

“I am honored to be chosen as the Military Citizen of the Year,” said Marat. “This came as a surprise to me as this year’s Air Force selectee. I did not know I was chosen until someone sent a congratulations note in an e-mail. I just feel that I am doing my part in the community.”

Each year, the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce names one outstanding and deserving representative from each branch of the military. Marat is the daughter of Larry and Susan Gaylard of Barre.

“This award for Liz is well deserved,” said Senior Master Sgt. Angelo Washington, Superintendent of Materiel Management for the wing and Marat’s supervisor. “She continuously supports the local community and always carries a smile wherever she goes and in whatever she does.”

“She is a role model and truly a positive example on base and in the local community,” he added. “No one is more deserving than she is, and I’m happy for her and the Air Force.”

The military community has a long and proud tradition of volunteer service. Since 1955, the Samuel T. Northern Military Citizen of the Year Awardis given annually to recognize the military citizen who has made the most significant contribution in the area of community service.

Marat has volunteered for a myriad of activities and special events both on and off base.

“I believe that volunteering your time is very important,” she said. “But, I also think you should volunteer for something you enjoy doing.”

Marat said she hopes her effortswill set an examplethroughout the wing.

“If it’s just an hour of your time over your lunch break, to go over to a school and read to children, assist with Meals-on-Wheels or other community-related activities, your volunteering can positively affect an individual’s life,” she said.

According to Marat, it’s all about changing lives and inspiring people in need, but most importantly, leading by example and encouraging others to volunteer.

“Whether it’s at a school tutoring in math and reading or donating your hair to Locks of Love, anybody can volunteer.”

Marat’s division chief expressed amazement at her ability to balance it all.

“Along with her daily primary and additional duties supporting our global organization, coupled with the huge demand of a large family, she still volunteers numerous hours to the community,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Reiz, Chief of ISR Systems. “She is truly an Air Force Ambassador and deserving of this award!”

Sobieraski has been a committed community servant

Posted 23 June 2019 at 5:40 pm


Soon Orleans County residents will be given the opportunity to select their next sheriff. I write this letter to encourage voters to take the time to learn about candidate Brett Sobieraski.

Brett is a long-time Orleans County resident living in Kent. He has lived in Orleans County for more than 27 years. He raised his sons in Kendall where they graduated from high school and have each become very good men.

Brett’s character, integrity, passion and commitment to his/our community is so evident thought his involvement with organizations such as the Special Olympics, the Veterans Outreach Center Huntington’s disease fundraising, Huther Doyle – a substance abuse counseling clinic, All In All The Time Foundation (provides immediate response to the needs of Naval Special Warfare families). He also is the founder and president of the not-for profit organization, Limitless Racing Inc. (a racing event for children with disabilities).

Brett spent many years as an assistant wrestling coach for Kendall Youth Wrestling. Being a wrestling coach for kids from age 4 all the way through high school is quite a commitment.

Coaching kids at practices during the week and coaching at wrestling tournaments on the weekends throughout the county provided Brett a great opportunity to mentor children and get to know the towns and schools throughout Orleans County. An added benefit that I know Brett is extremely proud of was the opportunity to mentor young people and watch them become young successful adults.

Orleans Hub recognized Brett as an Outstanding Citizen at an annual awards program in 2018. This recognition is for those people who have made a big impact in the community.

Brett has been and is such a strong advocate for his/our community.

He truly loves his home, this county. He is a highly skilled law enforcement professional, a leader, as well as an engaging and compassionate man, everything we should expect from our sheriff. He will be a great servant for his/our community.

Dan Wiler


Sobieraski has skills, experience and enthusiasm to excel as sheriff

Posted 6 June 2019 at 7:10 am


In a few short weeks, the people of Orleans County will be selecting their next sheriff. Choosing the right person to protect a community is probably one of the most important decisions any citizen will make.

The person you choose as your next sheriff will be faced with a number of significant challenges that will require proven skills in leadership, community investment, team building, and a significant background in all facets of law enforcement. Faced with the difficult decision on who to support in the next election, I would like to offer the citizens of Orleans County a unique perspective on one of the candidates in the running to be your next sheriff – Brett Sobieraski.

I have known Brett his whole life. I worked closely with Brett’s dad, Detective John Sobieraski at the Lockport Police Department. John would bring Brett to the station frequently to hang around with the cops. Even at an early age, Brett had the intelligence, focus and the personality to be successful in any profession.

When he was hired by the LPD years later I was one of his instructors at the police academy and was later his supervisor. Throughout his career in the LPD, I found Brett to be an outstanding police officer who truly enjoyed the job. He was a quick learner, blessed with an enthusiasm and upbeat personality that infected everyone who worked with him – he’s still like that today.

Early in his career the city suffered a fiscal crisis. Brett and other officers were faced with possible layoffs. Due to his impressive track record with the LPD, Brett was immediately hired by the Rochester Police Department and began a long and successful career with RPD. He was quickly promoted to sergeant and later placed in command of a countywide Narcotics Enforcement team.

In regional law enforcement, Brett has an outstanding reputation. He is well-known for his passion for the job as well as his investigative and leadership skills.

Brett Sobieraski has spent 31 years working cases in suburban, rural and urban communities across Western New York. As the supervising sergeant of a multi-agency task force, SWAT team leader and law enforcement instructor his career experience has not been limited to one locale.

Brett chose to live and raise his family in Kendall and Orleans County 27 years ago. In that time, he has been active in the community and was recognized for his efforts, being chosen in 2018 as an Orleans County “Outstanding Citizen.”

I can assure you that if you choose to elect Brett Sobieraski as Orleans County Sheriff, he will bring everything that he’s got to the job every day. I can recommend Brett to you without reservation and urge you to vote for him in the upcoming election.


Chief (Ret.) Larry Eggert

Lockport Police Department

Orleans Hub broke its records for traffic last month

Photos by Tom Rivers: Firefighters work to put out a fire on Feb. 11 on Bates Road in Ridgeway. The fire destroyed a house.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 March 2019 at 9:21 am

Orleans Hub set new records for traffic in February. We averaged 9,235 daily users during the month. That broke the record of 9,185 for a daily average in August 2017.

We topped 10,000 unique visitors for 11 of the 28 days in February. Typically we only break the 10,000-barrier a few days a month.

We also averaged 29,068 pageviews each day in February. That broke the 27,541-average from January. Last month we topped 30,000 pageviews 11 days. Normally we only reach that a few days a month.

We had 813,908 pageviews for the month. That’s the second time we’ve been over 800,000 in a month since we started Orleans Hub nearly six years ago in April 2013. January 2019 holds the record with 853,765. That was done in 31 days. February has the new record for highest daily average for pageviews.

Frozen crabapples are pictured at Mount Albion Cemetery on Feb. 7 after an ice storm hit the region.

There was lots of bad weather in February, with ice, wind and snow storms, as well as flooding. The bad weather gives us a spike in traffic, with people checking for school closings.

The most-viewed news story of the month was on Feb. 3 about an Albion mother and her son who were killed in Elba in a car accident on Route 98.

Kendall grad is Section V Hall of Fame Inductee” was the most-viewed sports story.

We also held our annual reception for the Orleans Hub Outstanding Citizens. We recognized Tami Ashton, Mark Bennett Sr., Penny Cole, Michael Hungerford, Jak Kohmann, Melissa Ostrom, Leonel Rosario, Tony and Laura Sidari, Brett Sobieraski and Chris Wilson.

Click here to see the awards presentation on YouTube.

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Orleans Hub is 5 years old today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 April 2018 at 10:35 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: It looked like a white planet when firefighters, including Dan Strong of Carlton, responded to a chimney fire on Ridge Road in Gaines during a blizzard on March 12, 2014. Orleans Hub has been at the scene of numerous fires and serious car accidents the past five years, as well as ice storms, wind storms and significant flooding events.

ALBION – The Orleans Hub is 5 years old today. Since we went live on April 2, 2013, we have posted 9,908 news articles, 5,319 sports stories and 1,135 letters to the editors. We have posted about 20,000 photos since our first day.

We’ve never taken a day off. We post stories everyday, even on major holidays.

We’ve steadily grown each year, increasing the daily average for unique visitors and pageviews. In 2017, we averaged 7,884 daily unique visitors and 23,435 pageviews each day.

The Hub has one full-time employee, Tom Rivers, while Mike Wertman covers sports and his wife Cheryl Wertman takes many of the photos at local high school games.

The Hub is part of Lake Country Media, which also owns the Lake Country Pennysaver. The Hub shares the same advertising and office staff as the Pennysaver. Karen Sawicz is the publisher of both the Orleans Hub and the Pennysaver.

We appreciate our readers and the roughly 100 advertisers who make the site possible.

The Hub is open to all of its readers without annoying pop-up ads or surveys. We don’t have a subscription-based model that limits the content to some users.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman: Aaron Metz makes a diving catch in right field for Roy-Hart in a game against Medina on May 11, 2015. Cheryl Wertman has captured many great moments on the local athletic fields for the Orleans Hub.

We’re local people and we’re grateful to be a part of the community. Each year we have honored “Outstanding Citizens” and frequently recognize people who make the county a better place to live.

We are happy to celebrate in successes locally. We also offer suggestions for improvements.

We recently added a new php-driven format, powered by WordPress. One could call this a “modernization of our code” that became necessary as we outgrew our older, simpler format.

One could also say that the new format made it easier for our contributors to post stories from any computer, anywhere.

We added “trust certificates,” to take advantage of the newest in internet security features, to keep our visitors as safe as possible from malware attacks.

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Orleans Hub turns 2 today

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion head coach Brennan Meakin is hugged by assistant coach Tim Archer as the players run out on to the court to celebrate a 65-57 win over Maryvale on March 7, giving the Albion boys basketball team its first Sectional title in 43 years. Orleans Hub has been busy covering the community since the site went live on April 2, 2013.

ALBION – Two years ago Orleans Hub started as an on-line news site, committed to covering Orleans County, highlighting successes and challenges in the community.

The site continues to grow, adding readers and advertisers. (We set a new record in March with a daily average of 7,000 unique visitors, up from the 6,780-average in February.)

Last year, we had 6.1 million pageviews, up from the 2.8 million in the first year. We posted 2,265 news articles between April 2, 2014 and April 1, 2015, and 1,135 sports articles during that time frame.

We also posted 6,400 photos, 90 letters to the editor, and lots of other community news, including obituaries, police blotter and local achievers. We have 7,800 followers on social media.

The Orleans Hub operates under Lake Country Media, which also owns the Lake Country Pennysaver. Karen Sawicz is the publisher of the Pennysaver and Orleans Hub.

The following were named Orleans Hub’s Outstanding Citizens for 2014. The group includes, front row, from left: Melissa Ierlan of Clarendon, president of the Clarendon Historical Society; State Assemblyman Steve Hawley; and Jim Hancock, Parade of Lights organizer in Medina. Back row: Erik and Marlene Seielstad, leaders of the 4-H Robotics and Legos program; Kim Corcoran, leader of the Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies; Al Capurso, pioneer enthusiast; and Bilal Huzair, leader of a food dispersal program in Medina.

We’ve tried to report the news and offer some commentary on local issues. We are pleased one of the Hub editorials – pressing local governments to seek more Aid and Incentives to Municipalities – has been formally endorsed by many of the local villages, towns and the County Legislature. They have passed resolutions for the state to provide a fair funding formula for AIM.

Hub readers can expect this site to continue to push that issue and many others in a county where residents pay some of the highest taxes in the country as a percentage of home values. We also continue to rank near the bottom in the state in visitor spending and sales tax per capita (We need to shop locally). Our health statistics are among the worst in the state, and we have high concentrations of poverty, especially in the villages.

We will continue to highlight these challenges, and also feature the many positives of the community, mainly the residents who are committed to solving some of these problems and who contribute in other ways to building a stronger community.

It was an honor to have a recognition ceremony on Feb. 4 when we presented “Person of the Year” awards to local volunteer firefighters. We also honored “Outstanding Citizens,” a tradition we hope to continue for years to come.

Orleans Hub sees big jump in traffic in 2014

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 January 2015 at 12:00 am

2014 Year in Review

Photo by Tom Rivers

Cliff Thom walks down the hallway in the Albion Middle School on Dec. 8 with his son Jacob and wife Tara. All of the classrooms emptied into the hallway and students and teachers applauded for Thom and his family. It was Thom’s first day home after being deployed in Afghanistan since June. The article about Thom was one of the most popular on Orleans Hub in December. Click here to see “Airman returns home and surprises kids at school.”

Orleans Hub saw a big increase in traffic to the news site in 2014. We averaged 4,700 unique visitors each day, compared to 2,100 in 2013 when we first started.
We launched the site on April 1, 2013. Orleans Hub operates out of The Lake Country Pennysaver in Albion.

We had 5,267,498 pageviews in 2014, compared to 1,697,887 for nine months in 2013.

Last year we posted 2,426 news articles and 4,656 news photos, plus 1,109 sports stories and 1,540 sports photos.

We’ve been averaging more than 5,000 daily unique visitors each of the past four months and more than 500,000 pageviews each of those months.

December 2014 was our best month to date with a daily average of 5,650 unique visitors and 541,216 total pageviews for a 17,459 daily average.

Orleans Hub’s sports coverage drew a growing audience in 2014 behind the reporting and photography of Mike and Cheryl Wertman. The above photo shows Kendall’s Will Condo (18) heading the ball away from Keshequa’s Jack Mann (20) during the Eagles Class C2 semifinal loss to the Indians on Oct. 29 at Spencerport. Orleans Hub has a full high sports report each day the local teams are playing.

Hottest story of ’14: Couple that died a day apart after 60 years of marriage

Ed and Floreen Hale’s story went viral around the world

Provided photos – Floreen and Edward Hale married in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Albion on May 12, 1953.

The story about Ed and Floreen Hale’s 60-year marriage and their death a day apart was the most popular story in 2014 on Orleans Hub.

The story was published near Valentine’s Day and showed the couple’s long-term commitment, especially Mr. Hale’s determination to join his wife in the same hospital room for their final days.

Mr. Hale was in a Rochester hospital and made a miraculous recovery so he was well enough to be transported to a hospital in Batavia. His wife Floreen, an Albion native, died on Feb. 7, with her husband by her side. Mr. Hale died the next day.

Floreen and Edward Hale of Batavia were inseparable for 60 years. They are pictured about five years ago on one of their many social outings. Mrs. Hale grew up in Albion.

Orleans Hub talked with his family and posted the article – “A love story to the very end” – on a Sunday evening on Feb. 15. The story quickly gained traction and within a few days went viral around the world. Numerous news sites around the country and overseas linked to the article or wrote their own story.

The traffic to Orleans Hub caused our server to crash – several times. We ultimately had to upgrade to our own dedicated server. We recorded 11,328 clicks for the story, but that number isn’t accurate. We had to move the story off the Hub server to its own dedicated spot that didn’t count the hits.

The Hales were featured in The Daily Mail in London and quickly racked up 61,000 shares on the site, and more than 500 comments. USA Today named the Hales one of their five most inspirational stories of that week.

Albion mourns loss of popular teacher

Photo courtesy of Howard Owens/The Batavian

Wayne Burlison directs the Batavia Concert Band in this photo from June 23, 2011. Besides teaching Albion students, Burlison was involved in many community musical groups.

The death of Wayne Burlison on March 26 was devastating to the Albion community and Burlison’s many friends. Burlison was an elementary music teacher at Albion. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2013 and would die from the disease on March 26 at age 36.

An article – “Albion schools mourn loss of beloved ‘Mr. B’” – about Burlison’s life and impact in the community was the second biggest story of the year on Orleans Hub. That story was posted on March 27 and had 7,447 individual page views last year. That is more than 3,000 from the third most viewed story.

Burlison was the assistant high school marching band director at the school and helped lead the jazz band. In addition to teaching Albion students, Burlison played with several groups, including the Batavia Concert Band, The Hit Men and the Mark Time Marchers in Kendall.

Burlison was also a leader of the Albion Running Club and led a Run for God program that prepared people to run a 5-kilometer race. He played in the praise band at the Albion Free Methodist Church.

He is survived by his wife Lisa and their son Adam, now 8. Mrs. Burlison is a second grade teacher at Albion.

Other top 20 stories in descending order include:

3. 3 in Medina arrested after drug bust

4. Firefighters battle to put out blaze in Carlton

5. Friends raise funds for funeral of 22-year-old Albion man

6. Man arrested after manhunt in Holley

7. Bear is spotted in Kendall

A bear was photographed on Aug. 11 in Kendall, one of many bear sightings throughout the year around the county.


8. Teen dies in apparent accidental shooting

9. 3 teens charged after numerous burglaries in eastern Orleans

10. Former tavern being transformed to high-end apartments, restaurant

The community was excited to see and read about the changes at the former Tagg’s Tavern in Holley. The site will open as the Holley Falls Bar and Grill this year, with apartments on the top floor.


11. Paratrooper from Medina dies at Fort Bragg

12. Albion doctor has license revoked

13. Kendall’s sectional contest has a special moment, a special goal

14. Section of 104 closed in Ridgeway after suspect barricades self inside

Law enforcement are outside a house on Route 104 in the Town of Ridgeway on Sept. 24 while a suspect is believed to be barricaded inside.

15. Paul Lauricella, 24, killed in Lyndonville accident

16. Albion man wins $300K in Lotto

17. Brothers open new winery in Murray

18. Tractor trailer gets stuck under railroad bridge in Holley

A tractor trailer got stuck under the railroad bridge on Oct. 13 in Holley, an occurrence that Fire Department officials say isn’t uncommon.

19. Handgun recovered after shot fired in Medina

20. Lyndonville teen will audition with ‘The Voice’

Lyndonville teen Salma Huzair will try out for “The Voice” this month. She is pictured in concert in Medina on Dec. 27.


2014: Best Submitted Photos from Readers of Orleans Hub

Orleans Hub readers regularly submit photos that help capture events and life in our community. Here are some of our favorite images captured by readers during 2014.

After another big snow, the weather warmed up on March 30, which was perfect for building a snowman. Isabelle Perez, top photo, stands next to a huge snowman she made with her family on Pearl Street in Medina. Her mother Ryin Moriarty took the photo.

“Let me introduce ‘Big,’ the 7-foot monster that is in our backyard!!” Moriarty said in an email.

LYNDONVILLE – Dena Scribner took these pictures on Jan. 13 of ice floating on Johnson Creek in Lyndonville. The ice is jammed in spots along the creek. The ice is on the move after a big thaw following very cold temperatures the previous week. This photo was taken from the Blood Road Bridge.

ALBION – Orleans Hub published many photos of Snowy Owls in Orleans County last winter with the majestic creatures spotted in Barre, Lyndonville and Kendall. In early January an owl was spotted in Albion in a corn field. Jaime Brennan shared this picture taken by her husband on Lattin Road.

ALBION – Peggy Barringer was out hunting the moon on Jan. 15 and took this striking photo of the moon looming over the Orleans County Courthouse and the County Clerks Building.

BARRE – Julie Miller of Barre on Jan. 22 took this picture of a sundog, which resembles a rainbow on a blistering cold day. She took it of a scene on Route 31A, west of Route 98 near Barre Stone Products.

CARLTON – Last winter was reportedly the coldest winter in about four decades. It felt like day after day of brutal, bitter cold. But Orleans County would still shine amidst the snow and ice. Rick Baase of Carlton took this picture on Jan. 28 of the sunrise when it was 2-below zero.

YATES – Fire caused significant damage on Jan. 28 to a house at 1429 Niagara-Orleans Countyline Rd. Ed Bouchane took this photo of the fire that broke out around 3 p.m. Several fire departments responded to the blaze in the Town of Yates.

BUFFALO – Two sisters – Jayne (right) and Emily Bannister from Point Breeze- are pictured March 3 after getting their heads shaved in the Goin’ Bald for Bucks fund-raiser for Roswell Park. They each set out to raise $1,000 for Roswell and far exceeded that, raising about $7,500 combined.

Their father Roger was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in November 2012. He started radiation and chemo in December 2012 and completed those treatments on Jan. 24, 2013. “Mainly, I just want to give back to the place that has helped my dad,” Jayne said.

HOLLEY – Megan Gotte, a registered nurse who lives in Kent, didn’t let a blizzard stop her on March 12 from providing care. Gotte rode her snowmobile to see a patient in Holley, who had to be seen that night. Gotte works as an evening nurse for HCR Home Care. She works with patients in Orleans and Genesee counties.

KENDALL – Rich Miller of Kendall took this photo on March 17 of the moon rising over Lake Ontario at Cleng Peerson’s Point. This is the spot at the north end of Kendall Road where it meets Lake Ontario. Norwegian immigrants settled in this area of Kendall.

KENDALL – The next morning after getting a picture of moon, Miller captured the sunrise on March 18 at the same spot over Lake Ontario at the north end of Kendall Road.

ALBION – Flames burst out of a car in the GCC parking lot at Albion on April 9. Helen Robare was at the scene and took this photo. Albion firefighters arrived quickly to douse the fire.

HULBERTON – A pickup truck driven by a Brockport man burst into flames after being struck by a train on May 19. Jimmie Jo Neary lives near the railroad tracks and took this photo. Lee D. Sietmann, driver of the truck, escaped serious injury when he drove the pickup truck across the tracks when the train was already on the “at-grade” crossing.

LYNDONVILLE – A double rainbow appeared at about 6:30 p.m. on May 30 after it rained in Lyndonville. Guin Panek took this photo at Oak Hill Farms owned by the Bentley family on the north side of Route 63.

MEDINA – After a storm barreled through Orleans County on June 17, knocking down trees and power lines, the sky turned a brilliant orange. Greg Stanton of Medina took this picture from his back yard on East Avenue.

GAINES – A black bear was spotted along Route 279, north of Route 104, on June 23. Cody Weese took this picture of the bear near an airfield. It then went into the hay field to the west.

POINT BREEZE – A big storm raged over Point Breeze on July 27. Steven Wilson of Albion headed to the Bridges, determined to get an image of the lightning. Wilson, an aspiring professional photographer, positioned himself near a closed down bridge by Narby’s. He aimed his camera to the big bridge on Route 18 that stretches across the Oak Orchard River. He wanted to capture the lightning over a local landmark.

BARRE – The leaves started to change colors in late September. Pamela Moore took a photo of the foliage at the waterfowl overlook on Albion Road.

CARLTON – Peg Wiley took this photo on Oct. while kayaking on the Oak Orchard River with her friend Cora Goyette. They are rounding a spot know as Fiddler’s Elbow. “So beautiful on the Oak this time of year,” Wiley said.

BARRE – Katlyn Moore was astonished on the morning of Nov. 19 when a baby Red-tailed Hawk landed on her front porch only about 3 feet away. “It only stuck around for a few seconds and left,” she said. “One of the most amazing things I have seen.”

LYNDONVILLE – After it rained on Nov. 24, a giant double rainbow soon followed in the afternoon. Jason Smith, Lyndonville Central School superintendent, took this picture that also shows the flag pole by the school district.

Medina earns third straight gridiron win over Albion; soccer and tennis titles

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina quarterback Jason Hellwig picks up yardage during the annual rivalry game as Albion’s Clayton Stanton tries to make the tackle. The Mustangs outlasted the Purple Eagles 46-30 to win the rivalry contest for the third year in a row.

Medina capped off the B North Division football season by notching a third straight victory over rival Albion in a free scoring 46-30 contest to retain the Doc’s Rock Trophy and clinch a berth in the Section VI Class B playoffs for the second year in a row.

Quarterback Jason Hellwig threw three touchdown passes connecting with Brett Pecoraro, Ty Hrovat and Brandon Schoolcraft, to lead the Medina attack. Hellwig, Pecoraro and Devin Joy also each rushed for a touchdown.

The Mustangs dropped a 42-6 decision to B North champion Bennett in the quarterfinal round of the sectionals.

Hellwig and Pecoraro both received honorable mention on the All-Western New York football squad.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – In just the third year of the merged program, the Medina/Lyndonville boys soccer team captured the Niagara-Orleans League championship. Here Josh Klotzbach advances the ball against Albion’s Marcos Sanchez.

Also in the fall, the Medina/Lyndonville boys soccer team captured the Niagara-Orleans League championship in the third year of the merged program.

Late season wins over Akron (3-0) and Roy-Hart (4-0) put a lock on the title as the Mustangs won a tight four-way battle for the crown with a 9-2-1 record.

The Medina tennis team captured a third straight N-O championship by posting a perfect 12-0 record.

The Mustang netters were led by first team N-O All-League honorees Ben Howell and Kristian Snyder; second team selections Brian Bogan, Nate Pace and Tristan Sanders and honorable mention pick Carson Zygoda.

The spring season also saw the shared services agreement between the Medina and Lyndonville school districts extended to include merged boys and girls track teams.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman

Ben Howell and his Mustang teammates captured the N-O championship for the third year in a row.

Tigers diamond title highlights Lyndonville’s year

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Lyndonvlle’s Chris Scroger and his Tiger teammates captured the Genesee Region League Division II baseball championship and also set a new school record with a season total of 19 victories.

Posting a near perfect 12-1 record, Lyndonville captured the Genesee Region League Division 2 baseball championship.

Lyndonville, which earned the No. 1 seed for the Section V Class DD playoffs, finished the season with a school record 19 wins against only two losses. The second of those losses was a 12-5 setback at the hands of Arkport in the semifinals of the Section V Class DD playoffs.

The Lyndonville softball squad also had a big spring going 15-4 and finishing second in the Section V Class D1 playoffs. The Lady Tigers defeated Hammondsport 8-2 and Elba 12-7 before bowing 9-2 to Arkport in the title contest.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Tony Recco captured a Section V title and went on to place third at the state championships.

Lyndonville’s Tony Recco captured both the Class B and Section V wrestling titles and went on to place third at the state small schools championships.

The Tiger matmen also had Dustin Joy win a Class B title while Devon Joy placed third at the state qualifier, Jeff Gress Jr. fifth and Tom Follman 6th.

Three Tiger athletes, Steven Anderson, Brian Anderson and James Ianni, were the top scorers on the merged Medina/Lyndonville boys soccer team which captured the Niagara-Orleans League title for the first time.

Soccer, basketball titles highlight Kendall’s year

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Kendall’s Taylor ReQua (10) and her Lady Eagle teammates captured both the Genesee Region League Division I and Section V Class CC titles.

For the second year in a row the Kendall High boys and girls soccer teams both captured Genesee Region League championships.

The Kendall boys posted an 8-0-2 record to retain the G-R title. The Lady Eagles compiled a 13-1-1 record to repeat as G-R Division 1 champs.

The Lady Eagles went on to to capture a Section V title for the first time in 11 years by outlasting Caledonia-Mumford 2-1 in double overtime. That dramatic win, on goals by Maya Rutland and Taylor Rutland, avenged a narrow 1-0 loss to Cal-Mum in the 2013 title contest.

However, the Lady Eagles dropped a narrow 1-0 decision to Avon in the Section V Class C state qualifier.

The Kendall boys were ousted in the Class C2 semifinals by Keshequa in a penalty kick shootout.

Both soccer teams had a player earn major post season honors as Maya Rutland and Jake Adams were named to the All-Greater Rochester and All-State squads.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Kendall’s Isaiah Brown (55) and his Eagle teammates ended the school’s decade long drought by capturing the G-R championship.

The Kendall boys varsity basketball team also ended a decade long title drought as the Eagles captured the G-R Division 1 title. The Eagles closed the regular season with a six game winning streak to clam the crown with a 12-4 record.

On the track, the Kendall girls 400 meter relay team finished second at the state small schools championship. That quartet included Maya Rutland, Taylor Rutland, Jaimie Smith and Taylor ReQua.

At the Section V Class C meet, in addition to the relay win, the Lady Eagles also had Maya Rutland win the 100 and Taylor Rutland the 200.

On the links, Kendall won the G-R League tournament and Evan Gaesser captured the individual title. Gaesser went on to also win the Section V Class C Tournament and placed fifth at the Super Sectionals to earn a spot on the Section V team which competed at the state championships.

On the baseball diamond, No. 10 seed Kendall upset three higher seeds (5-2 over No. 7 Dundee, 8-0 over No. 2 East Rochester and 6-3 over No. 3 Mynderse) before bowing 3-0 to No. 4 Avon in the Section V Class CC championship game.

New track, wrestling title take year’s spotlight at Holley

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Holley’s new track facility opened this past spring. Here Monica Merlau of the Hawks runs a leg of the meet opening 3200 relay during the inaugural competition.

Holley High’s athletic facilities got a big boost when the Hawks new all weather track opened this past spring.

On the track, Holley’s Martin Beadle won the 1600 and steeplechase at the Genesee Region All-League meet. He went on to win the steeplechase at the Section V Class C meet and took second in the 1600 at the state qualifier.

Holley track Coach Art Goldstein was inducted into the Section V Track and Field Hall of Fame.

On the mats, the Holley wresting squad captured the G-R title for the 21st time in the last 25 years. A narrow 35-33 win over Alexander clinched the title for Holley which earlier in the season posted a key 42-29 victory over Byron-Bergen.

At the state qualifier, the Hawks had Beadle and Kevin Avery both place fourth.

Jim Ferris was inducted into the Holley Sports Wall of Fame.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Holley’s Brandon Morrell and his Hawk teammates captured the Genesee Region League championship.

Barker cagers end long title drought, field hockey, X-C teams keep rolling

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Barker’s Bryce Moeller (13) and his Raider teammates ended the school’s nearly 70 year long Niagara-Orleans League basketball title drought by capturing the championship with a perfect 14-0 record.

Ending a nearly 70 year long drought, the Barker High boys varsity basketball team compiled a perfect 14-0 record to capture the Raiders first Niagara-Orleans League title since the 1944-45 season.

The Raiders were led by seniors Jacob Haight and Mitch Luckman, who both earned first team N-O All-League honors, senior Bryce Moeller and junior Christopher Sweeney who were second team selections and senior Hayden Gooding who was an Honorable Mention pick.

Barker in fact compiled a 19-0 record before bowing 62-48 to Silver Creek in the semifinals of the Section VI Class C-1 playoffs.

In the fall, both the Barker field hockey and boys cross-country teams extended their N-O and Section VI title reigns.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Barker’s Melissa Grosshans (23) and her Lady Raider teammates successfully defended their Section VI Class C title with a win over rival Akron. The Lady Raiders also successfully defended their N-O title.

The Barker field hockey team compiled a perfect 14-0 record to claim a ninth straight N-O championship. The Raiders two wins over runner-up Akron by margins of 1-0 and 4-0 highlighted that title campaign.

The Raiders went on to win a seventh straight Section VI Class C title by nipping Akron 2-1 in the finals.

However, the Lady Raiders bid for a return trip to the state final four was ended in the Far West Regional as East Rochester edged past Barker 1-0.

Barker had seniors Gabby Clare and Melissa Grosshans both earn first team All-Western New York honors.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Barker’s Sergio Cruz, shown here in the lead at the All-League meet, helped lead the Raiders to a successful defense of both their N-O and Section VI Class D titles.

The Barker boys cross-country captured the N-O championship for the second year in a row and the sixth time in the last seven years by romping to a 42 point victory over runner-up Albion at the All-League meet held at Lakeside Beach State Park.

Barker junior Sergio Cruz repeated as the All-League meet’s individual winner to lead the Raiders which also had Doug Bachman, Jack Hopkins and Dustin Walters sweep the fourth through sixth spots and Casey Webb and Christopher Sweeney take the eighth and ninth spots.

Barker then successfully defended its Section VI Class D title by besting runner-up Maple Grove.

The Raiders went on to finish a close second (74 points to 80) to Beaver River at the state championships as Cruz earned All-State honors with a top 20 finish. It marked the seventh straight year that Barker has finished in the top three at the state meet.

Albion baseball and volleyball teams enjoy two title seasons

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s Dominic DiCureia gets an out at second base during the Purple Eagles Class A2 title win over Springville. The Niagara-Oreans League champion Purple Eagles went on to also claim the overall Section VI Class A title.

Both on the baseball diamond and the volleyball court Albion High teams captured a pair of championships this past year.

Compiling a 13-1 record, the Albion varsity baseball team captured the Niagara-Orleans League championship for the third year in a row.

Keeping the momentum, the Purple Eagles went on to claim the Section VI Class A crown. Albion first defeated Springville 8-3 for the Class A2 title and then nipped Starpoint 2-1 for the overall Class A championship and a berth in the state playoffs.

The Purple Eagles bid for top state honors though was dashed in the Far West Regional as Section V champion Pittsford Sutherland rallied in the final inning to nip Albion 3-2.

Two Albion seniors, pitcher/shortstop Connor Barleben and catcher John Warne, both earned first team All-Western New York honors and were also named to the Class A All-State squad.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion volleyball players had plenty of reason to celebrate as the Purple Eagles captured both the N-O League and Section VI Class B-2 titles.

The Albion varsity volleyball team made it two straight 12-0 N-O championship years.

The Purple Eagle spikers likewise kept the momentum by registering three straight set victories in a row to claim the Section VI Class B2 title. Albion bested Cheektowaga in the title match.

However, Albion’s bid to gain a berth in the state playoffs was ended as eventual state champion Williamsville South defeated the Purple Eagles in three straight sets for the overall Section VI Class B title.

A trio of Albion players earned Al-WNY honors including junior Kelsee Soule (first team), sophomore Chanyce Powell (second team) and junior Meghan Hurley (Honorable Mention).

The spring season also saw the Albion girls track team’s 400 meter relay team of Kayla Doyle, Abby Squicciarini, Mariah Elsenheimer and Chanyce Powell place first at the Section VI small schools championships and third at the state small schools championships.

This fall the Albion boys soccer team avenged a pair of regular season losses by upsetting rival Medina/Lyndonville 1-0 in the semifinal round of the Section VI Class B1 playoffs. The Purple Eagles then bowed to top seeded East Aurora in the title contest.

This is the first in a series of stories that will appear today and Thursday reviewing the top area school and community sports events from this past year.

2014 Person of the Year: Volunteer Firefighter

Photos by Tom Rivers – Two firefighters battle smoke at a fire on Phipps Road in Albion on Sept. 19.

They will respond within minutes when a house is on fire, cars collide, or residents need help, whether it’s a heart attack, a senior citizen who has fallen or a basement that is flooded.

The 500 active volunteer firefighters make a world of difference in Orleans County and then do it without collecting a dollar for their efforts.

Firefighters were called to a house fire in Eagle Harbor after midnight on April 20, which was also Easter morning.

Orleans Hub frequently posts photos of firefighters in action at fires. But that is only a small fraction of their effort. There are numerous other calls each day for issues ranging from abdominal pain, fire alarm, overdose/poisoning, vehicle fire, “unknown problem/man down,” fainting, sick person, cardiac arrest, breathing problems and many other issues. And that’s only in the past few days.

These calls come at all hours of the day. Firefighters will respond in the middle of night and then go to work on little to no sleep.

Albion Fire Department Captain Jared Hapemen, right, and his brother Jason pump out a basement on West Academy Street in Albion after the ice storm hit the area last December.

There are 12 fire departments in the county and they will repsond to nearly 8,000 calls this year.

They will answer calls when it’s 90 degrees out on a major holiday or they will be out in sub-freezing temperatures for hours on end.

It was 2-below zero on Jan. 3 when fire tore through a farmhouse on East Barre Road in Barre. Several fire departments were on the scene for hours.

All the local fire departments are staffed by volunteers, except Medina Fire Department which has 13 full-time paid staff, as well as two temporary paid positions.

Medina is the primary ambulance provider for the western end of the county, and increasingly handles calls in eastern Niagara and central Orleans. The paid Medina firefighters are also trained to handle the ambulance calls. Those firefighters essentially cover their own salaries with the revenue they bring in through the ambulance calls. They join volunteers on many calls.

Two Carlton firefighters face a house engulfed in flames on Nov. 7 on Kent Road.

There is a lot of talk these days about shared services and local municipalities needing to work together. The local fire departments have been a model of cooperation for decades. They join in mutual aid and work together without egos getting in the way.

They save lives and property. They save taxpayers lots of money.

They make our community stronger through their commitment to caring for neighbors.

Lyndonville firefighter Ashton Lang meets with elementary students on Oct. 7 during a fire prevention program at the school.

They teach children about fire prevention, knowledge that no doubt keeps many fires from ever starting.

Firefighters treat each other like family, looking out for one another especially during a time of need.

When Jon DeYoung, deputy fire chief at Clarendon was battling colon cancer for the second time, firefighters in the East Battalion did a boot drive on Sept. 20.

In the above photo, his son Jon DeYoung Jr. accepts money from a motorist in the boot drive at the intersection of routes 31 and 237. Firefighters collected funds for DeYoung while he was receiving treatments at the Cleveland Clinic.

DeYoung has been a long-time leader for the Clarendon Fire Company, earning respect and admiration in the community, said Fire Chief Bob Freida.

“He’s an outstanding person who wouldn’t think twice about helping someone else in the community,” Freida said at the boot drive.

John L. Miller returned as a Shelby volunteer firefighter on Dec. 11 and also returned to work as an emergency medical technician with Mercy EMS in Batavia. He thanked the firefighting family for helping during his recovery from a serious car accident on Aug. 1.

When John Miller, the EMS captain in Shelby, was seriously injured in an August car accident, Shelby firefighters helped care for his children and provided meals for his family during his recovery. Miller, 36, returned to work and active service with the fire department in mid-December.

“As far as being a fire company, we’re a family at Shelby,” Miller said. “I knew I had a long road ahead of me, but I had a great group of friends with me along the way.”

Firefighters train for all kinds of emergencies. Each year they put in about 10,000 hours of official training for fire and EMS.

The photo above shows firefighters from Barre, Shelby and Ridgeway dousing a live fire training trailer owned by the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control. The trailer simulates a fire at an ethanol tanker.

Firefighters do a lot of other work in the community. In Medina, they collect and deliver toys to about 100 families each holiday season in a project coordinated by the Medina Area Association of Churches.

In above photo, firefighters from Ridgeway, Shelby, East Shelby and Medina all volunteered on Dec. 20 to deliver boxes of toys to families and food to senior citizens.

Firefighters also add energy and a presence to local parades, including the Nov. 29 Parade of Lights in Medina, when several local departments decorated big fire trucks in Christmas lights. East Shelby firefighters, including fire chief Mike Fuller (right), dressed as reindeer for the parade.

Photo courtesy of Rocky Sidari, Albion fire chief

The mutual aid network spreads beyond Orleans County. When Buffalo was hit with two monster snowstorms last month, 60 firefighters spent several days in the Buffalo area, helping stranded motorists and responding to other emergency calls.

Firefighters used all-terrain four-wheelers to check on stranded motorists in Lackawanna in the above photo. They took motorists to a fire hall in Lackawanna.

In all of these ways, and many more, Orleans Hub thanks firefighters for giving so much of themselves to their neighbors.

I’d also like to thank the fire police for letting me get close to some of these scenes. One of the long-time firefighters, Richard Cary of Holley, died unexpectedly on Nov. 27 at age 73. He volunteered for decades with the Holley Fire Department, most recently with the fire police. He is pictured above, center, on Route 31 just west of Holley. The road was closed on April 23 for several hours after an 18-wheel tractor-trailer rolled over.

Cary and all of the firefighters are role models for community service.

Top Stories of 2014

Dissolution in Medina proves contentious topic

New chain stores and other businesses came into Orleans County in 2014, while one manufacturer made a big investment in Medina and another closed its doors.

The Point Breeze community saw a long-time golf course turned into corn fields, while two marina operators, with years of experience, sold to a new operator.

A Carlton man was convicted in a brutal murder of his girlfriend, and the community endured the tragic death of a Medina native, a paratrooper in the Army, in a training accident.

George Maziarz, Orleans County’s representative in State Senate, made a sudden announcement in July that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election. That triggered a scramble for his successor with Ron Ortt, the North Tonawanda mayor, winning the seat.

The most enduring story, the one that dominated headlines all year, was the issue of dissolution. Medina village officials and residents studied the issue for several months. Dissolution will go to a vote on Jan. 20.

Here are Orleans Hub’s picks for the top 10 stories for 2014 in Orleans County:

1. Medina dissolution stirs hope and discord

Photos by Tom Rivers

Neil Sambovski of Ridgeway, an outside-village resident, on May 7 speaks against dissolution of the village because it would drive up taxes for residents in the town.

To lower taxes in the village and raise falling assessments, Medina Mayor Andrew Meier sees dissolution of the village government as the best option. That was also the conclusion of a committee of local residents and a consultant.

“Unless we unify and fix our tax problem once and for all we will miss the boat,” Meier said on April 10 when a Dissolution Committee presented its plan for dissolving the village government. “This is our one bite at the apple, at meaningful reform perhaps in our entire generation.’

But dissolution has been bitterly fought in 2014 by town officials in Shelby and Ridgeway, many village employees and some Medina residents. The two towns put out mailers, hired consultants and established a web site to attack the dissolution plan.

They say dissolution provides too little in savings and too much in unknowns.

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier sees a dissolution of the village and the consolidation of the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway as the best chance to significantly reduce the community’s taxes, which are currently the highest in the Finger Lakes region. He was joined at the press conference on April 10 by Don Colquhoun, chairman of the Medina Dissolution Committee (center), and Nathan Pace, chairman of One Medina.

About 300 people attended a public meeting on May 7 at Wise Middle School, and impassioned groups attended Dissolution Committee meetings and Village Board sessions.

“They’re diverting the tax from people in the village to people outside the village,” Hannah Brant, a village resident with property in the two towns, said during the May 7 public forum. “It’s driving a lot of fear into the community.”

A citizens’ petition finally forced the issue, with the vote set for Jan. 20. Meier and many dissolution supporters see it as the best hope for lowering taxes in Medina, which has the highest tax rate in the Finger Lakes region at $54 per $1,000. Dissolution would chop about $6 off the rate for village residents.

The Shelby and Ridgeway residents outside the village would see their town taxes go up 10 percent in Shelby and 46 percent in Ridgeway, according to a Dissolution Plan that town officials say they aren’t obligated to follow.

Dissolution foes believe the village taxes could be reduced with shared services, more state aid from the county and state, or a change from Medina as a village to a city.

The issue is being closed watched throughout the county, especially in other villages that have combined tax rates nearly as high as Medina’s.

2. Punishing weather knocks out power, closes schools and paralyzes community

On March 12 a blizzard hit, dropping about a foot of snow on the county. This photo shows traffic creeping along Main Street in Albion by the Presbyterian Church and the county courthouse.

It was one of the harshest winters in recent memory, with prolonged stretches of temperatures in the single digits or below zero. We had an official blizzard on March 12.

The National Weather Service frequently put out warnings and advisories about dangerous wind chills, flood watches and hazardous weather. The Sheriff’s Department issued travel advisories. The governor declared a state of emergency. Local schools closed.

When the winter finally relented, the area was hit with a destructive wind storm on June 17 that knocked out power for more than 3,00 homes and forced schools to close for Regents.

Barbara Tice, left, was out on June 18 picking up branches from a fallen tree in Lyndonville. She was joined by friend Jocelyn Munn.

3. Brunner expands, and former Bernz-O-Matic shuts down

Brunner workers use a forge to heat up parts to 2,200 degrees. The company committed to a $13.5 million expansion in 2014, and will likely add 60 workers to the existing workforce of 390.

The community waited for several months to hear the official word on whether Brunner International would expand in Medina or in another state. In June the company made it official: It would grow in Medina.

Brunner committed to a $13.5 million expansion, adding 48,000 square feet to its complex at the corner of Bates Road and Route 31.

Brunner started in Medina 1992 with six employees. Brunner makes brakes and components for heavy-duty trucks and trailers. It has steadily grown in the past 22 years, reaching 390 employees when the expansion was announced in June. It expects to add 60 more workers with the addition.

The company’s presence has helped fill the gap left by Fisher-Price, which laid off 700 workers in Medina in 1995. The expansion announced this year also softened the blow when another manufacturer announced it was closing.

Worthington Industries closed its Medina plant on July 31 on Bernz-O-Matic Drive.

Worthington Industries shut down in Medina on July 31 and shifted the production to a site in Wisconsin. Worthington made torches in Medina and employed 152 people at the former Bernz-O-Matic.

Worthington bought Bernz-O-Matic in 2011. Bernz-O-Matic had operated in Medina since 1969. By shifting the torch production to Wisconsin, Worthington said it can do everything at one site, saving in transportation costs.

4. Chain stores step up efforts in Orleans

The new Dunkin’ Donuts takes shape in Albion on Main Street next to Tim Hortons in this photo in July. JFJ Holdings, based in North Andover, Mass., is the owner of the new stores in Albion and Medina.

Dunkin’ Donuts built two new stores in Orleans County in 2014, with the first opening in Albion on August 23 and the other opening in Medina on Dec. 30.

The chain presence expanded beyond coffee stores. A new 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store opened on Oct. 15 at the corner of routes 63 and 104 in the Town of Ridgeway. The store is owned by Development Unlimited of WNY LLC of Buffalo. It demolished a house and silo at the northeast corner of the intersection.

The Dollar General helps fill a void in the community with the closing of the Pennysaver Market in Lyndonville, Yates Town Supervisor John Belson said.

At least one new chain store is in the pipeline for 2015. A North Carolina company, The Durban Group, is proposing an 8,320-square-foot Family Dollar on Maple Ridge Road in Medina, almost across the street from Tim Hortons.

Critics say the stores, in a county with a shrinking population, will absorb diminishing dollars in the community, making it harder for independent merchants to start businesses or make a profit.

Taras Salamaca, left, and his brother Alex opened Salamaca Estate Winery at the corner of Hindsburg Road and Route 104 in the Town of Murray on Oct. 17. The winery and its tasting room are located in a barn from 1898.

5. Several new locally owned businesses open, including 2 wineries

Several residents see the county as fertile ground for starting a business. Two new wineries – Salamaca Estate Winery in Murray and 810 Meadworks in Medina – both opened in 2014 and are on the Niagara Wine Trail, which now spreads across Orleans to Rochester.

“We really appreciate a small town that embraces its history,” said Bryan DeGraw, Meadworks 810 co-owner. “And from a business standpoint, Medina is in the center of the Niagara Wine Trail. That is an absolutely great place to be.”

Tillman’s Village Inn also expanded, several antique and collectible stores opened in the county, and other businesses grew or opened their doors for the first time.

Bryan DeGraw, back left, talks about mead with people on the Ale in Autumn tasting event on Sept. 27 in Medina. 810 Meadworks officially opened in November, the first downtown meadery/winery in the county.

6. George Maziarz shocks GOP with sudden announcement he is retiring

George Maziarz receives a standing ovation during the Orleans County Republican Fall Rally on Oct. 24 at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Holley.

George Maziarz seemed headed for another two-year term in Albany as state senator. He lined up endorsements and was out campaigning. But in mid-July he announced he didn’t want to continue with the demanding workload, the back and forth travel to Albany and the pressures of public office.

Maziarz’s sudden announcement in July forced Republican Party leaders to find a new candidate. They picked North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt, who won a Republican Primary in September over Gia Arnold of Holley. Ortt then cruised to an election win in November over Johnny Destino, who had the Democratic Party endorsement.

The area will lose a lot of clout in Albany with Maziarz’s retirement. He was one of the top-tanking Republicans in the Senate. He served in the Senate since 1995. He also was highly visible in his district, which covered Niagara, Orleans and a western portion of Monroe County.

Maziarz was credited with helping advance many projects in Orleans, including the construction of the $90 million ethanol plant in Medina by Western New York Energy. Maziarz said he tried to direct more low-cost hydropower allocations to projects in the county.

7. Community mourns tragic deaths

More than 100 motorcyclists served as escorts for Sgt. Shaina Schmigel when her motorcade passed through downtown Medina on June 9.

Local residents mourned the loss of friends and neighbors in 2014. There was a big outpouring of support and grief for Sgt. Shaina Schmigel, a paratrooper from Medina who died May 30 during a night-time training drill at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division. She was in the Army for four years, and was promoted to sergeant in January.

“She wanted to go for all she could go for,” said Keith Gilbert, a close family friend from the town of Alabama. “She wasn’t afraid of anything.”

Schmigel was a cheerleader at Medina, a member of the Class of 2010.

The Medina community also mourned the loss of 15-year-old Jacob A. Stahl, who died in an accidental shooting on Oct. 17. Stahl, a 10th grade student at Medina High School, was with a teen-age friend in an upstairs bedroom at Stahl’s home in West Shelby when the incident occurred.

Sheriff’s investigators said Stahl’s death was a tragic accident that resulted from the careless handling of a loaded firearm.

A long-time Main Street merchant in Albion, who also was active in local politics, died in a Dec. 12 fire at his shop, Nayman’s. Francis Nayman was 76 and had battled health issues in recent years. He was still determined to go to his small engine repair business. The fire and death have been ruled accidental with no foul play suspected, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni said.

8. Frederick Miller found guilty of murder

In a crime a judge called one of the most painful and torturous of his career, Frederick Miller of Carlton was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder of his girlfriend.

Frederick Miller will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after killing his girlfriend on March 4, 2013. The case was delayed several times but finally went to trial with the jury convicting Miller of second-degree murder on Sept. 17. That followed a trial when he admitted to stabbing Rachel Miller with scissors. Rachel was still alive after being stabbed nine times with scissors.

She fled their house on Oak Orchard Road in Carlton and Miller broke off a metal Posted sign. Miller struck her three times in the head. Her body was discovered the morning of March 4, 2013 by a passing school bus driver.

“She lived a life of giving,” Rachel’s son Cody Miller said at sentencing. “She never wanted anything but happiness. The world kept taking from here but she fought back by giving.”

His mother worked at The Arc of Orleans County and Rainbow Preschool as a speech therapist.

There were at least two other high-profile cases in court this year, both involving Kendall men.

Carlos Botello, 42, was sentenced to 9 years in prison on April 14 after he faced attempted murder charges of a state trooper. Botello pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder on Feb. 3. He admitted in court that he backed a car towards state trooper Dan Metz and smashed into the trooper’s patrol car on Sept. 3, 2013.

Dennis Buehler, 64, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison on Jan. 6 for second-degree attempted murder and third-degree arson.

Buehler shot his wife and set his house on fire on March 4, 2013, the same day Frederick Miller committed his crime. Buehler was called “an extremely evil person,” by Judge James Punch. Buehler’s wife survived the gunshot wound. The house burned to the ground.

9. New look and owners at Point Breeze businesses

The Harbor Pointe Country Club was transformed from a golf course into corn fields this year.

Businesses don’t change hands too often at Point Breeze. But 2014 saw some long-established businesses get sold.

The most dramatic change was the sale of the Harbor Pointe Country Club on Route 98 in Carlton to Lynn-Ette and Sons. Harbor Pointe had been a golf course for 50 years. Lynn-Ette and Sons turned the course into cornfields.

The Cardone family had owned Harbor Pointe since 1981. The golf business has struggled in the region in recent years, due to the economy and increased competition with many golf courses, Joe Cardone said.

Gatlen Ernst took over two marinas along the Oak Orchard River this year. Ernst, an employee at Lake Breeze Marina for 10 years, purchased the marina in March from Doug and Janice Bennett.

“He’s been a good employee and he had the desire,” Mr. Bennett said. “Everybody likes Gatlen and everybody knows him. It should be a smooth takeover for him.”

Ernst owns the marina business, which he renamed Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina. He purchased the real estate in a partnership with Rod Farrow, a Lake Breeze customer. Farrow is an apple farmer who lives on the other side of the Oak Orchard River.

The two also worked together to acquire Four C’s Marina from Gene Christopher and his family. They had operated that marina for more than three decades.

Gatlen Ernst and his fiancé Danielle Daniels, right, are pictured with the Christophers, from left: Darrick, Gene and David. Ernst acquired Four C’s Marina in August.

In another change in the Carlton business community, Paula Nesbitt and her family purchased Bertsch’s Good Earth Market on Route 98 and renamed the business The Vintage Apple Garden. Dave and Sharon Bertsch and their daughter Heather Tabor and her husband Jim opened Bertsch’s 14 years ago.

10. Snowy Owls, bears create a stir

Provided photo – Vince Flow of Kendall captured this closeup of a Snowy Owl in Kendall.

It was a historic winter for Snowy Owl sightings. They typically stay in Canada for the winter, but there were many owls in Orleans County. Residents and visitors went on expeditions in the rural countryside with cameras trying to get pictures of the owls.

When the weather warmed up, residents started spotting a different creature in the county. Bears were seen throughout the county, including in Albion, about a mile from the village line.

Brittany Kennedy took this photo of a bear on Aug. 11 at her West Kendall Road home. The black bear went up on her porch and sifted through a recycling bin and grabbed a coffee can.

‘Outstanding Citizens’ serve community in many ways

Several residents deserve to be recognized as “Outstanding Citizens” for their efforts to make Orleans County a better place this past year. They did many good deeds for little to no pay, driven by a love for their community and neighbors.

Orleans Hub is pleased to recognize the following:

Leader of Lawn Chair Ladies adds excitement to local parades, community events

Photos by Tom Rivers – Kim Corcoran leads the Lawn Chair Ladies at a local parade.

When the Town of Kendall celebrated its 200th birthday in 2012, Kim Corcoran and some of her friends decided to add some excitement to the local parade. Corcoran and her friends formed the Lawn Chair Ladies and had a dance routine on the parade route. The women, while wearing pink boas, choreographed a number with lawn chairs.

They were an immediate sensation and now perform at many community events during the year. The group has 18 members who practice regularly.

“I didn’t have any hopes beyond that summer,” said Corcoran, the group’s leader. “It’s been really fun getting all of my old buddies together.”

Corcoran grew up in Kendall and was in the marching band. After a 35-year career in New York City in the advertising and publishing business, Corcoran moved back to her hometown in June 2011. She attended the parade at the Kendall Firemen’s Carnival and thought it was missing some excitement that June.

The Lawn Chair Ladies formed to add some pep to the local parade and haven’t skipped a beat since, performing in Kendall, Holley and Brockport, with requests for other events. Corcoran also has been appointed the town historian.

Volunteer event planner adds much to Medina’s cultural life

A giant snowman makes its way down Main Street in a lighted float by MAK Plowing and Landscape in Medina on Nov. 29. Jim Hancock coordinates the parade that includes many businesses, civic groups and other organizations.

Since he retired as director of the Job Development Agency in Orleans County, Jim Hancock has been busy working for free for the Medina community. He heads the Medina Tourism Committee and makes sure a visitor center inside Medina City Hall is staffed during the summer.

He plans an annual concert by the Canal Basin, and has been instrumental in establishing the Medina Sandstone hall of Fame inside City Hall. Hancock visits all of the nominated sites, which stretch throughout New York State and to Erie, Pa.

Jim Hancock, a member of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame committee, discusses the Million-Dollar Staircase in Albany, which was partially built with Medina Sandstone. The Staircase has been nominated for the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame.

Hancock spearheads one of Medina’s most popular events: the annual Parade of Lights on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It has turned into a mega-draw for Medina, filling the downtown and some side streets with thousands of people. The number of glowing floats increases each year. It is a great display of community pride.

Resident does the research and convinces government to name creek for pioneer

Al Capurso is pictured on a pedestrian bridge over Gilbert Creek in the Town of Gaines.

For about two centuries Orleans County residents passed by a creek in Gaines and Carlton. The unnamed waterway has remained largely unspoiled and undisturbed.

Al Capurso wanted it to have a name and to honor a pioneer resident who lived next to the creek more than 200 years ago.

For more than a year he researched the 6.5-mile creek that starts near Brown Road and heads northeast to Marsh Creek in Carlton. Capurso pushed for the waterway to honor Elizabeth Gilbert, the first settler on Ridge Road in Orleans County.

Gilbert and her husband built their cabin in 1807. Mr. Gilbert died soon after they settled, and his wife was left to raise a family and make a life in the wilderness of the Niagara frontier.

It took Capurso a year of lining up local support, and gaining permission from the federal Bureau of Geographic Names. The agency on April 10 formally approved the naming request.

Capurso painted a wooden sign with the name, “Gilbert Creek.” It stands by Ridge Road, next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church.

During the May 24 dedication program, State Sen. George Maziarz praised Capurso for working through the bureaucracy to get the creek named for one of the county’s pioneers.

“There is no better title than a citizen who loves his community, who respects his community,” Maziarz said about Capurso.

Al Capurso’s son Dan unveils the sign for Gilbert Creek by Ridge Road during a dedication program on May 24.

Resident spearheads effort to feed the hungry in Medina area

Bilal Huzair stacks up some frozen pizzas on Dec. 20 during a Foodlink delivery in Medina next to the Old Mill Run Restaurant on Route 63.

About two years ago Bilal Huzair and his family opened the Old Mill Run Restaurant on Route 63, just south of Maple Ridge Road. Huzair met many local residents and had a sense that many were struggling to buy groceries.

Huzair and other members of the World Life Institute connected with Foodlink about doing a food drop-off in Medina the first and third Saturdays each month. Huzair didn’t know what to expect – just how many people would show up for fruits, vegetables and other food.

The program started in November 2013 and quickly drew big crowds with about 200 people standing in line, with many there two hours ahead of time. Another 200-plus are given food, with deliveries by friends and World Life Institute volunteers.

Many of the people in line are senior citizens on fixed incomes. They see their income consumed by medical bills, prescriptions and other bills.

“We didn’t have an expectation,” Huzair said about how many people would seek the food. “We just knew there was a need.”

An anonymous donor has been paying Foodlink for the food that is given out. Huzair manages the volunteers and keeps the program running smoothly.

“These are people who genuinely need things,” he said.

Assemblyman leads veterans on trips to DC

Provided photo – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, lower right, is pictured on Sept. 19 with a group of veterans in Washington D.C. on seventh annual Patriot Trip. About 100 people travelled to the nation’s capitol with Hawley to tour war memorials.

Many politicians say they value veterans, but Steve Hawley may be the only elected official in the country who leads about 100 people each year to Washington, D.C. Veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War can tour the war memorials.

It is a meaningful trip for veterans and their families and Hawley and his staff deserve praise for all of the effort. Hawley has coordinated the Patriot Trip for seven years with about 750 people travelling to the nation’s capital.

“The Patriot Trip is a token of my appreciation for the men and women who have served our country with courage and honor,” Hawley said in September, when the group headed to DC.

Hawley isn’t an Orleans County resident. He is from Batavia. He has kept his district office in Albion, even when redistricting shifted the district south with more of Genesee County. He has shown his commitment to Orleans County residents.

Historian helps awaken Clarendon to celebrated past

Melissa Ierlan, the Clarendon town historian and president of the Historical Society, unveils a historical marker on Sept. 21 for Hillside Cemetery, which last year was named to National Register of Historic Places.

In recent years, Melissa Ierlan has helped save the Old Stone Store in Clarendon, erect historical markers, and get sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ierlan has also been good about forming partnerships and connecting with residents and preservationists. She scored a big win in 2014 by celebrating the life and legacy of Clarendon’s native son, Carl Akeley.

Last spring the Clarendon Historical Society was brainstorming programs for the upcoming year. The group considered famous people from Clarendon’s past to feature. Someone mentioned Akeley, one of the most acclaimed taxidermists in the world.

It just happened to be his 150th birthday on May 19. The Historical Society decided to throw Akeley a big party. They invited author Jay Kirk, who wrote a biographical novel about Akeley called “Kingdom Under Glass.”

Provided photo – Carl Akeley is pictured with a leopard in Africa that he killed with his bare hands after it attacked him.

Prominent taxidermists also joined 150 people at the May 21 bash for Akeley. The celebration would link Ierlan, the Historical Society president, with prominent taxidermists who have long wanted to honor Akeley. The taxidermists gave Ierlan several Akeley mementos, including a gorilla death mask, to display at the Town Hall. The taxidermists also started raising $8,000 for a monument to be set in Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon in honor of Akeley.

Akeley was also a prolific inventor and world traveller. He died of a fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1926, and is buried there.

Ierlan has travelled to New York City with other Historical Society members to see The Akeley Hall of African Mammals, which showcases large mammals of Africa that Akeley killed and stuffed. She and members of the Cobblestone Society Museum are working with a taxidermist to restore a stuffed fox done by Akeley as a teen.

The Historical Society also is working on Akeley’s 151st birthday party in 2015.

Albion couple teaches 4-H’ers about science through Legos, robotics

Erik Seielstad has volunteered as mentor in the Lego program since it started in 2012. He is pictured with Dan Squire, 13, of Medina in this photo from early November.

Four years ago Erik and Marlene Seielstad pushed to start a robotics program through 4-H in Orleans County. High schoolers program a robot to perform tasks, including picking up and shooting a basketball.

“Joe’s Average Slackers” were born, and they have competed in regional events. The Seielstads serve as mentors and their son Morgan is a senior in the program this year.

Many parents pushed the Seielstads to start a Lego team for kids in elementary and middle school, and the Seielstads three years ago agreed to coach the team. The The First Lego League proved popular and expanded to three teams last year and a fourth team this year. There are about 40 kids under the guidance of the Seielstads with some help from parents.

Marlene Seielstad, right, talks with members of the Prehistoric Robots team during a competition at Churchville-Chili on Nov. 15.

The Seielstads have been honored for their volunteer efforts by the FLL regional leaders. Most teams are led by paid staff in school districts.

Mr. Seielstad works as a systems engineer in Rochester. He said the students are all learning math and science skills, as well as teamwork.

“The kids get the opportunity to work together and accomplish things,” Seielstad said during a November practice.

His wife is a member of the Albion Board of Education. She keeps the teams organized and funded. She has numerous businesses backing the robotics and Lego teams.

The Seielstads believed the program could work in rural Orleans County. They have been the drivers of its success.

“I find it overwhelming that this has occurred,” Mrs. Seielstad said. “Our uniqueness is we have people from all over our county, as well as kids from other counties.”

Orleans Hub plans to honor the “Outstanding Citizens” during a reception in early 2015.

Photographer picks her favorite sports photos from 2014

Orleans Hub sports photographer Cheryl Wertman has picked her 16 favorite pictures from 2014, including the top photo of Holley centerfielder Nick Passarell diving for a flyball in a win over rival Kendall.

Wertman also likes this picture of Albion’s Justyn Haines pole vaulting with the American flag in the background.

To see all of her favorites, click here.

2014: Portraits and Personalities

Photos by Tom Rivers

Orleans County residents and visitors found a lot of ways to express themselves – in joy and sorrow – during 2014. Here are some of my favorite photos of people in our surroundings from the past year.

In the top photo, Albion firefighter Carmen Quatro watches the fireworks while standing on top of a fire truck at Bullard Park on July 5. The Albion community was treated to a fireworks show as well as free food and games thanks to the Tonawanda Indian Baptist Church in Basom.

Derrick Bradley, wearing a skunk costume, joins local residents on Feb. 22 as they respond to protestors against the annual “Squirrel Slam” fundraiser in Holley. Friends of Animals in New York protested the event.

Edgar Rosario has his face painted for the “Day of the Dead/All Saints Day” on Nov. 10 at Mariachi de Oro Mexican Grill, a restaurant where his father Francisco Rosario is co-owner. Edgar is pictured near murals inside the restaurant near the bar.

Carl Sargent woke up to another snowstorm on Feb. 10. He was out shoveling that morning on Caroline Street in Albion.

Karalyn Klotzbach walked down Main Street in the parade with her mother Katie Klotzbach and other members of the Panek family during the Strawberry Festival parade on June 14.

Anna Oakley of Kendall rides the Super Trooper carnival ride on July 10 during opening day of the Kendall Fire Department carnival. A full moon is in the distance. The three-day event is a much-anticipated reunion for many residents and former Kendall community members.

Two people embrace after a motorcade passed through downtown Medina on June 9. Several hundred people lined Main Street and saluted as a motorcade passed by carrying the body of Sgt. Shaina Schmigel, 21.

Schmigel, a Medina native, was killed May 30 during a night-time training drill. She was a paratrooper at Fort Bragg with the 82nd Airborne Division. She was in the Army for four years, and was promoted to sergeant in January.

“It’s important that we support our service people,” said Sherri Luthart of Medina. “I get all choked up about it. She paid the ultimate price for our freedom.”

Ed Salvatore serves up plates of spaghetti at the Albion Exempts Club on Jan. 9. Salvatore, Albion’s mayor for eight years from 1998 to 2006, considered running for the Village Board again for the March election but decided against it.

The Exempts would decide later in the year to stop serving the spaghetti dinners every Thursday.

Dan Geasser, a former Kendall town supervisor, speaks against a tax abatement plan for The Cottages at Troutburg. The Town Hall was packed for the Jan. 15 public hearing on the 10-year tax plan that would save The Wegman Group $227,777 in taxes. The plan would later be approved by the Orleans Economic Development Agency.

Medina Sandstone Society President Bob Waters, right, chats with village resident Roland Howell during a reception at the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame on Feb. 1. The Sandstone Society inducted its first HOF class on Dec. 12. It would add historical images of immigrant quarry workers. The enlarged photos are on hanging inside the main meeting room at Medina City Hall, where the plaques for the six inaugural inductees are displayed.

It looked like a white planet when firefighters, including Dan Strong of Carlton, responded to a chimney fire on Ridge Road in Gaines during a blizzard on March 12.

Jason Clark served as the starter for some of the races during the Pinewood Derby on March 1 at the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Firehall. Clark is part of the Kendall Scouting program and volunteered to help with Holley’s Pinewood Derby. There were 42 participants in all, and the event concluded with a pasta dinner in the firehall.

Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance paramedic Steve Cooley holds Melayla Wenner, a baby he delivered in an ambulance on Feb. 27. Melayla visited the COVA crew on March 7 at the organization’s headquarters, 239 South Main St. Terry Bentley, back right, helped deliver the baby. Jake Crooks, also in back, drove the ambulance.

Jim Pinckney is crowned the Dyngus Day king during the Polish party at the Sacred Heart Club in Medina on April 21. John Weaver, last year’s king, puts on the crown while Dee Lucas puts on the red cape. Pinckney is a retired corrections officer. He joined Sacred Heart Club about 21 years ago and helps mow the lawn, shovel snow, clean the fryers, and with other painting and carpentry tasks. “It’s good to help out because it’s an all-volunteer organization,” he said. “It’s just to help the community.”

Ken Miller of Niagara on the Lake in Canada portrays Gen. James Longstreet, a commander in Northern Virginia. Miller was in Medina on April 25-27 for the Civil War Encampment at Genesee Community College.

Miller goes to about dozen Civil War Encampments each year. Many are in Canada. He is happy to cross the border and join events in the States. “I like to teach and promote Canada’s involvement,” Miller said.

Albion firefighters Dale Banker, in front, and Matt Francis march in the Strawberry Festival parade on June 14 with other members of the Albion Fire Department. Banker in July took over as the county’s emergency management director, replacing the retiring Paul Wagner.

Albion students performed “The Wiz” from March 28-30. This group includes Steven Stauss as Lion, Josh Raymond as Scarecrow and Kyle Thaine as Tinman.

Don Gaines races through the aisle at Pawlak’s Save-A lot on May 16 as part of an 85-second race to fill a shopping cart. Gaines filled the cart with more than $800 of food – mostly with ham and other meat. He announced most of the bounty would be given to Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

Gaines won the shopping spree, an event organized by the Lord’s House, a church in Waterport. The Lord’s House sold tickets for $5 each to give people a chance for the shopping sprint and two other gift baskets. Don and his wife Barbara bought one ticket and hit the grand prize.

Chris Shabazz, a student at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School, is happy to try out some of the new playground equipment on May 22, when the school opened a new playground. After an opening ceremony, students joyfully played on new slides, swings, climbing apparatus and other playground equipment.

Robert Ortt, a candidate for the State Senate, addresses a crowd in Albion on Sept. 8 at a pro-gun and Second Amendment rally. Ortt told about 200 people at the rally outside the Albion Gun Shop that he will work to repeal the SAFE Act. In November, Ortt was elected to the State Senate, filling the spot currently held by George Maziarz, who didn’t seek re-election.

Cliff Thom surprises his daughter Sarah, a third-grader at Albion, on Dec. 8. Thom hadn’t seen Sarah and her two siblings since June 29 when he deployed for Afghanistan. Thom is a senior master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. He is giving Sarah a hug in the cafeteria of the elementary school.

Jim Babcock portrays Sonny and Sandra Monacelli-McNall is Cher in a performance of “I Got You Babe” during a Cabaret Variety Show on Aug. 15 at the Cabaret at Studio B in Albion.

Jim Traufler of Albion is embraced by State Assemblyman Steve Hawley on Nov. 11, when Traufler was presented six long overdue military medals. Traufler, 82, was recognized for his service six decades ago when he was in the Marine Corps in the Korean War.

Traufler was recognized during a Veterans Day ceremony in front of the Veterans Service Agency office on Route 31 in Albion. “It’s something you don’t think about,” Traufler said about the medals. “I’ll put them away and give them to my kids and grandkids.”

Jed Platt of Appleton, dressed in a turtle outfit, slips down on the grease pole on July 26 with teammates Royal Snyder of Lyndonville, right, and Elliott Perkins of Barker. The team, Udder Suckers Reloaded, wasn’t able to get to the top of the grease pole during the competition at the Orleans County 4-H Fair in Knowlesville.

Orleans Hub presents award to Jodi Gaines

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 January 2014 at 12:00 am

CRFS leader is Orleans Hub’s ‘Person of the Year’ for 2013

Photo by Brad London – Orleans Hub today presented Jodi Gaines, CRFS chief executive officer, with the Hub’s “Person of the Year” award for her job-creation efforts in 2013. Pictured, from left, include: Orleans Hub Publisher Karen Sawicz, Jodi Gaines and Tom Rivers, Orleans Hub editor.

ALBION – Orleans Hub on Dec. 31 declared Jodi Gaines, the chief executive officer of Claims Recovery Financial Services, as the county’s “Person of the Year.”

We thought Gaines clearly deserved the award for building a juggernaut of a company that has been on a hiring spree in the county that sorely needs jobs.

This morning we presented Gaines with a certificate noting she was Orleans Hub’s choice for “Person of the Year.”

Gaines has been busy to start off the new year. Just last week 230 of her employees in the Olde Pickle Factory in Medina moved to the former JP Morgan Chase building in Albion.

The computers and employees made the transition during a weekend with sub-zero temperatures. About 450 employees work in a building next to the former Chase site and they are expected to move next door in late February, putting nearly all of the CRFS employees under one roof in Orleans County. (CRFS also employs 70 people in San Antonio, Texas.)

“We could have gone anywhere but Albion is where we wanted to be,” said Gaines, who started the company from her home in Albion about a decade ago.

She wanted to stay local because so many of her employees live close by. She also likes her 5-minute commute to work.

Gaines in September announced the company would consolidate its Albion and Medina work forces in the former Chase site and would add 150 employees. Gaines said the company is still hiring. It has actually hired 194 people since the September annoucement.

Orleans Hub wanted to recognize Gaines for providing opportunities for so many local residents to be able to work in Orleans County. These jobs have helped keep people here and to support their families.

The parking lot was nearly full this morning with several hundred cars. It was an awesome sight after the Chase site has been mostly empty in recent months.

The sprawling parking lot on East Avenue is nearly full with workers from Claims Recovery Financial Servces.

She praised Roger Hungerford for acquiring the building from Chase and making improvements for the CRFS staff. Gaines expects to have a ribbon-cutting celebration in early spring once the Albion staff transitions to the bigger 60,000-square-foot building.

She praised her management team for organizing the relocation efforts, which have gone without a hitch. Kelly Sargent managed the move with Jason Snook taking charge of information technology. Last Monday, the first day at the Chase site, employees arrived at 6 a.m. and turned on their computers without any problems.

Gaines said her employees’ skills and dedication have made the company’s expansion possible.

Claims Recovery Financial Services works with banks and investors to recover money with foreclosed properties. The company connects with attorneys, county clerks, utility companies and investors from all over the country. CRFS works to recover past-due interest, unpaid principal, unpaid taxes and unpaid insurance on houses.

Gaines said she is also proud of the employees for their commitment to the community. CRFS has set a $25,000 goal for employees to give to the United Way drive. The “CRFS Gives” campaign among employees picks a cause each month in the community.

To see the Dec. 31 article on Gaines being named “Person of the Year,” click here.

To see our list of Outstanding Citizens for 2013, click here.

2013 Year in Review

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 January 2014 at 12:00 am

A photographer’s favorite snapshots from 2013

One of the participants, Austin Cox of Medina, slides into the mud pit during the inaugural Orleans County YMCA Mud Run which started and finished at the Sacred Heart Club in Medina.

By Cheryl Wertman, Photographer

As today is the start of a new year, I would like to take one last look at some of the photos that are my favorites since I started contributing to the Orleans Hub in September. It is amazing that I have posted over 500 photos since Mike started writing for the Hub in September and it is very difficult to choose just a few as they are all my favorites.

It is said that “A picture is worth a thousand words” and I hope that in combination with the stories that Mike has posted you, the readers, have enjoyed viewing and reading about all the local athletes and their accomplishments these last four months.

Below you will see a representation of photos from each sport we have covered that I consider some of my very favorite photos so far. Here is hoping that in 2014 we can provide you with many more that are not only my favorites but yours as well.

Scott Barber tries to score for Medina/Lyndonville past Akron goalie Austin McDole and several defenders during the Mustangs loss to the Tigers in the Section VI Class B state qualifier.

Barker’s Melissa Grosshans puts a shot on East Rochester goalie Johannah Price during the Lady Raiders Far West Regional victory at Vets Park.

Albion’s Olivia Neidert dives for the ball during the Purple Eagles undefeated (12-0) Niagara-Orleans League championship season.

Medina’s Holly Heil, in route to a top three finish, runs along the Lake Ontario shoreline at the N-O All-League meet at Lakeside Beach State Park.

Against the scenic backdrop of the Lake Ontario shoreline a trio of runners competes in the N-O All-League cross-country meet at Lakeside Beach State Park.

An autumn sunset during an Albion girls soccer game.

Brooks Boyle runs back an interception for the division champion and playoff finalist Lyndonville Tigers semi pro team.

Iverson Poole picks up yardage for the regular season champion Medina Colts in LOYAL football action.

Medina’s Kyle Barna tries to stop Albion running back Ed Wolfe during the “Doc’s Rock” trophy rivalry game won by the Mustangs.

Roy-Hart’s Calee Coleman competes in the 500 freestyle.

Medina’s Emily Kams fights for a rebound against the Lyndonville duo of Morgan Hungerford and Alyssa Mahnke.

Holley’s Lucas Silvis competes in the Hawks Tournament against Soloman Renfro of Canisius.

Kendall’s Garrett Love is surrounded by a trio of rival Holley players including Josh Porter (2), Ian Penders (30) and Corey Winter (25).

Medina’s Austin Brown competes in the 100 butterfly.

Kendall’s Nicole Browe tries to shoot past Lyndonville goalie Jenna Castricone.

2013 had many special moments

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina/Lyndonville literally weathered a storm, a monsoon rain storm, in nipping Newfane 2-1 in double overtime to win a memorable Section VI Class B-1 championship. Here Steven Anderson advances the ball for the Mustangs as Anthony Pane moves in to help.

This morning, as the dawn breaks on the new year, here’s a brief look back at some of the special and eventful moments on the area sports scene in 2013.

Weather provided one of the most lasting memories. A monsoon like rainstorm made for a wild setting as Medina/Lyndonville captured its second boys soccer sectional championship in the last three years by outlasting Niagara-Orleans League rival Newfane 2-1 in double overtime in the Section VI Class B-1 title contest.

The most unusual setting for a sporting event came in June at Lyndonville’s White Birch golf course which hosted a sanctioned pole vault competition on one of its fairways featuring Olympic gold medalist Jenn Suhr and Janice Keppler of Medina who is ranked in the top 10 nationally. It was truly a most unusual sight watching Suhr sprint down the portable runway set up on the fairway for a 16 foot vault with the rest of the golf course as a very scenic backdrop.

The spring could easily have been called the Season of the Tiger as both the Lyndonville baseball and softball teams captured Section V championships with underclassmen dominated squads.

The baseball team earned its second Class D championship in the last three years but just missed out on a trip to the state semis losing by a narrow 3-1 margin to Pine Valley in the Far West Regional. The softball team claimed its first ever sectional championship by nipping Romulus in a 6-5 thriller for the Class D-1 title. However, the Lady Tigers bid for a spot in the state playoffs was ended by a 7-3 loss to Andover in the D state qualifier.

The fall then could just as easily have been called the Season of the Eagle as Kendall High teams captured the Genesee Region League boys soccer, girls soccer and Division II volleyball championships. The soccer teams both earned No. 1 seeds for the sectionals and the girls squad advanced to the Class CC finals losing a narrow 1-0 decision to Caledonia-Mumford.

Always a special event, the Medina vs. Albion football game lived up to its reputation in a free scoring affair at Spierdowis Field in Albion. Medina retained the “Doc’s Rock” trophy and earned its first berth in the sectional playoffs in several years by outlasting rival Albion 38-31.The Mustangs built up a big early lead but then had to turn back a determined Purple Eagles rally in the second half.

A very fitting honor was earned by former long-time Albion football Coach Dick Diminuco who was inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in October. Diminuco guided Albion to 14 division and four Section VI championships during his 30 seasons at the helm from 1979-2008.

Barker’s field hockey and boys cross-country teams both continued very successful winning traditions qualifying to state level competition.

The field hockey team won its eighth straight Niagara-Orleans League championship and sixth straight Section VI title to gain a berth in the state playoffs. The Lady Raiders won the Far West Regional 1-0 over East Rochester but then dropped a narrow 1-0 double overtime decision to Cazenovia in the state semifinals at Cicero-North Syracuse.

The Raiders boys cross-country team claimed the N-O and Section VI Class D titles and went on to place third at the state Class D championship race held at Queensbury High.

Albion’s baseball squad continued its strong run in N-O competition capturing the league title for the second year in a row and the fifth time in the last six years. The Purple Eagles volleyball squad also had a big season claiming the N-O crown for the second time in four years with a perfect 12-0 record.

Roy-Hart’s boys swim team made it seven straight N-O championships and in December the Channel Cats surpassed the 100 straight victory mark.

Holley’s wresting squad likewise continued a long league title run as the Hawks captured the Genesee Region crown for the fourth straight year the 14th in the last 17 years. The Hawks had two wrestlers advance to the state championships as Mike Silvis placed third and Andrew Flanagan fifth.

Roy-Hart senior Drew Hull capped off an outstanding varsity wrestling career by capturing the state 145 lb. championship to complete a perfect 44-0 season.

And not to be forgotten were N-O titles won by the Medina tennis and Barker golf and boys track teams.

2013’s Outstanding Citizens in Orleans County

They performed many good deeds, often when not asked and at no gain to themselves. Orleans Hub would like to recognize some outstanding citizens from 2013.

Good Samaritan helps police catch bank robber

Before he robbed the Bank of America in Albion, Jeremy Rothmund of Rochester twice got away with similar crimes in the town of Greece. His girlfriend had a getaway car near the banks and Rothmund escaped.

But Rothmund didn’t get away on July 2 when he robbed a bank in Albion. An Albion businessman pulled up to the drive-through at about 4 p.m. that day, ready to deposit a check at the Bank of America.

He looked inside the bank window and saw a man wearing sunglasses with a hat on, and an ace bandage wrapped around his chin and neck. The teller indicated to the drive-through customer that the bank was being robbed.

The local merchant then hopped out of his car, leaving it running in the drive-through. He went towards the front door of the bank and the robber said he had a bomb and thrust a box covered in wires into the merchant’s face, telling him, “I don’t care if we both die and go to Hell.”

The businessman, who has requested anonymity, backed off. “I’m not an Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I could tell he was under the influence of something,” the merchant told the Orleans Hub on July 3.

Although he backed off, the businessman knew the robber was likely fleeing to a getaway car. So the merchant followed the robber behind the bank and along the railroad tracks. He watched the robber tear off his mask and get into a blue Ford Focus. The merchant then relayed that description to police.

Ten minutes later Holley police stopped the car at Woodside Court, an apartment complex off Route 31 on the west side of the village.

Rothmund and his girlfriend Elyse A. Hoffer, 22 have both pleaded guilty. Rothmund faces up to 15 years in state prison.

“I just wanted to help and be a good citizen and a Good Samaritan,” said the resident. “It all happened so fast.”

Apple grower helped bring new varieties to market

Photos by Tom Rivers – Roger LaMont is chairman of the New York Apple Growers LLC, a group of farmers that worked with Cornell to grow and market new apple varieties.

Apples are big business in Orleans County. We’re New York’s second-leading apple county behind only Wayne County.

The future of the industry is brighter, and a local grower played a key role in two new apple varieties reaching the market this year. In August, Cornell University and the New York Apple Association unveiled SnapDragon and RubyFrost.

Roger LaMont, an Albion apple grower, served as chairman of a group that formed to grow and market the apples. The new varieties are exclusive to New York growers. They won’t be released to growers in other states, which will give growers in the Empire State an edge. That should lead to bigger returns for the farmers, making their farms stronger financially.

LaMont is nearing retirement. He took the lead on the initiative, wanting to set up the industry for a more viable future. That should make these farms key contributors to the county’s economy for years to come.

Pole vaulter gives back by competing in Lyndonville

Jenn Suhr competes in a pole vaulting competition May 31 at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville.

Jenn Suhr, the Gold Medal-winning pole vaulter, is married to Lyndonville native Rick Suhr, who is also her coach. The couple has a home in Kendall.

Mrs. Suhr is thankful for the support of her fans in Western New York, but she said many of them have never seen pole vaulting live. When Suhr was prepping for the world championships in August (where she won the silver medal), she helped orchestrate three sanctioned vaulting competitions in Lyndonville, using the White Birch Golf Course for the meets. Her brother-in-law Harold Suhr owns the course. He used the second fairway as a runway for three vault competitions between May 31 and July 4.

Suhr cleared the top outdoor height in the world when she went over 16 feet, 1 inch at the White Birch, giving the course a distinction normally reserved for major sporting arenas in the world.

“We wanted to bring the pole vault out here so people don’t have to travel and spend tons of money to see it,” Suhr said.

Resident rallies to save Clarendon Stone Store

The old Stone Store building, currently an eyesore at the corner of routes 31A and 237 in Clarendon, is being turned into an attractive asset for the town.

The old Stone Store, once a key focal point to community life in Clarendon, had fallen into disrepair and was considered an eyesore. Many residents two years ago were calling for the building to be torn down.

But one local resident convinced the Town Board to call off the wrecking ball. Erin Anheier, chairwoman of the Old Stone Store Preservation Committee, mobilized volunteers to clean up the property and find a buyer for the site, which dates back to 1836.

She helped get the site on the National Register of Historic Places. She also helped get Hillside Cemetery in Holley on that list this past year, designations that bring prestige and the prospect of grants for building improvements.

Joe and Sue Fertitta are rehabbing the Stone Store. They are gutting and renovating the building, and the couple plans to put on a front porch to match the building’s original look. They expect to have the project done next summer, with a tenant living in the upstairs and the first floor available for offices.

“This shows it can be done,” Anheier said. “These buildings can be saved.”

Anonymous donor has helped beautify Medina

This home at 204 West Center St., Medina, was one of 17 houses in the village to receive matching funds for improvements through a grant administered by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce. The $200,000 grant also provided money to 11 businesses for façade and sign upgrades.

It has been a busy year for painters in Medina. An anonymous donor offered matching funds for people who painted their houses or worked on other beautification efforts.

Contractors worked on 28 properties in all as part of $200,000 in matching grants. The grants will continue in 2014. The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce is administering the program.

“It’s just been amazing,” said Kathy Blackburn, Chamber executive director. “We are thrilled with the work that has been done. It’s encouraged others to work on their properties as well.”

The grant in its first year funded projects at 17 homes and 11 businesses. The initiative is aimed to boost the curb-side appeal of the community, and make needed improvements more affordable for property owners. The money has given many neighborhoods a lift.

Kent helps lead the fight for ‘Concerned Citizens’

Adolf Genter, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Orleans County, protests the sale of the county nursing home.

These are apathetic times when it comes to pubic participation in civic affairs. Voter turnout is low. Membership is way down in service clubs, and many political candidates run unopposed.

Gary Kent helped reverse that trend in Orleans County, leading hundreds of residents in a protest against the sale of the county nursing home. Many will say Kent lost the fight because the sale will likely be approved early in 2014 and he failed to be elected to the County Legislature. (Kent was one of six candidates to try to unseat the Republican-endorsed candidates, the most opposition the GOP has faced for the Legislature since it formed in 1980.)

But Kent, a retired social studies teacher, inspired a sustained protest from people of all political parties against the county’s move to sell The Villages of Orleans.

They stood in the rain outside Legislature meetings. They carried petitions. They filed lawsuits. The Concerned Citizens raised money at spaghetti dinners. They tried every route possible in voicing their opposition to the sale. That’s what good citizens do: They engage in the process.

Young mom leads fight against SAFE Act

Gia Arnold speaks at a rally against the SAFE Act in April outside the Orleans County Courthouse.

A new movement took off this year, and it was led by a mother of three young children. Gia Arnold of Holley helped create the New York Revolution, a group opposed to the SAFE Act. The group was born after the State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo in January passed the SAFE Act, legislation that NY Revolution saw as an infringement on the Second Amendment rights.

The group has a following state-wide but it may be it’s most powerful in Orleans County. Arnold attended numerous community events and municipal board meetings, and swayed every elected board at the village, town and county level to pass resolutions opposing the SAFE Act. A top goal is unseating Cuomo as governor in November 2014.

Arnold planned a rally in April attended by about 200 people outside the County Courthouse.

“It’s not just a guns issue,” she said. “It’s more of a rights issue. They are taking away our freedoms.”

2013 Person of the Year: Jodi Gaines

Local resident has built a juggernaut of a company, employing hundreds in job-starved Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers – Jodi Gaines answers questions from the media on Sept. 30, when she announced Claims Recovery Financial Services would be actively recruiting to fill 150 more positions in Albion.

You hear it a lot around here: No jobs for young people so they leave after high school or college in search for more opportunity. Our community is far poorer for it.

One local woman has proven a major force combating the flight of area residents by providing employment in their backyard. Jodi Gaines in a decade has built a company to 600 workers with plans to add 150 more in Albion, with possibly more expansion in the future.

Gaines, chief executive officer and co-owner of Claims Recovery Financial Services, is leading the company in a major growth spurt at a time when Orleans County desperately needs it. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

This year CRFS outgrew its space in Albion and expanded into a site in Medina at the Olde Pickle Factory. The company had the Albion and Medina sites, and added about 80 people in San Antonio, Texas. CRFS was still pinched for room.

In June, JP Morgan Chase announced it would close its Albion site in September, and would lay off 413 workers, leaving a 60,000-square-foot facility to sit empty in a prominent location in the village. The news was a major blow to the community’s psyche.

Gaines saw an opportunity in the Chase site. In September, she announced she was moving the entire Orleans County operation to Chase building and would actively recruit 150 more workers.

“CRFS is primed to do more for Orleans County than ever before,” Gaines said during a Sept. 30 press conference. “We started in Orleans County. We’re staying in Orleans County and the best is yet to come.”

The announcement had the added good news that Roger Hungerford, owner of the Olde Pickle Factory, was buying the site. He immediately set about painting the big building and making other renovations.

“We’re getting local ownership with the building and someone who will invest in the property,” Albion Mayor Dean Theodorakos said.

For the past 25 years the location has employed hundreds of people in the banking industry, first at Anchor Savings Bank, followed by Dime Bank, North American Mortgage Corporation, Washington Mutual and then Chase.

About every five years one of the banking companies was bought by a bigger bank in a very volatile industry. That always created uncertainty and worry in Albion that the new owners would eliminate the Orleans workforce through a consolidation.

Our Congressional representatives, notably former Congressman John LaFalce and more recently U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, used their clout on banking committees to help keep the banking jobs in Albion.

With a local woman running a locally based company, the community can breathe a little easier that Gaines won’t suddenly spring some bad news on us that she is taking her workforce out of state.

Gaines started as a claims clerk in 1989 for the former Anchor Savings Bank in Albion. She stayed in that department as ownership of the facility changed to Dime Bank and the North American Mortgage Company and then to Washington Mutual. WaMu phased out the claims department in 2002.

Gaines was offered a different job to stay with WaMu, but she opted to start her own company in claims, helping banks and investors to recover money with foreclosed properties.

She started the new venture from her kitchen table in Albion. That was December 2002. She had two employees. The company quickly grew, mastering regulations in all 50 states and taking on more clients.

Her employees work with attorneys, county clerks, utility companies and investors from all over the country. CRFS works to recover past-due interest, unpaid principal, unpaid taxes and unpaid insurance on houses.

“This organization prides itself on results and quality each and every day,” Gaines said. “The work ethic of the CRFS managers and employees is why we are now poised for such tremendous growth.”

Gaines was active in the Albion youth soccer program for many years with her son, once serving as a league commissioner. She remains active on the board of directors for the Orleans County United Way.

She is the Orleans Hub’s 2013 “Person of the Year.”

2013: Top stories of the year

Photo by Tom Rivers – JPMorgan Chase closed its Albion call center in September after the company worked five years out of this East Avenue site, which was previously home to Washington Mutual. Claims Recovery Financial Services will be the new tenant in the building, which will house 750 workers for CRFS.

There was a lot of news in Orleans County in 2013. Orleans Hub has weighed the stories, and we have our list of the top 10. We gave preference to stories with impact on the community as a whole.

1. CRFS helps fill void from shut-down Chase site

It was devastating news in June when JP Morgan Chase announced it was shutting down its Albion operation and would lay off 413 workers by September.

Chase once had nearly 1,000 workers in Albion, but had gradually reduced its workforce over five years in Albion.

The company worked out of a massive former tomato processing facility on East Avenue. The site didn’t sit idle for long. Roger Hungerford, owner of the Olde Pickle Factory in Medina, bought the 60,000-square-foot site and started renovations in September for the new tenant: Claims Recovery Financial Services.

That home-grown company, led by Orleans County resident Jodi Gaines, announced it had outgrown sites in Albion and Medina and would consolidate its operations at the former Chase site, employing 750 people in Albion. As part of the move to the Chase site, CRFS announced it would add 150 workers, bringing much-needed jobs to a county with one of the highest unemployment rates in the state.

2. SAFE Act triggers sustained outrage

Conservative talk show host Bob Lonsberry addresses a crowd of nearly 200 people in front of the Orleans County Courthouse during a protest about the SAFE Act on April 13.

In January Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators approved the SAFE Act, which they said was designed to tighten gun control laws.

The new law, which was passed without public comment, was loudly protested in Orleans County and throughout much of Upstate New York. The Orleans County Legislature called for the law’s repeal.

Every town and village elected board in the county also formally opposed the new law, which was called an attack on Americans’ Second Amendment Rights. Orleans is the only county to have every town, village and county elected board pass resolutions against the SAFE Act.

A new citizens group, New York Revolution, formed and was active at local parades and community events. The organization is trying to unseat Cuomo in the 2014 election for governor.

Orleans County District Attorney Joe Cardone told a crowd in October that he wouldn’t prosecute “John Q. Public” for violating some of the provisions of the SAFE Act, including cosmetic requirements that now make some guns illegal.

3. ‘Concerned Citizens’ fight against sale of nursing home

Ondrea Pate, an employee at The Viilages of Orleans, and about 20 other people rallied in a rainstorm on April 10 for the county to keep its nursing home publicly owned. Concerned Citizens of Orleans County picketed on Main Street during many County Legislature meetings, trying to sway the body not to sell the 120-bed site in Albion.

In February, the County Legislature announced it would sell The Villages of Orleans, a 120-bed nursing home in Albion. The Legislature said the site operated at too much of a loss, burdening local taxpayers by at least $2 million a year with prospects for $4 million in annual deficits.

The decision prompted protests from residents of all ages and political parties. Many protested outside Legislature meetings, standing in storms. Two lawsuits failed to stop the county’s push to sell the nursing home.

A slate of candidates also ran trying to save the nursing home, but they failed to unseat the Republican majority. The Legislature formed a local development corporation to temporarily own the nursing home and to find a buyer for the site. The LDC could select the buyer in January.

4. Massive warehouse fire threatened Albion neighborhood

The fire at Orleans Pallet quickly spread through the building and turned into an inferno, threatening the neighborhood.

A fire on Oct. 17 destroyed a big warehouse and threatened to damage other nearby structures. But the blaze was contained to Orleans Pallet’s main warehouse, a huge Medina sandstone structure built in 1901.

Smoke from the blaze could be seen from 20 miles in one of the community’s biggest fires ever.

The fire started after a spark from a grinder caught the wooden timbers on fire inside the warehouse. About 150 firefighters kept the blaze from spreading next door to Empire Coating.

Shawn Malark, owner of the warehouse and Orleans Pallet, used the site to store wooden pallets, which he then sold to farms and other businesses. Malark’s main production building survived the fire and he has stayed in business.

5. Burglars terrorized community with summer break-ins

Police agencies in three counties worked together to arrest Jonathan Banks, top left; Isaiah Bonk, top right; Jasper Lloyd, bottom, left; Thomas Shingleton, bottom right.

Burglars terrorized Albion and Medina neighborhoods with a series of break-ins over the summer. The burglars would remove window screens or enter through unlocked doors, typically committing their crimes while people were asleep late at night.

Police from multiple agencies in three counties arrested four people in December who are accused of 32 burglaries in August and September, a rash of break-ins in Albion, Medina, Oakfield and Lockport.

One of the suspected burglars, Jonathan Banks, 21, of Medina, was arrested by Lockport police in September. After his arrest, there weren’t additional burglaries, police officials said. Besides Banks, 21, police arrested Isaiah Bonk, 20, of Medina; Jasper Lloyd, 20, of Albion; and Thomas Shingleton, 36, of Medina.

There were other high-profile crimes in the county in 2013, including a bank robbery, murder and attempted murder.

6. Lakeside closes in Brockport and Medina Memorial Hospital makes changes at top

Strong West in September opened the former Lakeside Memorial Hospital as an urgent care center.

Lakeside Memorial Hospital in Brockport, a site that served many Orleans County residents, closed in April due to mounting financial losses. The facility would reopen in September as an urgent care center.

It is now owned by the University of Rochester Medical Center, which renamed it “Strong West.” The site doesn’t currently have an emergency room, meaning fire departments and ambulance squads form Orleans County now have a longer transport for patients on the east side of the county. Lakeside handled 17,000 ER calls in its final year.

Small-town hospitals are struggling, and Medina isn’t immune. The hospital’s board of directors announced in June that long-time hospital CEO Jim Sinner had resigned after 15 years.

The board of directors hired HealthTech Management Services to manage the hospital and healthcare organization. In late October, the board hired Dolores Horvath from HealthTech to serve as CEO.

She said hospitals are challenged and there will be a shift to more outpatient care in the future.

7. Assessments spark uproar and worry

Carlton residents packed several town meetings this year, including this one in April, to sound off about assessments they say were set too high for many properties. The Town Board opted against reappointing the town assessor and is hiring a firm to establish values for the properties in Carlton. The board includes, from left: Dana Woolston, Joyce Harris, Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery, Robin Lake and Jim Shoemaker.

Orleans County completed its once-every-three-year reassessment in 2012, and the new values were sent to property owners this past spring.

In Carlton, residents were in an uproar over assessments that showed big increases for many sites. Crowds packed Town Board meetings to complain about the assessments.

The backlash prompted the Town Board not to reappoint assessor Karen Adams. The town is hiring a private firm to help establish values for 2,400 sites in the town.

The reassessments painted a gloomy picture for the four villages in the county. While Carlton saw big increases for some properties, the villages collectively went down in value, which may be unprecedented during a reassessment for an entire municipality.

The village of Albion declined nearly $3 million, the biggest loss. The shrinking assessed values results in a smaller tax base to pay for services, likely driving up the tax rate.

8. Some changes at historic churches

The United Methodist Church in Medina meets for the first time in the former Apple Grove Inn on Oct. 27. The church transfromed the former restaurant int a modern church setting.

One congregation at a historic church in Medina left its building and moved to the former Apple Grove Inn, following an extensive three-year renovation.

Another congregation in Albion voted to abandon its historic building, although that congregation continues to meet there.

The Medina United Methodist Church celebrated its first service in the former Apple Grove Inn on Oct. 27. The church bought the landmark building for $100,000 at an auction. Most of the building was gutted, walls were taken out in some spots and new ones put in. The west end of the building was extended to accommodate the sanctuary. The project cost nearly $1 million.

It was a lot of work, and church members did the bulk of the construction, painting and carpeting themselves. The congregation of about 50 people had a final service at their old building at 222 West Center St. Then they walked or drove a mile down the road to the former Apple Grove.

In August, the First United Methodist Church in Albion voted to walk away from its 150-year-old building. The church faces about $1 million in repairs. The church is trying to find a buyer for the site and is looking for a new home. It will continue to meet in the building in the near future. The church is one of seven in Albion named to the National Register of Historic Places.

9. ‘Squirrel Slam’ cast media glare on Holley

The national media doesn’t often pay much attention to an Orleans County community, but for weeks leading up to the annual “Squirrel Slam” in February, news organizations from throughout the world were talking about a fund-raiser at Holley.

The Holley Fire Department for six years held a competition where contestants paid an entry fee and then went hunting for squirrels. Hunters as young as 12 could win prizes for biggest squirrels shot.

Animal rights activists protested and urged Holley to cancel the event. The Village Board and Fire Department let it continue and participation surged from the usual 250 to about 700. Outside police were brought in to help manage the protest.

10. Point Breeze wins ‘ultimate’ fishing title

Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard gives Narby’s Superette and Tackle owner Sharon Narburgh a hug on June 26. The Point Breeze community received a trophy and check for $25,000 after winning the “Ultimate Fishing Town” competition.

Orleans County has new bait to lure visitors for the county’s top tourism draw, its fishing industry. Point Breeze was named the “Ultimate Fishing Town” in 2013 by the World Fishing Network, topping 700 other fishing communities in the U.S. and Canada for the crown.

Thousands of votes were cast on-line in support of Point Breeze and the Oak Orchard River. It appeared during the competition that Cape Hatteras in North Carolina would win, but voting irregularities for that community led to WFN giving the top award to Point Breeze.

The title has been proclaimed on banners and will be used to market the area to more anglers.

“This can help us to stand out,” said Sharon Narburgh, owner of Narby’s Superette and Tackle.

There were other big stories in the county this year, including Holley Central School’s completion of extensive renovations to the junior-senior high school and elementary school. The district also built a new transportation facility, all-weather track and football stadium

Many of the downtown Albion building owners also painted and did other improvements to their buildings in the most extensive renovation spree in recent memory.

2013: Best submitted photos from the readers of Orleans Hub

Orleans Hub readers submitted many photos to our web site this year, including some on-the-scene news photos and other more artistic features.

These photos helped us tell the story of Orleans County. We’re grateful for the submissions and welcome more at

Here are some of our favorites:

On July 2, Jeremy Rothmund robbed the Bank of America in Albion and hopped in a getaway car driven by his girlfriend, Elyse Hoffer, both of Rochester. The two were spotted leaving Albion in a blue Ford Focus and headed east on Route 31 towards Holley.

Police stopped them in Holley at Woodside Court, an apartment complex off Route 31 on the west side of the village. Jeff Schuner lives at Woodside Court and he took this photo of Rothmund being taken into custody.

Peggy Bropst took this photo from a hot-air balloon on June 30. The shadow of the balloon appears in a cornfield. The ride was a belated Father’s Day gift for her father, Chet Wheelock, an 82-year-old farmer from Kent.

Four generations of Wheelocks rode in the balloon, including Wheelock’s grandson Jeremy Mikels and great-grandson Mason Mikels. “You don’t feel any wind up there,” Wheelock said. “You’re traveling with the wind. It’s as still as can be.”

The sun cast an array of colors while setting Aug. 23 at Lake Ontario. Jerome Pawlak of Albion was at Point Breeze and took this photo of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse. I’ve seen a lot of photos of the lighthouse since it was erected in 2010, and I think this is the best one.

Thom Jennings, an event promoter from Albion, took this photo of his son Trevor Jennings, center, playing the drums with Rusted Root after the Pittsburgh band played an encore on Aug. 25 in North Tonawanda.

Before the band would return to stage, they made Trevor, 19, come out and perform with them before 10,000 people. Trevor was backstage with his father Thom. After the song Trevor was invited to take a final bow with the group.

After playing local gigs for nearly a decade, Above the Fog performed for a final time Aug. 22 outside the Hoag Library in Albion. Michael Whiting of Whiting’s Village Studio took this picture of Dylan DeSmit, left, and Taylor Whittier giving an enthusiastic performance during the final concert. The musicians still expect to make an impact on the local music scene.

Chris Busch was out enjoying a gorgeous sunny day on July 23, and talked his way to the rooftop at the R.H. Newell Shirt Factory building at 115 West Center St. He took this photo looking toward the First Baptist Church at 203 West Center. You can also see the Post Office in the front right and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the back right.

Michael Karcz, a frequent contributor to the Hub, took this picture of the fireworks on July 26 at the Orleans County 4-H Fair. This photo actually represents several different images.

“The firework shots were taken individually, and the shot of the fair was taken after the fireworks,” Karcz said. “I needed a higher vantage point, and the only place I could think of was on top of my van, so I climbed up and shot away. That’s the fun of photography.”

It was big news in the apple world on Aug. 1 when Cornell University and New York apple growers announced the names and logos for two new apple varieties.  Orleans Hub wanted to be there for the announcement in Geneva, but couldn’t get away for the several-hour commitment. Ingrid LaMont, wife of apple grower Roger LaMont, was there and sent us a photo from her smart phone. We were one of the first news sites to announce the new names and show their logos.

In recent years, Holley dentist Dan Schiavone has traveled to rural Peru in the Amazon, spending a week providing dental care. His daughter Kaci, a biochemistry student at the University of Rochester, joined him in March for the trip.

Schiavone took this photo of his daughter checking a girl’s teeth and dental health during an exam in Peru. “They are gracious and happy people,” Schiavone said. “They appreciate everything you do.”

Heather Beach Smith of Medina took this picture of the Erie Canal lift bridge on Route 63 in Medina after the ice storm on Dec. 22.

2013: Portraits and Personalities


The Orleans Hub has published more than 3,000 photos since we went live on April 2.

These are some of my favorites of portraits and personalities that show local folks in our surroundings. The top picture shows Maria Ball, 6, of Medina having fun with sparklers before the fireworks show in Lyndonville on July 4.


Baillie Oberther, 16, of Medina is crowned queen of Dyngus Day on April 1 during a celebration at Sacred Heart Club in Medina. Bonnie Boyd, last year’s queen, passes on the crown. About 200 people celebrated Dyngus Day in Medina. This photo was published on April 2, Orleans Hub’s first official day. It remains one of our favorite photos.


A group of Civil War re-enactors, which marched down Main Street in Medina during a parade on April 27, pause for a ceremony in front of the Bent’s Opera House. That building opened during the Civil War. Medina hosted a Civil War encampment for the first time in April.


Ken Nice, co-owner of Nice Farms in Knowlesville, walks through a fruit orchard along Knowlesville Road on April 30. He is checking how the bees are pollinating the fruit crop. The pink blossoms will bear white nectarines while the white blossoms will be plums. Nice said the blossoming trees are a visual and olfactory feast. “It’s like a perfume factory,” he said.


Bradley Martin and a team of six draft horses harrow a field on Knowlesville Road on April 30. Martin works for a Mennonite-owned dairy farm, part of a growing cluster for Amish- and Mennonite-owned businesses in the Ridgeway and Yates communities. Martin also walked the field, removing big rocks by hand.


George Borrelli is pictured in June, working in his Carlton shop to make metal rings that will be put in hitching posts as part of a project in Albion. Borrelli, a blacksmith, heated the steel to 1,600 degrees so he could bend it into a circle to be used as a ring.


Nick Wright, 11, of Holley is all smiles after plunging face first into a raspberry pie during a pie-eating contest on July 26 at the Orleans County 4-H Fair. The contest is a glorious messy affair.


Alex Graff, a Medina native who now lives in Rochester, may be covered in grease, but he is having a great time during the grease pole championships on July 27 to cap off the Orleans County 4-H Fair.

Steven Papponetti is trying to climb of Graff’s shoulders. Graff and Papponetti are members of the Rough N Ready team. They weren’t able to reach the top of the pole on Saturday. They won on a different day to advance to the finals.


Riley Schillaci of Rochester swallows a flame during the Steampunk Festival on Aug. 31 at the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina. The event featured several outrageous stunts.


Nelda Callard paints the trim above the side door of a house she and her husband David Callard are working to restore on Temperance Street in Albion. She is pictured in early September. Her husband is chairman of the Orleans County Legislature. The couple worked more than a year fixing up the house on Temperance. The house dates back to the 1840s. It was badly rundown.


Jonathan Judd, 9, of Albion gets his hook ready when Albion Scouts kicked off a new year on Sept. 27 by going fishing. Jonathan was popular among the Scouts because he brought along some extra worms. The group went fishing in an old quarry on Keitel Road. The Albion Sportsmen’s Association owns the old sandstone site.


Young Enterprises employee Shane Swann is on top of the Pratt building at 118 North Main St., coating the roof on Sept. 19. It’s not everyday you get to look down on the lift bridge in Albion.


Ashley Webb, a drum major for Le Roy, leads the band in its performance of “Ashes to Ashes” at Vets Park on Sept. 21 in Medina. Marching bands performed for three hours at Vets Park before judges stopped the Fall Festival of Bands due to the major downpour.


A lone onlooker, a former Orleans Pallet employee, walks the railroad tracks in Albion on the night of Oct. 17 when firefighters were packing up and heading home after six hours of intense firefighting. A huge blaze feasted on Orleans Pallet’s three-story stone warehouse. Most of the building was knocked down by a demolition crew in the following days.


An anguished Fantine (Kaylee Jakubowski) sings, ‘I Dreamed A Dream,’ after she is forced into prostitution. She was among the stars in the Lake Plains Community Players’ production of ‘Les Miserables.’ The famous show became available for the first time this year to adult community theater groups. Lake Plains performed the show in late October.


Nick Condoluci may have the scariest setup for Halloween in Orleans County, a backyard with hanging skeletons, a grave yard, a guillotine and a “Booger Booth,” just to name a few. He is pictured on Oct. 29 by his porch. Condoluci makes most of the props himself, spending much of the winter cutting out and designing tombstones, signs and other scary features, including an electric chair with a buzzer on the seat.


Ann Batt of Albion dressed up as Harry Potter for Halloween. She joined other senior citizens in costume during their exercise class at the Albion Academy. The senior citizens have made it an annual Halloween tradition to dress up during their exercise class led by Leslie Allen.


The village of Lyndonville celebrated a holiday event on Dec. 7 that included a visit by Santa Claus. The jolly ole’ elf met with youngsters at the Village Hall. Grayson Voltz of Lockport didn’t take a liking to Santa, who is looking for some relief from Grayson’s mother, Jessica Voltz, a Lyndonville native.


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