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Local contractor will be roasted in benefit for children’s foundation

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 October 2016 at 3:43 pm
Jim Babcock

Jim Babcock

ALBION – Jim Babcock said he has thick skin and can handle the jokes coming Saturday, at his expense.

“They definitely have a lot to talk about with me,” Babcock said. “I think it will be a good time for everyone else, I don’t know about me.”

Babcock will be “roasted” during a benefit at Tillman’s Village Inn. Proceeds for the roast go to the The Salmon Children’s Foundation, which has directed nearly $15,000 to a scholarship for Albion students in memory of Nicholas Kovaleski.

The Foundation also supports other causes, including The Open Door Mission in Rochester, Camp Good Days, Holy Childhood in Rochester and other children fighting illnesses.

Jim Salmon of Barre is host of the roast, as well as a home repair clinic on WHAM 1180. Salmon works as a home inspector.

He started the roast last year with Doug Bower, an Albion plumber and guest on the Home Repair Clinic, the first target of an evening of jokes.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Doug Bower lets out a big laugh last Oct. 24 when he was roasted by Jim Salmon during a benefit at Tillman’s Village Inn. Bower, a plumber in Albion, is co-host of the WHAM Home Repair Clinic with Salmon. Saturday the roast will feature local contractor, Jim Babcock.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Doug Bower lets out a big laugh last Oct. 24 when he was roasted by Jim Salmon during a benefit at Tillman’s Village Inn. Bower, a plumber in Albion, is co-host of the WHAM Home Repair Clinic with Salmon. Saturday the roast will feature local contractor, Jim Babcock.

Babcock has worked as a local contractor for nearly 40 years. He has owned his own business, Jim Babcock Construction, since 1996.

He has appeared in variety shows at the Cabaret at Studio B run by Amy Sidari, and helped with the annual Hometown Christmas show to benefit the scholarship fund in memory of Nicholas Kovaleski.

Salmon said roasting Bower last October drew a capacity crowd to the Village Inn and proved a fun evening of entertainment. He said several people eagerly offered to help roast Babcock.

The public has already purchased 90 tickets for the Babcock roast and more are spots are available by calling the Village Inn at (585) 589-9151.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Salmon said. “Everyone agreed there is enough good material on Jimmy.”

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Cabaret will diversify acts in fourth year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 April 2016 at 12:00 am

Contributed photos – Bruce Wojick and Jamie Holka will play an acoustic guitar concert on April 16 at the Cabaret at Studio B, 28 West Bank St. in Albion.

ALBION – In 2013, Amy Sidari had a dream of using space in her dance studio on West Bank Street for a performance venue.

She added professional lighting, sound equipment, tables and chairs for 84 people. She also started booking acts – local and regional musicians, comedians and other entertainers. The venue has proved popular with the performers and also the local community who welcome the chance to experience live entertainment in a cozy setting.

The Cabaret at Studio B is back for a fourth season. Sidari said many favorites will return including Marcy Downey, Josie Waverly and Phyl Contestable, a comedian better known as “Reverend Mother.”

Ace Caldwell works this morning on the new cappuccino bar for the Cabaret at Studio B in Albion.

File photo by Tom Rivers – 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, 2014. More variety shows featuring local talent are planned for this year.

Sidari also is working with concert promoter Thom Jennings of Albion to bring in some new acts. Jennings has arranged for Bruce Wojick and Jamie Holka to perform at the Cabaret on April 16 at 7 p.m. Jennings lined up many of the performers for the Beegarten, the former Boiler 54, in Medina last year.

Wojick and Holka are full-time musicians doing 250 gigs a year. The April 16 concert will be their first in Orleans County.

Sidari said the venue will see other changes this year, including a new cappuccino bar. Her father, Ace Caldwell, has been busy working wth contractors to get that new setup ready.

Sidari said she is pleased to shine a light on so many talented people in the area. She includes other local talent in variety shows, which will be back again this year.

She expects to have 25 to 30 different shows this year. After Wojick and Holka on April 16, the Albion Jazz Band will perform twice on April 23 at 6 and 8 p.m.

For more information on tickets and prices for the shows, call 585-354-2320 or click here.

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.

2014: Portraits and Personalities

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 December 2014 at 12:00 am

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.

Quick Questions with Amy Sidari

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Dance Studio owner has embraced arts and music

Photos by Tom Rivers – Amy Sidari has given her dance studio a dual purpose as the cabaret with live entertainment and desserts.

ALBION – Life-long Albion resident Amy Sidari opened her own dance studio in 1997 at the corner of West Bank and Liberty streets. She and her dance instructors work with hundreds of children (and some adults) each year.

Sidari, 46, expanded the scope of Gotta Dance last July, opening the Cabaret at Studio B. More than 20 different acts have been in Studio B in the past 12 months and Sidari will debut a variety show this Saturday. (The site at 28 West Bank St. has professional sound and lighting.)

Sidari will be one of the performers, along with high school music teacher Gary Simboli and Gloria Lear, one of Sidari’s dance instructors. Marcy Downey will join the variety show in the beginning and other community members will perform with the group in later dates.

Marcy Downey, left, and Amy Sidari pose in front of the curtains at the Cabaret at Studio B in this photo from a year ago, when Downey was the debut act in the Cabaret. They will be part of a new variety show starting this Saturday at the Cabaret.

The Cabaret Variety Show will be a throwback to the variety shows of the Dean Martin and Lucille Ball era. Sidari wants to bring humor and showcase local performers in the new show.

She talked with Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers on Thursday about the latest venture and career with Gotta Dance.

Q: I remember when you started here. It was the former DA’s office.

A: We just had the one room. There wasn’t even a waiting room. Blessings to my dad (Ace Caldwell) for all of his craftsmanship. I tell him I’m the creator and you’re the builder so let’s do it, and we do it.

Q: Why is this fun for you, working with all of these kids and some adults?

A: I think it is what God wants me to do. I just think my gift is loving people. I love them through any way that I can and music seems to be the easiest way to love people.

Q: It seems like there are a lot of dance options with several studios. I wonder why it’s so popular because when I was a kid I don’t think we had any dance places.

A: It was a different time when we were kids. I think it’s because we have good teachers. No matter where you are dancing kids are being more inspired to take on the performing arts.

I think our school programs with the dynamic music and drama inspires the children as well. When they come to me they already understand music. There is sense that this is a passion for them. I think it’s a credit to all of the studios. Everybody is doing a good job.

Some of the Gotta Dance students perfomed on Main Street during the Strawberry Festival Parade on June 14.

Q: What is the benefit for a kid to do this?

A: There are a lot of benefits. When they’re in that awkward age, their puberty time, it doesn’t appear when you’re a dancer. There is a sense of grace, centering, elegance that comes through.

I would say that mathematically, the right side of the brain, it’s been proven it’s a little more engaged. There is memorization, patterns, muscle memory. There is a fluency and things become more natural to put yourself and your mind into the sequence.

These kids are sharp. When they’re coming in they’re not just doing dance. They have other clubs and other activities. They might come in and go through four different dances flawlessly. Their minds are working.

You know what if they’re here with me they’re safe. They’re not doing things that aren’t good for their body or good for them. The environment is only a positive, acceptable environment. They learn a lot of respect for each other and how to work through relationships here that maybe are uncomfortable because we all have to work together.

Q: I know you have the dance studio, but you also started the Nicholas Kovaleski Hometown Christmas.

A: That’s been four years. That was really God.

Q: You’ve added more besides the dance studio. You added the Hometown Christmas and then the Cabaret last year. The Cabaret seems to be working, don’t you think so?

A: There is a need. When I see people walk through my door for the first time, and the puzzled look on their face, and then they walk through this door. You watch their face and there is a sense, ‘Wow, this is Albion?’ You watch them leave and they have tears in their eyes because they are so happy they came. It’s a good, good feeling.

Q: You took a leap trying the Cabaret?

A: I wanted something more in my life. It was very peaceful once I decided to do it.

Seamus Kenney, a 1993 Albion graduate, returned home for the Christmas holiday and also put on a concert in December at the Cabaret. Kenney, a professional musician, lives in Durham, North Carolina. For a decade he traveled and performed with the band SNMNMNM.

Q: Can you talk about the new variety show?

A: Gary (Simboli) will open with an original jingle that he did lyrics and orchestration for. Gloria (Lear) is kind of like the Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show to me. She is there to help my transitions run smoothly. Gloria is really funny. The three of us with Gary included have a really good chemistry. We’ll do a little comedy, the three of us, with what’s going on in real life.

We have skits involving the community. I’ve got a hilarious skit that Gary can hardly play the music through because he gets too hysterical. That’s with Jill Albertson, Mary Dunham, Sandra Monacelli McNall, Danny Monacelli, June Schuck and David Sidari.

Later on in the evening Jim Babcock comes out, but you won’t recognize him. He closes my show.

We have a special guest appearance with Marcy Downey, and it’s something that’s on her bucket list. She’s always wanted to do a dance with me, and I’ve always wanted to sing with her. We’re doing a little trade-off and it’s pretty funny.

We’ll have comedy skits with Kyle and Gina (Sidari’s children). I told Mr. Simboli don’t be shy this time and hide behind the piano when you sing your solo. It’s center stage, spotlight on Gary and I want to hear something deep from your soul.

The Reverend Mother kept a crowd in stitches last August at the Cabaret at Studio B. Phyl Contestable is the comedian. She passed out buttons that said, “JESUS LOVES YOU, but I’m his favorite.”

There will be audience participation. If you’re in the audience you don’t know what your job may be. You may be on that stage helping me do something pretty funny. It will be good and I’ll try to feel them out ahead of time so I don’t traumatize them.

We’re going to go back to old-fashioned live commercials and Brown’s Berry Patch is my first business. We’re going to interview each business that presents with us and to see what’s new in their business.

We have a ventriloquist act, a special visitor or a character from the Laugh-In Show. We’ll share some family secrets and take questions from the audience.

A: All in 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Q: It will be a brisk pace, but with enough time to laugh until you can’t control yourself. I want my audience, my community actively engaged in it. I want them to send me videos of their talents. I want to pull in people with different acts and varieties.

My future plan is I would like this to go all year. I feel more than anything it’s time to have a joy in laughter.

(Reservations are required and may be obtained by calling Ticket Team 585-354-2320.)

Day of the Dead celebration returns ‘live’ to Medina on Oct. 23

Photos by T.C. Owens: Leonel Rosario adjusts the decorations on a mono de calenda (street puppet) at the 2019 Day of the Dead celebration in Medina.

Posted 14 October 2021 at 8:45 am

Press Release, Geneses-Orleans Regional Arts Council

Antonio Cruz Zavaleta creates a Oaxacan sand painting at the 2019 Day of the Dead Celebration in Medina.

MEDINA – The fourth annual Mexican Día de los Muertos celebration will return in “live” format this year in Medina on Saturday, October 23 at the Orleans County YMCA, 306 Pearl St.

Come learn about and enjoy this holiday that remembers ancestors, with free activities from 3 to 7 pm. The festivities will include Mexican crafts, face painting, dance and drama performance, sand painting and ofrenda displays, special food tastings, and food trucks.

All activities will continue throughout the day at this family-friendly event. Attendees will need to wear face masks. A full schedule can be found at www.MedinaDoD.com.

The Mexican Day of the Dead Celebration is a time of joyful remembrance of deceased loved ones, filled with an array of colors, scents, sounds and stories. Centered around the Christian observance of All Saints and All Souls Days on November 1 and 2, the celebration also includes images and ideas about the roles of ancestors in our lives, that trace back to Mexico’s indigenous peoples. Tradition holds that this is the one time of the year when souls can return to earth for a day and commune with their families and friends.

“We’re excited to have an in-person event this year, with the continuing support of local Medina businesses and community members,” said Karen Canning, director of GLOW Traditions at GO ART!

Mexican celebrations of the holiday often include animated skeletons and colorfully decorated skulls (calaveras), emphasizing life’s continuing vibrancy in the midst of mortality.

Downtown business owners are offering these arts workshops at the YMCA in sugar skulls, paper flowers and banners, and paper masks, and include The Author’s Note Bookstore, Della’s Chocolates, The Downtown Browsery, Pathstone Corporation, and Rosenkrans Pharmacy.

Canalside Tattoos will offer temporary tattoos, and Case-Nic Cookies will have Day of the Dead themed treats for sale. GO ART! and Mariachi de Oro staff will offer above-the-mask face painting, while Celebrity Day Spa is selling a more elaborate version before the event at their store location. Mariachi de Oro will provide samples of Mexican hot chocolate and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), a typical food of the holiday, and Dubby’s Wood Fired Pizza Food Truck will offer more substantial fare for sale outside the YMCA.

Lola Alvarado, center, and Gladys Rosario, right, show their Dia de Muertos face paint at the 2019 Day of the Dead celebration.

Beautiful altars (ofrendas) in homes welcome the returning souls and feature candles, wild marigolds, incense, photographs, mementos and loved ones’ favorite foods like fruit, tortillas, tamales, chocolate, and bread. Members of the Rosario family will again create a large ofrenda at the YMCA in the style of their hometown in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta will also create a sand painting in front of the ofrenda, another decorative art found in Oaxaca for the holiday—check the schedule for presentations of these artistic traditions. Attendees can contribute to a community ofrenda, where they can place a candle (electric, provided) and add their own remembrances of loved ones.

New this year are Mexican dance, music and dramatic performances by Alma de México, a group from Rochester led by Karla Alcalá. A former member of a folkloric dance group in Mexico, Karla now teaches community members traditional dance from a variety of regions.

The group will present a new dramatic piece featuring “La Catrina,” a figure originally drawn by Mexican illustrator, Jose Guadalupe Posada, that has become associated with the holiday. Live music will also be provided by La Marimba, a marimba band from Buffalo, led by Tiffany Nicely. The large monos de calenda (street puppets), created by artist, Antonio Cruz Zavaleta, will also return to dance and wander among attendees. Everyone’s invited to join in, and feel free to come in Day of the Dead themed outfits.

The event is co-sponsored by GLOW Traditions at GO ART!, Mariachi de Oro Restaurant, and the YMCA, with partial funding from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Photo by Christine Zinni: Sue Fuller of Della’s Chocolates offers a paper flower-making activity at the 2018 Day of the Dead Celebration in Medina.

Historic Childs: Five Corners, Part 1

Posted 19 September 2021 at 8:14 am

1913 New Century Atlas

By Doug Farley, Cobblestone Museum Director – Vol. 2 No. 37

Special thanks to local historian, Delia Robinson for her research and writing about the history of Five Corners, with input from Watt Farm Country Market, still operating at Five Corners.

Just south of the Hamlet of Childs, The Hamlet of Five Corners derives its name from the intersection of three roads: Route 98, Route 279 and Bacon Road.

Route 98 is the original Second Meridian Survey Line of the Holland Land Company. Route 279 essentially follows the original route of the Oak Orchard Road leading from Batavia to Lake Ontario. Bacon Road, running east and west, was named for the family who most influenced the history of that intersection.

Three brothers, all in their early 20’s came from Burlington, Connecticut to the new frontier of the Holland Land Purchase in the early 1800s. They were the sons of Moses and Rosanna (Rust) Bacon.  Moses, the first to come, selected 200 acres and worked for the Holland Land Company to help open the Oak Orchard Road. His earnings were applied towards paying for his land. That road today follows Route 98 from Batavia north and continues on Route 279 to Lake Ontario.

In December 1813, the War of 1812 touched the settlers in the area. Moses Bacon was called out with the militia to defend the frontier at Molyneaux Corners Tavern in the Town of Cambria. A historical recounting of the battle follows:

“Many of those who fled the Lewiston area reached the Town of Gaines, roughly thirty miles west of the (Forsyth) tavern, on the same day. Residents of the Town of Gaines recount that the villagers from Lewiston passed through their homes with warnings of an invading army killing and burning everything along the Ridge Road. The residents at Gaines decided not to flee but to muster a militia. It is said that all of the males over 18 living along the Ridge Road were gathered and under the direction of Captain McCarthy they proceeded single file west on the road by early daylight on Friday, December 20, 1813.

“They paused at the home and tavern of the widow Forsyth just before nightfall where the soldiers argued about whether to make camp or continue to the arms stockpile further up the Ridge Road. They came upon the tavern of William Molyneaux (originally that of David Klink) where some British soldiers and their Native allies had burned the barn and taken residence in the log tavern. In the dark, the militia stormed the tavern. Two British soldiers and one Native American were killed in the skirmish and the remainder were taken as prisoners. The militia later turned their prisoners over to the American army as it advanced from the south to scout the charred remains of the settlement at Lewiston. Twenty-one farms were destroyed on the Ridge Road between Lewiston and the Forsyth Tavern. The British continued to dispatch raids of approximately 15 men each throughout the Niagara Frontier to pillage and burn farms. Meanwhile an army of over 1,000 burned the village of Buffalo.”

Moses Bacon served again in September 1814 at the Battle of Fort Erie. During that battle he was shot in the neck and taken prisoner by the British and transported to Halifax, Canada. According to family records, Moses Bacon, while captive, carved a figure out of horse bone, after eating the meat from the bone for survival. He was released at the end of the war in 1815 and returned to his home where he lived out his life.

Moses built the brick house, still extant, at The Corners in 1835, which suffered a destructive fire in more recent years.  Moses drew a pension from the government for his service and injuries during the War of 1812.

Moses’ brothers, Elias and Hosea, followed him to Five Corners between 1819 and 1823. Moses sold part of his land to each brother. In those first years, the brothers built a sawmill where they produced timber from the trees felled to clear the land. Elias built a log cabin and barn by the side of the spring just north of the corner. He brought his wife, Sarah, from Connecticut to live in the wilderness. The barn was constructed of logs with a thatched roof in which he kept a cow and a horse. After clearing his land and planting crops, Elias was financially able to build his cobblestone home, still present at Five Corners.

Bacon Home, “Graystone,” Brown Road

Hosea was the youngest brother and first visited the Holland Purchase when he was 19 years old. For four years after he spent summers here with his brothers cutting and sawing timber at the mill and clearing land for planting. He worked at the saw mill until 1828 when he received the deed to his property, located east of Five Corners, on Brown Road. He built a frame house there, which was later replaced with a cobblestone home (shown above) and the farm acquired the name Graystone. It’s quite possible that the wrought iron frieze window works came from the Bacon foundry, about one mile away.  Today this beautiful cobblestone home is owned by Susan and Peter Heard.

Education at Five Corners in the early years was conducted in a variety of buildings. Around 1820, school was held just south of The Corners in a log barn that “leaked when it rained.” The next summer, school was held in a log house northwest of The Corners, which was the first house built south of the Ridge Road. The next summer, school was held in a corn crib just south of Five Corners, and from there it went to a horse barn just north of the corner.

By 1824, Moses and Sarah Bacon decided to help in the schooling of the children and deeded a piece of land to be used to build a schoolhouse. A cobblestone schoolhouse was built and serves today as a private residence (shown above) on Route 279, just north of the intersection.

In 1834 Moses Bacon deeded another parcel of land to create a burying ground, which will be the subject of Part 2 of this article. In addition to his community service of providing a cemetery, Moses Bacon was a trustee of the Congregational Church in Gaines in 1824 and contributed financially to the establishment of Phipps Union Seminary on Courthouse Square in Albion. He died in 1848 and was buried in the Union Cemetery that his philanthropy made possible.

Descendants of the Bacon brothers carried on business at Five Corners into the 20th century. Elias Scott Bacon lived in a brick house on the point of the triangle. Elias also built a foundry and manufactured farm implements. His son, Scott E. Bacon, carried on after his father with a foundry and furniture manufacturing business just north of the house. Photo shows structure prior to demolition in 1977.

In the 20th century, nieces of the Bacons inherited the Elias Bacon cobblestone home, where Dr. Ruth (Mary) Neilans, a descendant, now lives.

Earl Harding, Cornell University photo, 1920

Earl Harding, also a descendent, grew up in Five Corners in the Moses Bacon home. He attended the Cobblestone School at Five Corners and the Albion High School. Earl went to Cornell University and graduated in 1920.

Over the next 60 years his accomplishments were many for both Gaines and New York State.  After serving in the armed forces in WWI and graduating from Cornell, Earl married Marguerite (Hazard) and they had one daughter, Joan (Farnsworth.)

Before his death in 1980 he was president of the NYS Horticultural Society, one of the original Directors and President of the National Cherry Institute, first President of Orleans County Farm Bureau, served 20 years on the Advisory Board of Marine Trust Bank,  Chairman of the National Cherry Growers Meeting, Director for six years of the NYS Agricultural Society, appointed by Governor Rockefeller in 1959 to the New York Marketing Order Advisory Board and the Marketing Development Board for Apples. He also served on the Gaines Town Board for 21 years in addition to his service as a Mason, member of the Town Club, Lions Club and Methodist Church.

Earl Harding in his cherry Orchard at Five Corners, 1956

Cobblestone Museum brings back membership dinner and auction

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Larry Albanese and Dick Remley ham it up with a pair of puppets from a Dutch store in Jakarta, Indonesia, which were donated to the Cobblestone Museum’s auction Wednesday night at Carlton Firemen’s Recreation Hall.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 September 2021 at 8:21 am

CARLTON – The Cobblestone Museum brought back its annual dinner and fundraising auction at Carlton Firemen’s Recreation Hall on Wednesday evening. The crowd was smaller than in recent years, due to concerns over the rising cases of Covid, said Cobblestone director Doug Farley.

“However, we are glad to be back in business again,” Farley said. “This is a great kickoff for our Welcome Center, and it’s good to see people out and enjoying themselves. The money raised tonight will go a long way in helping get the Welcome Center going.”

Dick Remley, finance committee chair and head of the committee to raise money for purchase of the c. 1830 home formerly known as Fair Haven Treasures, said the Visitor’s Center will not only be for the Cobblestone Museum, but for all of Orleans County.

“It couldn’t be more centrally located,” Remley said. “In fact, in the 1800s, Childs was the county seat for a day. This house will give us room to show movies to tourists, ample space for parking and indoor bathrooms, all things we don’t have now.”

He explained their goal is to add a meeting room for up to 100 people, where they can have educational programs all year long and provide office space for Orleans County Tourism.

“This will be a one-stop location for information regarding all of Orleans County, including the Medina Railroad Museum to the fishing industry,” Remley said.

Doug Farley, left, director of the Cobblestone Museum at Childs, scans the audience as former sheriff Randy Bower solicits bids on donated items.

Remley is very encouraged at the support the project has already received. So far $400,000 of the $750,000 goal has been raised for the project. Click here for more information.

“We’ve only been fundraising for four weeks and we are already at more than 50 percent of our goal,” he said. “The Cobblestone Museum is the only National Historic Landmark in Orleans County and we are on the road to making sure it continues for a long, long time.”

The evening continued with dinner catered by Zambistro, followed by a live auction with former sheriff Randy Bower as auctioneer. Bower egged the crowd on to secure the highest bids for each item. There was a variety of donated items, and when there was an occasional item with no opening bid, Bower started the bidding himself.

There were bargains to be had, such as 10 one-day park hopper passes to Disney World, valued at $150 each, which the bidder got for $200, and a pen and ink painting by Roger San Miguel, whose paintings are said to bring $4,000 to $6,000, which went to the highest bidder for $200.

Two unusual puppets from a Dutch store in Jakarta, Indonesia, were more than 100 years old and brought laughs when Remley and Larry Albanese started dancing around with them.

A silent auction followed with three dozen unique items and a basket raffle.

This was the Cobblestone Society’s third annual membership fundraising dinner. Next year’s membership dinner will be May 11 at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

Editor’s Note: Museum Director Doug Farley reported the event on Wednesday raised $10,000 for the museum.

Marty Taber, left, holds a painting by the late Roy Bannister as Larry Albanese points to a bidder during the Cobblestone Museum’s live auction Wednesday night.

Some leaves are starting to change color for fall foliage season

Photos by Tom Rivers: Some of the leaves have changed colors along the canalway trail in Holley near the playground.

Posted 15 September 2021 at 8:44 am

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office 

Governor Kathy Hochul has announced the start of the 2021 fall foliage season in New York State. Fall is one of the most popular travel times in New York, attracting visitors from around the world to explore the state’s unique communities and support local businesses.

To help travelers and foliage enthusiasts plan a fall getaway, I LOVE NY started issuing its weekly fall foliage reports last Wednesday and will now include a new enhanced interactive progression map. Click here to see the map.

“Every autumn, New York State’s spectacular foliage and natural beauty beckons travelers to our world-class state parks, majestic overlooks, historic sites and unparalleled attractions,” Governor Hochul said. “New Yorkers have long known about the stunning displays of color showcased all across the state, from Niagara Falls to Montauk Point. Now is the perfect time for residents and visitors alike to plan a fall escape and experience this incredibly colorful season in our great state.”

The foliage report is compiled each week using the on-location field observations from I LOVE NY’s team of volunteer leaf peepers. More than 85 spotters extending across the state’s 11 vacation regions are tasked with keeping track of the color change in their area as leaves progress each week. Reports detail the predominant leaf colors, approximate percentage of change, and how much color change has progressed relative to peak conditions.

This is a closeup of some of the leaves along Holley’s canal path.

New this year, I LOVE NY is introducing an enhanced, interactive map that tracks weekly foliage change and progression across the state throughout the season. The map, located on the I LOVE NY foliage website, showcases great foliage viewing locations in each of the various regions throughout the state. Visitors can also use the map to see what the foliage is like during peak viewing in a given area, and learn about nearby, must-see attractions.

Thanks in part to its size and location, New York State has one of the longest and most colorful foliage seasons in the country. On any weekend from late September through mid-November, part of the state is likely experiencing peak foliage.

Travelers are also invited to share their photos of New York State’s amazing foliage on social media by using the #NYLovesFall hashtag. Photos submitted to this hashtag have a chance of being featured on the I LOVE NY fall foliage website and official I LOVE NY social media accounts reaching nearly two million followers.

Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, “The fall foliage season in New York State is always a magical time of year, and the I LOVE NY weekly foliage report is a great tool for visitors looking to plan a seasonal getaway. Our new interactive fall foliage map highlights a variety of attractions and events, from harvest festivals to Halloween celebrations, craft beverage trails, museums and family fun, helping residents and visitors alike to find what they love while exploring the amazing palette of autumn colors on display across the state.”

Kathy Hochul called ‘definitely a friend of Orleans County’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 August 2021 at 9:03 pm

Governor-to-be makes frequent local stops

Photos by Tom Rivers: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul paddles in a kayak in Medina’s Canal Basin on June 15 to promote a free kayaking program this summer in Medina.

The next governor for New York State is very familiar with Orleans County, and knows many of the local elected officials.

Kathy Hochul will become the state’s 57th governor on Aug. 24 and the first woman to serve as the top’s highest elected official. She will become governor when Andrew Cuomo resigns in 14 days.

Hochul has been a frequent presence in Orleans County, often on official duties for ground-breaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies or to highlight a state initiative.

She also stops by incognito, wearing with a baseball cap, on a getaway with her husband Bill. They have rented a canal boat and stayed in Medina, visiting local restaurants and small businesses.

“She is definitely a friend of Medina and a friend of Orleans County,” said Medina Mayor Mike Sidari. “She will be an advocate for Western New York.”

Kathy Hochul joins in a ground-breaking celebration on July 26 for a new $2 million breakwall along Lakeshore Road in Carlton that is 95 percent funded by the state.

Hochul was in the Town of Carlton on July 26 for the ground-breaking of a $2 million shoreline protection project along Lakeshore Road. The state is paying 95 percent of the cost of building 1,500 feet of breakwall.

It is one of many projects along the south shore funded with $300 million through the state’s Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI).

“As New York’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul has always been in tune with the needs and challenges facing both rural and urban communities,” said Lynne Johnson, Chairperson of the Orleans County Legislature. “Her office is responsive and supports municipalities, large and small, across the region. Lt. Gov Hochul has become valued friend and colleague who has worked tirelessly for Orleans County, supporting REDI projects and other infrastructure, economic development, and tourism initiatives to improve the business environment and residential quality of life in rural communities. I am thrilled she will now be leading this state.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul rows in a kayak in Medina on June 15 to promote a free kayaking program in the Erie Canal. She was joined in kayaks by Brian Stratton, state canal director; Greg Reed, director of the Orleans County YMCA; and Mike Sidari, Medina mayor.

Hochul on June 15 was in Medina to promote a free kayaking program in the Erie Canal. Hochul even paddled in a kayak in the Canal Basin. Medina is one of five canal communities offering free “On the Canals” outdoor excursions this summer as part of the state’s Reimagine the Canals initiative.

Sidari said Hochul is widely respected by elected officials at the local levels throughout the state. They respect that she rose through the ranks, first as a member of the Hamburg Town Board, then as Erie County Clerk, and then as a Democrat in Congress representing a heavily Republican district that included Orleans County. She defeated Jane Corwin to be elected on Congress in a special election in May 2011, but then lost to Chris Collins in a redrawn district that was even more Republican-leaning.

She returned to public office after being elected as lieutenant governor in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018.

While Hochul was often in Orleans County, Cuomo seldom stopped in the county. Cuomo, during nearly 11 years as governor, only made one official stop in Orleans County. That was on Aug. 2, 20212, when there was a blow-out on the Erie Canal in Albion and a sinkhole emerged on Albion-Eagle Harbor Road between Gaines Basin Road and West State Street. Cuomo was in Batavia that day and Assemblyman Steve Hawley convinced him to come to Albion and see the damage first hand.

Here are some other photos of Kathy Hochul in Orleans County:

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Medina Mayor Mike Sidari, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Parade of Lights grand marshal Jackie DeHollander and parade chairman Jim Hancock pose for a quick picture before Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul gave the command to light the giant Christmas tree in Rotary Park on Nov. 30, 2019.

Photos by Tom Rivers: During a celebration of the transformation of former Holley High School, Hochul was among a contingent to mark the conclusion of a $17 million project on Nov. 10, 2020. The building was last used as a school in 1975. After two years of construction, Home Leasing has the building fully occupied with 41 apartments and the Holley village offices. Hochul, front center, cut the ribbon for the project.

Kathy Hochul was in Kendall on May 12, 2017 to thank National Guard members stacking sandbags in Kendall. The Lt. Governor said then the eroding shoreline, which was threatening homes along Lake Ontario, was “cataclysmic.”

One couple from Hamlin told her the lake has been devouring their land, forcing them to cut off their deck after two of their trees toppled into the lake. Hochul said so many other residents are vulnerable from the high waters.

“Our hearts are breaking for them,” she said. “This is their life savings. We cannot solve this problem overnight.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley on May 12, 2017 meet with members of the National Guard filling sandbags at the Kendall Highway Department garage. These Guardsmen are from the 107th Air Force in Niagara Falls. The Guardsmen were filling sandbags in the Kendall Highway Department, while another group stacked them near the shoreline to help fight flooding.

Hochul thanked them for their service to the lakeshore residents. The flooding is devastating to homeowners and businesses along the lake.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul meets with Orleans County Democrats on Oct. 13, 2018 during their fall rally at the Elks Club. About 60 people attended the event. She is shown visiting Jim Renfrew and his wife, Robin Dunnington, who hosted one of the first candidate parties in their Clarendon home for Hochul in 2011. Those grass roots events helped her to get elected, despite a strong Republican advantage in the district.

Kathy Hochul is pictured on the reviewing stand for the Parade of Lights in Medina on Nov. 26, 2016 with Assemblyman Steve Hawley, left, who served as announcer and Medina Mayor Mike Sidari.

Lt. Gov. Hochul on Nov. 26, 2016 also stopped in Medina to promote small businesses. Hochul visited several business owners in Medina, including Bread Basket owner Lissa Stewart-James, during Small Business Saturday. “We want to showcase the small businesses that are the backbone of these communities,” Hochul said in Medina.

She praised Medina for a “vibrant downtown” that creates jobs, a sense of community identity and revenue to maintain historic commercial buildings. The Medina downtown has a “tremendous variety” of retail shops, she said.

“This is out of It’s A Wonderful Life,” Hochul said about downtown Medina.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul stopped by the Legislative Luncheon for the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 22, 2016 at Tillman’s Village Inn. She said New York State was making billions of dollars available for upstate infrastructure and economic development, bringing attention to a part of the state that had been largely neglected by state officials for many years.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is pictured with Jeanne Crane on April 30, 2015 at dinner in Hochul’s honor at Tillman’s Village Inn. Crane was the county’s Democratic Party chairwoman. This was Hochul’s second time back in Orleans after being elected lieutenant governor. Hochul was a long-shot candidate in 2011 when she ran for Congress in a overwhelmingly Republican district. She pulled off the upset win and said Democrats in rural areas such as Orleans County were essential in that victory.

Hochul is a “personable person” with a work ethic, Crane said.

Hochul said she enjoys being away from the state capital and connecting with people outside of Albany. She said she enjoys meeting with people. When she was campaigning, it was often at diners and community events.

“I know what is in their hearts and minds because they told me,” she said then.

Hochul said then she intends to be an advocate for Orleans and she won’t be a stranger.

“I will always treasure our friendships,” Hochul told the group of Democrats.

Hochul sees a home-grown success story at CRFS on Feb. 18, 2015, her first time back in Orleans after being elected lieutenant governor. She is shown speaking with Sean Snook, CRFS’s chief operating officer. CRFS works to recover past-due interest, unpaid principal, unpaid taxes and unpaid insurance on houses.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Feb. 18, 2015 met with the County Legislature and other local officials to discuss the governor’s “Opportunity Agenda,” which included state resources to rural communities. She touted the $500 million plan to expand broadband Internet access throughout the state during a stop in Albion at Hoag Library. Hochul also shared details for boosting the economy, fighting poverty, enacting educational reforms, mitigating property tax increases and adopting new ethics reforms in Albany.

Travel Thoughts by Kim

By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 10 July 2021 at 3:00 pm

Whatever cabin category you choose on your cruise ship, you’ll find your room comfortable and inviting. This cabin has a private balcony, which can be very enjoyable when having a quiet breakfast or to watch the sunrise / sunset.

Let’s go on an adventure together….Cruising!

I love cruises and have tried to do one a year in recent years. Cruises are a typically a really good deal when figuring the cost of a vacation. The price of the cruise includes your lodging, travel between multiple destinations, all your meals, and a wide variety of entertainment and activities. And, you can usually find some really awesome deals where they offer free perks or discounts. Once you consider all these things, the price of a cruise can be a bargain over paying separately for hotels, meals, entertainment, activities, and doing it all in multiple destinations. You just need to do your research.

My first cruise was when I was 19 or 20. My aunt and I took a Carnival cruise that included ports in Cozumel Mexico, Georgetown Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios Jamaica. I was in my 30s before I took another cruise – a three day Carnival cruise to Nassau in the Bahamas that was combined with four days at Disney. Then, in 2010, my Mom and I went on another Carnival cruise – this time for five days to Key West and Nassau. I started my annual cruises in 2015 when a friend and I took a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Boston to Portland and Bar Harbor in Maine and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in Canada. In 2016 I took a Holland America cruise to Alaska with a friend. I then took the Coastal California cruise on Princess in 2017 with four ports along the California coast and Ensenada Mexico. Royal Caribbean took me to Bermuda in 2018. I did the epic Transatlantic Cruise on Celebrity in 2019 that took me across the Atlantic to the Azores off Portugal, two ports in Ireland, and Liverpool, England. My last cruise was in 2020 just before all the Covid stuff began – I took a Hawaiian Island cruise on Norwegian. I do have a cruise booked for next year – it was originally planned for earlier this year, but we all know why it got pushed out – I’m going on Royal Caribbean and it is actually almost the same cruise as my very first one. This time I’m cruising out of Galveston, TX and going to Cozumel, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth Jamaica. 

The entertainment on a cruise is world class. From Broadway or Las Vegas type shows, like this one on Norwegian’s Hawaiian Island cruise, to comedians, to magicians, to lounge style or dance music – there is something for everyone to enjoy throughout the day and well into the night.

Once I complete the one booked in 2022, I will have been on TEN cruises and used SIX different cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, and Norwegian. Do I have some tips to share? Duh…..sure do! So, here goes:

First – do your research! At minimum, you can find some awesome deals, if you look for them. But, also, each cruise line is different. Sure, they all offer the same basic concept and services/amenities. But, they range in pricing, level of luxury, and some offer different destinations above the typical ports of call. You get what you pay for and it really depends on what is important to you when choosing. My personal favorite: Royal Caribbean and Celebrity – both from the same family of cruise lines.

When coming back to the cabin after a day of activities on or off ship, it always puts a smile on my face to find my bed turned down, a chocolate on my pillow, the next day’s activity listing, and a fun towel animal waiting to greet me. The room stewards are eager to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

Remember that not EVERYTHING is included in the base price. Your cabin, tons of entertainment and activities, all the food you can possibly eat, and basic beverages are all included. So, yes, you can absolutely make yourself very happy and have a great time without any of the extras and the expenses that go with them. Extras include alcoholic beverages, shore excursions, spa treatments, on-board shopping, internet access, and on-board specialty restaurants. Look for possible “free perks” – some cruises may offer free packages and on-board spending credits that could cover or help with these. If the cruise you choose doesn’t offer free perks, some of the extras may be worth the cost to you to enhance your experience. And, of course, all these things are optional, so it’s all up to what you want out of your cruise and what your budget is. However…..one of the expenses that are not included but are also not usually an option are gratuities – you don’t “tip as you go”, but you are expected to pay a lump sum gratuity that will be divided among the service providers – most of the time you pay this upfront at booking and the crew that are rewarded work hard to make your trip enjoyable, so they deserve it.

If you leave a cruise hungry, it’s your own fault! The food is amazing – whatever you want, whenever you want it, and as much as you want! Don’t like what you ordered? No problem, they’ll just bring you something else! Want more? No problem, just ask! I especially enjoy lobster night and always ask for seconds…..because I can!

A few other things to consider: 1) Cabin category – inside (no windows), ocean view (a small portal or window), balcony, or suite. The cost goes up for each category. I recommend, if your budget allows, to seriously consider a balcony cabin. 2) Check out the shore excursions at each port ahead of time – there are lots of them that offer a wide variety of things to do and prices – choose what fits your interests and budget. Of course, you can go “on your own” when in port, but there are risks and sometimes unexpected expenses to consider. 3) For dinner: there are LOTS of food options all day, every day. But when it comes to dinner, you have a few decisions – buffet or main dining room – in the main dining room, do you want a set time every day or the flexibility to go when you want – and then there are the specialty restaurants that come with an extra charge. I like to mix it up and try them all. I like to choose “my time” dining so I can have some flexibility depending on what else is going on. I also ask for a “share table” so I can meet and eat with different people every night. And…..give those specialty restaurants a chance. Some cruises offer one or two free specialty restaurant perks. But, if not, they are really worth the extra cost at least once during your cruise – they are amazing! But, plan ahead cause they fill up fast. 4) And, lastly, every night you’ll get a booklet of the next day’s activity list – don’t just toss it aside! Look it over and highlight anything that interests you so you don’t miss anything – there’s so much to do, but also don’t forget to take time to just lay out on the deck or pool-side and relax…..a lot – after all, you’re on vacation!

There are several posts on my blog of the various cruises I’ve been on – way too many to link here. So, just go to my blog at https://thoughtsbykim.com and type in “Cruis” – without the “e” to include different terms I used for cruise adventures – in the “Search here” box and it will bring them all up for you to spend some time reading through or pick ones that pique your interest. Or, you can type in a more specific key word to narrow the search.    

Happy Adventuring!

14 youths in Orleans County recognized for outstanding service to community, families

Posted 17 May 2021 at 12:01 pm

Press Release, Orleans County Youth Bureau

The Orleans County Youth Board typically holds a Youth Recognition Banquet annually to recognize those youth who continuously go above and beyond for our community.

The Youth Recognition Awards are presented to youth who are positive role models, have performed outstanding service for their community, and/or have assumed extraordinary roles within their families.

Even though we are unable to hold the banquet due to the pandemic, the Youth Board wanted to share and celebrate these individuals.  We would like to recognize the 14 youths who would have had a night to celebrate their contributions with their nominators, family and friends by sharing a brief bio about each of them and why they were selected by the board to receive the awards in 2021.

They are all in receipt of their awards at this time, which include commendations from the Orleans County Legislature, U.S. Congressman Chris Jacobs, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and Senator Robert Ortt.  They also received a yard sign in their honor, a t-shirt, a gift card, and a certificate from the Youth Board.

This year’s recipients of the Youth Recognition Awards are as follows:

James Michael Beach

James Michael Beach, 16, of Albion High School is an extraordinary young man who exemplifies the characteristics of this award. He is passionate about giving of himself and sharing his talents with others. James completed his service learning requirements for school and then just kept seeking ways to give back to the community. To date, James has logged over 90 hours of community service in a variety of ways. He has been involved in grounds and maintenance projects, serving and cleanup for the Barre Center Presbyterian Church’s Chicken BBQs, and providing special music for church services.

Following a youth group Christmas caroling activity at Clover Hill, James took it upon himself to go back on numerous Saturday mornings to play piano and call BINGO for the residents. James also volunteered at the Hoag Library organizing and helping with children’s crafts. He has also helped and prepared dinners at the Community Kitchen. James is very involved in many activities at school and holds down a part-time job, but does not let his busy schedule keep him from giving back to the community. James is an excellent role model for the younger members of his church and is always willing to assist his elders in any way he can.

Nominator: Nancy Good, Church Member (Barre Center Presbyterian Church)

Parents/Guardians: Mike & Jaime Beach

Aedan Bunch

Aedan Bunch, 18, of Norman Howard School has exhibited a strong commitment to community service through his church. During the bitter cold and heavy snow that February brought, Aedan volunteered to clear the sidewalks and steps of the church, which provided safe access to the building. Although the church was not holding services at the time, the church’s neighbor, The Medicine Shoppe, was using the building to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Because the sidewalks and entrance ways were cleared by Aedan, along with improved weather conditions, hundreds of local residents were able to receive the vaccine with safe and easy footing.

Aedan is also an active member of a Demolay chapter separate from his church, where he actively participates in several fundraisers and service projects, including food and clothing drives. He has decorated and cleaned graves on Veterans Day and Memorial Day and also volunteered at the Iroquois National Wildlife Reserve. Aedan takes pride in giving back to his community and he understands the need to lend a hand when help is needed.

Nominator: Cynthia Kiebala, Church Member (St. John’s Episcopal Church)

Parents/Guardians: Ann & Steve Bunch

Andrew Drechsel

Andrew Drechsel, 18, of Holley Central School is a shining example of a student who truly believes in giving back to others and helping to make his community a better place. Andrew is a member of the Holley Interact Club and is always willing to participate in any opportunity that comes his way. He has done it all: Day of Shopping, Day of Caring, working at Open Door Mission, and helping out Sample Soap.

Andrew has also been a member of 4-H and is in the final stages of receiving his Eagle Scout award.  He worked an unpaid position at the Holley Summer Recreation Program and is also a member of his church’s youth group. Andrew worked at almost all of the food distribution sites during the pandemic, loading boxes of food into the vehicles. He also volunteered for the Sports Boosters to help prepare the soccer field for the upcoming season. He worked tirelessly alongside Penny cleaning and digging out the garden that welcomes fans to the field. Andrew’s community is so grateful for all that he does. He is truly an amazing young man!

Nominator: Penny Cole, Counseling Secretary

Parents/Guardians: Trina Lorentz Lang & Scott Lang

Ianah Drisdom

Ianah Drisdom, 17, of Medina High School is an outstanding asset to the school and community. She has participated in numerous volunteer activities throughout her time in high school. She shows superior time management skills while balancing responsibilities as a National Honor Society member, working a part-time job, and maintaining good grades.

Ianah started volunteering in 9th grade where she worked feeding and helping the homeless, which was a humbling experience for her. It provided her an opportunity of self-reflection and appreciation for things in life. She has also volunteered at a family business and during football games where she worked the concession stand and helped clean up afterward. This was a tremendous help to the high school. Ianah has had a positive impact on the Medina community.

Nominator: Nicholas Michalak, School Counselor

Parent/Guardian: Karen Boston

Tatum Gagne

Tatum Gagne, 16, of Holley High School has made it her purpose to try and spread cheer and happiness throughout the school. For the second year in a row, Tatum created and addressed holiday cards to every single student and faculty member and delivered them. What seemed like a small gesture meant a lot to others, especially to some students who felt isolated or lonely.

Tatum also took initiative when she saw a 7th grader sitting alone at lunch and became a big sister to this young lady. She eats with her weekly and checks in on her inside and outside of school. Tatum has truly gone above and beyond and has made a huge difference for this young lady. As a member of the Holley Rotary Interact Club, Tatum has worked hard doing behind the scenes tasks, which are especially necessary in this pandemic year. Tatum is the classic example of making the school, community, and world a better place, one small act at a time.

Nominator: Samantha Zelent, School Social Worker

Parents/Guardians: David & Becky Gagne

Amanda Garza

Amanda Garza, 16, of Lyndonville High School plays an extraordinary role inside and outside of the school community. Amanda demonstrates an amazing work ethic that is an inspiration for her peers. Amanda serves as president of the school’s Diversity Club, where she provides a strong sense of leadership and her work around the building has helped to raise awareness of cultural diversity. She has never been heard to speak negatively about another person and is never drawn into conflict. Instead, she displays a level of kindness and maturity that is a model for other students.

As president of the Spanish Club, Amanda took charge of calling and running meetings, fundraising, encouraging members, and participating in all club activities. She enjoys sharing her Hispanic culture and is proud of both her Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage. Amanda proposed, organized and carried out a cultural cooking lesson with her mother so her class was able to learn about Mexican cooking traditions and culture. Amanda is described as dedicated, helpful, smart, kind, and mature. The faculty at Lyndonville is proud to recognize Amanda for her many contributions to the school.

Nominator: Aaron Slack, Principal

Parents/Guardians: Luis & Marlene Garza

Megan Harrington

Megan Harrington, 18, of Holley High School has been a key member of the Holley Interact Club since her freshman year. Megan has always gone above and beyond in planning and organizing community activities. She was integral in making the first Annual Day of Caring a successful event that helped out a local nursing home, PAWS Animal Shelter, the Holley Community Center, and many community members who received gift cards on their cars.

Megan has volunteered at the Day of Shopping for several years, Open Door Mission, and Sample Soap. She is one of the first students to sign up and help with anything needed. Megan will be missed by the Interact Club following graduation. Megan is kind, organized, and empathetic towards others.

Nominator: Samantha Zelent, School Social Worker

Parents/Guardians: Scott and Dione Harrington

Collin Longer

Collin Longer, 18, of Albion High School is an active member of various extracurricular activities. Collin has been a member of FFA, Recycling Club, and Student Government. As a member of these clubs, Collin has been a natural leader for his peers and is willing to take on responsibility for projects within these clubs.

Collin has shown leadership skills by volunteering to complete the school’s morning announcements. More importantly, Collin’s independence and desire to better himself is admirable. Collin has overcome many obstacles placed before him. He is not afraid to ask questions and he knows how to advocate for himself when needed. Collin is doing his best to balance his academics, trying to cope with living in a pandemic, and the passing of his father earlier this year. Collin is a courageous young man who has certainly taken on an extraordinary role in his family.

Nominator: Valerie Pettit, School Counselor

Parents/Guardians: Wendy Preston

Kohl Morgan

Kohl Morgan, 17, of Holley High School is a natural born leader. He is kind, empathetic, and a hard worker. He has made a huge difference in both his school and his community. As a valued member of the Holley Interact Club, Kohl is always willing to help with any activity. He has helped with the Annual Day of Shopping for several years and was an integral part of the first Annual Day of Caring.

Kohl has also helped make lunches at the Open Door Mission and has collected and distributed hygiene supplies for Sample Soap. He has participated in Clean Sweeps and other activities in the elementary school. Kohl is the first one to dive in and get work done. He also engages other students to help and the students truly look up to him. Wherever Kohl goes, others follow. Kohl is the first student thought of when in need of a loving and caring hand to help another student. He is always ready to help even when others are not. He is an amazing young man and the Holley community is truly blessed to have him.

Nominator: Samantha Zelent, School Social Worker & Penny Cole, Counseling Secretary

Parents/Guardians: Jennifer & Steven Morgan

Waylon Peet

Waylon Peet, 18, of Kendall Central School is committed to making the Kendall community a better place. Waylon is very involved with the Kendall Fire Department where he is an active firefighter. Prior to being accepted into the Fire Department, he was a “junior” firefighter.

Waylon has volunteered to work the Annual Carnival for several years. Many members took notice of his hard work and dedication to helping the organization. Since joining, he has attended training sessions, meetings and state classes. He is also an important member of his family. Due to extenuating circumstances, Waylon is required to take on extra responsibilities at home. He helps to keep order in the house and is a mentor to his younger siblings.

Nominator: Carol D’Agostino, Principal

Parents/Guardians: Melinda Roberts & Stephen Peet

Colburn Spierdowis

Colburn Spierdowis, 17, of Albion High School has completed an outstanding amount of community service at several area organizations. Colburn has given many hours to the Boy Scouts of America where he helped with various projects and activities.

He has demonstrated a gift for working with youth. He has volunteered as an assistant with the Cub Scouts and has volunteered at the Sportsmen’s Club Kid’s Fishing Derby as a supervisor. Colburn has also served as an assistant at local soccer camps, helping to teach skills and fundamentals. Colburn is praised as helpful and respectful. He is always dependable and a great role model for youth to look up to.

Nominator: Eric Christiansen, Counseling Department Chairperson

Parent/Guardian: Karen Spierdowis

Allison Trowbridge

Allison Trowbridge, 17, of Holley Central School is one of the first ones to step up and volunteer to do anything that is needed. Allison volunteers through her involvement with Interact Club and her Cheer Squad. She has been a part of Interact Club since 7th grade where she has assisted with cleaning up at animal shelters, making care packages for the homeless, and working on numerous other activities.

As part of her Cheer Squad, Allison participates in volunteer projects such as visiting nursing homes during the holidays and helping athletes at the Special Olympics. The number of hours Allison commits to these above-mentioned projects is too numerous to count.  Outside of school, Allison holds down a part-time job while also helping to take care of her Nana who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She also assists her Papa with household chores. Allison is the type of young lady who steps up whenever she is needed by anyone!

Nominator: Sarah Trowbridge, Mother

Parents/Guardians: Ken & Sarah Trowbridge

Charles Turpyn

Charles Turpyn (“Chuck”), 17, of Holley High School is an amazing and caring young man. He has faced many challenges this past year and he rose to the occasion for all. He has been a member of the Interact Club for 3 years and has participated in all activities, including the Day of Caring and the Fall into Reading event.

Chuck can always be counted on to participate in activities and does a lot of the hard behind-the-scenes work. This year, he went above and beyond taking care of family members experiencing medical issues. Chuck is extremely modest about his contributions, but he can always be counted on to do what is best for his school, community and family.

Nominator: Samantha Zelent, School Social Worker

Parents/Guardians: Katie Niederhofer and Charles Turpyn

Evan Thomas Valentine

Evan Thomas Valentine, 18, of Holley High School was such a wonderful young man who was caring and loving to everyone and everything.  Evan was full of faith, kindness, and generosity. Evan battled Leukemia for 2 and half years before passing away on February 21st of this year. He still continued to help others while being sick and receiving treatments. In January 2020, there was a horrific house fire in the community and, despite being worn down from treatment, Evan was at the Social Center of St. Mary’s in Holley, sorting through clothes and household items.

Evan served as Alter Server as well as Sacristan at St. Mary’s where he won Alter Server of the Year in 2018. Throughout his battles, he always had a smile, never complained about his circumstances and always had a positive, infectious energy about him. Evan was a life-time member of the Boy Scouts of America, where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. His project was completed at the Veteran’s Memorial at the American Legion Post in Holley, in honor of him, by friends and family. Once you met Evan, you were never the same. He left his handprint on everyone that he touched.

Nominator: Penny Cole, Counseling Secretary

Parents/Guardians: Neil & Diane Valentine

Murray town supervisor welcomes input from residents

Posted 12 April 2021 at 9:50 am

Editor

I’d like to thank everyone who came to Thursday night’s Town of Murray work meeting. Despite the Murray Town Board being a “No Show” residents filtered in with genuine interest.

What was to be a Town Board work meeting addressing the complex nature of domestic partner health care coverage, turned into an open forum by a diverse group of citizens openly discussing a variety of topics. It was fantastic, respectful and incredibly productive. Amazing!

Dirk Lammes, our Highway and Water Superintendent, openly discussed his department and the challenges ahead. It’s refreshing to have a knowledgeable, experienced person at the helm willing to share information and listen to the voices around him. Outstanding!

Since the evening turned into such a success, I’m willing to have an evening with the Supervisor every 2nd Thursday of each month. I will make myself available for anyone who has something on their mind to come over and talk without all the formality of a regular Town Meeting. I’m here, I care and we have a lot of work ahead of us.

My mother always said, “Never turn down an invitation.”

Thanks again to everyone who attended for the great evening. It’s the way it should be!

Joe Sidonio

Murray Town Supervisor

Federal aid package includes $9 million for GCC

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2021 at 6:53 pm

Orleans/Niagara BOCES allocated $277K

Photo by Tom Rivers: Genesee Community College’s main campus in Batavia is shown in this photo. GCC also operates campus centers in Orleans, Wyoming and Livingston counties.

The newly passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan includes $2.6 billion for colleges, universities and students in New York, including $9,165,000 for Genesee Community College.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer released a breakdown of the aid today, which also includes $277,000 for the Orleans/Niagara BOCES.

The public and non-profit schools will use half of their award on emergency financial aid grants to students to help them with college costs and basic needs like housing, food, and healthcare, Schumer said.

The other half of the funds will allow institutions to provide additional student support activities, and to cover a variety of institutional costs, including lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, technology costs associated with a transition to distance education, faculty and staff trainings, and payroll. Proprietary schools must use their awards exclusively to provide financial aid grants to students.

“As New York’s colleges, universities, and students face over a year of unprecedented hurdles, they do so at a steep cost that it is our responsibility to address and overcome,” Schumer said in a news release. “In prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, New York’s higher education institutions have ripped massive holes in their budgets and are now facing down financial devastation – and we simply can’t let that happen.

Some of the funding allocations include:

  • GCC, $9,165,000
  • Geneseo SUNY, $11,955,000
  • Monroe2-Orleans BOCES, $344,000
  • Brockport SUNY, $21,778,000
  • Monroe Community College, $34,921,000
  • Roberts Wesleyan College, $3,830,000
  • Orleans/Niagara BOCES, $277,000
  • Niagara County Community College, $12,359,000

This funding announced today is in addition to the $2.4 billion Schumer secured for New York’s institutions of higher education in the past Covid relief bills. In total, Schumer has secured over $5 billion for New York’s colleges and universities in the past year.

“As Majority Leader, I was proud to make funding for New York’s higher education institutions and students a top priority, and the American Rescue Plan will deliver this much needed $2.6 billion in assistance to help our world-class institutions through the crisis, get students safely back to classes, and get campuses across the state back to ‘normal’,” he said.

Master Gardeners have big lineup of programs planned for 2021

Provided photos: These kids do soil blocking, a seed-starting method that has zero plastic waste, using free-standing blocks of soil. Master Gardener Nancy Halstead will be teaching the basics of this technique in the first class of the “Master Your Garden Series” on April 3.

Posted 10 March 2021 at 9:08 am

Press Release, Orleans County Master Gardeners Coordinator Katie Oakes

Master Gardener volunteer Jena Buckwell will teach two of the classes in the upcoming Master Your Garden Series. Here, she shows participants of a past MG event a soil drainage demonstration.

KNOWLESVILLE – Orleans CCE Master Gardener volunteers have typically offered annual events intended to bring big crowds – Plant Sales, Summer Garden Tours, Spring Education Days, etc.

Last March the pandemic put a halt to all programs they had planned, and the volunteers were faced with the task of coming up with ways to offer educational programming to the public in a way that could allow for more predictable attendance as well as flexibility in the event of unforeseen changes.

“Last year was such a let-down,” said Horticulture Educator and MG Volunteer coordinator Katie Oakes. “The volunteers had planned all of these really great, ambitious projects, only to have them all cancelled just as the season was getting started.”

Many of the events and projects typically planned by the Master Gardeners require planning months in advance, purchase of supplies and materials, rental or speaker contract fees, etc.

“We just couldn’t afford to plan a typical year of events without being able to recoup those costs with large numbers of participants,” explained Oakes.

Master Gardener volunteer Jena Buckwell spearheaded the effort to adapt MG programming to a pandemic society, and together the volunteers came up with this year’s “Master Your Garden Educational Series” held on the first Saturday of every month.

“I really felt that a monthly series could go a long way in increasing accessibility to our programs,” said Buckwell, describing the motivation behind the altered programming. “The cost for these programs will be low, and by hosting them on Saturday mornings for a shorter amount of time, we are hopefully opening up our programs to people who work full time, parents who have a hard time finding childcare on weeknights, participants who may not feel comfortable driving home in the dark after an evening class, or anyone who just couldn’t find the time to attend our longer educational events in the past.”

The topics of the class series range from current gardening trends (Soil Blocking and Square Foot Gardening) to volunteer passions (Roses, Common Beans) to public requests (Propagation and Grafting, Mushrooms).  They will all be taught by Master Gardener volunteers or CCE staff who are eager to share their own successes and experiences in gardening with the public. It was important to the volunteers to offer these classes in a way that’s inclusive to all, therefore, all of the classes are available to the public for free, with an optional donation of $5.

“I hope that by providing more casual programming on a regular basis, we will encourage a sense of community for Master Gardeners and all those attending our programs,” said Buckwell.

All classes will be held in person (following current Covid-19 guidelines) and on-site at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds, 12690 State Rt. 31, Albion, NY 14411.  For more information and details on the class lineup, visit the Master Your Garden event page of the Orleans CCE website.  To register for these classes, call 585-798-4265.

A stunning variety of rose grown by Master Gardener Brenda Radzinski.  She will be teaching a class on how to grow this garden favorite on July 3.

CCE Wyoming County staff member Don Gasiewicz will teach about Mushrooms on November 6.  Mushroom growing has been requested multiple times by participants of past MG events.