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Wanted: Ideas and vision to capitalize on Erie Canal

Photos by Tom Rivers: Alex Morse, a researcher with the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, leads a group focused on Arts and Culture opportunities with the Erie Canal. About 60 people discussed ideas to better promote and use the Erie Canal during a discussion Monday at the Challenger Learning Center in Lockport. There will be another discussion today in Brockport at Cooper Hall at Brockport State College.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 July 2019 at 10:20 am

LOCKPORT – The Sate Canal Corp. wants to hear from residents in canal communities on how the state can better promote the canal to visitors and made the canal a better asset to local residents.

The Canal Corp. has scheduled a series of community engagement sessions to hear from residents. There was a meeting on Monday in Lockport, and there is another today in Brockport. (Click here to see the schedule of sessions.)

“This comes at a very exciting time,” Brian Stratton, director of the State Canal Corp.

The Erie Canal is celebrating an 8-year bicentennial of the construction from 1817 to 1825. Stratton says the Canal Corp. is developing a vision for the next century of the canal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year announced the “Reimagine the Canals” initiative and two winners were picked from 145 entries in a $2.5 million competition.

One of the winners includes the Erie Armada, a group of boats passing along the canal carrying people tasting craft beers. That armada will be Sept. 20-22 at the Macedon Canal Park.

Brian Stratton, director of the State Canal Corp., said the state welcomes feedback to increase the impact of the canal in communities along the historic waterway.

The Canal Corp. also picked a plan to develop a pocket neighborhood in Canastota, turning open spaces and former industrial areas along the canal turned into space for housing and community space.

But the Canal Corp. wants more ideas and going to the canal communities for inspiration.

At the Lockport meeting, there were the following focus groups – Tourism, Parks and Public Spaces, Arts and Culture, Nature and Environment, Water Recreation, Local Business and Events and others.

About 60 people attended the session at the Challenger Learning Center.

State Assemblyman Mike Norris, R-Lockport, was among the officials at the meeting. He is pleased to see the state putting resources into the canal, and seeking feedback from the canal communities.

One of the ideas submitted includes using horse and buggy rides in canal towns.

The ideas at the sessions will be compiled by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and put into a report for the Reimagine the Canals Task Force. Former Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, the current CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce is one of three co-leaders of the Task Force, with Duffy focusing on the western end of the canal.

The canal has changed from a commercial shipping hub in the 1800s to a recreational use today.

Some of the people at Monday’s meeting would like to see the canal develop heritage sites in each canal town, to help people understand and appreciate the history of the canal communities and the canal’s role in shaping them. That could include using bronze states, interpretive panels, murals and public arts projects to tell those stories.

Other ideas mentioned include:

• There is shortage of quality housing in many canal communities. Creating affordable and attractive living spaces should be a priority.

• There should be shuttle options on the canal. For example, if people take a kayak on the canal, they could then ride a bicycle back to the original destination.

• The canal is cleaner than in the past, but illegal dumping should remain a priority. Some people would like to see “fish ladders” to help fish travel in creeks and streams. Sometimes the canal is a barrier for fish in nearby creeks.

• More dining and lodging options needed along the canal.

• More festivals and events needed in canal towns.

• Making the canal more accessible to people with mobility challenges, and adding more handicapped accessible ramps for boats, canoes and kayaks.

• Some of the groups cited a lack of funding in making the projects a reality, and a difficulty in building consensus among local and state officials in what projects to pursue and then manage.

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New video tells the story of the Cobblestone Museum
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 July 2019 at 8:14 am

‘Our Cobblestone Heritage’ highlights the cobblestone masonry from the 1800s

Photos by Tom Rivers: Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Society Museum, presents a new video on Sunday during a premiere in the lower level of the Cobblestone Universalist Church.

CHILDS – Supporters of the Cobblestone Museum got to attend a premiere showing of a new video, “Our Cobblestone Heritage,” on Sunday afternoon at the historic Cobblestone Church.

The video was produced by Oh!Davidson Creative of Rochester at the request of Diane Palmer, a former board member and vice president of development for the Cobblestone Museum. Click here to see the video.

Megan O’Hearn-Davidson, left, joins Diane Palmer, a former Cobblestone Museum board member, and Drew Davidson in cutting the cake on Sunday during a premiere of a 10-minute video the Davidsons produced for the museum.

“Around the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Diane was instrumental in our efforts to begin rebranding the museum,” said director Doug Farley. “This included our new logo and the creation of a video, which we could use to not only promote our museum, but would allow us to extend our season into the winter. That way, if a visitor stopped in the winter and we didn’t have a special event going on, we could show them a video.”

Palmer was familiar with the work of Megan O’Hearn-Davidson and her husband Drew. They photograph and film weddings and other special events in the Rochester area. Megan is an Albion native. Palmer contacted them with her idea.

“The video is about more than promoting our museum,” Palmer said. “It is also promoting the heritage of our cobblestone history. It’s an honor to be part of something like this.”

Farley said the museum is very proud of the video and he credited Palmer with being the driving force behind it. Palmer, who has moved to Washington, D.C. with her husband Keith, returned to Albion for Sunday’s special showing.

“Our rebranding is a process which is still underway,” Farley said. “Our video can be used in a number of ways. Our goal is to become a 12-month facility and now we have a product we can use all year. It is also an outreach tool which tells our mission and our goals for the future.”

While the original idea was to have a video to show visitors to the museum, the project has evolved differently than they first thought, Palmer said.

“Now with a full video of the history of the museum, we can use it to train docents, as well as give visitors a full overview of the museum,” she said.

While the full video is 45 minutes long, those at Sunday’s presentation saw only a 10-minute version. The full-length video includes Bill Lattin, the retired director of the museum, giving a tour of the museum, which is a National Historic Landmark.

Palmer explained she worked closely with the Davidsons in creating the video.

“I gave them an outline with the information, and they created the script,” Palmer said.

She also said Megan has a special interest in history.

After moving to Washington and visiting museums there, Palmer said she realized their video needed closed captioning, and that was added to the Cobblestone video.

Drew said it was definitely a fun project to work on. Former Cobblestone director Bill Lattin was interviewed for much of the video.

Lattin served as director for 40 years – from January 1971 to December 2010. He called cobblestones a “glacial legacy of the Great Lakes.”

The museum also has new signs featuring its new logo.

Lattin also said there were 900 cobblestone structures built in New York state between 1825 and 1860. Today, 90 percent of all the cobblestone buildings in the country are in Western New York.

While Lattin was responsible for major acquisitions by the Cobblestone Society during his years as director, and for its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1993, he also said he realized it was time to retire.

He is very pleased with the direction Farley is taking the museum.

“I had always hoped somebody would come along like Doug and move the museum into the 21st century,” Lattin said. “I am so happy the museum has become so much more technically adroit.”

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Baseball/softball academy gets started at Barre park
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 10:14 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

BARRE – About 50 kids do baseball and softball drills today at the Barre Town Park with instructors from NextLVL Sports Institute in Georgia.

North Point Chapel in Albion brought the baseball and softball academy. Retired Major League Baseball pitcher Chris Hammond will be joining the group from Wednesday through Friday with a special presentation for families on Wednesday evening at North Point Chapel.

Hammond pitched 14 seasons in the big leagues with the Reds, Marlins, Red Sox, Braves, Yankees, A’s and Padres. He had his best season in 2002 with a 0.95 ERA with the Braves. He is only the third pitcher in the history of the Major Leagues to maintain an ERA under 1.00 for a full season.

Matthew Kemp, general manager of NextLVL Sports Institute, offers fielding instructions during the camp today at Barre Town Park. The camp continues through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. There is still time for people to sign up if they arrive before the 9 a.m. start time Tuesday to register. The camp is open to boys and girls, ages 8 to 18, in Orleans County and other nearby communities outside Orleans.

NextLVL is teaching hitting, agility and footwork, as well as strength training, diamond work and the fundamentals of the game.

The North Point Chapel Facebook page has more information.

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3 from Albion competed at nationals in clay target shooting

Provided photos: This group from the Albion High School clay target shooting team traveled to Michigan for the USA High School Clay Target League National Championship. They include, from left: Tim Brien (coach), Patrick Brien, Alex Rustay, Shane Hastings and Jeff Atwell (coach).

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 2:26 pm

Alex Rustay fires at a target during the competition on Saturday. He nearly qualified for the finals on Sunday.

ALBION – Three members of the clay target shooting team at Albion High School capped off the first year of the program by competing in nationals over weekend.

Patrick Brien, Alex Rustay and Shane Hastings were among 1,800 students in the USA High School Clay Target League National Championship at Mason, Mich., traveling seven hours each way.

Saturday’s event was the qualifier for the championship on Sunday. The top 400 shooters from Saturday advance to Sunday’s finals. This year the shooters needed to hit at east 92 out of 100 targets to advance to the finals on Sunday.

Alex Rustay was the closest for Albion, missing the competition on Sunday by 1 target.

“I am proud of all the student athletes that participated in the program,” said Jeff Atwell, one of the coaches. “The program would not be possible without the help of the coaches, parents and the cooperation of the school. I would like to especially thank Chris Rice. Without him, there would not be a high school clay target club in Albion! His dedication to the program is outstanding. We hope to be back next year!”

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2 building trades students awarded scholarships
Posted 15 July 2019 at 2:03 pm

Provided photo: From left include Joseph W. Benedict, Jr., executive director Construction Exchange of Buffalo; Michael Kuchey of Royalton-Hartland; Chaise Prest of Medina; and Matt Anastasi.

Press Release, Orleans-Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Two students in Matt Anastasi’s Building Trades Program at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center received $2,000 each in scholarships from the Construction Exchange.

Michael Kuchey, a senior from Royalton-Hartland, and Chaise Prest, a senior from Medina, can use the money to purchase tools or use towards tuition to continue in the construction trades pathway.

The Construction Exchange created a foundation where they serve 900 members by expanding their workforce development and seek out high school career and technical programs to offer students scholarships to use towards careers in construction.

“All my students were interviewed by the Construction Exchange Board who came out to the school,” said Mr. Anastasi. “Michael and Chaise were selected because the board felt they had similar goals for their future to help our labor shortage gap that is plaguing companies that they represent.”

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Veterans raise flag for first time on new pole at Hoag Library
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 12:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Veterans this morning at about 10:30 raised an American flag for the first time on the new flag pole that was erected last week at Hoag Library.

The veterans at the flag pole include from left: Earl Schmidt, director of the Orleans County Veterans Service Agency; John Pera, commander of the American Legion in Orleans County and also in Holley; and Dave Kusmierczak, chaplain for the American Legion.

The addition of the flag pole follows the recent construction of a new digital sign to promote library events. With the sign and flag pole, the library has completed the projects that were part of the orginal blueprint for the a new library which opened in July 2012.

“It feels like the property is now complete with this flag,” said Betty Sue Miller, library director.

Veterans and library staff and supporters watch the trio get ready to raise the flag for the first time.

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Tree fell on Jeep last night in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 12:37 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A big section of a towering maple tree broke off about 10:30 last night on East Park Street. The big branch landed on a Jeep Liberty but the vehicle doesn’t appear to be badly damaged. There aren’t any broken windows.

Meghan and Stephanie Cox, two sisters, live at the house where the tree came crashing down. Stephanie is grateful no one was on the sidewalk when the branch broke.

“Nobody was there and nobody was hurt,” she said. “If someone was walking by they could have been severely injured.”

They are waiting for an insurance adjuster who they hope will approve having the big tree limbs removed and cover any damages to the Jeep.

Albion police officers and firefighters are on the scene at about 10:45 Sunday night They made sure people stayed back away from the live wires. National Grid also responded. The police and firefighters were at the scene until about 1:15 a.m.

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Reimagine the Canals meetings in Lockport, Brockport this week
Staff Reports Posted 15 July 2019 at 9:52 am

Photo courtesy of Char Olick: A double-rainbow appeared over the Main Street lift bridge and downtown Albion on Saturday evening.

There will be community engagement sessions this week in Lockport and Brockport as part of the State Canal Corp.’s goal to “Reimagine the Canals.”

There will be a session today in Lockport from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Challenger Learning Center, 160 Washburn St.

Then Brockport will host a session on Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the SUNY Brockport Cooper Hall.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government is leading the series of community engagement sessions this month for Reimagine the Canals, a state-sponsored initiative to identify new uses for the Erie Canal.

The initiative, launched in May by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, builds on last year’s Reimagine the Canals Competition, which sought innovative ideas to boost local economies, increase recreation and strengthen environmental resilience along the Erie Canal.

“These sessions are a great opportunity for the public to help shape the future of the Erie Canal,” said Joanie Mahoney, the Reimagine the Canals Task Force chair. “The public’s input will be crucial in formulating the final recommendations about the Canal that will be sent to Governor Cuomo.”

First opened in 1825, the Erie Canal spans more than 360 miles. Today it is overseen by the New York State Canal Corporation, a division of the New York Power Authority.

As the Canal nears its third century, Governor Cuomo viewed this as the time to reimagine the future of this essential piece of New York State infrastructure as a resource for agricultural irrigation, ecological restoration, flood mitigation, boating, fishing and tourism.

The community engagement sessions will integrate the voices of Canal communities into the Reimagine initiative. Community members will learn about Reimagine the Canals and will discuss the Canal’s current uses and its potential future. The insights from these sessions will be presented to the Reimagine the Canals Task Force.

Participants can RSVP prior to attending. The Reimagine the Canals website offers more information about the initiative, as well as a portal where members of the public can submit feedback if they are unable to attend a community engagement session. The Rockefeller Institute will hold a second series of meetings later in the summer.

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Holley Presbyterian Church celebrates 200 years
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2019 at 8:18 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – The Rev. Tom Gardner, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Holley, leads a special service on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the 200thanniversary of the church.

The service on Sunday included remarks from previous pastors of the church, including Bob Kaiser and Cheryle McCann.

There were magnets available for the church’s 200thanniversary. The church is located at 34 West Albion St.

A combined choir from the Albion and Holley Presbyterian churches sings “In One Accord” during the service. The Amadeus Chorale Youth Singers also participated in the service.

The Rev. Deb Swift, pastor of the South Presbyterian Church in Rochester, leads the group in a prayer. She also gave the sermon, “Ride Loose in the Saddle,” during the bicentennial celebration.

Swift leads a church on Mount Hope Avenue in Rochester that decided to sell its building in 2014. That has freed the congregation to have more focus on outreach and serving the community, rather than trying to attract people to a historic building for services. “Go out and be the church,” she said.

Swift said churches should be riding on the back of the Holy Spirit.

“Trust we’re on a ride and we might get jostled around a little bit, but we need to hold on to the reins,” she told about 75 people at the service.

Swift praised the courage and vision of the pioneers who established the congregation for the Holley community 200 years ago, back when the community was known as Saltport and the Erie Canal hadn’t opened yet. The canal was complete in 1825.

Sue Machamer played the organ during the service. The organ is from 1856 and was transported to Holley from Utica along the Erie Canal. Machamer said she has been playing the organ at the church, “for as long as I can remember.”

People stand for one of the hymns sung at the service.

Sue Machamer is pictured up by the organ before the start of the service.

A banner outside the church notes the Holley Presbyterian Church is 200 years old as a congregation this year. This summer the church services start at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays.

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Holley passes the boot for fire department youth group
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2019 at 5:52 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Jared Bowen, a member of the Clarendon, Holley, Hulberton Fire Youth Group, was out early this afternoon in a boot drive to raise money for the youth group, which includes 14 teens in the Clarendon, Holley and Hulberton communities.

The youth group started about five years ago. The students learn First Aid and CPR, and practice hose advancement skills, extrication and patient packaging, and also learn about firefighting tools on the trucks.

Mike Snell, a member of the youth group and also a new member of the Holley Fire Department, collects a donation today.

The money will help pay for field trips for the students. In September, they are headed to New York City to see the Sept. 11 memorial. There were 343 firefighters killed in NYC during the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

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Sheriff’s Office working to identify body recovered in Lake Ontario
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2019 at 5:19 pm

CARLTON – The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the recovery of a body this morning in Lake Ontario.

Dispatchers received a call from at 9:27 a.m. from a fisherman about a body floating about 3 miles off shore from Point Breeze.

The Orleans County Marine Patrol Unit along with the State Police Marine Patrol unit located the body. The Sheriff’s Office also was assisted by the scene by state troopers out of Albion and the State Park Police.

The Sheriff’s Office is currently working with the Orleans County Coroner’s Office, the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the NYS Parks Police in Niagara Falls to make a positive identification of the deceased, said Sgt. David Foeller of the Sheriff’s Office.

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Body recovered in Lake Ontario north of Point Breeze
Staff Reports Posted 14 July 2019 at 11:18 am

POINT BREEZE – The Orleans County Marine Patrol has recovered a body that was seen by boaters this morning, floating in Lake Ontario directly north of Point Breeze.

Boaters called the 911 dispatch to report they saw the boating.

Orleans County Marine Patrol with the assistance of State Police Marine Patrol then recovered the body, according to the Video News Service.

No other information is available.

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Cobblestone Museum will have video unveiling this afternoon
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2019 at 10:14 am

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum today will celebrate the completion of a new marketing video for the museum, the only National Historic Landmark solely in Orleans County.

OhDavidson Creative made the video for the museum. Albion native Megan O’Hearn-Davidson and her husband Andrew Davidson produced the video under direction of Diane Palmer, a former trustee for the museum.

The museum will host a viewing and celebration today at 3 p.m. for the video, “Our Cobblestone Heritage.”

That event will be in the lower level of the Cobblestone Church, 14389 Ridge Road West.

The museum wants to use the video to promote tourism in Orleans County.

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Sunny next 2 days, ‘oppressively warm’ later in week
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2019 at 7:58 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Bent’s Opera House, which is currently undergoing an extensive renovation, is pictured in the background of this photo on Friday looking through the apple-themed bike rack on Main Street in Medina.

Today will be sunny with a high near 77, followed by another sunny day on Monday with a high near 83, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

The Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for Orleans and other counties in western and central New York.

“The tropical remnants of Barry will cross our region Wednesday and Wednesday night,” the Weather Service said. “This will lead to some showers and thunderstorms that will likely contain torrential downpours.

“Thursday through Saturday will then be oppressively warm and humid with apparent temperatures (heat index values) forecast to climb to between 95 and 100,” the Weather Service said. “At these levels a heat advisory would be required. The peak of this heat should be on Friday.”

Friday is forecast to reach 91, followed by a high of 88 on Saturday.

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60 attend first youth fishing derby organized by DC Outdoors
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 July 2019 at 3:39 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – Avion Johnson, 11, of Medina holds an 11 ½-inch largemouth bass he caught this morning at Point Breeze in the first youth fishing derby organized by DC Outdoors.

DC Outdoors put on the event, which was followed by a cookout with prizes and awards at the Orleans County Marine Park. Dan Conrad, leader of the group, is trying to promote the outdoors in the community, especially with young people and families.

Several volunteers helped with the event, and many businesses and organizations donated prizes and items for the basket raffle.

There were 60 participants, and they all received a T-shirt about the derby.

Ben Spencer of Lyndonville helps his kids – Carly, 5, and Parker, 4 – in the fishing derby. Kids 5 and younger tried to catch fish at Captain’s Cove. The Parkers are shown under the Route 18 bridge that goes over Oak Orchard River.

Kids ages 6 to 10 fished at Point Breeze, with many trying their luck from the eastern pier.

Aubree McAdoo, 7, of Albion fishes from a dock at Point Breeze. She caught three fish in the derby.

Prizes were given in three age groups for most fish caught, longest fish and heaviest fish.

Older kids, ages 11 to 15, fished form the state boat launch on Archbald Road.

Caliyah Boston, 8, of Medina caught this fish. She used her grandfather’s fishing pole. DC Outdoors had fishing poles and tackle available for kids who didn’t have any.

Iyla Lilleby, 12, of Medina tries to catch a fish in the Oak Orchard Harbor. She said she caught two fish by noon.

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