Find us on Facebook
Great day of races in Albion for ‘Turtle’ and ‘Strawberry’
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 June 2019 at 3:56 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – William Oliver, 6, nips “The Strawberry,” who was Dan Heil of Medina. William finished the 5K in 30:23.

Heil, 19, won the 5K at the Albion Strawberry Festival from 2015-17. He now runs cross country and track for Brockport State College. Heil gave everyone a 10-minute head start on Saturday.

For the past decade, organizers of the race have had someone wear a strawberry costume. Runners who beat the strawberry get a special treat. This year it was an ice cream sundae from Lugia’s Ice Cream on Wheels, one of the food vendors at the festival.

This group of runners nears the finish line on East State Street in Albion, right in front of the County Courthouse. There were 229 participants in the race, which is now in its 29th year.

Lindon Morici of Albion was the first female finisher in a time of 20:40, while Stefan Davies won the men’s race in a time of 17:39, a second ahead of last year’s winner, Alden Cayea of Medina.

Amy Konopka won the women’s 8k in a time of 34:59, while Alfredo Longo was the first man to finish with a time of 32:09.

The 5k/8k wasn’t the only race at the festival. On Saturday afternoon, several hundred rubber turtles were dumped into the canal for the annual Amazing Turtle Race. The top photo shows the turtles getting ready to be dropped into the Erie Canal.

Michael Bonnewell, Albion school district superintendent, and Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower dumped one of the totes of turtles. Monica Thomas, the festival princess, also helped send those turtles into the water.

The Turtle (Jessy Cruz in costume) also tipped one of the totes and Jarred Saj, right, did the other. Saj was the top ticket seller with 134.

The turtles head east on the canal. The tickets were $5 each or 5 for $20. The race is a fundraiser for the festival, which is sponsored by the Albion Rotary Club with many other supporters in the community.

Dan Capurso retrieves the winning turtle. Don Bishop, chairman of the festival committee, is in back in the other kayak.

The race includes $1,000 in prizes, including $500 to the grand prize winner, who was Jessica Downey. Other prize winners include Mike Hall, second place, $300; Barb Dawson, third place, $100; Steve Hawley, fourth place, $50; and Dan Thurber, fifth place, $50.

Colin Coyle helps collect some of the turtles.

Colin Coyle and his father, Joe Coyle, keep an eye on the turtles.

Return to top


Many faces on parade at Strawberry Fest in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 June 2019 at 8:01 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – There were lots of festive characters and happy faces during the 33rdannual Albion Strawberry Festival parade on Saturday.

Sheryl Watts, owner and artistic designer of Air Raising Events, made a strawberry costume out of balloons.

Barbara Monaghan of Albion covers her son Owen’s ears when some noisy fire trucks went by.

The Rochester Scottish Pipes & Drums march down Main Street.

Matthew Bloom walks a Dalmatian in the parade. His father Nathan is a member of the Albion Fire Department. Matthew’s mother Chrissy Beach pushes his twin siblings, who aren’t enjoying the loud noises at the parade.

Jim Hollinger carries the American flag while joining others veterans in the parade.

Teresa Gaylord, children’s library director at Hoag Library, led her co-workers in a dance routine with library book carts. They are promoting the upcoming summer reading program from June 22 to Aug. 15. This year’s theme is “A Universe of Stories.”

Peyton Robinson plays the saxophone in the Albion marching band.

Melissa Barnosky, the Strawberry Festival queen, waves to the crowd. Monica Thomas is the festival princess. Other festival royalty includes Ryan Krenning as king and Hunter Zambito as prince.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley serves as emcee the Strawberry Festival parade on Saturday. Mayor Eileen Banker, Hawley’s chief of staff, helps Hawley follow the order of about 75 different parade groups and organizations. June Persia is at left, and village trustees Pete Sidari and Stan Farone are at right.

A Strawberry Shortcake character waves to the crowd during the parade. The character was among several people in costume from Enchanted Princess Parties of Rochester.

Colton Chappius, owner of Chappius Construction, stops during the parade to give his dog a sip of water.

The Hitman Brass Band in Rochester perform during the 33rd annual Strawberry Festival.

Kolton Barry, 5, gets back in line with his team after throwing candy on the parade route. He is a member of the Hard Hitters youth baseball team.

Members of the band Zero promote the upcoming Albion Summer Festival featuring Rock the Park 6. Severals bands will perform at Bullard Park on Aug. 3. The Zero band includes Mike Whiting (filling in at guitar for the parade at right), Dylan DeSmit (left), Zack Burgess and Alex DeSmit on drums.

Haley O’Dell carries the flag in leading the Mark Time Marchers down Main Street in the parade.

Jessy Cruz checks his phone before getting the full costume on as The Turtle. Albion High School served as a staging area for many of the parade participants.

Return to top


Medina bests LeRoy to capture Far West Regional title – next stop the state semifinals
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 8 June 2019 at 6:28 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Medina players hoist the championship plaque high after downing LeRoy 10-2 for the Far West Regional title this afternoon at Lockport.

Back-to-back big scoring innings powered Medina to a 10-2 victory over LeRoy in the Class B Far West Regional this afternoon at Lockport.

The victory propels the Mustangs into the state semifinals at 2 p.m. next Friday afternoon at Binghamton against Schuylerville which blanked Ogdensburg 4-0 this afternoon to win the Capital Region.

Trevor Luthart delivers a pitch for the Mustangs.

“It’s pretty exciting, Trevor pitched well, we played good defense and everyone hit the ball pretty well,” said AJ Seefledt who banged out 3 hits and drove in 4 runs to help lead the Medina attack which also got 2 hits each from Brian Fry, Chris Goyette and winning pitcher Trevor Luthart.

“All the hard work paid off but we’re not done. We’ve got two to go,” said Luthart who went the distance on the mound scattering 6 hits, striking out 7 and didn’t issue a walk.

“Trevor does what he does. He puts the ball in play and he throws strikes,” said Coach Jon Sherman.

Breaking away from a 1-1 deadlock, Medina moved on top to stay by scoring four times in the bottom of the third inning on two-run singles by Seefeldt and Luthart. Singles by Corey Saj and Fry and a walk to Nate Sherman loaded the bases to set up the opportunity.

Keeping the momentum, the Mustangs quickly boosted their advantage to 10-1 by erupting for five runs in the fourth frame on a two-run single by Goyette, RBI singles by Seefeldt and Fike and a double steal play.

Chris Goyette bangs out a two-run single for Medina.

The Mustangs also got off to a quick start scoring a run in the bottom of the first as Fry led off with a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Nate Sherman and came home on an RBI single by Seefeldt.

However, LeRoy pulled even in the top of the third on a bases loaded single by Reece Tresco.

That set the stage for the defensive play of the game as with the bases still loaded the Mustangs turned a clutch inning ending double play from Goyette at third to Seefeldt at second to Fike at first.”

“That was huge,” said Sherman of the play,” That was a really nice turn.”

Bolstered by that big defensive play, the Mustangs offense then took control by answering right back with the decisive four and five run scoring bursts in the third and fourth innings

“We knew we could do that,” said Sherman.”These kids have been in big games like this since they were nine.”

LeRoy’s only other run came in the sixth inning as Luthart retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth frames and faced only four batters in the seventh as Fry at shortstop got the final out with a nifty diving stop and flip to Seefeldt to get the force out at second.

Medina advanced to the regional by defeating Roy-Hart 15-4 for the Section VI Class B crown while LeRoy trimmed Batavia 5-3 for the Section V title.

The Mustangs will take a school record 21-2 season mark into the state semis.

Medina shortstop Brian Fry flips the ball to second baseman AJ Seefeldt for the final out.

Medina’s Ricky Pitts dives into home as LeRoy catcher Ryan Friend waits to make the tag.

 


Governor demands immediate action from IJC with Lake Ontario flooding
Posted 8 June 2019 at 6:27 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Carlton Highway Department uses a payloader to cross a washed out road from the high Lake Ontario waters. This photo is from June 1 when the town moved pallets of sandbags to helped three houses that no longer could reach their homes by car.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today issued a letter to the International Joint Commission demanding immediate action in response to Lake Ontario flooding.

The full text of the letter is available below:

Dear Chairpersons Corwin and Phare:

For the second time in three years, many communities and businesses along the Lake Ontario Shoreline are experiencing flooding because of record-high water levels. As a result, New York State has responded, committing over $100 million in funds to repair shoreline properties in 2017, and spending tens of millions more to respond to flooding this year. The International Joint Commission (IJC) has no excuse for its failure to prepare for adequately managing the high-water levels Lake Ontario has experienced and continues to experience this year. The IJC was put on notice in 2017 when the Lake set high-water level records and should have been aware of the present danger from the massive snowpack and likelihood of continued rains into the spring of this year. Yet, rather than acting, the IJC continued the status quo, resulting in more flooding and more property damage in New York. We demand that the IJC make New York whole for its millions in unreimbursed expenditures, and that the IJC modify its water management and planning to reduce the flooding and damage being done to New York’s shoreline communities.

The current devastation and the ongoing threat to the citizens and businesses of New York caused by Lake Ontario flooding must be remedied. Senator Ortt has raised the possibility of legal action, which he suggested in a letter to the state Attorney General. With water levels in Lake Ontario now exceeding the historic high levels of 2017, immediate action must be taken to deter flooding in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system.

In 1909, the United States and Great Britain, acting on behalf of Canada, entered into the Boundary Water Treaty to enable both nations, and their respective citizens and component jurisdictions, to make beneficial use of boundary waters consistent with the rights and interests of all public and private riparian owners. The Treaty expressly provides that domestic and sanitary uses are to be given preference over navigation and power uses. The Treaty also provides that construction of any dam or obstruction requires the protection and indemnity against injury of all interest on either side of the Boundary.

Throughout its history, the IJC has struggled to balance the competing needs of all beneficiaries. In the early 1950s, for example, the IJC’s management of Lake Ontario caused substantial flooding damage to New York residents, who responded with strong protests and litigation. In part as a result, the IJC removed the Gut Dam and lowered maximum water levels by some three feet. The IJC also issued a new Supplementary Order of Approval in 1956, which remained in effect for more than five decades.

In 1999 the IJC undertook a study to assess water levels under the application of the 1956 Order. This study resulted in the adoption of Plan 2014. In adopting the plan, the IJC found that the 1956 Order did not “accurately reflect the full range of experienced conditions or anticipate future changes” and that it was necessary to now “consider environmental issues and recreational boating.” Plan 2014 also provided that discharges of water would be administered “in such a manner as to provide no less protection for navigation and riparian interests downstream than would have occurred under pre-project conditions.” Moreover, as part of the criteria for administering discharges, the IJC found that “the levels of Lake Ontario shall be regulated for the benefit of property owners on the shores of Lake Ontario in the United States and Canada so as to reduce extremes of stage which have occurred under pre-project conditions and supplies of the past as adjusted on Lake Ontario.”

In adopting Plan 2014 the IJC found that the new regulatory scheme would result in “less frequent deviations from a regulation plan” and would “provide long-term benefits, upstream and downstream … with greater security and predictability.” The high-water events of 2017 and 2019 demonstrate that this could not be farther from the truth. The IJC must provide a more protective management system that delivers on the promises that it made in adopting Plan 2014.

Flooding and other high-water impacts continue around the Great Lakes, including Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River, especially during periods of active weather, such as that observed recently. On June 4, 2019, Lake Ontario remained at 75.90 m (249.02 ft), extending the new historic lake level record first reached on June 2, 2019. It is expected that the water level of Lake Ontario will continue rising gradually over the next several days. Lake Erie water levels and outflows into Lake Ontario remain above record-highs and have risen slightly over the past several days.

While floods and high-water levels damage New Yorkers’ property, water levels in Montreal Harbor are below record-highs for this time of year and continue to drop. To provide relief to New York’s adversely affected riparian owners, the IJC must immediately maximize the outflows to the greatest extent possible, even if that impacts navigation along the river temporarily.

The IJC has acknowledged that its actions, or lack thereof, have served to protect commercial shipping at the expense of riparian land-owners. But, under its own foundational treaty and under Plan 2014, it cannot refrain from such releases to protect commercial shipping interests over the safety and property of New Yorkers. The Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 states that “no use shall be permitted which tends materially to conflict with or restrain any other use”. Moreover Plan 2014 specifically states that “[i]n the event that Lake Ontario water levels reach or exceed extremely high levels, the works in the International Rapids Section shall be operated to provide all possible relief to the riparian owners upstream and downstream.” The burden of high-water flows must be shared equally among all users of the system – including the transportation and shipping sector.

In 2017, New York took action to protect communities from further flooding and delivered critical State and federal funding to help families and businesses rebuild. The State committed over $100 million to rebuild communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline that were devastated by the flooding in 2017, only to once again this year experience record high-water levels and flooding in those same communities. Following the 2017 flooding, the IJC knew or should have known of the significant potential for future flooding events, but failed to exercise the forethought to protect against the devastating impacts of flooding.

New York continues to address the impacts from past flood levels and mitigate potential future flooding. New York is staging equipment and sand bags; working closely with municipal governments along the shorelines; advancing and reimbursing flood protection and remediation projects; and providing support for resiliency planning efforts. New York expects that the cost associated with rebuilding and providing future resiliency will exceed costs from 2017 and be well over $100 million. New York also strongly urges the appropriation of federal funding, which is critical for continuation of those efforts and additional efforts to improve coastal resiliency along the Lake and River. New York should not have to bear the costs solely for the impacts of this international plan and federal funding is critical to addressing the consequences.

The IJC’s power to act derives from the Boundary Waters Treaty, which prioritizes non-power uses of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. It is apparent that the IJC’s management has not adequately addressed the new normal of extreme high-water events that have disproportionately affected the riparian owners in New York. The IJC must ensure that it considers and addresses these extreme wet weather conditions that have led to extensive flooding in two of the last three years in future planning and implementation of flows moving forward. The IJC must adopt a fairer course to ensure that the protection of the public on both sides of the Lake and the River are, at all times, its highest priority.

In light of the devastating flooding occurring, the State of New York demands that the IJC reimburse New York for its costs, and make additional funds available for resiliency projects and other protective measures made necessary by the IJC’s acts and omissions. The IJC must also immediately determine how much water can be safely released, irrespective of shipping, and release that amount. Finally, the IJC must immediately correct its water management protocols to avoid damage to riparian owners.  Failure to act upon these demands will result in New York taking any and all actions to compel the IJC to act, including legal action.

Sincerely,

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Return to top


Nearly 100 cars kick off Medina’s cruise-in season
By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 8 June 2019 at 3:46 pm

Photo by Ginny Kropf

MEDINA – This 1956 Chevy belonging to Buster Wetherbee of Holley was among the 91 classic vehicles which attended the first cruise-in of the season in Medina’s Canal Basin on Friday night.

Wetherbee rarely misses a Friday cruise-in and helps organizer David Green with the weekly 50/50 drawing. Green said the Friday cruise-ins average between 80 and 100 cars and Friday’s turnout was very good for the first one. The season continues through late August.

The cruise-in series has been an annual tradition in Medina for more than 20 years. The classic car shows go from 5:30 to 8 p.m. They will be in the basin every Friday until the end of August, except on June 28 when the show shifts to the Orleans County Marine Park in Carlton and on July 26 when the cars are on display at the Orleans County 4-H Fair in Knowlesville.

The season culminates with the Super Cruise on Aug. 28, when a section of Main Street is closed for the cars and there is lots of entertainment.

Return to top


Medina Marching Band caps season with awards banquet

The student staff for the 2019-2020 Medina Mustang Band are pictured on Friday during a banquet and awards ceremony at the Ridgeway Fire Hall.

Posted 8 June 2019 at 3:31 pm

Courtesy of Medina Marching Band

MEDINA – The 49th annual Medina Mustang Band Banquet and Awards ceremony was held Friday at the Ridgeway Fire Hall. It was an evening of awards and reflection on the many accomplishments in the 2018-2019 school year.

Special guests included Superintendent Mark Kruzynski and Assistant High School Principal Joel Reed. Also present were Srgt. Lavender and PFC Oliver from the US Marines to award the “Semper Fidelis” award for musical excellence to two graduating seniors. The award for excellence in Jazz was given to Ben Zakes and excellence in wind ensemble to Kody Leno.

The Booster organization was credited for their continued dedication and commitment to the band. Outgoing officers were recognized and thanked for their help as well as the incoming officers. Mindy Kenward is still the president and Julie Granchelli the vice president.

Instructional staff were recognized: Jeanette Sheliga – Elementary Band Director; Jeff Pask and T.J. Gray – Percussion Instructors; Terry Steele – Pit Instructor; Joe Organiscak – Music Arranger; Matt Jaeger – Music & Visual Instructor; Diana Baker – Assistant Band Director & Colorguard Instructor; Becky Botsford – Assistant Band Director; Joe Guadagnino and Brian King – Percussion Instructors; Mark Rider – Visual Designer; Leslie Rider – Visual Consultant; Tiffany Organisciak – Front Ensemble instructor; Mike Heaney – Visual Consultant to the Colorguard;  Kara Brown – Colorguard Instructor.

The Harry Dinkle award was established to recognize someone who is not a Booster officer but who volunteers a great deal of personal time & effort to the program. This year’s recipients are Joe Granchelli and Adam Uderitz.

Several scholarships were awarded. The NYSFBC scholarship went to Maisie Griffin; the Mustang Band Booster Service scholarship went to Ray Paull; the Band Booster Memorial scholarship to Travis Gotts; the Steele Family Award to Alissa Blount; the Joseph C. McKain award to Jada Draper and Ben Zakes; the Alfred Hartway award to Maisie Griffin, Ray Paull and Alissa Blount.

Recognition was given to the Winterguard program. This year Medina sponsored 3 WG units.  The Pony Guard consisted of 15 students in grades 5-8; The Junior Varsity guard consisted of 14 students in grades 4-9 and Varsity guard had 13 students in grades 7-12.

Outstanding Band Member awards were given to Outstanding Rookies – T.J. Burgess, Layne Hodgins, Lillian Wilson and Biance Islam. Most Improved went to Lana Ortiz, Henry Rigerman, Gabe Mark and Aries McMurray. Most Valuable went to Kody Leno, Emma Baldwin, Ben Zakes and Kaela Grosslinger.

Director Awards were given by Mrs. Baker to Ava Chambers, by Mrs. Botsford to Haydin Woodward and by Mr. Steele to James Waters.

Perfect attendance awards were given to students for Fall, Spring and the two seasons combined.

Each of the seniors was given their medallion. Each of the outgoing student staff was given a plaque with their name on it.

The prologue was given by Margaret Klotzbach and the senior epilogue was given by Alissa Blount.

A slide show highlighting the year’s accomplishment was prepared by Joe Granchelli.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the 2019-2020 student staff:  Drum Major – Jada Draper; Assistant Drum Majors – Lacey Kenward, Miranda Zelazny and Margaret Klotzbach. Head of Percussion – Margaret Klotzbach; Colorguard Captain – McKenna Callard;  Colorguard Managers – Melanie Poynter, Ava Chambers and Destiny Jones; Secretary/Librarian – Emma Roush & Kaylee Lacey; Uniform Managers – Hannah Kenward and Amanda Woodruff;  Band Managers – Carter Green, Chris Woodroe, TJ Burgess, Megan Zakes and Faith Vanderwalker; Head Band Manager – Jada Draper; Front Ensemble Section – Sophia Cardone; Tuba Section – Paige Adkins; Trombone/Baritone – Miranda Zelazny; Trumpets – Lacey Kenward; Mellophone – Lily Kiebala; Saxophone – Grace Cook and Bailey Jackson; Clarinets –Trenton Crews;  Flutes – Mary Flores.

The 2019 Fall show is entitled “Walk the Path” and practice begins June 13 with Band Camp Aug. 12-16.

Return to top


Another lakeshore flood watch issued for Orleans, Niagara
Staff Reports Posted 8 June 2019 at 3:11 pm

A lakeshore flood watch has been issued for Orleans and Niagara counties from 8 p.m. Monday until 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has issued the flood watch due to the combination of very high lake levels and moderately strong west to northwest winds, which will result in greater wave action. The wave action will produce an increase in shoreline erosion.

There likely will be an increase in lakeshore flooding on the shoreline of Lake Ontario, especially in bays, inlets, and other low-lying areas along the shoreline.

Return to top


Fire destroyed stately Albion home and farm in 1925
By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 8 June 2019 at 6:36 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 5, No. 22

ALBION – This photograph, taken March 1, 1925, shows the ruins of the brick home once belonging to Dr. Samuel and Helen Church Cochrane. The farm was located just south of the Village of Albion and consisted of a house and several barns.

On February 28, 1925, a catastrophic fire tore through the stately brick house then occupied by Stanley Zwienski and his family. The 75-year-old structure was a complete loss as the fire, starting in the chimney, caused over $3,500 in damage.

Built around 1850, the property was eventually purchased by Dr. Cochrane after he relocated from the Town of Yates. Although Cochrane became a well-respected physician in Albion, his wife was the only daughter of Judge Sanford E. Church. According to local lore, young men from across the county lined up to court the young belle and at one time she was the “most eligible” bachelorette in Albion. The community was quite surprised when Cochrane emerged as the successful suitor.

Although Dr. and Mrs. Cochrane were already deceased at the time of the fire, Dr. Cochrane was plagued by fires throughout his life. In 1897, his home in Yates caught fire after a lamp exploded, leaving him with a hefty bill under partial insurance coverage. In 1910, after Dr. Cochrane passed, this house caught fire but was extinguished before extensive damage occurred.

Visible in this photograph is a small henhouse situated on the front left corner of the largest barn. In November of 1925, just eight months after the brick house burned, the body of Harvey Doubleday was discovered inside this chicken coop.

Doubleday, a well-known Western New York racehorse trainer, was permitted by the property owner to sleep in the barn during the summer months. Coroner Eccleston believed Doubleday’s death came as a result of heart failure, but local papers reported that “Doubleday’s body lay exposed to attacks of swarms of carnivorous rats for nearly a week,” making an exact cause of death difficult to discern. It also demonstrates the local newspapers’ willingness to publish all details of these particular types of stories.

Return to top


Strawberry Fest provides lots of fun in Albion
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 June 2019 at 6:27 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Julian Pawlak, 3, of Medina emerges from a giant shark’s mouth. The shark was a large inflatable with a slide at the Albion Strawberry Festival. It was part of a Family Fun Center on Main Street, just north of the First Presbyterian Church.

The 33rdannual Strawberry Festival opened on Friday and continues today.

Emma Ray, 8, of Albion throws a baseball at a target on a dunk tank. She was successful in knocking Chrisjen Winters, 10, into the water.

The dunk tank is being used as a fundraiser for the St. Mary’s youth baseball team. Chrisjen is one of the St. Mary’s players. Several kids on the team took a turn in the tank.

Chrisjen Winters emerges from the water after being knocked into the tank.

Brayden LaMartina, 8, gets loose and ready to throw the baseballs at the dunk tank target.

The Kendall Community Band, led by director Lori Cyr, played in front of the Orleans County Courthouse.

The band, All About Jane, performs under the east tent on East State Street. The band includes Gary Smith, Rhonda Smith, Jan-Mikael Erakare and Tom Smith.

Rhonda Smith and her husband Gary Smith sing “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles.

To see the schedule for the festival today, click here.

Return to top


Bellavia, a Lyndonville native, to receive Medal of Honor
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2019 at 10:14 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Lyndonville native David Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran with the U.S. Army, was keynote speaker during a July 24, 2016 banquet for the New York Warrior Alliance at the Hickory Ridge Country Club in Holley.

David Bellavia, a Lyndonville graduate who enlisted in the Army and fought in the second battle of Fallujah, will be the first living veteran of the Iraq War to receive the Medal of Honor.

Bellavia, 43, of Batavia previously was awarded the Silver Star. Army Times and other media outlets are reporting he will receive the nation’s highest honor.

Bellavia works as a radio talk show host for WBEN. He is being recognized for his actions in combat against insurgents. He was part of a campaign that took the heavily fortified city.

Bellavia wrote a book that detailed his experiences as a staff sergeant in Fallujah. He wrote House to House: An Epic Memoir of War with John R. Bruning, describing the efforts of front line forces in urban combat against insurgents.

In 2005, Bellavia was inducted into the New York Veterans’ Hall of Fame. He has been active in politics, twice running for Congress. He also has been an advocate for veterans in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

He is to receive the Medal of Honor on June 25 at the White House.

Return to top


Kendall Lions recognize outstanding members, Citizen of the Year
Staff Reports Posted 7 June 2019 at 9:08 pm

Provided photos: Kendall Lion John Becker presents the club’s Citizen of the Year award to Steve Giverson, center. Lions Club President Doug Urquhart is at right.

KENDALL – The Kendall Lions held the club’s annual officer installation and awards dinner on Thursday. Kendall volunteer firefighter Steve Giverson was presented the “Citizen of the Year Award” for his commitment and strong leadership in the Lions Club’s carbon monoxide and smoke detector program in response to a community tragedy.

Steve transferred from the Gates Fire Department 2 1/2 years ago and quickly made an impact in the Kendall community and the fire department. He recently was elected secretary of the Kendall Fire Department. Steve was the liaison between the community groups – American Red Cross, Kendall Central School, the Fire Departments and the Lions Club – during the recent CO and smoke detector program.

Giverson took on the responsibility of scheduling, training, delivery and community communication as the Lions Club distributed 200 CO detectors and more 600 smoke detectors to residents in the local communities.

Provided photos: Kendall Lion John Becker presents the club’s Citizen of the Year award to Steve Giverson, center. Lions Club President Doug Urquhart is at right.

John Becker also was recognized for his leadership in the CO and smoke detector program as well as his continued service as a Kendall Lion. Becker received the “Lion of the Year” award. Becker was the initiator of the program after two lives in the Kendall community were lost due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Lion President Doug Urquhart recognizes Debbie Ryan for her tenure as club treasurer. She is joined by her husband, Bob Ryan, who is a member of the club.

This group includes, from left: incoming President Helen Unterborn, Lion Candy Minigiello, Lion Tom Minigiello and Lion President Doug Urquhart. Candy Minigiello was awarded the Robert Uplinger Award for her service and participation in the community and the Kendall Lions Club.

Kendall Supervisor Tony Cammarata (center), a member of the Lions Club, was presented the Melvin Jones Fellow as a reflection of the continued service to our community and club, often behind the scenes but integral to our success. The award is named for the founder of the Lions Clubs International.

Lions President Doug Urquhart presents the award to Cammarata, who was joined by his wife, Sharon Cammarata.

Return to top


Governor announces historic settlement with FMC for contamination in Middleport
Posted 7 June 2019 at 4:22 pm

Company will reimburse state $31 million for cleanup costs; pay $2.4 million penalty; give $1 million towards community benefit project

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Courtesy of DEC: This map shows the FMC Corp. in Middleport.

MIDDLEPORT – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the settlement of one of New York’s largest environmental enforcement actions in state history. The settlement requires the FMC Corporation to clean up arsenic and other hazardous contamination affecting areas in and around its facility in Middleport, Niagara County, and includes $2.4 million in penalties and $1 million for a community-based environmental benefit project.

“When the health of our communities is threatened, we aggressively pursue polluters and hold them accountable,” Governor Cuomo said. “The state is already working diligently to protect the public from contamination released by the FMC Corporation and this comprehensive enforcement agreement requires the company to reimburse taxpayers millions of dollars for past cleanup actions and invest hundreds of millions more until the job is done.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “This significant settlement is a major victory for environmental justice and a major victory for New York’s strict environmental laws put in place to protect public health. Most importantly, it’s a victory for the residents of the Niagara County neighborhoods who, through this Consent Order, are ensured that the environmental contamination is cleaned up by the polluter. I’m proud of the perseverance demonstrated by DEC’s talented staff in their tenacious fight for fairness and requiring a real plan to fund and complete this extensive cleanup.”

FMC Corporation’s Middleport facility is a 103-acre pesticide formulation and packaging plant that previously manufactured arsenic-based pesticides and other chemical products. The primary contaminant of concern at this site is arsenic, which has been detected at elevated levels of up to 60,000 parts per million (ppm) on-site, and approximately 4,000 ppm off-site. Other contaminants include methylene chloride, pesticides such as DDT, and other organic and inorganic compounds.

Uncontrolled stormwater runoff, flood events, spills, releases, overflows, and air deposition have contaminated sediment, surface water, soil, and groundwater at the facility’s property and off-site areas including residential and commercial properties and the adjacent Royalton-Hartland Central School property. In addition, contamination has migrated to negatively impact miles of creeks and culverts downgradient of the FMC facility, adversely impacting birds, fish, and wildlife in the Jeddo and Johnson Creek drainage basins.

The DEC’s enforcement actions include a consent order that requires the cleanup of all contaminated areas both on-site and off-site and avoids a protracted and costly legal battle that could have stalled cleanup progress for years. A prior 1991 Administrative Order on Consent with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is terminated and replaced by DEC’s new order, which requires a more thorough approach to address arsenic and other chemical impacts to the facility, residences, the school, and natural resources. Major highlights of the new consent order include:

• FMC will reimburse the State $31 million for costs related to the cleanup performed through the end of 2018. These funds will be returned to the State Superfund Program where they can be used to accelerate other critical cleanup projects;

• A $1 million environmental benefit project to help compensate the community for the impacts created by FMC’s contamination;

• FMC will reimburse DEC up to $15 million per year over the next two years (2019-20) for costs incurred by the State as it completes the cleanup of surrounding residential properties and the Royalton-Hartland School;

• FMC will assume all cleanup responsibilities after 2020 with stringent DEC oversight until the State determines the work is complete;

• FMC will pay penalties of $2.4 million to resolve decades of violations at the facility. A portion of the penalty will help fund habitat restoration projects related to past wildlife impacts caused by chemical releases;

• The settlement of outstanding state environmental violations will help the company protect current jobs at the facility and enable it to plan for potential future growth;

• FMC will fund an on-site environmental monitor at the facility and implement a site management plan to prevent future environmental violations;

• The facility will be required to fully upgrade the on-site wastewater treatment plant and expand the groundwater collection system to provide full hydraulic control and prevent off-site migration of groundwater contamination; and

• A substantial increase in financial assurance to $80 million to ensure that funds will be available to address the contamination.

The site is currently regulated by DEC as both a State Superfund site and a facility subject to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action. Additional information about the site can be found at DEC’s FMC Middleport Facility webpage.

Return to top


Simulation sends message to students about tragic results from drunk driving
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2019 at 3:56 pm

‘I want you guys to fun tonight but please make good decisions.’ – Roland Nenni, Albion and Holley police chief

Photos by Tom Rivers

HOLLEY – Peyton Sargent lays on the front hood of a vehicle this morning during a drunk driving simulation at Holley Junior-Senior High School.

Peyton and her classmates have prom this evening at The Plantation House in Spencerport. First responders in the Holley community created the simulation this morning to send a message about the sometimes fatal consequences of drunk driving.

The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period when teen driver-involved crashes rise 14 percent compared to the rest of the year.

Braden Ferranti was a passenger in a vehicle involved in the crash. A Holley police officer, Dillon Black, checks on him. Holley students were told that Ferranti and Kory Puente both suffered serious injuries.

Cade Aina was the driver in the mock accident. Here he is given a test to see if he is impaired. George Barton is the Holley police officer.

Scott Schmidt, an Orleans County coroner and funeral director, was called to the scene. He would declare Peyton deceased and helped put her body in a hearse.

Rachel Sargent, Peyton’s mother, is giving the tragic news about her daughter. Rachel said she reacted with grief because she wanted to send a message to her daughter’s classmates about how serious the consequences can be to driving drunk or impaired.

After the crash simulation, students went into the school auditorium where there was a mock arraignment and sentencing for Aina. Joanne Best, the public defender is at left. Dillon Black, the Holley police officer, leads Aina away in handcuffs.

If this was a real case, Aina would have been charged with first-degree vehicular manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, and vehicular assault, which has a seven-year maximum.

Orleans County Court Judge Sanford Church used to be Aina’s Little League coach in Albion. He said Aina had a spotless record until the crash. The judge asked the students how many would sentence Aina to the maximum of 15 years in prison. No one put up their hand. The students favored a lesser sentence and Church said he would likely give someone in a similar case a sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison.

Aina, in that scenario, might not be out of prison until his mid-20s and then would be on parole with supervision. He would see his job prospects severely diminished and would have to pay court fines and attorney fees, Church said.

Roland Nenni, the Albion and Holley police chief, urged students “to be courageous” and not ride with a drunk driver or someone impaired by drugs. In back are Judge Sanford Church, District Attorney Joe Cardone, and Public Defender Joanne Best.

People impaired or drunk shouldn’t drive and Nenni told them to call 911 if they feel stranded and can’t get a ride. Nenni said he has authorized Holley and Albion police officers to give teens a ride if they are impaired or drunk, or don’t want to ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. Nenni said they wouldn’t face criminal charges in those instances when they need help. (Albion also has its prom tonight at Hickory Ridge Country Club in Holley.)

The police chief is also a former Holley fire chief chief. He has responded to many fatal accidents. Those tragedies happen too often because of bad choices from drivers, Nenni said.

“I want you guys to have fun tonight but please make good decisions,” he told the Holley students.

District Attorney Joe Cardone also told students he has prosecuted many cases where a drunk driver killed someone or caused serious injuries, “due to a few moments of a bad decision.”

“Maybe you think it can’t be you, but it can be you,” Cardone said.

Return to top


Strawberry Fest returns with lots on the menu
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2019 at 3:05 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Mackenzie Fox of Chiavetta’s cooks the chicken barbecue dinners that will be served today at the First Presbyterian Church of Albion.

The 33rd annual Albion Strawberry Festival started today with many food and craft vendors, as well as music scheduled for later in the evening.

Herman Sinemus, Scoutmaster of Troop 6017 in Elba, gets homemade onion rings ready at the Troop’s booth at the food court on East Bank Street. The Scouts have been at the festival the past five years with their onion rings and also French onion soup.

Doug Farley of the Cobblestone Museum grills hot dogs at the museum’s booth. The museum is a food vendor for the first time at the festival.

Ethan Barrett of Elma holds a bag of strawberry kettle corn. He has been a vendor at the festival for seven years.

The Peyton Express passes down East State Street on the mini train.

The festival continues Saturday with the parade at 10 a.m. Entertainment continues through the day and evening. Click here to see the schedule.

Return to top


Rural Democrats urge Democrat-led Legislature not to pass overtime pay for farmworkers
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 June 2019 at 11:57 am

Leaders of the Democratic Rural Conference of New York State on Thursday issued a resolution opposing overtime pay for farmworkers, saying it could harm an agricultural industry that is already in a “precarious situation,” according to a statement from Judith Hunter of Livingston County, who is chairwoman of the conference.

The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act is sponsored by State Sen. Jessica Ramos of Queens. The bill has been introduced in the Legislature before but was always stopped by Republicans who had the majority of the seats. This year the Senate is in Democrat control.

Hunter said the dairy industry is in a crisis and other sectors are struggling.

“Our rural economy depends on agriculture, and we are concerned that agriculture will be able to recover from its current difficulties stronger than ever,” she said.

Agriculture in New York State represents $4.2 billion and is “an integral part of our rural heritage and culture, directly and indirectly providing valuable jobs, supporting local business and are a critical component of our state’s economy,” the Rural Democrats said in a resolution.

“Any eventual legislation should protect our farmworkers, clearly, but it should also protect our farmers,” Hunter said. “They are unable to pass on higher production costs by charging higher prices, because those prices are set by market forces beyond their control. Already, dairy farmers find themselves getting less for their milk than it costs them to produce. New York agriculture also must be supported as it works to become more competitive, more sustainable, and more resilient in the face of climate change.”

Farmers at a roundtable in Batavia last month said the legislation requiring time-and-half after 8 hours in one day and 40 hours in a week would increase their costs from 17 to 25 percent. Some of the farmers, like fruit grower Jeff Toussaint of Knowlesville, said they would have to look at a different type of farming with far less labor costs. For Toussaint that could mean removing fruit trees and planting corn and soybeans.

The Rural Democrats are proposing the overtime threshold not begin until 60 hours are worked in a week.

The farmers at the Batavia roundtable, led by State Sen. Robert Ortt, said labor costs have been on the rise with the state’s minimum wage increases and the H2A rates, which are all set by the government. When those wages go up, farmers increase the wages for middle managers, herdsmen and others who are above the minimum wage.

The Rural Democrats said the state’s minimum wage ranks among the top five in the country, with the minimum wage in upstate currently $3.85 higher than federal minimum wage.

The state legislation calls for collective bargaining for farmworkers, but the Rural Democrats say there should be a no-strike provision.

The resolution will be sent to state legislative leaders, including Gov. Cuomo.

(Editor’s Note: Jeanne Crane, the Orleans County Democratic Party chairwoman, is a member of the board of directors for the Rural Democrats.)

Return to top