Florida man pleads guilty in credit card scheme that included Orleans County
Posted 24 February 2021 at 3:45 pm

Press Release, United States Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. – Western District of New York

BUFFALO – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., announced today that Giosdeivy Duarte Torresilla, 31, of Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, and a fine of $1,000,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno, who is handling the case, stated that in January 2017, the defendant traveled with four co-conspirators from Miami, Florida, to Hamburg, NY. Torresilla then provided his co-conspirators with numerous counterfeit access devices, which consisted of gift cards that the defendant had re-encoded with account numbers for actual credit card or debit card accounts at multiple financial institutions, including banks and credit unions.

Torresilla obtained the account numbers unlawfully by “skimming” them from payment terminals at gas station pumps. The co-conspirators used 129 different counterfeit access devices to purchase gift cards at various Walmart stores in Erie, Niagara, and Orleans counties. After purchasing the legitimate Walmart gift cards, the co-conspirators sent the gift card numbers to a co-conspirator in Miami, Florida. The gift cards were worth $120,689.02.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the United States Secret Service, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Acting Thomas A. Braun.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 6 at 3:30 p.m. before Judge Geraci.

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Glad Tidings Missionary Baptist Church has served Medina for nearly a century

Photographs and historical information courtesy of Glad Tidings Baptist Church: This photograph shows the first members of Glad Tidings Baptist Church.

Posted 24 February 2021 at 3:22 pm

Illuminating Orleans, Volume 1, No. 7

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

MEDINA – In 1925, Sister Mary Johnson, a member of the Baptist Church of Rochester, felt called to assist the Black people of Medina who had been searching for a spiritual haven. With the assistance of Elder Caldwell and Rev. Henry Young of East Rochester, Sunday services were held at 811 Genesee Street, Medina, the home of Sister Johnson. At first, attendance ranged from five to 12 people.

They were given the use of a 12- by 18-foot building at 404 West Oak Orchard Street, which had been purchased for $20. The first service was held in this building on December 15, 1926. There were nine members: Sister Mary Johnson, Brother Thomas and Sister Martha Chambers, Brother John Royal, Brother Arthur and Sister Lydia Johnson, Sister Grace Schyler and Sister Alice Jones. The first offering was 10 cents a week, with special offerings on Sundays and holidays. Church history records that the location was “tried by fire and water”, once flooded and once almost destroyed by fire.

In 1929, the community purchased the lot at 404 West Oak Orchard Street from Charles Gilbert for $500. The cornerstone for the new wood frame building was laid in the winter of 1930 and it was erected by Brother Robert Johnson and Deaconess Sister Mary Johnson with the help of others who donated their time and labor.

Deaconess Mary Johnson gave her first lesson in the new Glad Tidings Baptist Church building on Dec. 11, 1931.

The name “Glad Tidings Missionary Baptist Church” was formally adopted in May 1937. Membership increased from 65 members in 1952 to 125 in 1956. A basement was completed in 1954 and an addition to accommodate the growing congregation was completed in 1957. A flood in 1968 destroyed church records and the basement kitchen. The church was also incorporated in this year.

By 1973, the condition of the 1930s building had deteriorated and a decision was made to replace it with a new Barden pre-structured building at an estimated cost of $50,000.

This ambitious project was completed under the leadership of Pastor Oscar Amos, and the new church, with the distinctive cross in front, was dedicated May 23, 1973.

The Mission has been served by many dedicated pastors including Rev. Willis Eavens who served from 1932 to 1954.

Dr. Rev. Lambert Duncan is the current and longest serving Pastor of the church, having served for 35 years. He has been New York Chaplain for six years. Originally from New York City, he lives in Rochester and is retired from Kodak. He holds three Doctorates from the Carolina University of Theology. His wife, Sister Elaine, holds a Doctorate in Christian Counseling and is also active in the church. Pastor Duncan’s focus is on outreach to the entire community.

Elder Neil Samborski and his wife, Kathy, have been associated with Glad Tidings for ten years. This Lyndonville couple are actively involved with the food ministry, distributing food from the Open Door Ministry in Rochester. Elder Samborski is also actively involved with the Medina Area Association of Churches.

In keeping with the church’s missionary goal, the Samborskis have undertaken several missionary trips to Malawi in South Africa, through the African Mission for Christ Worldwide. Elder Samborski is also a bishop of the newly founded church at Ntaja, Malawi.

Current officers of the church are: Elders: Elder Nathan Little and Elder Neil Samborski, Mothers of the Church: Sister Mattie Jackson and Sister Glennis Chinn, Deacons of Ministry: Deacon Gregg Boose and Deacon Jack Byrd. The Deaconesses of Ministry are: Mother Mattie Jackson, Sister Kathy Samborski and Sister Easter Boose. Sister Elaine Boose is President of Usher Ministry.

The church takes as its motto the words of Matthew 28: 19-20, urging members to spread the Christian message. Glad Tidings Missionary Baptist Church has been the “Mother Church” for the establishment of several other churches locally. The legacy of Sister Mary Johnson and the original founding members flourishes.

The Glad Tidings congregation has gathered in prayer at this 404 West Oak Orchard St., Medina, location for 95 years.

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Orleans expects $170K from state to help with new discovery costs in DA’s Office
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2021 at 1:40 pm

ALBION – The Orleans County District Attorney’s Office is applying for a $170,000 state grant to help the county with its expenses to meet new state regulations for discovery, or the evidence to be shared with the defendants and their lawyers.

The DA’s Office has added two employees and purchased equipment to comply with the regulations. That equipment connects the DA’s Office, law enforcement agencies, defense attorneys and others to share discovery materials.

Beginning last year the state required the DA’s offices and law enforcement agencies to turn over evidence to defendants and their lawyers within 15 to 30 days after arraignment. Discovery often includes police reports, 911 calls and recordings, and DNA results.

The state is making the $170,000 available to the county through what is expected to be a one-time grant, District Attorney Joe Cardone said.

There will be $40 million available statewide. The funding covers expenses retroactively from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

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Local riders, teams set for Daytona Bike Week
Contributed Story Posted 24 February 2021 at 9:50 am

Contributed Photos – Getting set for competition at Daytona Bike Week Brandon Newman, left practices on the ice at Glenwood Lake in Medina and Ryan Wells practices in Florida for the season opener.

The local area will be well represented by riders and race teams at the up coming Daytona Bike Week where the highest level of competition in the Motorcycle Flat Track world will be held for the series debut at Volusia Speedway Park in DeLeon Springs, Florida.

Local Crusaders Motorcycle Club track champion Ryan Wells is teaming up with former Medina competitor Tanner Dean to race in the Singles Class with the 1st Impressions Racing Team from Jaacksonville Florida. He competed with Waters Autobody Racing last year until an injury sidelined his 2020 racing efforts.

Aidian Roosevans and Hunter Bauer will be riding for the Waters AutoBody Racing Team this coming season.

Brandon Newman from Medina will be competing as a privateer effort on a KTM 450SFX with support from his father Brian Newman and sponsors All Metal Works and RLJ Racing as well as many local supporters and fans. Both Brandon and Brian have been regular racers at the Crusaders Motorcycle Club course and even during the winter months Brandon has been practicing and sharping his skills on the ice at Glenwood Lake.

The Waters AutoBody Race Team will be fielding a two rider AFT singles team with riders Aidan Roosevans from O’Fallon Illinois and Canadian Hunter Bauer from Niagara Falls, Ontario.

“We are super excited to have been able to put together a strong team after joining forces with NKR Canada and FRA Trust this season to compete and bring young talented riders to the sport of flat track racing,” said team owner Rhonda Waters. “Dave and I are extremely happy to have been selected to be a KTM support team this year and with help from our local sponsor, Hebeler Sales and Service, RLJ Engines and Dyno Tech Research we have a strong package to take to the track.”

“American Flat Track is the professional race series equivalent to NASCAR but for the two wheeled enthusiasts,” adds Waters. “The organization was acquired by Daytona Motorsports Group and the sport has experienced a resurgence and has acquired national sponsors to fund the series.”

The opening rounds of the competition are scheduled for March 12 and 13. The races are scheduled to be broadcast live on Track Pass NBC Gold and broadcast after the event on NBCSN.

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Lyndonville, with only a part-time officer, will institute police policies to meet state requirements
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2021 at 9:45 am

No chokeholds and no bias-based profiling among the standards

Photos by Tom Rivers: Lyndonville Village Trustee Darren Wilson, right, and Mayor John Belson discuss policies for the Lyndonville Police Department on Monday. The village will have a 6 p.m. public hearing on March 29 for the community to comment on the new policies.

LYNDONVILLE – The village, which only has one part-time police officer, is working to adopt policies for the department to be in line with an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

All law enforcement s agencies in the state, regardless of size, need to submit a plan to the state by April 1. That plan needs to include the department’s use of firearms and force, efforts to build community relationships, a policy against bias-based profiling and how the departments investigate hate crimes.

Lyndonville currently doesn’t have those policies on the books but will be adding them to meet the state deadline. The Village Board discussed the policies on Monday afternoon and will continue the discussion during its March 1 board meeting. The village will have a 6 p.m. public hearing on March 29 to take comments form the community. Residents can also submit written comments online through the village website. (Click here for more information.)

The police patrol car is pictured on Monday afternoon outside the Village Hall on Main Street. The village has one part-time officer.

Bill Larkin has served as the village’s part-time officer since 2006. The mayor, currently John Belson, oversees the department. The officer does road patrol, and enforces local and state laws in a village of 838 residents in 1 square mile.

The officer investigates criminal and civil complaints, as well as domestic disputes and family matters. The officer responds to intrusion alarms and motor vehicle accidents.

Lyndonville is using the policies from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office as a model to meet the state requirements. Drafts of those policies can be reviewed by clicking here.

Some highlights of the proposed policies include:

Community Relations: Police officers shall be courteous, furnish their name and badge number, and “must treat persons with as much respect as that person will allow. They also must be mindful that the people with whom they are dealing are individuals, with human emotions and needs.”

The Police Department participates in many community events, including the Fourth of July celebration, Halloween, Christmas in Lyndonville celebration, Memorial Day and also events at the school district. The department “is committed to building a stronger community by building trust and relationships through community policing,” the policy states.

Use of Force: The Lyndonville PD bans use of chokeholds.

Police officers, after completing firearms training, shall carry a firearm while on duty. After the required training, sworn officers will carry OC (oleoresin capsicum) spray, a baton or ASP (Armament Systems and Procedures) and an EMD (Electro-Muscular Disruption) system, commonly referred to as an X-26 Taser, the policy states.

Police officers, in the performance of their duties, as authorized to use reasonable and legitimate force in specific cases. This policy, founded in the standards of federal constitutional requirements and state statutes, provides guidance regarding the use and justification for the use of force, including deadly physical force.

Use of Deadly Force: The Lyndonville Village Police Department personnel may use deadly physical force under the following circumstances, and then only when no other reasonable alternative is available:
A. To defend himself or another person when the officer has reasonable cause to believe there is imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to himself or another;
B. To apprehend a resisting person who is committing or has committed a crime in which deadly physical force is being used or threatened and the officer has reasonable cause to believe that such person will cause death or serious injury unless immediately apprehended;
C. To kill a dangerous animal or an animal so badly injured that humanity requires that it be removed from further suffering. In the case of an injured animal, permission of the owner should be obtained, whenever possible. Care should be taken to protect bystanders from a ricocheting bullet and, if possible, avoid killing of an animal in the presence of children.
D. Members of the Lyndonville Village Police Department shall only fire their weapons at a person to stop and neutralize an assailant to prevent him/her from completing a potentially deadly aggressive act or in the instances as described in this section. For maximum stopping effectiveness and minimal danger to innocent bystanders, the officer should shoot at “available target center mass”. The officer’s intent and purpose is only to stop the deadly aggression or prevent the escape of the subject.
E. No distinction shall be made relative to the age or gender of the intended target of deadly physical force.
F. Self-defense and imminent threat of deadly physical force/serious physical injury shall be the guideline for employing deadly force.

Bias-Based Profiling: The village explicitly states that any racial or ethnic profiling by members of the Police Department is strictly prohibited.

“It is the policy of the Lyndonville Village Police Department that all members will not affect a stop, detention, or search of any person which is motivated by race, color, ethnicity, age, gender or sexual orientation,” the policy states.

Investigation of Hate Crimes: Lyndonville will seek to identify and investigate hate crimes in accordance with the Hate Crimes Act of 2000.

“Any acts or threats of violence, property damage, harassment, intimidation, or other crimes motivated by hate and bias and designed to infringe upon the rights of individuals are viewed very seriously by this agency and shall be given high priority,” the policy states. “This agency shall employ necessary law enforcement resources to identify and arrest hate crime perpetrators. Also, recognizing the particular fears and distress typically suffered by victims, the potential for reprisal and escalation of violence, and the far-reaching negative consequences on the community.”

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Orleans, lagging in vaccines, expects big allotment to help catch up
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2021 at 8:30 pm

‘Orleans County is significantly behind when it comes to vaccination rates.’ – Public Health Director Paul Pettit

ALBION – Orleans County currently is in last place among the nine counties in the Finger Lakes Region for the percentage of the population that has received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In Orleans, 3,491 people or 8.6 percent of the county’s 40,612 residents have received the first dose of the vaccine. That is about 1,000 behind Wyoming County, which is the second lowest in the Finger Lakes at 11.1 percent. State-wide the vaccination rate is 12.3 percent for at least the first dose.

That county with 40,085 residents has nearly the same population as Orleans. But it has 4,459 residents who have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

The data is available on the state’s Vaccine Tracker. Paul Pettit, the public health director in Genesee and Orleans counties, said state officials have noticed Orleans is lagging behind other counties in the region.

“Orleans County is significantly behind when it comes to vaccination rates,” Pettit said this evening during a conference with elected officials in Orleans County. “It’s not a surprise because we haven’t been getting much of the vaccine.”

The state has committed to sending 1,170 additional doses to Orleans to help the county get caught up in the region.

“That will get us in line with other counties,” Pettit said. “We’re waiting on verification when it will get here.”

The additional doses are on top of the county’s weekly allotment. This week that is 400 doses.

The 1,179 doses will be distributed by the Orleans County Health Department, and likely some of the pharmacies in the county, Oak Orchard Health and Orleans Community Health.

“We’ve reached out to our partners to spread out the vaccines and to get in as many arms in county residents as we can,” Pettit said about the 1,179 doses. “Our plan is to get that out the door within a couple days once we get it.”

In addition to the 3,491 Orleans County residents who have received at least the first dose, 1,936 have received both doses and are done. (Wyoming, with 2,796 second doses, also is ahead of Orleans.)

Genesee County has had 7,222 or 12.6 percent of its 57,511 resident get at least the first dose and 3,875 are done with both doses.

The percentage of residents in each Finger Lakes county that has received at least the first dose includes:

• Genesee, 12.6 percent

• Livingston, 13.0 percent

• Monroe, 13.7 percent

• Ontario, 15.1 percent

• Orleans, 8.6 percent

• Seneca, 11.5 percent

• Wayne, 11.3 percent

• Wyoming, 11.1 percent

• Yates, 13.1 percent

Orleans County officials have used the low vaccination rates in an appeal to the state for a mass vaccination clinic at Genesee Community College in Batavia, which could be the base for serving residents in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, as well as other nearby counties with residents who want to use the GCC site which is close to the Thruway.

The three counties are waiting to hear from the Governor’s Office and State Department of Health if the mass vaccination clinic will be approved. The counties have asked for staffing assistance for the clinic from the National Guard.

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Orleans reports 5 more Covid cases while Genesee has 15 more
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2021 at 4:43 pm

In Orleans County there are 5 more confirmed cases of Covid-19 to report today, bringing the total to 2,382 since last March, the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments reported this afternoon.

The positive cases reside in the West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby) and Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre). The individuals are in the age groups of 0-19, 30s, 40s, and 60s.

One of the new positives was on mandatory quarantine prior to testing positive. Orleans is reporting that 5 more of the previous positive individuals have recovered and been removed from the isolation list.

There are currently 2 county residents hospitalized due to Covid.

In Genesee County there are 15 new positive cases of Covid-19, bringing the total 4,184 positive cases since last March.

The new positive cases reside in the Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) and East Region (Bergen, Byron, LeRoy, Pavilion, Stafford). The individuals are in the age groups of 0-19, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 70s and 80s. One of the new positive cases is a resident of The Grand Rehabilitation and Nursing at Batavia.

Genesee is reporting that 18 more of the previous positive individuals have recovered and been removed from the isolation list.

There are 12 Genesee residents currently hospitalized due to Covid.

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Jacobs proposes governors must disclose nursing home deaths to get Covid aid
Posted 23 February 2021 at 2:33 pm

Press Release, Congressman Chris Jacobs

ORCHARD PARK – Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is releasing the following statement after the House Committee on the Budget met yesterday for the markup of the Covid-19 budget reconciliation package. During the hearing, Jacobs introduced a proposal to provide needed accountability for state nursing home death disclosures.

“Our government and its leaders have a responsibility to be honest and transparent. Unfortunately, it has become clear that has not been the case with the Cuomo administration and during the Covid pandemic,” Jacobs said. “Governor Cuomo’s attempts to coverup the actual number of nursing home deaths in New York represent a serious betrayal of the public trust. At yesterday’s budget hearing I introduced a proposal to build additional safeguards into the new Covid relief legislation to protect families in New York and around the country, and to ensure our governmental leaders will be honest and transparent with the citizens they are sworn to serve and protect.”

Jacobs introduced a motion to instruct, which if passed, would have built in a provision requiring all governors to submit written certifications confirming the number of nursing home deaths as a result of Covid-19 in their state is accurate before receiving aid.

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Section VI to allow two spectators per athlete for home team only; schools have the option
Contributed Story Posted 23 February 2021 at 1:00 pm

The Section VI Executive Committee met Monday afternoon and voted to allow home schools the option of allowing up to two of their spectators, per athlete for the remainder of the winter season.

The new policy goes into effect on Wednesday, February 24. The Section had committed to reviewing the ‘No Spectators’ verdict at its last meeting on January 28.

“As we stated late last month, it was our intent to review local data and trends this week”, Section President, Brett Banker said. “In addition, we surveyed all member schools in an effort to gauge their thoughts. It was clear that school districts supported a Section-wide policy and that is what we have created.”

In the sports of basketball and swimming, the host districts will have the prerogative to allow up to two home spectators per athlete. Since hockey, bowling and skiing are held at private businesses, the prevailing parameters at each facility will be followed. For instance, the majority of hockey facilities allow only one spectator per athlete.

“As a Section we do not have the authority to override the protocols of private facilities, we are guests and because of that, those standards will still apply”, Banker continued. “Each school district will be responsible for ensuring the health and safety of all spectators and participants in their buildings by requiring masks and enforcing social distancing”.

Schools have the autonomy to adjust down if they deem that the foot print of their facilities are insufficient to safely host two spectators from the host school for each athlete. It is clear from the survey that not all home sites can host spectators from both schools while following social distancing regulations.

“We realize that based on the differences in facilities and staffing across the Section, we need to offer schools some flexibility to create protocols that work for them,” Banker noted. “We are grateful for the support of our schools, school leaders, and the patience that so many have displayed.”

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Weights & Measures reassures public that gas pumps are accurate as price rises
Posted 23 February 2021 at 11:18 am

Press Release, Genesee-Orleans County Weights & Measures Department

With the current spike in fuel prices, the Genesee-Orleans County Department of Weights & Measures wants the public to know that all pumps in service are up to date with their state-mandated inspections and have been approved for use.

“We pumped over 13,000 gallons of fuel testing and verifying fuel meters last year,” stated Ronald P. Mannella, Weights and Measures director in the two counties. “If a pump is out of tolerance and under delivering, it is removed from service until repaired. Our tolerances are tight in order to establish fairness and equity in the marketplace.”

Of the 457 petroleum pumps between the two counties, only one was found under delivering and out of tolerance in 2020.

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Governor hails completion of 7 upgraded canal bridges in Orleans County
Posted 23 February 2021 at 11:09 am

$10.7 million project improves traffic flow in canal towns

Photo by Tom Rivers: Traffic passes over the Gaines Basin Road canal bridge on Nov. 26, 2020. The bridge reopened after a major rehabilitation, one of seven canal bridges that were upgraded as part of a $10.7 million initiative by the state Department of Transportation. The Gaines Basin bridge was closed for about six months for the construction work.

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Cuomo today announced the completion of a $10.7 million project to rehabilitate seven historic single-lane bridges across the Erie Canal in the towns of Murray, Albion, Gaines, Ridgeway and the Village of Medina.

The state Department of Transportation replaced the steel flooring and raised the legal weight limit on all seven 100-year old truss bridges to allow farm equipment, trucks and other commercial vehicles to safely pass while simultaneously improving the flow of both people and commerce throughout the region.

The historic project builds on the regional Finger Lakes Forward initiative, which has already invested over $8 billion to revitalize communities and facilitate commerce along the Erie Canal and the surrounding region.

“New York has made unprecedented investments to upgrade the state’s infrastructure to increase public safety while boosting economic activity along the Erie Canal,” Governor Cuomo said. “The historic Erie Canal is critical for doing business in the region and we’re proud to honor the Canal’s commercial legacy by bringing these bridges into the 21st century. This project will ensure that locals and visitors alike get where they need to go quickly and safely.”

Construction on the project began in December 2018 and has included repairs to the structures and installation of high-strength galvanized steel to replace steel flooring systems and truss elements of the bridges. Each bridge also received a fresh coat of paint. Work took place at the following locations:

  • Bennetts Corners Road, between Route 31 and Gulf Road, in the Town of Murray.
  • Telegraph Road, between Route 237 and Groth Road, in the Town of Murray.
  • Transit Road, between Route 31 and West Brockville Road, in the Town of Murray.
  • Densmore Road, north of Route 31, in the Town of Albion.
  • Gaines Basin Road, between Albion Eagle Harbor Road and West Bacon Road, in the Town of Gaines.
  • Bates Road, between Telegraph Road and Portage Road, in the Village of Medina.
  • Marshall Road, between Route 31 and School Road, in the Town of Ridgeway.

Orleans County Legislature Chairwoman Lynne Johnson said, “The residents of Orleans County are very grateful to Governor Cuomo and the NYSDOT for providing the funding to complete seven Erie Canal Bridge rehabilitation projects. After two years of construction efforts we now have safe and reliable access over the canal for our emergency services, commuters, and farmers. These bridges not only are a part of our rich heritage, but provide vital connections to our local businesses and residents. Investing in infrastructure is an easy thing to ignore, and you don’t know it’s too late until you are in crisis mode. It’s great to see this kind of investment paying dividends in developing reliable infrastructure that will keep our economy strong.”

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The Erie Canal is a treasured part of the history of New York State and continues to play a vital role in sustaining the economic health and well-being of the Finger Lakes Region. The rehabilitation of these bridges demonstrates our commitment to improving the canal’s infrastructure to meet the needs of a 21st century economy while still respecting the important role the canal and the bridges have played in the history of not only the region but also the entire state and nation.”

New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “The rehabilitation of these seven iconic bridges over the Erie Canal is another example of Governor Cuomo’s continued investment in canalside communities that ensures these vital crossings continue to support the economic needs of the region. The Canal Corporation is proud to collaborate with the Department of Transportation on this project as it greatly improves the safety for all vehicles, including local farming equipment and emergency responders, crossing over the bridges and for the boats passing underneath on the canal.”

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Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming ask NY for mass vaccination clinic at GCC
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 February 2021 at 10:22 am

Leaders from 3 rural counties tell governor they have been left out with Covid vaccine

Photo by Tom Rivers: The clock leading to the entrance of GCC in Batavia is pictured with the Conable Technology Building at left in this file photo.

BATAVIA – The leaders of the three rural counties of Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming have sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking that the state utilize GCC’s campus in Batavia as a mass vaccination clinic for the three counties.

“These counties have consistently been left out of the Covid-19 response with delays in testing supplies and now with very limited vaccine allocations. All three counties are medically underserved and having a regional clinic with less than a half hour commute would benefit these communities,” according to the letter which was signed by Rochelle Stein, Genesee County Legislative Chairwoman; Lynne Johnson, Orleans County Legislative Chairwoman; Rebecca Ryan, Wyoming County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman; Paul Pettit, Genesee Orleans County Health Departments Director; and Dr. Gregory Collins, Wyoming County Health Department Medical Director.

If properly staffed through assistance by the National Guard the officials said that the GCC clinic would have the capacity to vaccinate 2,000 people per day.

“With the three counties vulnerable and underserved populations, the county Local Health Departments also request to continue receiving allocations for their vulnerable populations locally to meet the needs of those with transportation/access issues while also supporting a larger regional clinic at GCC,” the officials wrote.

The clinic would be strategically located between Buffalo and Rochester. The site at GCC would provide closer access to a mass vaccination clinic for residents in the three rural counties, and also would draw the eastern and western portions of other contiguous counties with the college campus easily accessible off the Thruway, the officials wrote.

“Our three counties look forward to working with your office to provide this much needed and more equitable solution to meet the needs of the more rural communities,” the officials concluded in the letter to the governor.

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Governor details expanded guidelines for nursing home visitations
Posted 23 February 2021 at 9:15 am

DOH strongly recommends rapid test for visitors

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday announced new, expanded guidelines for visitation of residents in nursing home facilities in accordance with CMS and CDC guidelines to begin on February 26.

The Department of Health recommends that visitors take a rapid test before entry into the facility, and DOH will provide rapid tests to nursing homes to facilitate their ability to test visitors on-site and at no cost. Visitation continues to depend on the nursing home facility being free of COVID-19 cases for 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing.

“One of the most devastating aspects of this virus has been how it separated families from their loved ones, making an already difficult situation even harder to bear,” Governor Cuomo said. “Thanks to the dedication of New Yorkers, we’re now at a point where we can begin to expand nursing home visitations under strict guidelines to protect the health and safety of residents.”

For counties with COVID-19 positivity rates between 5-10 percent on a 7-day rolling average, visitor testing is required and visitors must either present with a negative Covid-19 test, either PCR or rapid, within 72 hours or facilities may utilize rapid tests to meet the requirement. For counties with Covid-19 positivity rates below 5 percent on a 7-day rolling average, visitor testing is strongly encouraged and rapid tests may be utilized.

Alternatively, visitors may provide proof of a completed Covid-19 vaccination no less than 14 days from the date of the visit and no more than 90 days prior to the visit. Visitation will not be permitted if the county’s Covid-19 positivity rate is greater than 10 percent. Compassionate care visits are always permitted.

Based on the needs of residents and a facility’s structure, visitation can be conducted in resident rooms, dedicated visitation spaces and outdoors. The number of visitors to the nursing home must not exceed 20 percent of the resident census at any time and the number of visitors and time allocated to visitation should be considerate of this capacity limitation.

Full DOH guidance for nursing home visitation can be found by clicking here.

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Holley in mourning after loss of Evan Valentine, 18
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 February 2021 at 9:27 pm

Teen inspired community during fight with leukemia for 2 ½ years

Photos by Tom Rivers: Evan Valentine is hugged by principal Sue Cory when he returned to school on April 22, 2019. About 450 of his classmates surprised him in the school gym and gave him a standing ovation for his first day back at school after enduring five months in the hospital for chemo and recovery. Many of the teachers and students wore orange “Evan Strong” shirts to celebrate Evan’s return.

HOLLEY – Evan Valentine, a member of Holley’s Class of 2021, passed away on Sunday after fighting leukemia for nearly 2 ½ years.

“This is a loss to our school and our community, as many have rallied around Evan for the past couple of years,” Sue Coy, the middle and high school principal, said in a message on the district website. “Death is difficult for us all to deal with,” Cory wrote in her message. “We all handle this in different ways. We want you to know that it is OK to need and ask for support.”

Provided photo: Evan Valentine is shown on Nov. 4, 2018 with some of the get well cards he received. These cards were from Boy Scouts in Holley and the First Presbyterian Church of Holley.

Grief counselors were at the school today and will be available on Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students, even those on remote learning are welcome to come to the school for any support.

Evan, the son of Diane and Neil Valentine, was a very popular student at Holley. He played soccer and golf and performed in the school musicals. He was confirmed at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in August and was the altar server of the year in 2018 in the Western New York Diocese.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Valentine family,” Cory said. “They have continually felt the love of this community.”

Evan was diagnosed with leukemia on Oct. 19, 2018, a day before he was to play in a Sectional soccer game for Holley as a center defender.

Evan went to the doctor after battling some digestive issues. After getting his blood drawn, doctors were concerned about the presence of blast cells. Evan was diagnosed with leukemia and was admitted to Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong.

He completed multiple rounds of chemotherapy and had a bone marrow transplant, but the leukemia returned. He handled the chemo, the hair and weight loss, and the pain with grace and in a laid-back manner, with few complaints while keeping his faith.

Since his diagnosis, Evan and his family were inundated with love from his classmates and teachers. There are many cards, signed by hundreds of students and staff, in his hospital room. He and his family have seen the social media posts, showing the school community wearing orange T-shirts, face masks and bracelets in his honor.

Earlier, this month most of the Holley teachers wore orange “Evan Strong” T-shirts to school and posted those photos to an Evan Strong Facebook page.

Mrs. Valentine posted on Feb. 13  in response to the many photos of Holley teachers in the orange shirts: “HCSD we are thankful for your support EVERY SINGLE DAY. It has made such a difference to Evan and to us knowing that we have an army behind us in this battle. Evan Strong!”

Evan Valentine was given an escort by local fire trucks and community members lined the sidewalks on April 19, 2020 when he returned to the hospital for a bone marrow transplant at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester.

There were fire trucks from Holley, Clarendon, Fancher-Hulberton-Murray and Brockport in the escort for Valentine.

The community organized the sendoff for Evan partly due to the Covid restrictions on visitors at the hospital. Many of Evan’s friends weren’t able to visit him while he recovered from chemo and when he prepared for the bone marrow transplant. Evan’s classmates, teachers and the firefighters wanted to give him a show of support and strength as he prepared for the transplant.

“He is an inspiration to not only all the students and staff at Holley High School, but to the entire Holley community,” Brian Bartalo, the Holley school district superintendent, said that day. “He is an incredible young man with an engaging personality and unwavering spirit that encourages all of us.”

A Clarendon fire truck displays an “Evan Strong” sign during his escort on April 19, 2020.

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State issues guidance for weddings, movie theaters in NYC and billiard halls
Posted 22 February 2021 at 7:45 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Gallagher barn in Medina hosts a wedding outside in this photo from July 2, 2016. It was the first wedding at the venue on North Gravel Road. The barn which is used for receptions has room for 250 people.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that as New York’s hospitalization and Covid-19 infection rates continue to decline, New York is issuing guidance to begin re-opening additional sectors of the economy.

Specifically, billiard halls statewide and movie theaters in New York City are now permitted to re-open. Additionally, guidance is also being released for weddings and catered events which are scheduled to resume on March 15.

“As our infection rate continues to fall, and the vaccination rate continues to climb, we will keep reopening different sectors of our state’s economy and focus our efforts on building our state back better than it was before,” Cuomo said.

In addition, movie theaters that have been closed in any remaining parts of the state may also open in accordance with the guidance.

Specific summary guidelines for each industry are as follows:


Movie Theaters in New York City

  • Venues are restricted to 25 percent capacity, with no more than 50 people per screen at a time.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Assigned seating will be required in all theaters.
  • Social distancing between parties will be required at all times.
  • Additional staffing will be required to control occupancy, traffic and seating to ensure compliance.
  • Enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards must be met by theaters.
  • This action brings New York City movie theaters in line with movie theaters throughout the rest of the state.

Billiard/Pool Halls

  • Halls are restricted to 50 percent capacity outside of New York City; 35 percent capacity in New York City
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Mandatory social distancing must be enforced, or physical barriers between parties of patrons/players must be installed.
  • Each party must be assigned to a table to avoid comingling.
  • Staff must rigorously clean and disinfect any rented or shared equipment between use.


Weddings and Catered Events

  • Venues are restricted to 50 capacity, with no more than 150 people per event.
  • All patrons must be tested prior to the event.
  • Sign-in with contact information required to assist with potential contact tracing.
  • Venues must notify local health departments of large events, above the social gathering limit, in advance.
  • Masks will be required at all times except when seated and eating or drinking.
  • Ceremonial and socially-distanced dancing allowed under strict guidelines.
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