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Peebles in Albion will change over to a Gordmans
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2019 at 7:13 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: A sign says the Peebles in Albion is closing but the store is actually changing over to a Gordmans, which is expected in early 2020.

ALBION – The Peebles store at the Route 31 plaza in Albion will be changing over to a Gordmans, another retailer with designer name brand apparel, home decor, gifts, fragrances, clothing and other items.

Gordmans and Peebles are both owned by Stage Stores. Stage bought Gordmans in April 2017.

The Albion store has a big banner announcing the store is closing. It is actually going to switch over to a Gordmans, which might not happen until January or February, employees said.

Peebles uses 16,240 square feet of the Route 31 plaza, which also includes Save-A-Lot and the Dollar Tree.

Peebles has been a mainstay in the Albion plaza since 2007.

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Schools earn state academic/athletic honors
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 17 August 2019 at 3:38 pm

Five area high school athletic programs have earned New York State Public High School Athletic Association School of Excellence Awards for the 2018-19 academic year.

The honored schools include Medina, Roy-Hart and Wilson from the Niagara-Orleans League and Holley and Byron-Bergen from the Genesee Region League.

To earn the School of Excellence Award, a school must have at least 75 percent of its varsity teams qualify for and receive a Scholar-Athlete Team Award. A team must have its players have a composite academic average of at least 90 to earn the Scholar-Athlete Team Award.

Ortt makes it official: He’s running for Congress
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2019 at 1:37 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Rob Ortt announces his campaign for Congress this morning at the Lockport VFW. He also has a campaign announcement in Batavia today.

LOCKPORT – State Sen. Rob Ortt is running for Congress for the 27th Congressional District, an eight-county district that includes Orleans County.

Ortt will be seeking the Republican nomination. He expects there will be a primary fight in June. The winner will likely face Nate McMurray, a Democrat who announced his campaign a week ago, in November 2020.

Ortt has been in the State Senate for almost five years, representing the 62ndDistrict with includes Orleans and Niagara counties, and two Monroe County towns – Sweden and Clarkson.

He said he has proven experience fighting for his country, and the “liberal progressives in Albany.”

He wants to be a voice for the rural communities, which he said are often treated as a “fly over.”

Ortt, 40, during a campaign announcement in Lockport this morning said he is a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and be counted on to back the president’s policies of less regulations, and more resources for the border and the military.

“He needs a strong conservative voice to back him up,” Ortt said today at the Lockport VFW, where about 100 supporters gathered despite a downpour.

Ortt is being touted as a “battle-tested patriot” in the campaign. He enlisted in NY Army National Guard in October 2001 in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan for nine months in 2008. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge in recognition of his service.

Rob Ortt makes his announcement this morning after being introduced by Bill Ross (right), former Niagara County Legislature chairman. Ortt is joined up front by his wife, Meghan; his parents, Rob and Suzette Ortt; and his sister, Kori Gawrys, and her son.

He was introduced this morning by Bill Ross, the former Niagara County Legislature chairman. Ross said he worked closely with Ortt when he was mayor of North Tonawanda and then as the state senator.

“He is an outstanding communicator,” Ross said. “He knows how to establish rapport with any group. He doesn’t talk down to people.”

Ross said he was impressed that Ortt researched the issues and background of topics, and was prepared to speak before groups from many different sectors.

“He’s not afraid of town meetings or groups with some controversy,” Ross said. “He doesn’t give you a bunch of garbage. He gives you a straight answer and that’s what we need in a congressman.”

Rob Ortt delivered this speech this morning at the Lockport VFW on Caledonia Street:

Thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you, God, for guiding me and providing me the strength to be here today. And to Wayne Jagow, who offered a powerful reminder to us all of the service we have before God. I’d like to thank the VFW for all they do for our veterans and for their hospitality today.  I’d like to personally thank my wife and my best friend Meghan, who has stood with me every step of the way on our journey. And to my parents – mom and dad – I wouldn’t be here without you and all the sacrifices that you made for me and for our family.

It’s so incredibly humbling to be standing before so many friends, family, and patriots today as I announce my candidacy for the United States House of Representatives.

I do so fully aware of the challenges ahead. I enlisted and deployed to Afghanistan because the September 11th attacks represented such a pivotal event to me and to my generation. I believe we are again at such a pivotal moment politically and culturally in our country and here in western New York.

‘I’ve always believed in the call of patriotic service – whether military or public service – the front lines is where I wanted to be.’

A lot of people might ask why anyone, at this time would want to be in Congress? How could anyone believe that they could go to a place so dysfunctional, so corrupt, and make a difference? I would tell you that I was asked similar questions when I was deployed to Afghanistan and when I was elected to the State Senate.

But in each case, I went. I went to avenge my fellow Americans. I went to defend our way of life. I went to give voice to those who feel they have none. I went to fight on behalf of what we believe.

State Sen. Robert Ortt speaks with reporters after a campaign announcement this morning at the Lockport VFW.

The Greatest Generation fought fascism and communism. They defeated despots and dictators. They came from small towns and big cities and they fought for something so much larger than themselves. They fought for this great flag and this great country.

When the towers were struck on that September morning, and when the Pentagon was hit, and when Flight 93 fell – it was abundantly clear to ME what MY calling was. We were attacked by Islamic terrorists. There are members of Congress who are not comfortable with that truth.  They would rather say that “some people did something” and move on. I will not let them get away with that. I will never let anyone dishonor the memory of the 3,000 Americans who died on that day, nor the memory of the Americans who died fighting to avenge them.

I’ve always believed in the call of patriotic service – whether military or public service – the front lines is where I wanted to be.

In Afghanistan, we fought Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists while trying to rebuild a war torn country. Today we have elected members of Congress, members who have never worn the uniform, who question why we were in Afghanistan in the first place. I’ll tell you why. We brought the fight to our enemy, destroying Al Qaeda leadership, and we killed Osama Bin Laden. Every veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom helped make that happen.

Rob Ortt and his wife Meghan face the cameras and a crowd of about 100.

I was lucky to return home to Meghan, to my family.  But I wear a reminder of four of my brothers who were not so lucky. This is what motivates me and inspires me. These men, and countless others, died, for the idea that we call America. And my obligation to them and to our country did not end when I took off the uniform.

So, I want to thank you for joining me at the front line today – the front line for the battle for our country and our future.

You all know me – and all of you have supported me, and have been a welcome contrast to the “America is Evil” chants out there. Because when I was in Albany or around New York City lawmakers, all I would hear is how horrible our country has been and is today.

And anytime we turn on the nightly news, or hear from the President’s attackers, all we hear is that we’re living in an awful, evil nation, an awful time filled with awful people. I don’t believe that and I know you all don’t believe that.

As your next Congressman my message to those who dislike our country so much, who dislike all of you so much, who dislike our heroes like Washington and Jefferson so much, who dislike our laws, will be simple and direct – If you don’t love this country, you are free to leave.  Borders work both ways.

This district embodies the American spirit and all the values that have made our country great. Whether I’m visiting small cities like Lockport and Batavia, suburbs like Hamburg and Victor, or breadbasket farming communities outside Warsaw and Avon – there’s agreement. Yes, we have our differences but we all agree that our country was great, is great, and can become Greater Still. All of you with me here today that give me confidence to say this.

Albany, and by extension, New York state, is a warning to the rest of country. We have seen what the Democratic socialist agenda is: higher taxes, open borders, drivers licenses for illegal immigrants, unionization of our farms, abortion on demand, more rights for criminals, more gun control for our law abiding gun owners.

Our 2nd amendment has been trampled upon. The SAFE Act is an assault on our constitutionally protected right to defend those we love – and it’s only served to make law-abiding citizens less safe.

On one hand, Albany Democrats fought to give free tuition, free health care, and drivers’ licenses to illegal aliens, while on the other, they sought to implement more expensive healthcare, college, and taxes for U.S. citizens.

Democrats have rejected legislation that would have recognized life, that would have given legal protection to an unborn child, and instead, passed the Reproductive Health Act, which will allow abortion up to the moment of birth.

And they sold out our farmers to New York City special interests.

All of that was just THIS year.

Ortt meets with supporters after his campaign announcement this morning in Lockport.

Folks, I’m proud to have been recognized multiple years as the most conservative state senator in Albany. This recognition is a testament to my core values and beliefs.

I’ve stood up to the likes of Andrew Cuomo and I’ll do the same to the extreme and radical Speaker of the House. You all know who I am talking about – she runs the Democrat policy agenda and has never seen a camera she didn’t like, and she’s a New Yorker – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has a couple of deputies too – Nancy Pelosi and her America-hating “Squad Members” Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. I look forward to meeting them.

In Albany, I have always worked on behalf of our veterans and their families. Whether it was helping to bring the Joseph P. Dwyer program to my district, fighting for more mental health and addiction services, or bringing World War II veterans to Washington DC each year to see the monument built in their honor, I have and will continue to make sure that we keep our commitment to our veterans.

As your congressman, I will fight to get our veterans the healthcare they deserve. I find it disgusting that Democrats care more and talk more about FREE healthcare for illegal immigrants than they do about the health care, addiction, homelessness and suicide rates of our Veterans who served. 22 veterans a day take their own life.

Ortt’s campaign materials tout him as a “battle-tested patriot.”

This should be wholly unacceptable to all of us, and as a veteran I’ll never stop working to ensure that their care comes first, not last. I use the VA for my own healthcare. I know it needs to be better.  If we can’t take care of our warriors who have defended America, then all of the other promises we make don’t matter, because we couldn’t keep our most sacred one.

I’ll work to secure our border. We cannot be the only nation that refuses to respect its own border, its own sovereignty, its laws, and its own people – if we don’t respect our own borders and laws, no one else will.

The Open Borders policies of the Democrats will destroy us. I know this all too well because I’ve seen it first hand on the front lines. I’m the only candidate in this race who has helped to secure the border. I deployed to our southern border as part of Operation Jumpstart. I know what our border patrol is up against. We need to build the Wall, increase funding for border security of all kinds, and close all the loopholes that are allowing people to cut the line and waltz in here consequence-free.

I welcome that fight. Let them tell me – let them tell us – that we need to abolish ICE or open our borders to complete, unfettered lawlessness. I have the credibility and the experience to fight back. Folks, we have a border crisis, and we will continue to have a border crisis until we recognize that immigration needs to be done legally and that our border must be secured.

I’ll fight to keep taxes low. Democrats have a solution for everything – and it always involves more of your money. We’ve got to stop that. The unprecedented economic growth we’re seeing right now is due to Republican policies and conservative economic principles. The Democrats refuse to admit what they’re seeing right before their eyes and that is this: fewer regulations and less government intervention equals more money in the pockets of the middle class.

So if you hadn’t guessed, Yes, I support President Trump, and I’m not afraid to talk about his agenda and all the good he’s doing in this country. And like President Trump, I’ve personally been the target of a partisan witch hunt led by my political opponents.

‘I’m a conservative warrior. A battle-tested Patriot, and I’ll never back down from the fight. I’m not running for Congress to have a seat at the table. I’m running to flip the table over.’

Disgraced, woman-abusing former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman came after me and my wife for political gain. The same Eric Schneiderman who went after President Trump. And just like our President, I didn’t back down in the face of baseless accusations.

I told my constituents that I had done nothing wrong and that I would be exonerated. And that’s exactly what happened. A Democrat judge threw out all charges. Today, I stand before you as a candidate for Congress and as a New York State senator.  Eric Schneiderman resigned as a fraud and now, sadly, collects a $63,000 taxpayer funded pension while working as a meditation teacher. So he’s got that going for him.

The left has thrown everything they’ve got at me and lost. They’re doing the same to our President in an attempt to undermine him and impeach him. But again, they will fail, because we’ll stick up for our President. And we’ll take the fight right back to them.

Like so many young men and women who answer the call of their country – our great country – with the response “send me,” I’m once again humbly asking that you send me to serve.

To serve you and this great country of ours. I’m asking each and every one of you to send me to Washington where I can continue to fight for our freedoms and our way of life every single day.

I’m Rob Ortt, I’m a conservative warrior. A battle tested Patriot, and I’ll never back down from the fight. I’m not running for Congress to have a seat at the table. I’m running to flip the table over.  Thank you, God Bless You, and God Bless America.

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29-pound salmon now in lead in final weekend of fishing derby
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 August 2019 at 8:34 am

There is a new leader for the $4,000 grand prize in the Rotary Fishing Derby.

Julie Schaeffer on Friday reeled in a salmon weighing 29 pounds, 6 ounces. That knocked a 27-pound, 8-ounce salmon from atop the leaderboard.

Schaeffer is from Sligo, Pa. and has been coming to Orleans County to fish since the early 1980s. She won the fishing derby in 2017 with a salmon weighing 30 pounds, 14 ounces.

The derby continues until Sunday with $8,800 in prizes available.

Participants in the derby can enter fish in four divisions: Chinook salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, and lake trout.

Besides $4,000 for the biggest fish, the four division leaders each get $500, followed by $300 for second, $200 for third, $100 for fourth and $50 for fifth.

There is also a $200 prize to the Orleans County resident who catches the biggest fish. (Jeff Newman of Lyndonville currently leads with a salmon weighing 23 pounds, 10 ounces.)

The derby is sponsored by the Albion Rotary Club, and proceeds go towards community projects. The Rotary Club has been organizing the derby for more than 30 years, seeing the event as a way to promote tourism businesses and the local fishing scene.

Click here to see the leaderboard.

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Reynolds & Flintham were Main Street entrepreneurs in Albion a century ago
By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 17 August 2019 at 8:18 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 5, Issue 32

ALBION – One of Orleans County’s oldest funeral homes is likely that of Merrill-Grinnell, which dates well beyond the 1870s. This image shows two predecessors to the current business, Cassius M. C. Reynolds and William S. Flintham, standing in front of their store on North Main Street in Albion. Reynolds purchased this business from his father-in-law George W. Ough, who was a prominent businessman and president of the Albion Board of Trustees.

It is thought that the lineage of this business dates back as far as George M. Pullman, who ran a furniture making business in Albion during his tenure in Orleans County. The business later transitioned to Ough, then to Reynolds and Flintham who operated the outfit into the 1920s. Reynolds & Flintham were known locally for dealing crockery, glassware, and furniture in addition to their work as undertakers.

This image clearly showcases the stock of crockery and glassware carried by the business, visible both through the store windows and on the table standing outside. Several chairs are situated in front of the building and a number of prams are on display; from simple models to the more ornate such as the piece parked next to William Goff, which features a suspension system, ensuring a comfortable ride for the passenger.

Mr. Goff’s tenure with the business dated back to Ough’s ownership when at the age of 16 he first applied for a job. He became somewhat of a local celebrity in regards to his work as a funeral director and embalmer; his claim to fame was being the first to cover a casket in cloth for use in Orleans County. In his earliest years working with Ough, caskets were made to order, but he watched the industry develop as he worked over 40 years through the ownership of Ough, Reynolds & Flintham, and Merrill.

In 1926 the business was sold to John B. Merrill of Holley, who partnered with his son Roy to start J. B. Merrill & Son. Goff remained with Merrill for nearly 13 years before his own retirement and upon his death he was regarded as one of the oldest funeral directors and embalmers in Western New York at the age of 83.

J. B. Merrill & Son existed as Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Homes until Christopher Mitchell acquired the funeral homes in Albion and Holley in 2017. One other notable feature of this image is the reflection in the windows of the storefront. The beautiful white fence and trees were situated in front of the mansion of Lorenzo Burrows, which still stands today as the home of Key Bank.

William Flintham and his son, Stuart J. Flintham were both featured on the Aug. 11 tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery. This week’s tour of Mt. Albion Cemetery, set for Aug. 18 at 6 p.m., will include stories about notable Orleans County veterans buried in the western section.

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More strong thunderstorms likely today in Orleans County

Photos by Tom Rivers: A storm snapped off utility poles on Ridge Road in Gaines, just west of Kenyonville Road, at about 6 p.m. on Friday.

Staff Reports Posted 17 August 2019 at 7:54 am

The National Weather Service in Buffalo says damaging thunderstorm winds and hail are headed to Orleans County today, with the strongest storms found over the region between noon and 2 p.m.

Showers and thunderstorms over southern Ontario at 7 a.m. will cross the Niagara Frontier through 10 a.m. While this activity could include some heavy rain, a greater chance for significant weather will be found during the midday and afternoon as a warm front will approach from Ohio, the Weather Service said.

“A broken line of showers and strong thunderstorms is then expected to cross the region after 11 a.m.,” the Weather Service said. “This line of storms will have the potential to become strong to severe, particularly across the Southern Tier.”

Albion firefighters were at the scene of the snapped off utility poles on Ridge Road, providing traffic control with the live wires on the ground.

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Storm knocks down many trees, power for about 500 in Orleans
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 August 2019 at 8:34 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – A utility pole was knocked down in Carlton in Winding Road, near Lake Ontario, just north of Kuckville today when a severe thunderstorm hit the area at about 6:30 p.m.

There are 473 National Grid customers without electricity in Orleans County, with 225 in Carlton in the Lakeside community just west of Lakeside Beach State Park.

A tree fell down near two houses on Lakeside Park Road, bringing down numerous wires.

National Grid also reported the following outages in Orleans: 93 on Ridge Road in western Gaines, Ridgeway near Oak Orchard Creek; 18 in Knowlesville; 75 in Millville; 36 in Ridgeway on 31; and 25 in Barre.

National Grid said the power is expected to be back on by midnight.

This tree fell by a house at the corner of Lakeside Road and Lakeview Drive in Carlton.

Photo courtesy of Gregory Smith: A tree snapped on Knowlesville Road in Ridgeway.

Photo courtesy of Cindy Robinson: This maple tree fell in Cindy Robinson’s yard on Portage Road in Ridgeway.

Allison Schoolcraft sent in this photo of limbs and leaves covering a yard on Portage Road in Ridgeway, between Knowlesville Road and Culvert Road.

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Deceased male found in pickup truck bed at Tops in Wrights Corners
Posted 16 August 2019 at 6:13 pm

Press Release, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office

WRIGHTS CORNERS – The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a deceased male today in the bed of a pickup truck at the Tops store in Newfane, 3949 Lockport-Olcott Rd.

Initial investigation revealed that a female driver left Wayne County this morning on the way to Niagara County. The female reported that she traveled through Wayne County, Monroe County, and Orleans County before stopping at Tops in Wrights Corners.

The female reported that upon finishing her shopping, she opened the tailgate of her truck to place groceries and noticed the deceased male inside the bed. The female was not able to identify the male, nor has the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office been able to positively identify him.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau and Crime Scene Identification Unit responded and

are investigating with the assistance of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

The deceased male was taken to Erie County Medical Center for an autopsy by a county coroner.

The investigation is continuing and no further details are being released at this time.

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Long-time Albion pastor expands ministry

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Rev. Randy LeBaron has launched a Go Scatter Ministries after serving the past 15 years as pastor of the Albion Free Methodist Church. The Albion church is the first church in the Free Methodist denomination. LeBaron had the longest-serving tenure of any pastor in the church’s history.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 August 2019 at 3:44 pm

‘Refill with Randy’ podcast will explore many spiritual topics

ALBION – In his 23 years as a pastor in Western New York, the Rev. Randy LeBaron notices people often feel the most comfortable with him outside the church walls, during encounters at the grocery store or Tim Hortons.

That is when they will often ask questions and share many of their deepest worries.

Randy LeBaron has coffee and checks his phone on Tuesday at Tim Hortons in Albion. He expects to launch the “Refill with Randy” podcast in October, which will take a conversational tone in discussing the Christian faith.

LeBaron, 45, wants to reach people where they are, and will soon launch a podcast, “Refill with Randy” to discuss spiritual issues and highlight Christian ministries in the community. He will have guests on the podcast to discuss how they live their faith.

“I want to take the stigma away from evangelism,” he said over coffee Tuesday at Tim Hortons in Albion, where he is a frequent customer and known by the owner, staff and many patrons. “It’s not standing at the street corner with a sign or hitting people over the head with the Bible. It’s sharing Christ’s love in a tangible way and sharing how Christ changed you.”

LeBaron served as pastor of the Albion Free Methodist for 15 years until June 30. He has started Go Scatter Ministries and is now a conference evangelist for the Free Methodist Church, providing pulpit supply and being available for conferences, retreats, funerals, weddings, baptisms and other services.

Since July 1 he has preached at the Eagle Harbor United Methodist Church, Albion First Baptist, First Presbyterian of Albion, and the Colonial Heights Free Methodist Church in Niagara Falls, where he was pastor before coming to Albion.

LeBaron and his wife Sheryl, a third grade teacher at Albion, have four children, ages 17, 15, 12 and 9.

LeBaron is the longest-serving pastor at the Albion Free Methodist Church. When it opened in 1860, it was the first church in the denomination, which now has more than 1 million members in 82 countries.

During his tenure at the Albion church, LeBaron estimates he preached 1,400 sermons. He also baptized 112 people and performed numerous weddings. He spoke at baccalaureate services, Lenten lunches, and served in ministries in the Orleans County Jail and the local nursing home.

He joined his church on mission trips to Chile, Peru and Bulgaria, and also went to Israel. Last month he attended a Christians United for Israel conference in Washington, D.C.

Randy LeBaron baptizes his daughter Ashlyn during an outside service at the Albion Free Methodist Church in 2017. Rick Holz, left, assisted with the baptism.

He feels committed to Orleans County. That’s why he is developing the podcast, “Refill with Randy,” and staying active with Pastors Aligned for Community Transformation. He was a founding member of PACT, a group of pastors in Orleans County that has tackled several community issues, including the opioid crisis. He also has been a chaplain the past two years for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

LeBaron said he wants to help equip people to know Jesus Christ and then live out that relationship and impact their families and communities.

During his tenure at Albion, 10 people from the congregation became ministerial candidates in the Free Methodist church, taking on ministry roles in their careers.

The Albion church also modified its sanctuary, trading pews for comfortable chairs and reorienting the sanctuary to accommodate 60 more people. The church uses a contemporary music team with a keyboardist, lead guitarist, drummer and bass guitarist.

“Our goal was to bring the building up to date,” he said.

The church typically averaged 200 to 250 for Sunday services.

One of LeBaron’s goals is to help people discover their SHAPE – spiritual gifts, heart (passion for God and compassion for others), abilities and talents, personality, and education and expertise.

“I expect AFMC to thrive,” LeBaron said about the church. “I am excited about being outside the church walls. I have more flexibility.”

He has social media accounts for Go Scatter Ministries and is crossing denominational lines for preaching.

LeBaron, who calls himself a “people person,” is excited about the upcoming podcasts. He thinks it will be an opportunity to reach many more people.

He wants to go on location and highlight the efforts of Hands 4 Hope, Care Net, PACT, the Community Kitchen and other ministries in the community. He also wants to have conversations on the podcast with Christians in the community, hearing how they live out their faith.

“I want to highlight the ways people are being the hands and feet of Jesus,” he said. “I want to help people put feet on their faith. This will be in a conversational tone just like you would over coffee.”

For more on Go Scatter Ministries, click here.

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Ortt will announce plans on Saturday about intentions to run for Congress

Photo by Tom Rivers: State Sen. Rob Ortt (center), R-North Tonawanda, and State Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, share a light moment during a roundtable discussion on May 2 at Batavia City Hall about proposed legislation that would give overtime and collective bargaining to farmworkers. Ortt opposed the legislation and has concerns it will harm the state’s agricultural industry.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 August 2019 at 2:16 pm

LOCKPORT – State Sen. Rob Ortt will make an announcement on Saturday about the 27thCongressional District.

Ortt has been considering a campaign for the position, which is currently held by Chris Collins.

Ortt currently represents the 62ndState Senate District, which includes all of Orleans and Niagara counties, and the towns of Sweden and Ogden in Monroe County. He has been in the State Senate since Jan. 1, 2015, and succeeded George Maziarz.

The State Senate was long in Republican control but Democrats took a big majority after last November’s election. Ortt has expressed frustration with a state government now dominated by Democrats.

If Ortt announces he’s running for Congress, he would join State Sen. Chris Jacobs and former Darien Town Justice Beth Parlato as Republican candidates. Nate McMurray, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Collins in November, also has announced he is seeking the position again in 2020.

Ortt will make an announcement on Saturday at the Lockport VFW and then at the Batavia City Hall.

Prior to joining the State Senate, Ortt was the North Tonawanda mayor for five years.

He enlisted in NY Army National Guard in October 2001 in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. He served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan for nine months in 2008. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge in recognition of his service.

In the Senate, he is the ranking Republican on two State Senate committees – Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs as well as the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

When the Republicans had the majority in the Senate, Ortt was chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. In that role he prioritized direct care and worked with families, advocates, and legislators as part of the bFair2DirectCare campaign.

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Medina unveils 4th ‘We Read’ book kiosk, which is headed to State Street Park

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Members of Medina Lions, Lee-Whedon Memorial Library and Medina High School’s English Department gathered around a new little library for the We Read Program, which Lion Chris Keller built and the Lions donated Friday morning. From left are Julie and Chris Keller, library director Catherine Cooper, Lion Jim Hancock, and teachers Todd Bensley, Elizabeth Dickhut, Karen Jones and Nicole Goyette. This will be the fourth little book kiosk in the village, as part of the We Read Program.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 August 2019 at 1:38 pm

MEDINA – A program launched in the fall of 2018 to promote reading in the community got some support from Medina Lions with a unique donation this morning.

When the Lions heard Medina’s We Read Program was in need of another little library, Lion Chris Keller volunteered to build one.

The We Read Program, with a goal is to promote reading in the community, was an idea of Medina High School’s English Department, led by Elizabeth Dickhut. With support from Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, We Read was launched in the fall of 2018.

Chris Keller, rear, watches as Catherine Cooper, director of Lee Whedon Memorial Library, and Jim Hancock, a member of Medina Lions Club, unveil a reading library Keller made on behalf of the Lions for the We Read Program.

The newest little library is a bit different from the other three, which are placed in strategic locations around Medina, such as Pine Street Park, Rotary Park and the Canal Village Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.

Keller, who teaches at Albion Central School and is a talented woodcrafter, built this library with a cedar roof and then his wife Julie suggested he paint it in the Lions’ colors of yellow and blue. This library will be filled with books and placed in State Street Park.

The idea of We Read is to place books throughout the town where adults and children can take a book and keep it or return it or leave another book.

Goyette said she has noticed increased activity in the library at Pine Street Park, where the children’s books have been very popular.

“More adults are also starting to use the little library, and that’s great,” she said.

Dickhut said she loved that more people, such as the Lions Club, were getting involved.

“That was the whole idea of We Read – to promote reading to the community,” Dickhut said.

Hancock said people are also using the library in Rotary Park as a drop-off for people wanting to leave non-perishable food items.

Anyone is welcome and encouraged to leave books on any subject in the We Read libraries, or take a book to read.

Hancock said the Lions hope their donation of the little library will be a lasting tribute to the We Read Program.

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Chamber’s wine walk attracts 100 to nature preserve in Lyndonville
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 August 2019 at 12:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – David Bittner and his wife Krys McCarthy of Lyndonville were among 100 people who attended a wine walk on Thursday evening at the Robin Hill Nature Preserve in Lyndonville. Tricia Daluisio of 810 Meadworks gives them a sample of mead.

810 Meadworks was one of three wineries or meaderies at the event organized by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.

Bittner and McCarthy have lived in Lyndonville for 9 years and welcomed the chance to see the 45-acre nature preserve which includes 250 varieties of trees on Platten Road.

The Chuck Wagon, a food truck operated by 39 Problems in Albion, served food at the wine walk.

Valerie Pratt offered tours of the 45-acre nature preserve. She lives at the site with her father, Doug Pratt. She is pictured with a dawn redwood and metasequoia.

William and Mary Smith, Doug’s grandparents, built a Medina sandstone house from 1948 to 1952 at the property, and developed the nature preserve.

A group gathers at the wine-tasting stop by Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, where Kelly Kiebala, left, offered tastings from the winery on Ridge Road in Medina.

Paul Schwenk of Schwenk Wine Cellars in Kent serves wine at the Chamber event.

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Section VI Hall of Fame to induct Colella
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 16 August 2019 at 9:57 am

Contributed Photo – Tom Colella

During the mid 1930’s Albion High had a string of outstanding football teams led by a very versatile player, Tom Colella, who earned the nickname “The Albion Antelope”.

Colella’s feats on the gridiron have earned him induction into the Section VI Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. The induction ceremony will be held in early December.

Previously Colella, who passed away in 1992, was inducted into both the Canisius College and the Greater Buffalo Sports Halls of Fame.

Colella’s efforts as a running back, defensive back, punter and kicker helped Albion compile records of 6-0-2 in 1934, 6-1 in 1935 and 8-0-1 in 1936, a season in which he had 22 touchdowns, 5 extra points and a total of 137 points.

In all over his varsity career, Colella had a total of 33 touchdowns and 203 points.

Colella went on to star at Canisius College where as a two-way player he was a three time Little All America team honoree.

He then went on to star for eight years at the professional level playing with the NFL Detroit Lions from 1942-43, the NFL Cleveland Rams from 1944-45, the Cleveland Browns of the All America Football Conference (AAFC) from 1946-48 and the Buffalo Bills of the AAFC in 1949. He had 21 interceptions during his three years with the Browns including a team leading 10 in 1946.

The Niagara-Orleans League will be well represented in the Section VI Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 which includes long time Barker coach and Athletic Director Bill Stedman, longtime Starpoint coach and Athletic Director Hal Rupert and the late Jan Williams from Akron who was a pioneer in getting the sport of field hockey going in Section VI. She founded the Akron program and guided the Lady Tigers to a number of N-O League and Section VI titles.

The Class of 2019 also includes a trio of Section VI athletes who went on to star in the NFL including Ron Jaworski from Lackawanna High, Joe Ehrmann from Riverside and Bill Bergey from Pine Valley.

Notable Neighbor: Kusmierczak of Medina has been active supporter for veterans for many years

Photo by Ginny Kropf: David Kusmierczak is active with the American Legion, VFW, the Honor Guard and the Orleans County Joint Veterans’ Council.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 August 2019 at 9:13 am

Provided photos: Congressman Chris Collins reads a proclamation honoring David Kusmierczak of Medina as Veteran of the Month in the New York 27th Congressional District. The ceremony took place Wednesday at the VFW in Medina.

MEDINA – David Kusmierczak didn’t think twice about joining the military as soon as he graduated from Medina High School in 1967.

He also didn’t hesitate to join the VFW (and later the American Legion) shortly after he finished his tour of duty and returned home in 1971.

It was this same dedication to veterans which has prompted him to step up and volunteer for any activity involving veterans in his community – a commitment which hasn’t gone unnoticed by his peers.

On Wednesday at the VFW in Medina, Congressman Chris Collins announced Kusmierczak as the Veteran of the Month in the New York 27th Congressional District.

The presentation was a complete surprise to Kusmierczak, who was told by Steve Johnson and Jim Freas there was going to be a veteran honored and they wanted all veterans to be there.

Kusmierczak wasn’t even suspicious when his wife Barbara and children Dan Taramasco and Jeanette Voelker showed up for the event. Another son, Matthew, had to work and couldn’t attend.

Barbara had been in on the award and provided Collins’ aide Alexandra Gould with his biography, which she read to the group gathered there.

Kusmierczak entered the United States Air Force in November 1967, because he didn’t want to be drafted into the Army. He completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, then became a security policeman, serving at many Air Force bases throughout the United States.

Then came his orders to go to Vietnam, and he was sent to Bien Hoa Air Force Base near Saigon. He was there two years, where he was in security at the bomb dump.

He arrived home in August 1971, and returned to his job at General Electric in Brockport, where he had worked the afternoon shift while still a junior in high school. After a year, he left and went to Harrison Radiator in Lockport, retiring from there after 33 years of employment.

A question about his life insurance policy led to a chance meeting with the woman who would become his wife.

Barbara sold insurance and he was put in contact with her when he had questions about his policy.

“She looked nice to me,” Kusmierczak said. “I used to call her up and pretend I needed to know how to cook something, when I really did know how to do it.”

They dated for two years before they were married in 2005. At one point, Barbara suggested maybe they should split and date other people, to make sure their relationship was going to work.

David Kusmierczak poses with his family after a surprise announcement by Congressman Chris Collins Wednesday, naming him Veteran of the Month in the New York 27th Congressional District. From left are Collins, Barbara Kusmierczak, David and their children Dan Taramasco of Rochester and Jeanette Voelker of Hamlin.

“I said, ‘No way.’ I threw down a calendar and told her to pick a date and that is when we would get married,” Kusmierczak said.

That was the fall of 2004 and the date she picked was June 25, 2005.

There were married by a justice of the peace at the Cobblestone Church in Childs, followed by a reception at the Village Inn.

After Kusmierczak retired from General Motors he stepped up his involvement in veterans’ activities.

“Frank Berger got me into the Honor Guard for a veteran’s funeral,” he said. “When their chaplain took ill, Dell Stork asked me to be chaplain. I still do that.”

He has been a member of the American Legion for 28 years and a chaplain at the VFW.

Then Berger introduced Kusmierczak to the Orleans County Joint Veterans’ Council, where he became their chaplain and has been president for four years. He has also been chaplain for the Orleans County American Legion for two years and for the Orleans County Legislature for three years. Whenever the Legion and VFW are placing flags on veterans’ graves, firing gun salutes at veterans’ memorial sites or marching in local parades, Kusmierczak is sure to be there.

He is actively involved in fundraising for the Butts-Clark American Legion and supports the Healing Presence Program, which gathers and distributes Christmas presents to homebound and nursing home veterans. Last year Kusmierczak distributed 69 packages to veterans.

He also participates in Wreaths Across America at Boxwood Cemetery and in any fundraisers for the VFW and American Legion.

He said when Gould started reading his biography, he soon realized she was talking about him.

He said it is a real honor and he has a spot all picked out on top of their curio cabinet to display the framed American flag which Collins presented him. The flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in Kusmierczak’s honor on July 17.

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GCASA earns 3-year accreditation for opioid treatment program
Posted 16 August 2019 at 8:46 am

Press Release, GCASA

BATAVIA – CARF International announced that Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has been accredited for a period of three years for its Opioid Treatment Program. This is the first accreditation that the international accrediting body, CARF, has given to GCASA.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be given to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a 3-year accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable and of the highest quality.

GCASA is a not-for-profit organization, providing substance use disorder treatment and prevention services in Genesee and Orleans counties for over 40 years.  The Opioid Treatment Program is licensed through NYS Office and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and can serve up to 150 patients

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process and continuous improvement services that center on enhancing the lives of the persons served.

Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF International, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services.

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