Staff Reports Posted 26 January 2015
ALBION - Roy Harriger has been found guilty on two out of the three charges of course of sexual contact. He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years.
Orleans Hub will have more on the verdict later.
Staff Reports Posted 26 January 2015
ALBION – State Police have released the names of the five people in a two-vehicle crash on Saturday at the intersection of West County House and Gaines Basin roads. All five were transported to hospitals by either ambulance or Mercy Flight helicopter.
An initial investigation has shown that a vehicle operated by Edward R. Read of Rochester was headed southbound on Gaines Basin Road, failed to stop for a posted stop sign at the intersection of West County Road and struck a westbound vehicle.
Read, 72, and a passenger Tina D. Elliot, 56, of Rochester were ejected from the vehicle, which then rolled onto its side on the westbound shoulder. Read also had two other passengers in his vehicle: Christina J. Elliott, 32, of Rochester and Kathy A. Jones, 50, of Rochester.
The second vehicle, which was westbound on West County House Road, was operated by a sole occupant, Brandon J. Grimes, 20, of Medina. He entered the intersection was struck by Read, and then crossed into the eastbound lane, struck a mailbox then came to rest on the eastbound shoulder of West County House Road.
Grimes sustained facial injuries and was transported by ambulance to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, where he was treated and released, State Police reported.
Edward Read, the driver, and Tina Elliott, the front seat passenger, were ejected from the vehicle and were transported by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial with unknown internal injuries. Read was admitted and was listed in guarded condition. Tina Elliott was treated and released.
Passenger Christina J. Elliott also was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital via Mercy Flight as a precaution due to her injuries. She was treated and released.
Kathy A. Jones was transported by ambulance to Strong Memorial Hospital, where she was treated and released.
The collision is still under investigation with charges pending, State Police reported.
Broken pipe damages court stenographer’s computer
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2015 11:14 a.m.
ALBION – The trial against Roy Harriger, a local pastor facing child molestation charges, resumed this morning with a complication.
The case went to the jury on Friday, but the 12-person group did not reach a unanimous decision. The jury requested that testimony from three witnesses be read back today.
The court stenographer got 5 minutes into the testimony from one witness but couldn’t go any further. Her computer was doused with water over the weekend when a pipe burst in the basement of the courthouse where the stenographer has her office.
Court officials are working to retrieve the data from her computer so the testimony can be read back to the jury. That has created a lull in courtroom. This morning around 10:30 Harriger chatted with supporters who are sitting on the left side of the courtroom. There are about 25 people on that side.
The other side has about 15 people this morning, including Harriger’s two sons, George and Robert, who allege abuse by their father when their were children. One of George’s children and two of Robert’s children, now grown adults, testified that their grandfather molested them in 2000 and 2001.
Harriger’s attorney Larry Koss said the charges against Harriger, which carry up to 25 years in prison, are false.
Harriger was the pastor at Ashwood Wesleyan Church in Lyndonville when the alleged abuse occurred in 2000 and 2001. After leaving Ashwood in 2009, he started a church in Hartland, Community Fellowship Church, where he continues as a pastor.
Koss told the jury on Friday during closing arguments said the layout of the Harriger house in 2000 and 2001, the church parsonage, didn’t offer privacy for Harriger to commit his alleged crimes. The house was also busy, with people over all of the time, Koss said.
“Jurors, apply common sense and see if the whole story makes sense,” Koss said. “I submit to you it doesn’t.”
During his testimony on Thursday, Harriger denied any inappropriate sexual contact with his grandchildren.
District Attorney Joe Cardone said the grandchildren have been brave in trying to make their grandfather be accountable for the alleged crimes.
“The dysfunction has been going on in this family for generations,” Cardone said. “Thank God they’ve had the strength to come to you to put an end to it and it ends right here.”
As Cardone gave his closing argument, many on the alleged victims' side of the courtroom plugged their ears, not wanting to hear Cardone detail the alleged sex acts.
American Legion leader enjoys honoring veterans, connecting with community
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2015
ALBION – Larry Montello has been an active community member and leader for the American Legion since he moved to Orleans County about 13 years ago after marrying an Albion woman. Montello, a Ridgeway resident, drives bus for Community Action Transportation System.
He grew up in the Adirondacks and joined the Army in 1979 after graduating from Fort Edward High School. He served 14 years in the military.
Montello, 52, is a past county commander for the American Legion, and a past post commander in Albion and Medina.
He organizes the annual memorial service for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Montello has visited all of the memorial sites for victims of the attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville in rural Pennsylvania.
He raised the funding to have Sept. 11 memorials in Orleans County by the County Courthouse, Legion Post in Albion and Rotary Park in Medina.
He is organizing an upcoming Feb. 1 service for the “Four Chaplains.” That 9:30 a.m. service will be at the First Baptist Church in Holley on Geddes Street. The Four Chaplains all were Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilians and military personnel as a troop ship sank on Feb. 3, 1943.
Montello assists with other Legion and community events, including the annual oratorical contest, flags on veterans’ graves and other events.
He was interviewed last Monday at Tim Hortons in Albion.
Q: Why did you join the American Legion?
A: I started out as a Son (of the American Legion) underneath my dad. My dad got me going along with my brother. I joined the service with my sister. We joined the Army together. She went to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and I went to Fort Dix in New Jersey where my dad went.
Q: For a newcomer in Orleans County, you quickly made a mark and emerged as a leader.
A: I was the commander in Albion for four years, the commander in Medina and also the county commander. I went up the chain.
Q: What is your role right now?
A: Right now I am sergeant of arms for the county because I want to go in rank in the district. I gave up some of the county duties, but I don't want to totally give something up.
Q: How long have you been organizing the 9-11 services?
A: I started in 2005, not long after I first got here.
I’ve put a lot of time working on the memorials. I got a nice surprise from the county when they put in a new flag pole and big cement base for the stone.
I do it partly because my sister was working down there (in Manhattan) in Building 7 near the Twin Towers. By the grace of God her boss sent her out on an errand so she wasn’t there when it happened.
When I was in the Sons (of the American Legion) I went down there when it was pretty much cleaned up and when they dedicated the new 9-11 building (The Freedom Tower). The year before last we went down to New York and I actually got to go in Building 7 where my sister worked. It was emotional.
Q: Why do you keep the local memorial service going and try to include many of the first responders?
A: I get them all involved (local and state police departments, COVA, fire departments, Mercy Flight) because they were all involved.
Q: I remember you also did a Pearl Harbor service.
A: Hopefully this year we will do it again.
Q: Why do the Four Chaplains service?
A: I did it back home. It’s part of history and it shouldn’t be forgotten just like 9-11. I started it with Jean Johnston, who has since passed away. I’ve been doing it in her honor since.
At the service we bring in all of the colors. It’s in Holley this year so we’ll bring in Holley’s colors, the county colors, the auxiliary county colors, the VFW county colors, the POW flag and then the Canadian flag and American flag.
We have a Color Guard to bring it in. And then we have members get up and do a part of each of the chaplains, sharing their biographies. When they are done, they go down from the podium where I have a wooden box with each of the chaplain’s names. They lay a rose down on it and a light a candle.
We carry an American flag in for everybody that went down on the ship and a wreath. After that we play Taps.
We go to different churches (every year) in the community, a Catholic church, a Protestant church, a Baptist church.
Q: How is the Legion membership doing, locally and nationally?
A: It has ups and downs. Right now we’re down a lot. On average we lose 10 to 15 World War II veterans a day nationally.
Q: I think people might think, with the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there would be a new group of veterans who could join the Legion. Do many of them join the Legion?
A: No. When they get home they go back into society and that can take a long time.
Q: How much worry is there about the future of the Legion and VFW?
A: I don’t think there is worry, we just have to promote what we do. We’re not just a bar. Everybody thinks we’re just a bar. We do a lot of things for the community. Since our county is so small, I put all of the posts together to work as one. We get more out of it that way.
Q: I know you do the oratorical contest, and the Honor Guard at funerals.
A: Each Legion has its own Honor Guard, but the Posts and the VFW will join together. You get more people that way. They’re all people from the older generation. For a lot of the younger generation when they get out of the service the first thing on their mind is to get a job. That’s what was on my mind.
A lot of the ones on the Color Guard are all retired.
Q: Why have you stayed active with the Legion?
A: I like working with kids, I like working with the community, and I like working with the veterans. I’ve always said if I knew back home in high school what I know now I would have aced history. I have friends of mine in the Albion Post that were in the Death March. I have a friend from back home who was a POW.
Listening to their war stories is unreal. A lot of people don’t realize this is part of history.
I enjoy doing the 9-11 service because it’s part of history. The community can’t forget that day. When it first happened everybody in town had a flag up. Now, it’s hardly ever.
Q: What else do you want to say?
A: I wish more of the public would get involved with our events, and don’t just think the American Legion is a bar. There are a lot of other things the Legion does. We make sure all of our veterans have flags on their graves for Veterans’ Day.
I just wish more of the public would get on the ball with us and know that when we’re going out for donations we’re not using that for the bar but for flags, the 9-11 service and for veterans.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 January 2015
ALBION – Rocky Sidari, Albion’s fire chief the past five years, has been appointed one of three county coroners.
Sidari took the oath of office and was sworn into the position on Friday. He responded to his first call on Friday night at a fatal Carlton fire. Sidari worked with Scott Schmidt, a veteran county coroner, on the call.
Sidari said he will shadow Schmidt and another coroner, Charles Smith, as part of his training. He also expects to attend a conference for coroners.
“There is a lot to learn and each call is different,” Sidari, 42, said on Sunday.
He was appointed coroner by the Orleans County Legislature on Jan. 14. He fills a vacancy created when Joe Fuller of Albion resigned after being elected Albion town justice.
Sidari is a familiar face to many local residents and the emergency services community. He has been an officer with the Albion Fire Department for about 20 years. He works as a general mechanic at the Orleans Correctional Facility in Albion.
He also is part of the county’s critical incident stress management team, which helps firefighters with a stress debriefing after a fatal fire or serious car accident.
Sidari said he will strive to be a calming presence as coroner, especially for grieving family members of the deceased.
“I’ve built up a lot of relationships in the community,” he said. “Maybe it will be comforting for a family to see someone they know.”
Sidari said he will step back from fire chief in April.
"I wanted something that would fill that gap," he said about his willingness to serve as coroner. "I'm definitely looking forward to the next chapter of my life."
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2015
Salma Huzair passed the audition screening today in New York City and will perform on “The Voice” for the four celebrity judges.
She was given a red ticket after her audition this afternoon.
Salma, 15, is a sophomore at Lyndonville Central School. She performed in local concerts last month to prepare for the audition.
Her parents, Bilal Huzair and Alana Ross, own the Old Mill Run Restaurant in Medina, where she sang karaoke in September. The positive reaction from that performance prompted her to send recordings to “The Voice.” The show encouraged her to try out.
Local assemblyman was found to not abuse office for financial gain
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 January 2015
ALBION – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley says he was subpoenaed by the Moreland Commission, the state commission established to root out public corruption, about two years ago and forced to turn over business records from his insurance business in Batavia.
“There’s an old adage: ‘If you have nothing to hide, comply,’” Hawley said.
He turned over a list of clients, employees, family members, advertisements, political materials, income taxes and property taxes. It was an exhaustive collection of documents.
After three months of reviewing those records, to see if Hawley was making money in kickbacks or abusing his public office for financial gain, Hawley was cleared and found to not be misusing his office, he told about 75 people on Friday during a Legislative Luncheon at The Village Inn.
That wasn’t the case for the leader of the State Assembly. Sheldon Silver, speaker of the Assembly since 1994, on Thursday was accused of corruption by the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Silver was arrested on public corruption charges and accused of using his position to obtain $4 millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.
Bharara investigated Silver after Gov. Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission last March. Bharara said on Thursday more state officials could face corruption charges.
Hawley said he has strived to avoid any conflicts of interest in his 36 years in the insurance business. He has been asked to give insurance quotes for fire departments, school districts and municipalities, but has always declined.
Hawley and many of the Republican members of the State Assembly have called on Silver to resign. At the very least, Hawley said Silver should step down as Assembly speaker on a temporary basis until the case is resolved. The Assembly needs a leader to negotiate with Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos about the budget, Hawley said.
“It’s a shame, a debacle, a travesty for the people of New York,” he said about Silver.
Hawley would like to see the top leadership positions in the State Legislature capped at 8 years. Silver has been in his post for more than two decades.
Hawley was surprised to see only two out of more than 100 Democrats in the State Assembly call on Silver to resign. Hawley said that is indicative of the iron-fisted rule Silver has over the Democrats in the Assembly.
State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, also addressed the Chamber of Commerce on Friday. Ortt said he will try to be an “antidote” to the corruption in the state capitol.
Ortt served as North Tonawanda mayor for five years until he was elected in November, succeeding George Maziarz. Ortt was a member of the National Guard and served a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
He said he will advocate for a streamlined state government with less red tape, regulations and taxes on businesses.
He also said he would work to bring more state resources to local governments that need revenue to keep up with roads, bridges and other government services.
Ortt has been named chairman of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. In that position, he said he will be an advocate for people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Many developmentally disabled residents are being cared for by their elderly parents. Ortt said the state needs to provide more resources to ensure developmentally disabled residents have safe places to live, especially when their parents can no longer care for them.
“They need a champion, a person of influence in Albany,” Ortt said.
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