Elvis, Super Cruise have Medina all shook up

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 2 September 2015

MEDINA – Terry Buchwald, an Elvis impersonator, sings and dances from a stage on Main Street during the Super Cruise which included classic cars and a big crowd in downtown Medina.

Buchwald rides a motorcyle to the stage. He was scheduled to perform in Medina last Wednesday but the show was cancelled when his wife had a baby boy named Brooks. The weather was also much better this evening compared to the cold and drizzle a week ago.

Medina blocked off part of Main Street for the Super Cruise, which included this 1964 Pontiac.

This 1941 Dodge pickup is parked in the middle of the street.

Medina Rotary Club members Jennifer Hill and Gary Lawton serve hamburgers and hot dogs. The club also had clams for sale.

The cars brought out lots of people in a festive environment.

Buchwald, pictured on stage by Napa Auto Parts, is a crowd pleaser. He has returned several times to conclude the classic car series in Medina.

Lynne Menz shared this photo from the third floor of the Bent's Opera House. This was early in the Super Cruise, before the street was packed with people.

This 1947 Cadillac includes a fairy tale message.


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Albion mechanic turns 80, reflects on career

John Keding says the job has become more high-tech

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 2 September 2015
ALBION – John Keding turned 80 today, and many of his customers and former employees stopped by his shop, Keding Automotive, to wished him well on his birthday.


Keding has owned the business at 309 East Ave. for more than four decades. He opened it on Jan. 16, 1974. But he has been working as a mechanic since he was a teen-ager, first repairing lawn mowers.


He learned the auto mechanic trade at the General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich., beginning the two-year program in 1953. He worked for General Motors for three years before a two-year stint in Army at Fort Dix from 1958 to 1960.


He returned to Albion in 1960 and worked as a mechanic for a car dealership for 13 years before a brief stint as an electrician.

He opened his owned business nearly 42 years ago and has been happy to come to work each day, fixing cars and connecting with customers.

“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like it,” he said. “I’ve spent more than half of my life here.”

Keding has two full-time mechanics with Peter Heard and Jason Lutes. Karen Dibley is the office manager.

Heard has worked for Keding for 20 years.

“He’s a very intelligent man,” Heard said. “I’ve learned a lot from him.”

Heard said the mechanic’s job is physically demanding. He is amazed Keding tackles the work with such zest.

Keding said the work has become more high-tech with problems in cars more difficult to diagnose due to computers and electronics in vehicles.

“It’s a different style of analyzation,” Keding said. “It’s not as simple as using your hands. In this type of work you have to use your head and figure out why it’s not working. To do that you need to know how it should work.”

Keding said there is a mechanic shortage in the country. He thinks parents and schools push too many students away from careers in the skilled trades.

“This is a good business to get into, but it’s not easy,” Keding said. “We don’t have enough mechanics. It’s the same with electricians and plumbers. People don’t want to get their hands dirty.”


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Sheriff’s Office will check child safety seats on Sept. 19

Press Release, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess Posted 2 September 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office will conduct a Child Safety Seat Check on Saturday, Sept. 19, in front of the Dollar Tree Store in the Save-A-Lot Plaza located at 330 West Ave. The event will take place from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.


Deputies who are certified Child Seat Technicians will be on hand to check seats for proper installation. They will also make sure that the child’s seat meets the standard for his/her age and weight.


Finally, they will exchange any expired seat and/or seat that has been recalled by the manufacturer.


For additional information, contact Deputy Jeff Cole at (585) 589-5527.


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Motorcyclist injured in accident near Wal-Mart

Staff Reports Posted 2 September 2015
ALBION – A motorcyclist was injured in an accident on Tuesday afternoon at the intersection by the Wal-Mart in Albion, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department is reporting.


The incident occurred shortly before 2 p.m. A 2002 Toyota 4-door sedan was travelling north on Gaines Basin Road and stopped for the stop sign at Route 31. The vehicle then entered the intersection in attempt to make a left turn and collided with a 1999 Harley Davidson Motorcycle, which was westbound.


The motorcycle operator was ejected from the machine. The driver has been identified as Frederick L. Melzer Jr., 66, of Albion.

Haaris Huzair, 18, of Waterport was the sole occupant of the Toyota. He was not injured.

Melzer was transported by Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance to Medina Memorial Hospital, and later transferred to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, the Sheriff's Department reported.


Huzair was ticketed by Deputy M.C. Mele for Failure to Yield Right-of-Way at a Stop Sign. He will appear in Albion Town Court at a later date. Lt. C.M. Bourke assisted at the scene.


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New director at Care Net committed to cause

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 2 September 2015
ALBION – Kimberly Scott, left, started on Aug. 11 as the new director at the Care Net Pregnancy and Family Center of Greater Orleans.

She is pictured with staff members, from left in back: Jocelyn Wilson, the client services manager; Sharon Sugar, office manager; and Sara Moore, the nurse manager.

The center in Albion provides free ultra-sounds, pregnancy tests, sexually transmitted infection testing and resources to families in crisis, incuding parenting classes and some material aid.

The center has a 26-year history in Orleans County. It is located across from McDonalds on Route 31 in the former Lipton’s building.

“I want the ministry to grow and to raise awareness of what we do,” Scott said.

She has volunteered the past 4 ½ years as a peer counselor at the center. She also is the church secretary and co-leader of the youth program with her husband Raul at Our Light of Victory Church on Brown Street in Albion.


Scott and her husband moved from Lockport to Albion five years ago to help with the ministry at Light of Victory. Mrs. Scott soon started volunteering at Care Net.


"It's a cause that has always been firmly in my heart," she said. "It's an opportunity to share the love of Christ."


Care Net is funded with donations from the community. That long-term commitment from churches and residents inspires Scott.


"We have so many people who donate year after year," she said. "That says something that they find what we do is important. We're very thankful for that."


The center has its annual “Walk for Life” at 10 a.m. on Sept. 19 at Mount Albion Cemetery, which includes a fund-raising walk, as well as a café and scavenger hunt for children.

For more information on the center in Albion, click here.


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Anti-turbine candidates see potential in Yates as thriving residential, small business community

Photos by Tom Rivers
Jim Simon, a candidate for town supervisor in Yates, said he opposes the Lighthouse Wind project in Yates and Somerset, saying it will have a negative impact on the overall community. He said he will push for town and county resolutions opposing the turbine project.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 September 2015
LYNDONVILLE – Three candidates endorsed by a grass roots anti-turbine group say the Yates community has plenty of potential to draw more residents and small businesses, without mammoth wind turbines.

Save Ontario Shores held a campaign rally on Tuesday evening for Jim Simon, Valerie Pratt and John Riggi. They will be on the ballot for the Republican Primary on Sept. 10.

The three all see a big upside for the community with the lakeshore, wildlife, committed residents and small-town charm.

They have the backing of Save Ontario Shores, which formed last December when the community learned that the lakeshore towns of Yates and Somerset were eyed for nearly 70 wind turbines that would peak at 570 feet tall (when the blade is at it’s highest point). Those are about 150 feet taller than many of the turbines in Wyoming County.

Save Ontario Shores started attending Yates Town Board meetings, and members say the Town Board hasn’t been responsive to their questions or demonstrated leadership in advocating for residents who would be harmed by the project.

Pratt, a candidate for Town Board in the Republican primary, said going to board meetings is like “talking to a wall.”

Richard Pucher, the retired Lyndonville school superintendent, has been active with Save Ontario Shores. He welcomed about 50 people to the campaign rally on Tuesday at the White Birch Golf Course.

“We decided the only way to get a response from the Town Board was to have a different Town Board,” Pucher told the crowd.

(The Town Board last month said it would form a committee that would work to survey residents about the proposed wind project. Somerset already did a survey that showed strong opposition to the project. Both Somerset and the Niagara County Legislature have gone on the record against the project.)


Simon has forced a Primary against incumbent Town Supervisor John Belson, who has the Republican endorsement.

John Riggi is a candidate for the Town Board and also president of Save Ontario Shores. He is pictured in front of a slide show of photos of the Yates community, including an apple orchard.

Pratt and Riggi, president of the Save Ontario Shores, are in a three-way race for the Town Board in the Primary. Incumbent Wes Bradley is the other candidate. Riggi noted that Bradley has attended many of the Save Ontario Shores meetings.


Bradley also has spoken out against a State Siting Committee that would only have two local representatives on a seven-person committee that would decide if the project is approved.

Simon said Bradley and Belson are both “good people,” but Simon said the current Town Board hasn’t done the proper outreach in the community, getting residents’ input on the proposed wind project and keeping them informed of the issue and other projects in the town.

Simon, the dean of the GCC campus centers in Albion and Medina, said Apex Wind Energy representatives should have met with Yates officials and community members long before it started getting leases from land owners for the project.

“We need to start this conversation over,” Simon said. “Apex came in without talking to the town.”

Simon said he would form a business advisory and tourism committee, as well as renewable energy committee if he is town supervisor.

He also would want to hear from residents about possible expansions of the town water system and work to enhance the town park, possibly adding bathrooms and playground equipment.

He would favor an overhaul of the town website to include more updates on town news, and also provide a way for residents to connect with board members and town officials.

Simon and his wife moved to Millers Road a decade ago with their eight children after he retired from the U.S. Air Force.

John Riggi says the hundreds of signs against the the wind project in Yates and Somerset shows a "mandate" against the project.


Riggi grew up in Caledonia, a small village in Livingston County, and moved to Yates with his wife of 34 years, Donna, to a lakefront home in May 2014. The location had long been a dream for the couple, which has three grown children.


Riggi works as director of quality at Baxter Healthcare in Medina. He said he would bring "data-driven analysis" to tackling issues in the town.


He sees potential in the town as a draw for residents and tourists with the agrcultural base, the bald eagles and other wildlife, and Lake Ontario, which has the potential to turn the Great Lakes communities from the Rust Belt to the "Blue Belt," especially as California and other parts of the country struggle with drought.

Valerie Pratt speaks during the candidate rally on Tuesday.


Valerie Pratt, 22, said she would focus energy on revitalizing Main Street. She said Yates officials can pursue grants to bring in businesses and help repair buildings.


She said the Lyndonville school district is recognized as a top performer, including in national rankings. The community could use the school district's reputation to attract more younger families, which could help revitalize neighborhoods.


Pratt was born and raised in Northern Virginia, and visited the Lyndonville area often to stay at the family property known as Robin Hill. She has worked the past year full-time for LynOaken Farms with its cider mill, winery and other special events.


She opposes the turbine project, believing companies are building the indstrial-size projects to gain tax credits without a long-term commitment to the communities.


"It's a short-term get rich and leave quick project," she said.


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State Police remind drivers to be careful with schools opening

Press Release, NY State Police Posted 2 September 2015

The New York State Police urge everyone to support the AAA’s annual “School’s Open—Drive Carefully” campaign to help preserve the safety of children traveling to and from school.

AAA’s yearly “School’s Open—Drive Carefully” campaign alerts motorists to the special risks to school-age children from motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death for children from five to fourteen years old. The campaign begins Sept. 2, 2015 and runs through Oct. 14.

Motorists will receive an additional reminder each time they see one of the “School’s Open” bumper stickers on State Police vehicles, as well as other official vehicles, school buses and passenger cars.

“As the summer season comes to an end, thousands of children will be boarding buses and walking to and from school,” said Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico. “The New York State Police remind motorists to drive carefully and be especially aware of school speed zones, school bus traffic, and children walking.”

State Police also emphasize the need to show extra caution when driving as schools reopen, since it is then that vacation-minded children are apt to be less careful. Motorists should be particularly alert for children darting out between parked cars on busy streets.


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Hawley: DMV to issue refund to veterans with distinguishing mark on license

Press Release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley Posted 1 September 2015
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) announced that U.S. veterans who paid a New York State Department of Motor Vehicle fee of $12.50 to have a distinguishing mark on their driver’s license or identification card will be issued a refund.

Hawley, a veteran and Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee, praised the legislation, which was signed into law in August.

“I am proud to have championed and voted for this legislation on behalf of our veterans and the sacrifices they have endured,” Hawley said. “Many restaurants and businesses already offer discounts to vets and this law will make proving one’s status convenient and fool proof. I applaud my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate for passing this measure and consider it a small token of gratitude for those who have given our country so much.”

The law applies to those seeking a “veteran” designation on or after Oct. 3, 2012. The DMV will be automatically sending a refund to those who qualify.


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Holley hits a bump in acquiring 8 homes from EPA

Appraised value for houses called ‘shockingly low’

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 1 September 2015
HOLLEY – A snag has developed regarding the agreement between the Village of Holley Development Corporation, the Village of Holley and the EPA for the transfer of the ownership of the eight “Diaz Homes” from the EPA to the VHDC.


During the VHDC meeting on Monday evening, Board President Dan Schiavone reported that the agreement remains unsigned due to the fact the copy signed by Schiavone and village officials was “the second-to-last... not the most recent revision.”


The federal Environmental Protection Agency notified the parties of the situation and sent a new agreement, but Schiavone explained that that the wording had been altered to state the homes now need to have lead abatement completed by a certified lead abatement contractor rather than by the property owner.


“It’s a big game changer,” Schiavone said because the abatement work would come at a significant cost and might threaten the future sale of the homes.


Wording of the original contract allowed for abatement work to be done by the property owner under the supervision of the village code enforcement officer.


During Monday’s meeting, Schiavone also discussed appraisal values for the eight homes located on Jackson, South Main and Geddes Streets. The appraisals range from $0 for 6 Jackson St. to $60,000 for 37 S. Main St.


Appraisals for the eight properties total $217,000, an amount described by Schiavone as “shockingly low.”

Schiavone says the EPA “wants to get rid of the houses,” but has expressed concerns over passing a house down the line with unacceptable lead levels.

He reported that the village has not signed the new agreement under the advice of the village attorney.

Potential cost of certified abatement could be near $10,000, officials estimated. That kind of expense on a house appraised at $20,000, “might make the difference between selling and not selling,” Schiavone said.

Board members agreed that Schiavone would call the EPA to try to continue to negotiate wording in the contract.

“It’s a small detail that makes a major change in the deal,” he said.


Board members will meet next on Oct. 19 and will consider a proposal by a local real estate agent to list the properties once the VHDC eventually takes ownership.


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Yates man faces charges for stolen property, weapons and DEC violations

Michael P. Silversmith


Staff Reports Posted 1 September 2015
YATES – A Marshall Road resident faces numerous criminal charges, including 13 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force is reporting.


Law enforcement agencies last week searched the home of Michael P. Silversmith, 57, of 1856 Marshall Rd.

The Task Force was assisted by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the search.


Law enforcement determined that some of the property, including a Cub Cadet LTX-1042 KW riding lawn mower and Mercury 9.9 HP outboard boat motor, were stolen from Niagara County, the Task Force reported.


As a result of that search warrant execution and identification of some of the allegedly stolen property, Silversmith on Monday was arrested possession of stolen property, criminal possession of a weapon and other charges.

Silversmith faces one count of criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree (a Class D felony), 13 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, and eight counts of possessing a restricted use pesticide.

Law enforcement seized 13 rifles and shotguns from the property. Because Silversmith is a convicted felon, he wasn’t allowed to possess the seized guns, the Task Force said in a news release today.


A large quantity of restricted pesticides were also located on the property and was investigated by DEC officers.


Silversmith also faces numerous codes violations regarding the property, issued by the Town of Yates code enforcement officer.

Silversmith was arraigned in the Town of Ridgeway Justice Court, by Town Justice Joseph Kujawa. Silversmith was committed to the Orleans County Jail on $25,000 cash bail.


He is to appear at Yates Town Court on Wednesday at 6 p.m.


The investigation is ongoing into the possession of stolen property, and further charges and arrests are pending, the Task Force reported.


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‘Citizens for a Constitutional Sheriff’ survey sheriff candidates in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 September 2015
ALBION – A group that wants a “Constitutional Sheriff” has surveyed the candidates – Tom Drennan, Randy Bower and Donald Organisciak, asking them if have training in the Constitution, if they would be willing to meet regularly with citizens’ groups, and how they would protect residents from “government overreach,” and other questions.


Orleans County Citizens for a Constitutional Sheriff is part of a grass roots movement in the country to have sheriffs knowledgeable about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and who will use the office of sheriff to protect residents from government overreach and Constitutional infringements.

“We’re trying to educate the candidates and public about a Constitutional sheriff,” said Judy Larkin, a member of the Orleans County Citizens for a Constitutional Sheriff.

The group asked the three candidates for sheriff a series of questions and the answers are posted on the group’s Facebook page (click here). The candidates are asked about use of red light cameras and drones, which are opposed by the Citizens for a Constitutional Sheriff.

Drennan, Bower and Organisciak all responded in the survey that they would be willing to be trained on the Constitution, and also would gladly meet regularly with citizens around the county.

The Citizens for a Constitutional Sheriff are not endorsing a candidate for sheriff.

Here are some excerpts from the survey:

Question: “Are you willing to step out and diffuse the situation if there is a Constitutional breach by putside police agencies?”

Drennan: “Yes, it is important to build strong/positive relationships in an effort to diffuse a situation before it starts. Everyone needs to work together to mend strained relationships.”

Bower: “As sheriff, I would do anything in my power to uphold the Constitution of the United States.”

Organisciak: “Yes, I would diffuse the situation in order to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of every a county citizen.”

Question: “How do you feel about red light cameras or drones?”

Drennan: “We do not have any red light cameras in our county so I have not read any studies on them. I would only be guessing that awareness of the cameras has prevented accidents but don’t (know) if it is worth the cost vs. public safety or just another ‘tax.’ A drone would be a nice crime scene tool to take aerial photos vs. the cost of a helicopter that may not be available when needed.”

Bower: “I’m not in favor of red light cameras. I feel drones have a purpose, for example to aid in search and rescue and help locate missing children or lost hunters.”


Organisciak: “Both could be good tools if used properly in the law enforcement field.”

Each candidate was also asked an individual question.

Bower, who is paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident when he was 18, has worked the past 29 years as a dispatcher. He was asked, “How will you compensate for your disability in filling the requirements of this job?”

Bower: “Disability is only a perception. In fact, it has only driven me to succeed in anything I have put my mind to. There is nothing I have not been able to do as a parent or community member. My mobility limitation has not limited me in having a rich history of 29 years serving the public.”

Drennan has worked 23 years for the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and is currently the chief deputy. He started as a road patrol deputy in September 1992 and has been promoted to lieutenant, criminal investigator, major and chief deputy.

He was asked if a law enforcement background is a prerequisite for the Sheriff’s Office.

Drennan: “Yes, I think it is important to have that background to draw from when needed. Even as an administrator in a small department you have to have that legal background and experience to draw from on a daily basis. Even as sheriff you will be expected to get involved and lead your personnel.”

Organisciak worked 30 years as a police officer for Medina, with 16 years as a patrolman, then a year as a sergeant and the final 13 years as the Medina Police Department’s first full-time criminal investigator. He retired in June 2008 and then worked two more years as the school resource officer for Lyndonville Central School.


He was asked what is his motivation for wanting to get back into law enforcement at the county level after retiring from the village police, and what he would bring to the Sheriff’s Office.

Organisciak: "Having served the village of Medina for 30 years, I believe my experience is most important and would be very viable to the office of Sheriff. I don’t know if you would call it motivation. I like to listen to people about their concerns about law enforcement and then help them to better understand the law enforcement side of things. I also entered the sheriff’s race to give people another choice for the candidacy.”

For more on the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, click here.


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Kendall ranks high, Albion low on adult brainpower ranking for WNY

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 September 2015
A Western New York publication has crunched the numbers for educational attainment for adults in 175 cities and towns in WNY, and found Kendall ranks high on the list while Albion is near the bottom.

Buffalo Business First used data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey to create a database that shows the percentages of adults who hold high school diplomas, bachelor's degrees and advanced degrees.

Alfred in Allegany County came in first in the “adult brainpower” ranking. In Alfred, 98.4 percent of adults 25 and older have high school diplomas, while 65.2 percent have bachelor’s and 41.1 percent have advanced degrees.

The top 10 includes Alfred, Amherst at 2, Clarence, Orchard Park, Aurora, Caneadea, Grand Island, Lewiston, Elma and Boston.

Kendall came in 38 out of 175, the highest ranked community in Orleans County for adult brainpower, while Albion was 164.

Kendall has 91.1 percent of adults with high school diplomas, 22.9 percent with bachelor’s and 9.3 percent with advanced degrees.

Albion’s data includes 79.0 percent with high school diplomas, 12.2 percent with bachelor’s and 2.9 percent with advanced degrees.

Other towns in Orleans County in the ranking include: Gaines, 57th overall; Carlton, 68; Ridgeway, 83; Clarendon, 111; Barre, 113; Shelby, 117; Yates, 131; and Murray, 145.

To see the report from Business First, click here.


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