Orleans, Genesee introduce mobile apps for emergency notifications, services

Photos by Tom Rivers

Orleans County Emergency management and Public Health officials today discussing a new app for "Orleans Aware" that includes information about hazardous weather, detours, evacuation routes, emergency shelters and the option for families to create their own disaster ready plan for their home. The group in photo includes, from left: Dale Banker, Emergency Management Coordinator for the county; Albert Cheverie, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator; and Paul Pettit, Public Health Director.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2016

ALBION –  Orleans County, and its southern neighbor in Genesee, both debuted new apps today that are designed to encourage residents in both counties to be prepared and protect themselves and their loved ones in the case of a disaster.


The two counties are the first in the state with such mobile apps. Paul Pettit, the Public Health director in both counties, said more counties are working on their own apps, but Genesee and Orleans are the first to utilize the technology to inform the public.


"This is about getting the information out to the public in real-time fashion," Pettit told Orleans County legislators today.


Orleans used grant money through emergency management and public health to develop the app with the Quickseries Publishing.

Genesee County unveiled the app for "Ready Genesee" and Orleans debuted "Orleans Aware" today. They are the first counties in the state to make such apps for community preparedness available.


The app includes interactive and instructional guides to help users prepare for emergencies. Residents can also develop disaster-ready plans that are specific to their own homes.


The counties can also send out news alerts, alerts on hazardous weather, evacuation routes and emergency shelters. The county will likely give details on upcoming rabies clinics, information on public health threats such as the Zika virus, and news about burn bans, for example.


The app has options to develop many other features for informing the public, but residents shouldn't expect to be overly inundated with alerts, said Albert Cheverie, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.


"There won't be any chicken dinner announcements," he said.


The new apps are free and available to everyone using an iOS or an Android device. It can be downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play. Orleans Aware may not be available at the App Store until next week but it is ready from Google Play.


Dale Banker, the county's emergency management coordinator, said the app will make it easier for the county to send clear messages in an immediate fashion to residents about emergencies and public health issues.


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Candidates for Hillside chancellor meet and greet Holley community

Photos by Kristina Gabalski

Residents enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Chancellor candidates outside the Holley Elementary School Tuesday evening.


By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 25 May 2016
HOLLEY – Things are really beginning to heat up in the dog-eat-dog-eat-goat-eat-hedgehog race for “Chancellor of the Chapel.”


The four, four-legged candidates for the honorary title participated in a meet the candidates night Tuesday evening outside the Holley Elementary School.  

Samson the dog, Scarlett the hedgehog, Gamma the dog, and M&M the goat, are all vying for the title. 

Scarlett the Hedgehog, managed by Corrinda Shepherd, demonstrates "curling up in a ball" for voters.  It's a neat trick that she also does while floating on water. Scarlett is a loving mother who can be trusted as a caring confidant. Her diminutive size belies her fighting spirit.


The unconventional “tongue-in-cheek” election is a fundraiser being held by members of the Holley Elementary Student Council to benefit the restoration of the Medina sandstone chapel in the historic Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon. Voters can purchase as many ballots as they want to “buy” their candidate into office.  


“We want students to do something outside school walls,” Elementary Principal Karri Schiavone said. “We want students to know there is a bigger world than the elementary school. This was perfect.”

M&M the Goat was curious to learn about potential political supporters. Campaign manager Fran Gaylord confessed he never envisioned himself managing an election campaign for a goat, but noted M&M would do a stellar job of "keeping the grass down" around the Chapel, if elected.

Student Council members last year raised funds to help replace the roof on the Holley Community Free Library.


Schiavone also divulged the candidate who is likely to garner her support.

“I’m partial to M&M (the goat),” Schiavone said. “Although I’m very impressed by Scarlett’s pearls. She came dressed to win.”

Scarlett the hedgehog sported a natty pearl necklace early in the evening. Other candidates offered stickers and bags of candy to voters. M&M the goat even brought along two very cute companions - baby Nigerian dwarf goats.

Samson the dog - a 200 pound English Mastiff to be exact - reveled in the lovin' attention received from voters. His campaign manager, Craig Lane, said "no one will get in the Chapel" if Samson is Chancellor. He said his team's strategy is, "to beat Gamma." Rumors Tuesday evening had it that Gamma campaign manager Sandy Heise had been heard to admit, "Samson is a cute dog after all."


Student Council advisor Sally Martin said money raised by the students will be used to fix the stained glass window at the chapel.


A political "parade" is planned at the school next week, with students walking through the halls in support of candidates. There will also be an opportunity for students to cast their own vote.

"We had our school budget vote last week, " Martin said, when parents came to vote. "I told the students this time, you can vote."

Candidate Gamma the Dog is managed by Sandy Heise.  His campaign staff noted he is a Catahoula Hound - the State dog of Louisiana. They additionally accused the M&M camp of playing dirty by bringing cute baby goats to lure voters.  Gamma's campaign staff is warning other candidates to, "watch out for the goat."  Gamma, however, has his own amazing "cuteness factor" on his side.


The results of the race will be announced on Flag Day, June 14, when the new Chancellor will take office.  Votes are $1 each and are unlimited.  


Polling places include the Clarendon Town Hall, Holley Village Office, Community Free Library, and the offices of Dr. Dan Schiavone and Dr. Krista Wiley in Holley.

Residents enjoyed the opportunity to meet the Chancellor candidates outside the Holley Elementary School Tuesday evening. All candidates and voters who attended the event Tuesday evening were well-behaved. The two-legged campaign managers, however, sometimes had difficulty containing zeal for their candidates.

Samson the Dog shared sweet treat favors with supporters.

The M&M campaign team brought along two incredibly cute baby Nigerian Dwarf goats as part of their entourage. The bold move raised the ire of the Gamma camp, in particular. M&M campaign manager Fran Gaylord downplayed any unfair effort on his candidate's part to garner more votes. The babies had to be brought along as the are still in need of being bottle-fed, Gaylord explained.


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Big tree by Swan Library comes down

Owner plans to regrade lawn, plant ‘more appropriate tree’

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 25 May 2016

ALBION – A 40-foot-tree tree in the front lawn of the former Swan Library was taken down this morning by Lusk Tree Service. Chad Fabry, owner of the building, said the large tree was damaging the retaining walls and also caused water to flow towards the historic building.


Fabry said he plans to regrade the lawn to direct water away from the building. He also intends to plant a smaller tree in front of the building.

“It was the wrong tree for the wrong place,” Fabry said about the tall evergreen. “It was an ill conceived selection for that spot. It nauseates me to take out a tree, but I see no other options.”


Fabry purchased the Swan site in February 2015. The 6,000-square-foot site was originally a mansion built in 1851. It was donated by the Swan family for use a public library in 1900. It was the community library for 112 years until the new 14,600-square-foot Hoag Library opened a couple blocks away in July 2012.


Fabry is now using the building for office spaces.

This file photo shows how the site looked with the tall tree.


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State police, local law enforcement will increase DWI patrols over Memorial Day weekend

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office Posted 25 May 2016

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that State Police and local law enforcement statewide will be increasing patrols to combat drunk and impaired driving this Memorial Day weekend.


Memorial Day is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year and police will be out in force to remove impaired and reckless drivers from our highways. The initiative starts on Friday, May 27 and runs until Monday, May 30.


"There is zero tolerance for reckless and impaired driving and state police and local law enforcement will be out in full force to help ensure a safe holiday weekend," Governor Cuomo said. "I encourage all New Yorkers to stay safe and celebrate responsibly in order to help keep our roads safe and prevent senseless tragedies."


Drivers can expect to see sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols by State Police and local law enforcement agencies during this holiday weekend.


According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, drunk driving killed 317 people and injured more than 5,600 others in New York State in 2014. Another 188 people were killed in drug-related crashes.


Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles as part of this crackdown in order to more easily identify motorists who are violating the law. Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles allow the Trooper to better observe driving violations. These vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once their emergency lights are activated.


On Memorial Day weekend in 2015, Troopers arrested 187 people for drinking and driving, and issued more than 12,000 tickets. In addition, 33 counties participated in the Memorial Day crackdown resulting in 141 DWI/DWAI arrests, 16 DWAI-drug only arrests, 147 other arrests, and 1,874 summonses for violations of vehicle and traffic laws.


This initiative is partially funded by the Governors Traffic Safety Committee.


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Albion biology students prep flowers for downtown

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 25 May 2016
ALBION – Students the Albion AP Biology class this morning helped plant and water flowers in 17 planters that soon will be set in downtown Albion.


The students in Sandy Climenhaga's class include Caitlin Malanowski in front, and from left: Meredith Patterson, Meghan Hurley, Madeline Gibbs, Sarah Kuehne, Alyce Miller, Sandy Climenhaga (behind Alyce) and Jared Fearby.


, Albion AP biology teacher, and student Katelyn Perry work together in planting flowers this morning.

The students worked with three volunteers – Lisa and Skip Stratton, and Paul Brooks – from the Albion Merchants Association. Lisa Stratton coordinated the flower effort, which also includes 16 hanging baskets. Donations include $1,000 for the Town of Albion, $500 from the Village of Albion and 17 other sponsors that gave $25 each.

Alyce Miller waters some of the flowers in one of the planters this morning behind the DPW garage on Washington Street.

The bio students learn about flowers as part of their class. They study photosynthesis and dissect flowers to learn about plants.


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DEC issues air quality alert today

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 25 May 2016
These purple tulips are pictured on Platt Street in Albion last Friday.


The State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued an air quality alert for today from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. for Orleans, Niagara, Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.


Today is forecast from a high of 82 degrees. The DEC says people should consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of adverse health effects.

The DEC says air quality levels in outdoor air are predicted to be greater than the air quality index value of 100 for the pollutant of ozone. When pollution levels are elevated, the State Department of Health recommends that individuals reduce strenuous outdoor activity.


People who may be especially sensitive to the effects of elevated levels of pollutants include the very young, and those with pre-existing respiratory problems such as asthma or heart disease, according to the DEC alert.


The forecast for the next few days includes highs of 83 with a chance for showers on Thursday, high near 85 and chance for showers on Friday, high near 88 with chance for showers on Saturday, high near 86 with chance for showers on Sunday, and a high near 81 with chance for showers on Monday, Memorial Day.


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NY adds revolving loan fund for farms

$280K available for agriculture in Orleans

Photo by Tom Rivers
A farmer works a field by an orchard on Route 31 in Ridgeway last week.

Staff Reports Posted 24 May 2016
New York has created a new $3 million revolving loan fund to assist the agricultural industry in the Finger Lakes region. The “Growing the Agriculture Industry Now” Revolving Loan Program includes $280,000 for farms in Orleans County.


That is not a huge amount, considering the multi-million-dollar capital projects at many farms. But it could help farmers pursue some initiatives, including energy projects such as solar installations and more efficient refrigeration systems, said Jim Whipple, CEO of the Orleans Economic Development Agency.


The state funds for the Growing the Agriculture Industry Now initiative will provide loans to capitalize on local agricultural businesses utilizing new technologies and expanding operations.


This new program fills a gap where new businesses who do not meet traditional financing organizations’ underwriting standards will be now be able to get started, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office.


The first advance of $1.2 million has been released to the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, which in coordination with local development corporations, represents the nine county regions managing the loan program.


“Farming in the Finger Lakes region is an important industry and a key driver of the regional economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “By encouraging the use of innovative technologies and creating more opportunities for farmers, this new loan program will help shape the future of the region’s agricultural industry and ensure its vitality for years to come.”

GAIN is a Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council priority project. The $3 million in state support provided by Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, will leverage an additional $300,000 plus in local investment. The total investment fund of more than $3,300,000 million will provide loans to qualifying businesses in Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties, all of which are in the top ten agricultural counties in New York State. It is anticipated that the fund will create 150 direct jobs and 450 indirect jobs in the agriculture and good processing industry.


“Growing our agriculture and food processing industry is one of the utmost priorities of the FLREDC as it represents a crucial part of the region’s economy,” said Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs, Monroe Community College President Anne Kress and Wegmans Food Markets CEO Danny Wegman. “GAIN’s revolving loan pool to support the capital needs of agriculture and food processing companies, including new technology, diversification and expansion, will further advance the needs of the industry.”


The GAIN revolving loan program will give priority to agricultural and related business projects, including food processing and operating farms, which support job creation and job retention, as well as farm diversification (i.e., participate in farm-based retail and wholesale markets).


The program will also support businesses that invest in new technology, including renewable energy projects and new processing equipment, as well as ones that demonstrate growth in net revenue for agriculture enterprises; leverage other sources of funding; and provide secondary economic multipliers such as business expansions.


Loans can be up to $200,000 at an interest rate of one percent.


Those interested in learning more about the application process and the program can contact David Zorn at Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, 50 West Main Street, Suite 8107, Rochester, NY 14614; 585-454-0190 x14; or at dave.zorn@gflrpc.org.


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VA names Western New York National Cemetery in Pembroke         

Press Release, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Posted 24 May 2016
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) announced the name, Western New York National Cemetery, for the new national cemetery planned for construction in Pembroke.

“The Veterans of Western New York deserve a final resting place worthy of their service to our nation,” said Ronald E. Walters, Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs.

National cemeteries are named based on the geographic location of the cemetery.  VA relies on local Veterans and community leaders to submit name suggestions.  Of the names submitted, “Western New York National Cemetery” best met VA’s naming criteria and is consistent with the requirements specified in title 38 United States Code § 531, requiring VA property, including national cemeteries, to be named for the geographic area in which the facility is located. Any other name suggestion, such as that of a particular person, requires congressional action.

VA purchased the Genesee County property at 1232 Indian Falls Road off Exit 48A on Interstate 90 for $625,000 in May 2014. The cemetery will serve more than 96,000 Veterans, their spouses and eligible children in the Buffalo and Rochester areas. The initial phase of construction will develop approximately 70 acres and provide for approximately 10 years of burials, accommodating both casketed and cremated remains. 

The nearest open national cemetery is Bath National Cemetery located in Bath, approximately 85 miles away. 

For more information about Western New York National Cemetery, click here.


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Orleans, Niagara still pushing for broadband Internet, but ‘in a holding pattern’

Photo by Tom Rivers
Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson, left, and Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey, leaders with the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance, update the Albion Rotary Club on the efforts bring more high-speed Internet to rural areas in the two counties. Rotary member Bruce Landis is at right.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 May 2016
GAINES – Officials from Orleans and Niagara counties continue to work to expand high-speed Internet access in the two counties.

The two counties have formed the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance, with the push for more broadband Internet a top priority for the two-county alliance.

However, the effort is “in a holding pattern” due to the merger of Time Warner and Charter Communications, Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson told the Albion Rotary Club last week.

As part of the merger, Charter needs to expand service to 145,000 homes that don’t already have high-speed access. The FCC on May 6 approved Charter Communications' $79 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Charter has 45 days from May 6 to provide addresses for the 145,000 homes where it plans to extend service. Once those addresses are known, Orleans and Niagara officials can see how it effects service coverage locally.

The state has made $500 million in funds available to expand high-speed Internet. New York is seeking at least a matching commitment from private industry to extend broadband to underserved areas.

Orleans and Niagara have identified 4,300 homes without high-speed Internet access. The lack of service is a major deterrent to attracting and keeping residents and businesses, Johnson said.

“Our message is we haven’t given up,” she said. “As two counties we stand ready for what is so desperately needed on our rural roads for schools, residents and farms.”


The two counties last year approved a Memorandum of Understanding with vendors to develop a rural broadband network with the goal of making high-speed internet access available in every household.
The two counties, working together as the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance, have entered into an MOU with the team of Seneca Solutions and Resolute Partners. The companies developed a network on the Cattaraugus Indian Territory.


They are ready to pursue grant funding and to design, install, operate and maintain the rural broadband network for Orleans and Niagara, Johnson said.


Godfrey, the Niagara County legislator, expects the network will be mostly wireless. That is the wave of the future, and it is cheaper and more practical than installing cable, especially in rural pockets of the two counties with few homes, he said.


“We’ve been shovel-ready for two years,” he said about the broadband push. “We’ve done our homework, we’re just waiting for the money.”


Godfrey lives in rural Wilson. He said two families recently built new homes in that Niagara town, but moved out because there wasn't broadband Internet. The families moved because their children couldn't do homework without high-speed Internet, Godfrey said. Fast Internet also is needed for businesses to submit reports and residents to search for jobs and fill out applications.


"We're more than disadvantaged," Godfrey said. "We're discriminated against."

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, also is pushing for rural broadband money. Upstate New York could lose more than $170 million in federal aid for expanding high-speed Internet because Verizon has turned down the money.


Schumer and Gov. Andrew Cuomo want the federal aid to be available for other companies that would expand coverage in New York.


“We have a lot of very loud voices speaking on behalf of Orleans County,” Johnson said.


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300 will attend tonight’s 20th anniversary For Women Only

File photo by Tom Rivers
Aleka Schmidt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Albion, is a 10-year survivor of breast cancer. She is keynote speaker during this evening’s For Women Only event to benefit the Community Partners outreach program of Orleans Community Health.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 May 2016
LYNDONVILLE – The 20th annual For Women Only this evening not only celebrates a milestone anniversary for the event, but also will mark 10 years of being cancer-free for the keynote speaker.

Aleka Schmidt was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer when she was 28, shortly after her daughter’s second birthday.


In the fog of bloodwork, diagnostic imaging, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hospitalization, and strong medication, life as a cancer patient soon became the new norm in her household.


Schmidt will share her story during the For Women Only event today at the White Birch Golf Course in Lyndonville. The event is already sold out with nearly 300 tickets sold.


Schmidt said everyone should get to know their body and be on the lookout for anything unusual that could be cancer.


“Speak up if you have a concern,” she said.


Cancer patients in Orleans County are fortunate to have quality healthcare options close to home, especially with cancer specialists in Rochester and Buffalo, she said.


She said people she maintain a positive outlook, even while fighting a potentially life-threatening disease.


“Choose to be better, not bitter,” she said.


Schmidt was working full-time as a music therapist when she was diagnosed. She has switched careers and now is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Albion. She is a semester away from earning her master of divinity at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. She continues to work part-time as a music therapist.

As part of the evening today, Jenifer Maynard, director of Imaging Services at Orleans Community Health, will present the new 4D ultrasound machine. The machine provides superior image quality for more accurate diagnoses.  Orleans Community Health started using the new ultrasound on Jan. 1.

The new ultrasound machine has high frequency, wide field-of-view probes and improved software for advanced breast imaging, improved sensitivity and powerful enough to scan all body types, and portability to accommodate patients and staff.
This year’s event will include wine and chocolate tastings, appetizers and desserts, basket raffle, survivor recognition and a celebration of women.  All funds raised from the event will benefit the Cancer Services program which provides free screenings to individuals with little to no health insurance.


The event raises about $5,000 that helps Community Partners, the outreach program Orleans Community Health, offer cancer screenings and also complete blood work.


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5 arraigned in County Court for meth production in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 May 2016
ALBION – Five people were arraigned in Orleans County Court on Monday after being arrested last month for allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine in downtown Albion.

The five people were arrested on April 19 after police searched an apartment and discovered methamphetamine was allegedly being produced at the site, 28A East Bank St.
Albion police officers executed a search warrant at the apartment. The warrant was related to a police investigation from a burglary that occurred on April 11 at the Vape Shop, 15 East Bank St.


As a result of the search warrant, the Police Department recovered stolen property from a burglary. The search warrant also resulted in the seizure of over 4 ounces of methamphetamine and the volatile chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine, Police Chief Roland Nenni said last month.


The methamphetamine was being produced in the apartment and was in production when the search warrant was executed, the police chief said.


Judge James Punch arraigned the five all on felony charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the second degree, unlawful manufacturing of methamphetamine in the third degree, and criminal possession of precursors of methamphetamine.


The following were arraigned in County Court:


Tara A. Ryan, 19 of 28A East Bank St., Albion; Nicholas D. Barrett, 19, of 28A East Bank St., Albion; Ryan J. Adkins, 22, of 80 Genesee St. Apt. 6, Lockport; Maja L. Pugh, 19, of 80 Genesee St., Apt. 6, Lockport; and Bridgette A.M. Fronczak-Reilly, 19, of 80 Genesee St., Apt. 6, Lockport.


Four of the five remain in the county jail on $30,000 bail. Pugh has posted bail. All entered not guilty pleas.


In another case in County Court, a Batavia man made his first appearance in County Court after being arrested on April 18 by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office on multiple charges related to the sexual abuse and rape of a 5-year-old child.


Nicholas L. McKague, 24, of West Main Street Road in Batavia faces charges of endangering the welfare of a child and course of sexual conduct against a child.

His arraignment was not complete on Monday because the court wants to see if he is eligible for the public defender. He will be arraigned with counsel on Friday at 11 a.m.


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7th graders study shapes while donating food

Provided photo

Albion seventh-graderslast week donated food to Community Action of Genesee & Orleans. Pictured, from left, includes seventh-grade math teacher Mrs. Wesolowski, Community Action Case Manager Michelle Figueroa, Max Hapeman, Aisha Drisdom, Claire Squicciarini, Bryne Dysard and Gavin Reid.


Press Release, Community Action Posted 23 May 2016
ALBION – Mrs. Wesolowski and her 7th grade math classes found a creative way to incorporate math skills into helping others, and donating to Community Action’s food pantry.


They began the project by brainstorming ideas of products that would both fill the need of our community and fit the 3-D shapes that they will be studying. There were 90 seventh-graders who collected canned goods or as they would call them “cylinder items and rectangular prisms.”


They brought them to math class and found the volume and surface area in each object. They were able to collect 125 cylinder items and 42 rectangular prisms! They concluded with a reflective entry in their Math Journals about the item(s) the student donated, why they chose that item, and how that item could directly help someone in need.

This is the first year that Mrs. Wesolowski’s class has taken on such a project, but she plans to continue this in the future. Gavin Reid said that the best part about this project was “knowing that people will be able to eat dinner.”


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Assembly GOP discuss services for developmentally disabled at task force meeting in Batavia

Provided photo

Three State Assembly members attended a task force meeting last Thursday at GCC in Batavia. They include, from left: Clifford Crouch, Steve Hawley and Bill Nojay.


Press Release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley Posted 23 May 2016
BATAVIA – Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) hosted a forum in Batavia focused on supporting the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Invitees included people with developmental disabilities and their families, non-profit organizations, mental health experts and community leaders.
Last Thursday’s forum, held at Genesee Community College, was the ninth in a series of forums being conducted around the state in response to concerns from families, non-profits, community organizations and individuals with developmental disabilities about the impact of the Olmstead Decision.


Discussions focused on identifying better ways to support the rights of people with developmental disabilities; expansion of community-based care programs; the effectiveness of current transition plans for individuals in sheltered workshops; and identifying whether the input and desires of people with disabilities are being considered.
“Information gathered at the forum will help us to better serve the needs and choices of people with developmental disabilities,” Hawley said. “For many, the transition process to a more integrated work setting has resulted in frustration and disappointing changes in services and care programs. New York must do a better job of assessing and meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities.”
Participants included representatives from Genesee ARC, Arc of Orleans, ARC of Monroe, New York State School for the Blind, Western New York Independent Living and local families.
“As legislators and residents of this state, it is our obligation and goal to provide services and address the needs of every New Yorker, regardless of age, religion, creed or disability,” said Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch (R-Bainbridge), task force chairman. “These forums provide us with the opportunity to hear from families, caregivers and individuals with developmental disabilities to offer another layer of support when it comes to aiding those with disabilities in communities across our state.”
The next Assembly Minority Task Force on Protecting the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities forum will be held May 26 in Buffalo. For more information on the task force, please contact the Assembly Minority Office of Public Affairs at 518-455-5073.


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4 arraigned in county court for attempted gang assault

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 May 2016
ALBION – Four people were arraigned in Orleans County Court today for second-degree attempted gang assault.


The four allegedly attacked a person on April 5 on Beaver Street in Albion, kicking and punching the victim.


Christopher Rivers, 19, of Sandy Creek Apartments was among the alleged perpetrators. He was to be sentenced today for criminal possession of a firearm and could have faced up to a year in jail. But that sentencing was put off because of the latest charge.


Judge James Punch also increased the bail for Rivers from $100,000 to $150,000. Matthew Parrinello, attorney for Rivers, asked that the bail be reduced to $20,000, which is where it was before the latest charge, which was initially disorderly conduct but was upgraded to attempted gang assault. Parrinello said Rivers had very little criminal activity prior to the two recent charges.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said the latest alleged crime happened while Rivers was out of jail awaiting sentencing on the weapons charge. Cardone asked that bail not be reduced.


“Things are getting worse, not better,” Punch said in raising the bail.


Three other Albion men were arraigned today for second-degree attempted gang assault. They include:


• Ashay S. Gaffney, 22, of Crimson Heights. The judge set bail at $20,000.


• Sharoz R. Haywood, 19, of Lyndun Drive Extension. The judge set bail at $20,000.


• Jasper D. Lloyd, 22, of Lydun Drive Extension. He said he is hiring a private attorney and will be fully arraigned on Friday with his lawyer.


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Medina man sentenced to 6 months in jail for burglary

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 May 2016
ALBION – A Medina man was sentenced to six months in Orleans County Jail today after he pleaded guilty on March 14 to attempted burglary in the second degree.


Michael Santoro, 23, of Gwinn Street could have faced a state prison sentence. Santoro has been off drugs for 9 ½ months, been committed to a drug treatment program and has a full-time job. He has turned his life around, he told Judge James Punch during sentencing this afternoon.


“I’m not the same boy who committed the crime,” Santoro said.


He admitted in March to breaking into a house in Ridgeway between April 26 and May 1, 2015, and taking jewelry and other items. He was ordered today to pay $5,018 in restitution to the victims in the crime, and $2,500 to State Farm Insurance. He is to begin paying over three years when he gets out of jail.


Santoro's attorney, Nathan Pace, asked for no jail time for Santoro, given his recovery and new direction, as well as no prior felonies.


"He was in such a mess, but he has gotten himself clean," Pace told the judge.


But Punch said some jail time was necessary given the severity of the crime as a home invasion.


Punch told Santoro he needs to be vigilant in staying away from drugs.


"Nine and half months is a good start, but that's all it is," Punch told Santoro. "These are powerful addictions that you will have to work on for years and years to come."


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Sandstone Society recognizes Medina students for historical excellence

Provided photos

The Medina Sandstone Society has recognized the first group of students to be named to the John Ryan School of Historical Excellence. They include, from left: Zachary Harris, Alyssa Shortridge, Allison Bensley, Amanda Lunden, Caitlyn Davies, Gregory Husung and Tyler Waldriff. 

Press Release, Medina Central School Posted 23 May 2016

MEDINA – Seven students from Medina High School are the first class to belong to the John Ryan School of Historical Excellence that was started by the Medina Sandstone Society this year.


Allison Bensley, Caitlyn Davies, Zachary Harris, Gregory Husung, Amanda Lunden, Alyssa Shortridge and Tyler Waldriff are honor level students who are being recognized by Sandstone Society.  The goal of the John Ryan School is to instill in the minds of Medina’s youth a heightened pride in the local community and encourage an understanding of their hometown history and heritage. 
John Ryan was a pioneer stonemason who traveled hundreds of miles on foot and spent the rest of his life as a builder and quarry operator, using world-famous Medina sandstone. Ryan opened the first commercial sandstone quarry in Medina. The Sandstone Society started the school to encourage the students to become future leaders of Medina. 
At a recent ceremony, students saw their names unveiled on a plaque at the High School.

Allison Bensley also received a $500 scholarship from the Sandstone Society.  She is pictured with Jim Hancock, president of the group and chairman of the selection committee. 


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Gaines man, 66, faces weapons charges

John P. Klotzbach


Staff Reports Posted 23 May 2016
ALBION – A Gaines resident has been arrested for conspiracy and weapons charges after an investigation regarding the illegal purchase of a gun by a third party, also known as a “Straw Purchase,” at a local gun shop in the Village of Albion, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force is reporting.


John P. Klotzbach, 66, of 13563 Ridge Rd., was charged on May 20 following an investigation by the Task Force, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.


Klotzbach allegedly attempted to purchase a shotgun and refused to complete the required ATF form 4473 for the federal background check and was subsequently denied the purchase.


Several days later, a female acquaintance allegedly went into the gun store and wanted to purchase the same gun that Mr. Klotzbach attempted to buy. The gun store owner became suspicious when he noticed the woman was riding in the same vehicle as Klotzbach, as well as attempting to purchase the same gun that Klotzbach wanted. The store owner then contacted law enforcement authorities.


While taking Klotzbach into custody at his Ridge Road home, deputies found him to be in possession of a loaded sawed-off shotgun, the Task Force reported.


Klotzbach was charged with one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony, and one count of conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor.


He was arraigned in the Shelby Town Court by Town Justice Dawn Keppler, who remanded him to the county jail on $10,000 bail. He is to appear in Gaines Town Court on May 25 at 3 p.m.


The investigation is ongoing and further arrests and charges are pending, the Task Force reported. Klotzbach could also face federal charges.


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Holley student serves as honorary police officer today

Nick Pifer, 'greatest kid in the world,' wears the badge for a day

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 23 May 2016
HOLLEY – Nick Pifer, a Holley student, is congratulated after being sworn in this morning as a honorary police officer in the Gates Police Department. Nick is pictured with Police Chief James VanBrederode (in white) with Officer Shawn O'Mara and Mark Assini, Gates town supervisor.


Nick, 18, was named the honorary officer this morning during a surprise announcement as part of the school assembly. Nick will spend the day in ride-a-longs with O'Mara, who also works part-time in security at Holley Central School.

Nick Pifer is called up to the stage during an assembly this morning. Nick has Down Syndrome. He graduated from Holley last year but has continued at Holley in a post-graduate program.


Pifer is very popular at the school. His classmates picked him as prom king last year.


"He always puts a smile on everyone's face," said Tyler Singer, a junior at the school. "He comes in everyday happy and joyful. He is a bundle of joy all the time."

Nick takes the oath of office to serve the Town of Gates as police officer today. Nick enjoys watching TV shows with police officers. He also has known the Holley police officers for many years. His father, Bill Pifer, works for the Department of Public Works in the village.


"He has always been close to the police officers," Mr. Pifer said.


He praised Officer O'Mara for working out the honorary police role today for Nick. Mr. Pifer said the community, especially at the school district, have shown Nick lots of love over the years.


"The entire school and students have been phenomenal with Nick over the years," Pifer said.


He isn't surprised his son is so well-liked. Nick received a standing ovation from the students after being sworn in as honorary police officer.


"He is the greatest kid in the world," his father said. "He is so warm and loving."

A contingent of law enforcement officials, many of them Holley graduates, were part of the celebration today for Nick Pifer. This photo shows, from left: Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower, Gates PD Lt. John Ballard, Gates police officer Ed Bower, Orleans County Deputy James DeFilipps, Chief Deputy Michael Mele and Holley police officer Miguel Bermudez.

Nick Pifer heads to the Gates police car to join officer Shawn O'Mara for a ride-along today. O'Mara of Holley said Nick is interested in police work and asks security officers at Holley many questions.


"He always has a smile," O'Mara said. "If you're having a bad day, he will cheer you up."

Nick Pifer waves to a gauntlet of reporters and Holley school staff as he heads out to spend the day with Shawn O'Mara, a Gates police officer.


"Officer Nick make us proud," one teacher called out to Nick.


"I will," he said with a big smile.


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