Would statues, public art projects help Orleans County celebrate 200th?

Photos and article by Tom Rivers Posted 28 November 2015
BUFFALO – This sculpture of a bison is displayed in downtown Buffalo. It has been there for 40 years.


It was a gift to Buffalo in 1975 from its sister city, Kanazawa, in Japan as part of the bicentennial celebration for the United States the following year.


“Bison” was created by artist Cecilia Evans Taylor.


Orleans County has a big birthday around the corner. The county will turn 200 in 2024 (or it may be 2025, depending on source). I haven't heard any rumblings about the county's bicentennial. I don't think the officials have given it much thought. It's still nearly a decade away.

This painted buffalo on Franklin Street was turned into artwork by Gustavo Glorioso as part of the "Herd About Buffalo" project, when 154 buffalo roamed Buffalo streets in 2000. The project was a benefit for the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. This one was sponsored by Buffalo Optical and called “Eye Love Buffalo.”


I think a public art project would generate excitement on the county's 200th anniversary. I think painting fiber-glass mules would make sense because the mules were iconic animals during the Erie Canal's heyday when mule-drawn packet boats were a frequent sight.


We could try to have at least one in each town, but hopefully there could be more. Maybe the mule public art project could happen before the 200th, and proceeds from that effort could be used to fund a bigger signature site for the county's bicentennial.

A statue of George Washington stands in front of Old County Hall, home to Erie County government on 92 Franklin St. in Buffalo.

The statue was paid for by the Erie County Masonic Foundation as a bicentennial gift on the 200th anniversary of the country’s founding. The base of the statue includes the name of the sculptor, J. Turkalj and notes it was built in 1976.


The statue includes an inscription “1776 * 1976” with the words: “Presented to the people of the County of Erie by the free and accepted Masons of forty-nine lodges in the three Erie districts and various affiliated Masonic organizations as our contribution to the bicentennial anniversary of the United States.”

I saw the statue last Saturday while in Buffalo. There are many statues and public works of art in downtown Buffalo. I think these pieces enliven the landscape, help promote the city and build community pride.


I think Orleans County would benefit with similar projects. The George Washington statue was part of a celebration of the U.S. bicentennial.


Orleans County officially formed when we split off from Genesee County. Orleans should celebrate its bicentennial with a signature project.


I’ve been promoting the idea of a statue and heritage site for the quarrymen who worked in the Medina sandstone quarries in Orleans County for nearly a century. They helped unearth and carve the stone for some of the grandest buildings in the region and state.


Their work continues to stand out more than a century later with many of our churches, chapels and finest homes.


Many descendants of the quarrymen continue to live in the county. The quarry workers did dangerous jobs in perhaps the county’s greatest industry ever. So maybe a signature site in their honor would be ideal for the 200th anniversary of the county. Personally, I’d like to see it happen before the 200th birthday in 2024 (or 2025). The site could be a draw for the county. Why wait?

The statue of Washington notes he was the first president of the United States from 1789-1797, and also served as First Master in the Alexandria Lodge No. 22, Alexandria, Virginia, from 1788-1789.

There are other bicentennial sites and statues around Buffalo.

Poland gave this statue of General Kazimerz Pulaski to the people of the United States in honor of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Pulaski stands outside the Ellicott Square Building in downtown Buffalo.


The statue declares Pulaski as “Hero of Poland and the United States of America.” Pulaski saved the life of George Washington during the American Revolutionary War. Pulaski would serve as a general in the Continental Army. He died of wounds suffered in the Battle of Savannah. He is one of only seven people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship.

Sculptor Kazimierz Danilewicz created the statue of Pulaski, which shows him standing erect with his hands resting on his sword.


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Canal expansion represents great engineering feat

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 November 2015
Volume 1, Issue 36

MEDINA – On July 4, 1817, New York State embarked on a crusade to complete the greatest feat in the history of modern engineering; a 363-mile ditch from Albany to Buffalo aimed at connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes.


Eight years later this expansive project was completed and welcomed a vast number of packet boats and mule teams to its tow path. Improvements focused on repairing leaks and widening the canal began almost immediately in order to accommodate the flood of shipping traffic.


It was in 1903 that New York State authorized the redevelopment and massive expansion project that would turn the Erie Canal into the “Barge Canal.” Starting in 1905, this massive undertaking required 13 years to complete and cost New York taxpayers nearly $100 million.


The 82 locks located along the miles of canal prism covering 565 feet worth of elevation shifts represented an outstanding accomplishment for State engineers, but the expansive projects undertaken as part of Contract Number 65 in the western section of Orleans County was one that could easily rival any prior achievements.


This image, taken on April 26, 1915 from the Laurel Hill Bridge, shows the Medina Canal Terminal looking west towards downtown. In the foreground, the newly completed aqueduct and retaining walls stand as a testament to the hard work of both man and machinery. One of the more noticeable landmarks, the White Hotel, stands in the background to the right.


This portion of the 1905-1918 expansion was completed in 1914-1915 and represented 76 percent of the total project covered in Contract No. 65. A 1.5 cubic yard Hains mixer with a 300 cubic yard gravel bin mixed the concrete, which was then transported by one of three steam locomotives to sites as far west as Glenwood Avenue.


Nine guy derricks were used to pour the concrete into wooden frames and set in layers to prevent the weight of the mixture from collapsing the framework. This system was responsible for pouring the nearly 57,000 cubic yards of second grade concrete and more than 1,600 cubic yards of reinforced concrete used to build the retaining walls, waste weir, and aqueduct.


More impressive is the fact that all of this concrete was set during the off-season to prevent any disruptions to traffic. This meant that special precautions were put in place to ensure the mixture did not freeze while setting. Paired with the inability to block or divert the Oak Orchard Creek during the construction of the aqueduct, this span of the Canal would have proven quite difficult to complete. New York State spent a total of $776,670 to complete the work that year, mostly between the Prospect Street and Laurel Hill Bridges (now Bank Street).


The Orleans County Department of History has nearly 500 photographs of the Erie Canal in Orleans County taken between 1913 and 1930 showing various aspects of the contracts. Approximately 100 of these can be seen at www.orleanscountyhistorian.org/erie-canal and more will become available in the coming weeks.


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Boy Scouts settle into new office with GO Art! in Batavia

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 November 2015
BATAVIA – Jim McMullen, the Scout Executive for the Iroquois Trail Council, is pictured inside the Scout Shop at the Council’s new office at 201 East Main St., Batavia.

The Council moved from an office building on Library Street in Batavia to a more visible site in downtown Batavia. The Council serves Boy Scouts in five counties, including Orleans, Genesee, Niagara, Wyoming and Livingston.

The Council moved to the site at the corner of East Main and Bank streets on Nov. 2-4. The building is owned by the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. GO Art! has offices in the historic building as well as gallery space.

Parking is across Bank Street in a big parking lot shared by the mall and a bank.


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Organizations prep for big parade on Saturday

Provided photos Posted 27 November 2015
MEDINA – Parents in the Head Start program spent last Saturday decorating a float for tomorrow's Parade of Lights in Medina.


It will be a spectacle of light and small-town pride on Saturday for the Parade of Lights. Organizations have been busy working on their floats for the 6 p.m. parade which starts at the Olde Pickle Factory on Park Avenue and heads into downtown.

(Police Chief Jose Avila, the honorary parade grand marshal, will flip the switch to light up Rotary Park at 5:30 and there will be fireworks at 5:45, just before the parade.)

Parents in the Head Start program met at the Head Start site on Ensign Street in Medina to work on the float.


Last year, Head Start won the "Littlest Elf Award" for the best float for involving youths and adults.

Here is how Head Start's float looked last year during the parade.


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Editorial: Giving thanks for small-town businesses

Photos by Tom Rivers

There are many locally owned businesses in downtown Albion, with several in the historic Pratt and Day buildings. This photo was taken in 2014.


Editorial by Tom Rivers Posted 27 November 2015
You wouldn’t think Black Friday would be so quiet on Main Street in small-town America, but it is. The shoppers head for the suburban malls, in a spending mood to cross off a lengthy Christmas checklist.

It was awfully quiet in downtown Albion today. I had to go to Main Street twice for errands and there wasn’t much traffic.

That should change tomorrow when Albion merchants will be part of the Shop Small movement around the country. The locally owned retail businesses don’t want all the dollars to go to the Big Box retailers and on-line sites, such as Amazon.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter opened in Albion in 2006. It’s been a nearly a decade, and more chain stores have followed with new dollar stores, and expansions at Rite Aid and other chain-owned stores.

The Orleans County population has decreased during this time. There are fewer shoppers with more corporate-owned sites in Orleans. That makes it tough for the small-town businesses to survive. Many haven't been able to make the businesses work following the chain store invasion.

Somehow, many of the independent merchants have stayed. People continue to open new businesses and work to retool their existing operations, to compete on Main Street with the chains that often set up on the perimeter of the villages, dodging taxes but having access to the population centers.

This week we’ve been publishing essays about life in Orleans County. We have a lot to be thankful for with so much nature and wildlife in the community, some upstart politicians willing to go against the establishment, hard-working and productive farms, and many citizens who volunteer to make the community better in many ways. We'll publish another essay on Saturday with another thankful theme.

Today, we celebrate the locally owned businesses. Without them, the Orleans Hub wouldn't exist. They advertise so we can pay our bills and continue to cover local news. We appreciate their support.

Downtown Medina has experienced a renaissance in the past decade with many new shops opening in the historic business district.


Downtown isn’t what it was a century ago, when the buildings were bustling with activity from the basements to the top floors. But there is still a good nucleus of merchants. They offer items you likely won’t see at Wal-Mart. The local stores often carry locally made products. Buying those items not only supports the store, but helps another local artisan/business owner.

Those sales generate sales tax, which reduces some of the burden on property taxes.

The local merchants also tend to be the ones that donate for the many benefits in the community, and buy the ads in the local yearbooks and school musical programs.
Many of these businesses provide employment for local residents.

Buying from a local business is a vote for a stronger and better community. If you want a vibrant downtown business district, you need to spend some money there. You vote with your wallet.


The business owners do much more than run their shops. Many have banded together in business organizations and they put on concerts, wine-tastings, Beggar’s Night, and numerous other activities to entice people to visit the stores and business districts, and also to provide some fun for the community.

Medina businesses are putting on their big Old Tyme Christmas celebration on Saturday, highlighted by the Parade of Lights at 6 p.m. Click here for a schedule of events. Albion merchants also have specials and raffles on Saturday.

The locally owned businesses aren't just on Main Street. They operate out of houses, garages, in cooperatives (sharing space with others), and on state roads and country lanes.


The Orleans Hub appreciates their entrepreneurial spirit, and their efforts to make a stronger local community.


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Lighthouse Wind submits scoping document for turbine project in Yates, Somerset

Company says it will create 13 new jobs, pump $2.5M annually to local governments, leaseholders

Apex Clean Energy
This map, included in Apex Clean Energy’s Preliminary Scoping Document, shows the area where the company wants to put wind turbines in Yates and Somerset.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 November 2015
YATES – Apex Clean Energy has filed a preliminary scoping document with the NYS Public Service Commission for a wind turbine project along 12 miles of Lake Ontario shoreline in Yates and Somerset.

The project would extend inland by 3 to 4 miles, the company said, in a community with residential, agricultural, lakefront, and seasonal recreational land. The company has been working on the controversial project for more than a year.

Apex says Lighthouse Wind will be a 201 meagwatt project. It will have up to 71 turbines if they are 2.85 MW each or 61 turbines if they are 3.3 MWs.


The company says it will pay leaseholders $1 million annually and will direct $1.5 million annually in payments to the two towns, school districts and counties in the project area.


The Scoping Document can be viewed on the PSC website by clicking here. Apex also has links to documents on its website (click here).


The company in the scoping document  presents its studies and responses for environmental issues with noise and vibration; geology, seismology and soils; terrestrial ecology and wetlands; visual impacts; socioeconomic effects; and other issues.

The project will include temporary and permanent facilities, Apex says in the document, including wind turbines, access roads, buried electrical collection lines, a substation/point of interconnection with the NYS power grid, wind measurement towers, temporary construction staging and storage areas, and an operations and
maintenance facility.


Dan Spitzer, an attorney for the Town of Yates, has asked the Public Service Commission to extend the deadline beyond Dec. 14 for comments about the Public Scoping Document. He wrote a letter on Nov. 24 to Kathleen H. Burgess, secretary for the PSC. He asked for an additional 21 days until Jan. 6.

"It is respectfully submitted that this request for a 21-day extension is reasonable,
will not delay these proceedings, nor result in prejudice to any party," Spitzer said in his letter. "Conversely, without the extension, the Town’s ability to participate at
this stage of the proceeding would be hindered."


James Simon, who was elected Yates town supervisor earlier this month, asked that the Public Service Commission extend the comment deadline for 90 days. He sent a letter on Nov. 24 to Burgess.


"Given the results of the recent election in Yates and the very limited information
being provided to the citizens of the town by Apex Clean Energy, I recommend the
time period for filing PSS comments be extended to 90 days in order to allow for the newly constituted board (with two new members) to be able to consult experts and the citizens of the town as to whether the proposed studies and methodologies are adequate and exhaustive," Simon writes in a letter to the Public Service Commission.

The state has a new way for siting large-scale wind energy projects. It gives the final say to a seven-member Siting Committee that includes two members from the local project area.


Yates and Orleans County officials have been given 15 days to nominate four people to be considered as local members of the committee. Simon has asked that the deadline for nominating local residents be pushed back to after Jan. 1 when the new Town Board takes office.


The ad hoc committee reviewing the project will be chaired by the state Department of Public Service and includes the leaders of four other state departments: Department of Environmental Conservation, NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), Empire State Development and the Department of Health.

State officials have five of the seven votes.


Somerset and Niagara County officials also can nominate local residents to be on the committee.


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Landmark Society gives grant to study Mount Albion chapel roof

Photo by Tom Rivers
The chapel at Mount Albion Cemetery is near the main entrance of the historic site on Route 31. The Ingersoll Memorial Fountain is in front of the chapel.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 November 2015
ALBION – The Landmark Society of Western New York has approved a $1,500 grant for a condition report on the slate roof for the chapel at Mount Albion Cemetery.

Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society, sent a letter on Nov. 12 to Jason Zicari, superintendent of the cemetery, informing Albion that the grant had been approved.

The money will help pay for the report by Bero Architecture of Rochester.

Goodman, in his letter, praised the Village of Albion for its stewardship of the chapel, which is a prominent part of the cemetery that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The Village Board on Wednesday approved accepting the grant for the project.

The chapel was built in the 1880s. It was designed in a Gothic style with a steep gabled roof by local architect William V.N. Barlow. His house on South Clinton Street in the Village of Albion is also on the National Register.


In other action on Wednesday, the Village Board approved working with CGI Communications in Rochester to allow the company to reach out to local businesses and sponsors for 31 new banners on Main and Bank streets.

The company will also produce a video with a welcome message that will go on the village’s website.

There is no cost to the village. The company will seek sponsors for the banners.


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Tops provides Thanksgiving meal for residents at Hospice

Provided photo
Rick Wartinger, manager of the Tops store in Albion, holds a turkey. The store again donated a Thanksgiving dinner for residents at the Martin-Linsin Residence in Albion.

Press Release, Hospice of Orleans Posted 26 November 2015

ALBION – Thanksgiving Day at the Martin-Linsin Hospice residence once again was celebrated with a freshly baked Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of Tops Friendly Markets.

Last year residents reported that the smell of freshly cooked turkey made it seem like a real traditional Thanksgiving even though they weren’t at home.

“These dinners are a testament to the compassion and generosity of area business such as Tops in supporting Hospice patients,” said Becky McAnn, Care Coordinator at the Residence. “They will certainly help make the day special for our patients.”

Tops District Manager Joe Salhab and Albion Store Manager Rick Wartinger both voiced their enthusiasm about the donation.

“We at Tops are pleased to be able to make this donation knowing that it will brighten the day for people who are not able to be cared for at home,” said Joe Salhab.


Rick Wartinger posed with a Tops turkey next to the Thanksgiving centerpieces to illustrate Tops commitment to providing the dinner.

The turkey dinner features a fully cooked turkey, herb stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, turkey gravy, sweet potato casserole, cranberry orange relish and, of course, a pumpkin pie. Hospice personnel picked up the complimentary meal, valued at $74.99, around 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, warmed it up for the recommended two hours, and served the waiting residents.


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Holley recognizes 3 students and teacher

Photos by Kristina Gabalski
Ruthie Miller, Mikayla Auch, Holley Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory, and Makenzie Ferranti are shown during a recent Board of Education meeting.


By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 26 November 2015

HOLLEY – Three students have been recognized by the Holley Central School Board of Education with this month's Soaring to New Heights Award.


Eighth-graders Mikayla Auch and Ruthie Miller and 11th-grader Makenzie Ferranti received their certificates at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Board.


Mikayla runs with Ruthie, who is visually impaired, for practice, facilitating Ruthie's participation on the school’s cross country team. Makenzie runs with Ruthie during competitions allowing Mikayla to compete.


“Ruthie doesn't let anything slow her down,” Holley Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory said.


The awards recognize the students for going above and beyond expectations and for lending their skills and abilities to help others. Ruthie was recognized especially for her "great spirit," Cory said.

Board member Melissa Ierlan said she frequently sees the girls out running as part of their training. "Way to go Ruthie," Ierlan said.

Mike Crissman and Susan Cory during the award presentation on Nov. 16.

Social Studies teacher Mike Crissman also received a Soaring to New Heights Award

for his dedication to his students and his exceptional efforts in preparing them for college and life beyond high school.

"Mr. Crissman works really hard with his students and let's them know he believes they can do anything they set their mind to," Cory said in presenting the award.

Board President Brenda Swanger said Mr. Crissman started his career at Holley when Swanger's daughter was in school. "We are so proud you are here at Holley,"

she said.

"You make them work hard," Board member John Heise said of Crissman's students, "but they also notice that you work hard."


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34 ticketed during county-wide detail

Press Release, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni Posted 26 November 2015
ALBION – The Albion Police Department hosted and supervised a multi-agency Orleans County DWI Saturation Patrol on Wednesday and earlier today.

This detail combined the efforts from every law enforcement agency in Orleans County along with state and federal resources.

The agencies involved consisted of the Albion Police, Medina Police, Holley Police, Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Police, Orleans County Probation, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


The detail results include four DWI arrests (3 in Albion and 1 in Holley); one DWI Drugs (in Albion); 79 traffic stops; and 34 tickets issued.

One person arrested also was interviewed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement related to U.S. entry status. Another person was arrested for disorderly conduct related to vehicle operation

The Albion Police Department and the other law enforcement agencies are committed to making the roadways safe for all those who travel upon them.

Intoxicated drivers do not follow jurisdictional lines, so we decided that we would not either. The Albion Police Department and its partners are planning similar details for the future. We will continue to use every resource and tool available to create a reduction in offenders and arrest those who continue to endanger others by driving while intoxicated.


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