Medina man’s book of poems describes life in prison and ‘urban zoo’

Photos by Tom Rivers

Samuel Gonzalez of Medina shows his book of poems that was published in May by Xlibris. It contains 41 poems he wrote about life in the inner city and the prison system.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016
MEDINA – Samuel Gonzalez was looking to escape what he calls “the scumbag life,” – selling drugs, stealing copper, spending time in prison, getting out and repeating the cycle.

Last year he left “The Urban Zoo” – the City of Rochester – and moved to Medina to be near a nephew who also left Rochester for the more peaceful surroundings in Medina.


Gonzalez, who now works in construction building mobile homes, wrote poems about some of his experiences growing up in Rochester, his life of crime and his sense of loss. He posted some of his poetry on his Facebook page in early 2016.


Those writings were “shared” and gained a following, so much that Gonzalez was contacted by a representative from Xlibris, a book publisher. Gonzalez, 26, wrote 41 poems in the book, "The Urban Zoo."


Here is an excerpt from a poem, The Urban School.


This urban school I went to before,
There’s metal detectors at every door.
Graffiti on the lockers and the bathroom stalls,
Tiles coming off the floor and brick chipping off the walls,
Gangs, drugs and weapons swarm the halls.
The teachers are afraid of the students,
Locks the classroom doors right after every movement.


Gonzalez says he grew up in a crime-ridden neighborhood. At age 5, he was in the backyard with his father and witnessed him get shot three times. His father would survive.


Gonzalez said the sound of gun shots at night is the norm in some Rochester neighborhoods. Kids can shoot basketballs and find guns behind bushes. Sometimes, Gonzalez said kids stumble across dead bodies.


"The playgrounds aren't safe for kids," he said.

Samuel Gonzalez said urban life is difficult for children and teen-agers, who feel drawn into a life of crime.


"I grew up doing what I saw: fighting, selling drugs, running away from home," he said.


He served a stint in a juvenile detention facility before he was an adult. Then was sentenced for robbery and served time in the Cayuga and Elmira correctional facilities.


Here is an excerpt from the poem, New York state correctional facilities.


New York state correctional facilities,
A jungle where you survive off your own abilities.
Commissary bags cut open on walk ways,
Faces get split open almost every day,
Drugs and weapons in the yard,
The same yard where gang violence hits hard.


Gonzalez said he needed to get out of Rochester or it would be too difficult to build a new life.


"It's hard to change your scenery, but if I didn't I would probably be dead or in prison," Gonzalez said. "That's not a life for anybody to live."


He said he has always enjoyed writing, "but I stopped basically because of the streets."


Stacey Moss, 27, is Gonzalez's nephew. Moss urged his uncle to move to Medina, where there is less crime.

Stacey Moss is pictured with his uncle Samuel Gonzalez in Medina.


Both Moss and Gonzalez said the community would benefit from a rec center, which would offer athletic, educational and job training programs. They said the former Towne Primary School on Bates Road would be ideal for such a facility.


"If you had a rec center here most of the problems would go away," Moss said.


Gonzalez said he remains worried for family and friends in Rochester, who seem to be in a hopeless cycle of poverty and crime.


The Hood

Slinging coke, heroin, meth and weed,
Hustling in the rain, snow and sleet,
The biggest drug epidemics happened in these streets,
Living off the hood just so our kids can eat.
Selling T-shirts, drugs, liquor and DVDs,
People catching herpes, HIV and all types of STDs.
Hood fights and drive-bys,
Murders and suicides,
Narcotics and Homicide,
Undercover cops and the FBI,
We selling what we can just to get paid,
Most people get a chance to leave but still stay,
Only to get knocked in a drug raid.
Streets full of homeless people and abandoned properties,
People Hustling down the street from the police departments,
It would be good,
If we could one day,
Change the hood.

“The Urban Zoo” is available at The Book Shoppe in Medina and online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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NY offers free fishing this weekend

Photo by Tom Rivers
A fisherman is pictured at Point Breeze in this photo from May 3, 2015.


Press Release, Gov. Cuomo’s Office Posted 24 June 2016

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced free fishing days in New York State, inviting residents and visitors to explore more of New York State by participating in the sport as part of the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative.


During these special days, including this weekend, New York residents and non-residents are permitted to fish for free without a fishing license in any of the state's 7,500 lakes and ponds, or its 70,000 miles of rivers and streams during this time.


“New York has some of the best fishing in the nation, and with our Free Fishing Days program, we’re making it easier than ever for residents and visitors to come out and experience all that our waters have to offer,” Cuomo said. “This is an excellent time to introduce friends and family to the many excellent places to fish in virtually every corner of this state."


Based on the popularity of the June free fishing period, Cuomo has also designated November 11, 2016 (Veterans Day) and February 18-19, 2017 as free fishing days. Saltwater anglers may also fish in marine waters or for migratory marine fish species without enrolling in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry during free fishing days.


“Fishing is a proud tradition in New York State, and we’re thrilled to offer more free opportunities for residents and visitors alike to get out on our waters and enjoy angling throughout the calendar year," said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Fishing in New York State not only provides recreational enjoyment but is a vital economic generator, supporting local economies statewide.”


New York's sport fishing industry generates an estimated $1.8 billion in economic activity annually, supporting nearly 17,000 jobs.


Under the 2016-17 budget, Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative provides $3 million for State land access projects and $4 million for hunting and fishing infrastructure. The 2015-16 budget also created a new capital account, which, along with federal Pittman-Robertson funds, will be used to manage, protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat and will improve and develop public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation.


This year’s commitment builds on the previous $6 million in funding for 50 new projects to provide access to approximately 380,000 acres of existing State lands for recreation, including boat launches, bird-watching areas, trails and hunting blinds, and $8 million for upgrades and improvements to fish hatcheries statewide.


In addition to the Free Fishing Days program, the Governor’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative will now allow organizations and groups to conduct individual free fishing events. These events must meet Department’s guidelines designed to ensure that the events are educational in focus. Participants in these events do not need a license to fish and are not required to enroll in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry.


Anglers are reminded that although a fishing license is not required during the free fishing day weekend, or free fishing events, all other fishing regulations remain in effect.


The free fishing events give people a chance to try the thrilling sport of fishing at no cost, and people are encouraged to support the sport by purchasing a New York State fishing license. To learn more, click here.


For a listing of all free fishing events, including those conducted during free fishing days, please visit the DEC website by clicking here.


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Holley firefighters plan emergency drill Sunday at Precision Packaging

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016
HOLLEY – There will be firefighters from 25 local departments Sunday at Precision Packaging Products in Holley, practicing search and rescues, firefighter mayday, and water supply relays.


The training drill will start at 8 a.m. and is expected to go until noon, said Harris Reed, deputy fire chief for the Holley Fire Company.


The drill will use water from village hydrants and there is a chance residents' water could turn brownish, Reed said.


There will be nearly 20 pumper fire trucks at the scene to practice water relays. Water will be put in dump tanks at the scene. Reed said this is the first big training drill hosted by Holley in about a dozen years.


Firefighters will also utilize a KnoxBox, an indestructible spot that gives firefighters and emergency responders access to keys to get inside the building. Precision Packaging is the first Holley business to use a KnoxBox. Reed said Holley firefighters would like to see more businesses use KnoxBoxes.


Precision Packaging is located in Holley's Business Park off Route 31, behind JP's Farm Market.


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Albion woman organizing WNY film and arts fest at GCC

Rhonda Parker

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016
ALBION – An Albion woman who produced and directed her first film in 2014 – “Friends Don’t Let Friends - Date Friends” – is organizing a new film and arts festival at Genesee Community College in August.


Rhonda Parker won several awards in 2014 at a Buffalo film festival. She has met many directors, producers and actors in the Western New York film circle in the past three years since she took up directing and producing films while a student at GCC.


“I didn’t know there were so many actors and films in Western New York,” Parker said. “This festival will be a chance to bring the Rochester and Buffalo film communities together.”


Parker said the two communities each have their own film culture, with Buffalo tending to be more prolific in producing films while Rochester’s film community is more technical-focused.


Parker and her husband Mark created Beaver Alley Studios, a non-profit organization last year. Since their debut film they have produced “Lonely Bananas,” which will be screened during the Western New York F.A.M.E. (Film, Art and Music Event). That film will be shown at 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, capping the three-day festival that starts Aug. 12. The Parkers also have produced “Message in a Bottle.”


Parker and Beaver Alley Studios are planning FAME with the Genesee Community College Center for the Arts. In addition to screening films, the festival will feature music performances, art displays, a photography contest, educational workshops, vendors, networking and “edgy comedy.”


Parker said the festival has generated buzz in the two film communities.


“As film makers, FAME understands the burden of high festival fees and the frustration of low audience turn out,” she said in a news release. “The group keeps fees low and has created an event with mass appeal. The festival treats film makers, musicians and artists like celebrities with an audience Q&A or panel discussion and encourages active audience participation by allowing attendees to choose some of the awards.”

File photo

Rhonda Parker, center right, is pictured in November 2014 with some of the cast and crew of “Friends Don’t Let Friends - Date Friends.” The group includes, front row, from left: Amelia Favata (Della) and Rhonda Parker (writer/director). Back row: Mark Parker (Director of photography/editor), Eric Witkowski (Jeff), Erin Stamp (Gwen), Casey Litzenberger (Allison) and Adam S. Dixson (Kyle).


Parker earned her degree from GCC with a double major in paralegal studies and communications. She wants to promote the local film and artistic talent, particularly the women artists.


Aug. 12 will feature scary films, while Aug. 13 will showcase “Girl Power” with films by female writers/directors or strong female leads. Aug. 14 will feature family-friendly films and others produced in WNY.


The mid-August festival at GCC has already received nearly 300 film, music and photography entries from all over the world. The organization is also seeking workshop presenters, sponsors and vendors. Vendor tables cost $100 for three days, but are discounted to $75 if booked by June 30. Tickets for the event are available on a per-block or workshop basis all the way to full VIP all-access. For more information on the schedule, tickets and the festival, click here.


“We are very excited about hosting an event like no other,” Parker said. “Three days of regional and international films, performances from local singers and songwriters, art displays, educational workshops-and of course, the all-important networking giving all attendees the opportunity to explore, exchange and share ideas and inspiring artists to continue their work.”


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Medina continues Daisy Chain tradition

Provided photo Posted 24 June 2016

MEDINA – Some Medina juniors have been out picking daisies for the annual Daisy Chain tradition at commencement. This photo shows three high school juniors – Krista Nellist, left, Toby Kiebala and Sarah Granchelli. They were picking daisies Thursday by the canal at Dr. Peter Igoe’s on West Center Street Extension.


During commencement today at 7 p.m., 16 Medina juniors will carry a 54-foot-long chain of daisies into Medina High School Auditorium. It continues a nearly century-long tradition at Medina.


The Daisy Chain is a chance to honor the top 16 girls in the Junior Class. They are escorted by the top two boys in the class.


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Medina community expresses grief over school superintendent’s death

Jeff Evoy


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 June 2016
MEDINA – The news of Jeff Evoy’s death shocked and saddened the community and many Medina students, teachers and community members turned to social media to praise Evoy’s service and genuine concern for students.

Evoy was the Medina school superintendent for nearly five years, leading the district to a dramatic improvement in test scores among students.

He started his education career at Albion and was a popular social studies teacher and baseball coach. He was finalist for the state’s Teacher of the Year in 2003. After Albion, he took a job in administration at Pembroke, leading the elementary school.


Orleans Hub posted a story about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday about Evoy’s death. Many people have since commented about Evoy’s commitment to students and staff.


Here are some of those comments:


• "RIP Mr. Evoy. You were and always will be the best superintendent in my book. :(" – Hunter DeHollander


• "Awesome history teacher, great school superintendent. He surely will be missed." – Kellie Watson


• "RIP to literally the nicest man I ever met. He stood up for me when I was getting picked on when he ran the YMCA summer program, he was my baseball coach and always believed in me even though I couldn't hit the ball, and later on was the best superintendent Medina has had in a very long time. There wasn't a day that went by that he didn't say hi and asked how I was doing while he worked in Medina. My thoughts go out to the Evoy family during this time, he was truly an inspirational man and he will be missed dearly." – Matt Prawel


• "Oh no! Such an amazing educator!" – Rachael Murray


• "He was an amazing and inspiring teacher. I consider myself lucky to have had Mr. Evoy as my middle school social studies teacher. He's one of the people who helped me develop a love of history which led me to become a social studies teacher myself." – Ken Narburgh

Jeff Evoy is pictured with Medina teachers in March after the district was removed from the State Education Department's list of “Focus” schools in need of improvement. Evoy praised the teachers, administrators, parents and students for all working hard to raise academic scores. This group is pictured in the middle school library and includes, from left: Becky Botsford, grades 6 and 7 band teacher; Kristen Phillips, librarian; Jeanette Sheliga, grade 4 and 5 band teacher; Principal Elaine Wendt; Superintendent of Schools Jeff Evoy; Denise Stappenbeck, director of curriculum and instruction; and Joette Oberther, library aide.

• "I am at a loss for words and saddened by the news. Mr. Evoy was a kind, loving man. Our thoughts and prayers to his family." – Tina Dennis


• "An absolutely amazing and inspiring teacher and person. He will be greatly missed by many. Thoughts and prayers to his family." – Lisa Marie

• "So very sad. He truly loved this community and every student in it. His presence will be so missed." – Shannon Gray Blount


• "I am saddened to hear this news. He was one dynamic guy that made a difference in the students, educators, other employees and the community. My prayers are with his his family and all who cared about him." – Brenda Sills


• "I hope his wife and family know how much he was loved by students! Some of my very best memories of high school were in his class. He was one of kind and so caring. Many many thoughts and prayers to his family, his friends, colleagues, and the Albion, Pembroke and Medina school district families where he made such a huge impact. Rest easy Mr. Evoy." – Laura Luft


•  "He was a kind man who inspired many to go into education to inspire future generations and/or to simply to do good wherever they could. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family." – Angela Atwell


• "I have no words for this loss of life. He was an incredible human being . One that we should hope to emulate. God bless his family." – Jill Albertson


• "It's not fair! Very sad! I'm proud to have known him. He made such a difference in our education. He was also a great baseball coach for the kids. Love to the Evoy family. Graduation today will be tough. There won't be a dry eye in the house."  – Dar Schepis


• "Very sad to say the least. Jeff was a great man, husband, father, boss but best of all friend. Always supportive and encouraging ALL teachers and students to be better people. He was truly inspirational to many and especially me. His family is an extension of his character and guidance. Mom and kids are what we all wish for kind gentle and helpful without reservation or question. Their love for each other was and will be their strength. My heart as well as many are very heavy today. Jeff you will be missed by all." – Jimmy Steele


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Who Dats play to big crowd by canal in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 24 June 2016
ALBION – Marty Hobbs plays the guitar with The Who Dats during Thursday's concert by the canal in Albion. A big crowd came out for the popular local band as part of Albion's Thursday concert series.

The concert series started last Thursday and continues until Aug. 4. The bands play beginning at 6 p.m. by the fire hall. The Albion Fire Department has refreshments available during the concerts.

Aaron Robinson is the drummer for The Who Dats.

Lonnie Froman is the lead singer for the band, and he had people up dancing.


Upcoming concerts include:


June 30, Old Hippies; July 7, The Dady Brothers; July 14, The Lonely Ones; July 21, Triple Play Band; July 28, Don Newcomb Band; Aug. 4, The Legendary Jonesie & the Cruisers.


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Jeff Evoy, Medina school superintendent, dies unexpectedly

District leader credited with raising student achievement

Jeff Evoy


By Tm Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2016

MEDINA – The Medina school district community is mourning the death of Jeff Evoy, the district's superintendent for nearly five years.


Evoy died this afternoon. He had been battling a serious illness the past month, Board of Education President Wendi Pencille said.


"It's just devastating," she said this evening. "He was a very stand-up guy. He was so proud of every child in the district."


Evoy started as Medina district superintendent on Nov. 1, 2011 after working as principal of Pembroke Primary School. He started his career at Albion as a social studies teacher and was a finalist for the New York State Teacher of the Year in 2003. He was a key leader for Albion in starting the district's character education program, which included the Vietnam Memorial in front of the middle school.


He welcomed the chance to lead Medina Central School, his home district where two of his children graduated. He helped push student achievement while the district reduced taxes, and also partnered with Lyndonville Central School on several athletic and extracurricular programs, including the musical.


Pencille said Evoy was highly visible in the school buildings, and was popular with students, staff and teachers.


"I am very concerned for both the students and teachers because they loved him," Pencille said.


The Class of 2016 graduates on Friday evening. Pencille said a moment of silence will be observed for Evoy. She said Evoy wouldn't want commencement to be a sad occasion.


"He would want us to celebrate the kids' achievements," she said. "We're going to do what he would want us to do."


Evoy would have turned 51 on Saturday. Pencille said he worked hard for the district, and remained active in community organizations, including the Medina Sandstone Society.


"He completely embraced every aspect of the district," Pencille said. "Under his leadership the graduation rate went up, test scores improved. His goal was to improve education for the kids and he did it with integrity and hard work."


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Service dog embraced at Albion Elementary School

Kenai kept a watchful eye on Tyler Schnepf

Photos by Tom Rivers
Tyler Schnepf, 11, climbs the stairs in the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School this morning with Kenai, a service dog trained to detect changes in Tyler's blood sugar levels. Kenai spent the entire school year with Tyler.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 June 2016
ALBION – The Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School welcomed a popular addition this school year: a service dog named Kenai.


The dog stayed close to fifth-grader Tyler Schnepf throughout the year, even riding the bus with him and joining him at school concerts. Kenai, a 2-year-old English Cream Golden Retriever, spent most of the school days sitting on the carpet next to Tyler in Mrs. Mindy Kenward's class.


"It was a very smooth transition," Mrs. Kenward said today. "Some days we didn't even know Kenai was here."

Kenai joins Mrs. Kenward's fifth-grade class today on the last day of school. The dog will join Tyler and the other fifth-graders in moving up to the middle school in September.


Tyler's mother Jennifer Orr praised the school administrators, teachers, staff and students for welcoming Kenai this year. The family raised $20,000 through raffles, a spaghetti dinner and other fund-raisers to buy the dog that was trained to detect drops or spikes in Tyler's blood sugar levels.


"We wouldn't have been able to get Kenai without the community support," Orr said today.


Kenai received his puppy and obedience training from a breeder in Alaska. Then he was trained in California to detect diabetic levels. Tyler's family sent swabs of Tyler's saliva at different blood sugar levels for Kenai to train.


Kenai joined the family last summer. He is a working service dog so students were urged not to pet the dog and to try to draw his attention. That proved difficult for some students, especially the kids in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Even Mrs. Kenward, an admitted "dog lover," said she was tempted to pet the dog.

The new yearbook includes a headshot of Kenai and Tyler.


Tyler's family pushed to get a service dog because Tyler has juvenile diabetes. He was diagnosed when he was 7. He was checking his sugar levels 10 times a day. He and his family learned to live with the frequent checks and the insulin shots.


But the situation became more worrisome in the summer of 2014 when Tyler's mother heard him thrashing on his bedroom floor. It was 6:30 in the morning and Tyler was having a seizure. The next day he was walking and talking, when he sensed something wasn’t quite right. He had another seizure, falling into his mother’s arms. She administered an emergency glucagon shot.


Tyler's parents kept a continuous glucose monitor on him, and installed a video monitor to watch him at night. But they fear that wouldn't be enough to alert them if their son is having a seizure.


A diabetic alert dog, however, can detect a drop or spike in blood sugar levels before there is a seizure. With Kenai, Tyler's average blood sugar readings have been 119. Before that they were in the high 200s.


"The dog will alert us when Tyler's blood sugar starts to go high or low," Mrs. Orr said. "We haven't had real highs or lows because Kenai catches them sooner."


If the dog senses a change in Tyler's blood sugar, the dog will scratch at Tyler's leg or go wake up his parents if it's at night.

Kenai wears a service dog vest. He is usually tethered to Tyler during the school day. Today he took a break while Tyler stopped in the nurse's office. The dog was trained to go potty before school and not again until the afternoon when Kenai was home.


Mrs. Kenward asked the fifth-graders today how they thought the year went with Kenai. The students were positive and said they were amazed the dog adjusted to the class routine, and didn't mind some of the surprises, such as fire drills and the loud clanging during band. (Tyler plays the trumpet.)


Tyler said this school year went by fast. He said Kenai fit in well with his classmates.


"He does a good job," Tyler said about the dog.


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Cyclist without full arms or legs will again ride the length of canal

John Robinson starts trip on Sunday

File photos by Tom Rivers

John Robinson is pictured last June 30 on his third ride along the Erie Canal, going 363 miles from Buffalo to Albany. He is pictured with his wife Andrea. They are close to the Main Street lift bridge in Albion.

Staff Reports Posted 23 June 2016

John Robinson and his friend Doug Hamlin are again riding the Erie Canal towpath to highlight inclusivity, showing that people with disabilities are capable of big feats.


Robinson and Hamlin also are using the trip from Buffalo to Albany to celebrate launch of New York Business Leadership Network, a coalition among businesses in New York State interested in both hiring and building supplier diversity of businesses owned by individuals with disabilities.

Robinson and Hamlin will spend 12 days riding bicycles about 350 miles across upstate New York via the historic Erie Canalway Trail. The two men are partners in Glenmont-based Our Ability, a network of consulting, public speaking, recruitment and professional services that champions the inclusivity of people with disabilities in the workplace.
"Each year our journey aims to raise awareness of the ability inside all people with disabilities," said Robinson. "Along the way, we will connect with athletes and other individuals with disabilities and promote inclusive tourism along the historic Erie Canal."

John Robinson meets with people with disabilities last June 30 when he stopped at The Arc of Orleans County.


Robinson was a congenital amputee without full arms and legs. He overcame countless obstacles to become a successful businessman, husband, father and inspirational speaker.


In 2011 he founded Our Ability (click here for more information) with Hamlin, a 28-year veteran of the software industry who is also disabled as the result of an accident in 1983. At Our Ability they help to mentor and inspire people with disabilities through positive video stories. In 2014, Robinson was one of 10 people nationally named a White House Champion of Change for Disability Employment.

The New York Business Leadership Network was formed by Our Ability in December of 2015 in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo's 2014 executive order establishing the Employment First Commission to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities in New York. The executive order calls for 100 businesses to commit to formal policies to hire people with disabilities as part of their diversity strategy.


"NYBLN's dual goals are to inspire those individuals with disabilities to achieve their dreams through education and employment as well as to educate able-bodied individuals about the differences in ability around us," Robinson said.

John Robinson, left, and his friend Doug Hamlin, right, ride adaptive use bicycles along West Bank Street in Albion in this photo from July 1, 2014.
This year's canal trip begins in Buffalo's Canal Side Park and concludes on July 8 at Jennings Landing in Albany. As the tour makes its way across New York, numerous advocacy groups and organizations supporting the rights of people with disabilities will join Robinson and Hamlin for parts of the trip.


Robinson was inspired to undertake the first Journey Along the Erie Canal by his wife, Andrea, and two children after receiving a three-wheeled, hand-operated cycle as a donation. His family helped him learn how to ride and then train for the statewide journey. Hamlin joined Robinson that first year and saw what the ride could symbolize. He will once again ride alongside Robinson on his own specialized hand cycle.
As in past years, Our Ability's partners for the journey include New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (NYSID), New York State Canal Corporation, the Disability Education Forum of New York, Inc., the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, and NYSARC, Inc.
"The New York State Canal Corporation is thrilled to partner with Our Ability for the fourth annual Journey Along the Erie Canal," said Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton. "John and Doug are an inspiration to us all. Their message of inclusion and support can be extended to all facets of life and across all borders. We are proud that once again the Erie Canal and Canalway Trail will serve as the background of such a worthy cause."

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Murray officials discuss how to handle on-street parking for businesses

Business owners praised for 'stepping up' to address situation

Photo by Kristina Gabalski

Nathan Pace, an attorney from medina, speaks to Murray Town Board members Wednesday evening during a workshop meeting. The town's ongoing efforts to address on-street parking outside businesses was discussed.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 23 June 2016
MURRAY – Members of the Murray Town Board agreed Wednesday evening to monitor and assist businesses in the town in regards to on-street parking issues.


The town has spent two years discussing options for bringing businesses into compliance with its zoning, which Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti says requires businesses to provide off-street parking for customers.


The Town Board workshop session on the issue began with Vendetti reporting that the situation is much different now than two years ago in regards to compliance.


“There has been progress everywhere to varying degrees,” Vendetti said. “People have made efforts to control parking on the road outside their businesses.”

He noted there are still some problems, but the town has so far refrained from putting up no parking signs to, “Give folks a chance to address” the issue, Vendetti said.


Several business owners attended the meeting.


“We pull people from far and wide,” said Amy Machamer of Hurd Orchards. “We try to make them feel welcome.”


For Hurd’s, that has meant creating additional on-site parking and encouraging customers to park there.


Vendetti noted Hurd’s is the largest business affected by the parking issue and for that reason has, “seen the most dramatic decrease in (on-street) parking.”


Machamer asked the Board not to resort to no parking signs, calling them negative communication and a complete deterrent  to customers. “Help us to encourage our guests as opposed to punishing our guests,” she said.


Attorney Nathan Pace represented A&M Automotive and told the Board that he had been in contact with the state Department of Transportation. He explained the DOT has no regulations prohibiting on-street, parallel parking on state roads and is responsible for safety along its roadways. The DOT doesn’t see parking as a “safety issue,” Pace said.


He, too, asked the town not to put up no parking signs which would, “chill what Murray is,” Pace said.  He explained that most businesses along Rt. 31 and Ridge Road are located in former homes – “which are not amenable to a shopping center parking lot.”


Murray Town Supervisor John Morriss said “sandwich” signs like those used by Hurd Orchards can direct customers to off-street parking. Morriss said those signs are an effective alternative to the town placing no parking signs.  


“It’s a good idea, a compromise,” he said.


Councilman Paul Hendel said he agreed that the town should not resort to no parking signs. “There has been lots of voluntary compliance, the best compliance is voluntary,” Hendel said. “The business owners are stepping up.”


Vendetti and Hendel both brought up the issue of safety, particularly when customers park across from a business and must walk across the roadway.


“I don’t believe we should wait for accidents,” Vendetti said. “It’s an unsafe situation. We are not requesting parking areas be paved.”


He said the Murray Superette at the corner of Rt. 104 and Rt. 237 continues to be an issue.  He said he would contact the NYSDOT regarding signs which block the view for motorists and requested the town put up no parking signs at that location.  The owners of the Superette were not in attendance at Wednesday’s work session.

The board also addressed the issue of on-street parking along Lynch Road outside the Holley Middle School/High School during special events. Residents told the board they continue to worry about safety issues. Doug Piedemonte said there is parking available on the Holley Central School campus near the old bus garage. He said he counted 140 parking spaces, which would accommodate the 70-80 car overflow which often ends up on Lynch Road.


Town Board members said they would discuss the issue with the School District and with the Village of Holley as the south side of Lynch Road is in the village.      


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Legislature recognizes teens for saving life of man who drove into lake

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 23 June 2016

ALBION – Orleans County legislators Lynne Johnson and John DeFillips, left, present "Special Recognition Awards" to local teen-agers for saving the life of a man on May 26 who drove into Lake Ontario at Golden Hill State Park in Barker.


The teens include, from left: Alex Plummer, Josh Tombari and Hayden London (as well as Matt Scroger, not pictured). They were invited to Wednesday's Orleans County Legislature meeting. They are joined by Lt. Patrick Rindsleisch of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, second from right, and Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower.


The teens went fishing at Golden State Park in Barker on Thursday and likely saved the life of a man who drove into the lake. They boys were fishing by the inlet at the state park. They heard an engine roar and then a big splash in the water.


They ran to the lake and saw a green van pointed down in the water. The front was submerged. Another man was standing near the shore and told the teens a man was inside the van.


London and Plummer each grabbed big rocks. London took off his shirt and dove in the water. He saw a man who appeared to be elderly inside, hitting at the window trying to get out.


London smashed the driver’s window with a rock. Water came rushing inside the van, London told the Orleans Hub on May 27, a day after the rescue. London put his shirt on the window, to protect the man from the broken glass. London and Plummer then pulled the man out of the van.


Rindsleisch said the man is likely doing well today because there hasn't been any reports of injuries. He couldn't provide more information because of confidentiality laws. But he did say the boys deserve praise for their actions on May 26.


Legislators called London, a junior at Lyndonville, “an extraordinary human being” for his selfless actions after a man had driven into the lake.


“Your quick thought and immediate action, with a rock in your hand, saved this life," legislators said in the award for London. "By going above and beyond and risking your own life to save another, the Orleans County Legislature has a renewed sense that people are willing to help others in times of need. This will forever be remembered and extremely appreciated.”


“The Orleans County Legislature does hereby commend you for your heroism and is proud and grateful that you are a citizen of Orleans County.”

Hayden London, right, accepts the "Special Recognition Award" from Legislator John DeFilipps.


Sheriff Bower also presented the boys with T-shirts with a message about the importance of forward-thinking.


Bower, a former youth coach, said he always preached to his players to be prepared and to be thinking ahead.


"We applaud you for what you did," Bower told the teens.


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Bargains aplenty at property tax auction

Pennysaver Market in Lyndonville sells for only $1K

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 23 June 2016
ALBION – Rob Doyle, principal auctioneer and appraiser for Absolute Auctions and Realty, seeks bids for the former Lyndonville Pennysaver Market. The property sold for $1,000 to Jonathan Daniels of Waterport in the Orleans County tax foreclosure auction on Wednesday.


The Pennysaver Market closed three years ago. The property had $37,945 in back taxes.


The county sold 41 properties for a $324,200. The properties collectively carried $497,914 in back taxes. The auction didn’t cover the back taxes, resulting in a net loss of $173,714. (Winning bidders have to pay the current year's taxes on the properties.)

Several of the houses in the auction sold for less than $1,000.

Frank T. Pietrzak, auctioneer for Absolute Auctioneers, seeks bids for house at 134 West Bank St. in Albion. It sold for $300 to Phillip Newbould of Kendall.


Business sites also didn’t command much money. A site in downtown Medina at 333 Main St., next to the Starlite Cleaners, sold for $200 to Demetrios Bitsas.


The former S.A. Cook Furniture Factory, where there was a small fire on Monday, sold for $100 to William Grathouse III of Holley. The 70,600-square-foot building is located at 525 East Ave.


In Kendall, a 3,584-square-foot building in the downtown at 1841 Kendall Rd. sold for $400 to Phillip Newbould of Kendall. One of Holley's attached row buildings in the downtown also was up for sale. The site at 89 Public Square fetched $100 from an online bidder, The Eaton Agency in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.


One property was in command. An apartment complex at 218 Linwood Ave. in Albion sold for $100,000, the highest bid of the day. Brad Bokman of Albion bought the site.

The auction drew a crowd of bidders and some curiosity seekers to the Elk's Club on West State Street.


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Albion starts summer park program

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 22 June 2016
ALBION – Cole London, left, and Mekhi Rivera were among the many kids playing dodgeball today at Bullard Park, the opening day of the Village of Albion’s Summer Parks Program.


Albion has Bullard and Pee Wee Park (which is within Bullard) on Route 31 staffed with 12 supervisors. There are other parks with in the village but they are not staffed with supervisors.


This year all activities will take place at Bullard Park. All children who attend Veteran’s Park in the past are encouraged to attend Bullard Park and Pee Wee Park on the east side of the village on Route 31. The village shifted all of the park supervisors to Bullard in a budget-saving move.

Anthony Freeman, 13, fires the ball during dodgeball today at Bullard.


The parks will have supervisors from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. All of the supervisors are certified in First Aid and CPR.


The first three days will be orientation and getting familiar with the parks and supervisors. Activities will also be conducted. The supervisors are working hard on the bulletin boards and setting up for the summer season. The children will have an opportunity to play team and individual games and activities throughout the summer.


Field trips and special events are also planned for the children’s enjoyment, said John Grillo, the village's recreation director.


The Parks Program will also offer week-long camps in tennis, baseball, wrestling, a second week of tennis, and volleyball. Check with the park supervisors for more information.

When parents arrive at the park, they should register their child, and fill out an emergency form with immunization records.


The Parks Program is free to children in the Albion Central School District.

Mike Brewer, 13, eyes a target during dodgeball. The parks run many games for children, including crafts at Pee Wee Park.

Scott Baker, owner of Park & Play in Cazenovia, installs new playground equipment at Bullard.

The new playground equipment enhances Bullard, the village's most popular park.


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Farmers want some water left in canal for irrigation when draining starts next week

Photos by Tom Rivers

The state Canal Corp. will begin draining a section of the canal on Monday. New York Farm Bureau is asking the Canal Corp. to leave enough water in the canal so farms can continue to siphon water for crops. This picture shows one of the siphons just west of the Keitel Road bridge in Albion.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 June 2016

ALBION – The draining of the a section of the Erie Canal starting next week comes at a bad time for many of the farmers with land by the canal, agricultural operations that rely on canal water to help nourish crops.


The state Canal Corp. will drain water beginning Monday from Brockport to Middleport so the Canal Corp. and a contractor can make an emergency repair to a culvert in Hulberton. After the initial closure of the canal, the drained portion will be isolated between Albion and Holley.


There are 27 permitted irrigation siphons between Brockport and Middleport, including 25 for farms and two for commercial golf courses, said Shane Mahar, Canal spokesman. The section between Albion and Holley has 14 permitted agricultural siphon permits.

A farm uses canal water today to irrigate a field in Albion between Keitel and Butts roads. There are 14 farms between Albion and Holley with agricultural permits to siphon canal water.


New York Farm Bureau is asking the Canal Corp. to leave some water in the canal for farmers to siphon water, particularly during this difficult stretch of weather with so little rain, Farm Bureau officials told the Orleans Hub.


Mahar said the Canal Corp. won't be "bone dry" after the draining beginning next week. The Canal Corp. is in "daily conversations" with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, NY Farm Bureau and its engineering team about how much water should be left in the canal.


"This stretch of the canal is so vital to the agriculture community for irrigation purposes," Mahar said. "There may be extra pumps and siphons, but it won't be at the full volume they typically get."


The Canal Corp. announced last week the section of the canal needed to be closed to allow for the repair of a leaking culvert in Hulberton. Mahar said that notice was intended to give farmers, boaters and other canal users time to adjust how they use the canal and to perhaps make other plans.


The Canal Corp. said the closure could last several weeks, but Mahar said it could be reopened sooner, depending on the extent of the work needed. That scope of work won't be known until the canal is drained and contractors and engineers can better assess the damage, Mahar said.


"We are cautiously optimistic the repair could be done sooner," he said. "We're trying to figure out how to make this as minimally impacting as possible."


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Sorochty elected new Holley mayor

Brian Sorochty


Staff Reports Posted 22 June 2016

HOLLEY – Village residents elected Brian Sorochty as Holley mayor during Tuesday’s village election. Sorochty was unopposed and received 62 votes. He will succeed John Kenney, who is retiring from the Village Board.


Two incumbent trustees were also unopposed. Connie Nenni received 53 votes and Kevin Lynch was backed on 52 ballots.

Sorochty, who works in the engineering field, has served as trustee for three years and is currently deputy mayor. Sorochty says important issues facing the community include addressing the village's aging infrastructure, the number of vacant and under-utilized properties, and maintaining and improving village services to residents while minimizing taxes.
The new two-year terms start July 1 for Sorochty, Nenni and Lynch.
As mayor, Sorochty said his future plans include pursuing grants to aid in repairing aging infrastructure; following up on goals set as part of the village’s Comprehensive Plan; making the renovation of the old high school a reality; and working to find new ways to encourage more positive interaction and involvement from village residents with local government.


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Millis golf tournament has raised $125K in 10 years to help families battling cancer

Provided photos

The Millis family poses for a picture at the June 5 golf tournament in memory of David Millis of Albion. The group includes, front row, from left: Julie Mersdorf, Haley Mersdorf, Brett Mersdorf, Andrew Millis, Kennedy Barber and Joan Millis. Back row: Zachary Millis, Brian Millis, Diane Millis, Jade Millis, Jay Mersdorf, Karen Barber, Gary Barber and Brooks Barber.


Staff Reports Posted 22 June 2015
ALBION – The family of David Millis has now hosted 10 memorial golf tournament that have raised $125,000 for Orleans County families battling cancer.

The family held the most recent tournament on June 5 at Batavia Country Club and raised about $12,500. The money was again donated to the Knights-Kaderli Memorial Fund, which is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to assisting local families with their fight against cancer. The money is used to assist with prescriptions, medical insurance, nutritional supplements, hospital beds and many other needs.

The Millis family would like to thank major sponsors, golfers, dinner guests, volunteers, and raffle prize donors to help make this tournament another great success.

This year the tournament had 136 golfers and 186 dinner guests.

Jim Klein, Justin Klein, Jon Klein and Matt Wood won this year’s tournament.


Golfers and dinner guests had a chance to find purple golf balls hidden throughout the golf course and banquet hall to help raise pancreatic cancer awareness, which David passed away from. Anyone who found a golf ball throughout the day won a prize.

“I am so pleased with the golf tournament again this year," said David’s wife Joan Millis. "I am so proud of my family, they do a wonderful job making sure everything runs smoothly and everyone had a nice time. I’m happy the proceeds will again go to the Knights Kaderli Memorial Fund. We are very happy it helps people who live locally. I would also like to thank everyone who sponsored, people and businesses who contributed raffle prizes, volunteers, golfers, dinner guests and all of our friends and family who have always been there for us. I know Dave is so proud of his family as I am.”


Next year’s tournament will be on June 4.

For more information and pictures from the tournament, click here.


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Sheriff sending 8 kids to camp in Penn Yan

Press Release, Sheriff Randy Bower Posted 22 June 2016

ALBION – Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower announced that 8 children from the county are attending the New York State Sheriffs’ Association Institute’s 2016 Summer Camp.


The Sheriffs’ Summer Camp is designed to provide a solid recreational program combined with the development of a sense of good citizenship. This will mark the 39th year of the camp’s operation.


The Sheriffs’ Summer Camp, which is located near Penn Yan in Yates County, is supported by the Sheriffs’ Association Institute’s Honorary Members through their contributions and annual dues. This year the camp will accommodate over 900 deserving boys and girls from across New York State.


“This is a great opportunity for our county youth and I personally thank Orleans County residents for donating and making this possible,” Bower said.


The camp program provides an opportunity for children to go away for a week during the summer. These are often kids who normally wouldn’t have that chance.


“The primary objective is to create positive interaction between the kids attending camp and the Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs who participate in the camp programs,” Bower said. “We have found from experiences during the first 38 summer camps that the kids develop a renewed respect and understanding for the men and women who enforce the laws. The deputies become their friends and in some cases substitute parents for a week.”


Throughout the week-long stay, the children observe special exhibits and demonstrations presented by Sheriffs’ Offices from across the State. Included in these presentations are D.A.R.E. presentations, boat and bike safety programs, law enforcement equipment and technical demonstrations and even a talent show just for fun.


Upon completion of their stay, all children will be awarded a diploma for their participation in a program of “Good Citizenship and Law Enforcement Studies.”


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Hospice recognizes key volunteers, supporters

Provided photos

Mary Ann Tillman, right, accepts the Hospice of Orleans 'Volunteer of the Year' from Christine Fancher, Hospice Social Worker and Volunteer Coordinator.


Press Release, Hospice of Orleans Posted 21 June 2016
MEDINA – Hospice of Orleans recently held its annual meeting and volunteer appreciation luncheon at the United Methodist Church of Medina.


Referred to as “the backbone” of the organization by Hospice Social Worker and Volunteer Coordinator Chris Fancher, the volunteers were reported to have served over 5,500 volunteer hours.


Stories of the duties carried out by the special people that give their time to fulfill them were shared. These people include a volunteer that drives in from Rochester, retired nurses that help sanitize equipment and a gentleman that does the shopping for the Martin-Linsin residence twice a week.


Of all of the amazing volunteers that serve, Mary Ann Tillman was awarded Volunteer of the Year for her service in the residence with scheduling, for her participation in every Hospice fundraiser and event, and for her time spent with patients and keeping the gardens at Hospice.


She was described as a “kind and gentle person that unassumingly gets things done.” Hospice is so grateful for Mary Ann Tillman and each of the volunteers that have deemed it a worthy cause and choose to bring joy, comfort and compassion each time that they serve.


The organization also recognized the following:

• Business/Civic Award: Presented to Matt Davis and Carol Murphy on behalf of the Don Davis dealership in Albion for being an integral part of Hospice’s Golf Tournament, which is celebrating its 20th year this summer.

• Mary Lou Tuohey of Medina graciously accepted the Mary Janet Sahukar award for her contribution to and advocacy of Hospice services. The award is named for Hospice's founding director.


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