Waterfowl on the move at Watt Farms

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 1 October 2014
ALBION – Some of the ducks and geese at Watt Farms scamper in an orchard off Route 98 today and head to a pond at the farm.

The farm has more than 40,000 fruit trees. It also has this eclectic mix of waterfowl.

I think the ones with knobs on their bills are known as Chinese Geese. Read the Wikipedia entry. It says a Chinese Goose has a basal knob on the upper side of its bill.

Watt Farms also seems to have a lot of American Pekin Ducks. These ones don't have the knob on their bills. Wikipedia says these are the most popular commercial ducks in the United States.

I don't pretend to be an expert on ducks and geese, but it’s nice to see they get along so well and seem to enjoy their exercise.


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Anti-bullying video will feature cast of local musicians

Rodemeyer family records segment for video

Photos by Tom Rivers
John Wragg (left), owner of Torquil Studios, is pictured with the Rodemeyer family: Tracy, Tim and Alyssa. They recorded a segment about anti-bullying today in Wragg’s studio in Middleport.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2014
MIDDLEPORT – John Wragg pulls backs the shirt sleeve on his right arm. A scar runs from his palm and past his wrist.

For Wragg, bullying is personal. When he was 14 he slashed himself because of the jeering he faced at school.

Wragg, now 60, wants to send a powerful message to the community and beyond about bullying. For the past seven months he has worked with musicians in Orleans County and the sixth grade chorus at Medina to produce “We Are The World.” The lyrics will be the same as when leading musicians recorded the song in 1985 to fight hunger in Africa. Click here to see that video.

This time Wragg wants the song to send an anti-bullying message. Many local musicians recorded parts for the song. Wragg felt it was missing something. He reached out to the Rodemeyer family. Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer’s son Jamey committed suicide when he was 14, after facing harassment from his classmates at Williamsville North. Jamey was gay.

His parents and Jamey’s 19-year-old sister, Alyssa, were at Wragg’s studio today.

“Whether it’s two people or 10,000 people, we want to get the message out to prevent suicide and make schools a safe place,” Mrs. Rodemeyer said. “Our view is one kid at a time, one school at a time.”

John Wragg shows the Rodemeyers and Bobby Wise (back right) the nearly complete “We Are The World” video Wragg has produced about bullying. Wise is founder of Project Unity, an anti-bullying program.

The Rodemeyers were joined by Bobby Wise, founder of Project Unity, a bullying prevention program. Wise grew up in Fredonia and left that school in ninth grade due to bullying. He graduated from a performing arts high school in Utah.

He watched Wragg’s video and was impressed. He hopes it goes viral on the Internet.

“It features real people from our area,” Wise said after seeing the video. “They understand the problem that is going on.”

Wragg plans to include the Rodemeyers in the final edit. He wants to have the video go live in time for Oct. 6, which is “World Anti-Bullying Day.” He wants to challenge people who see the video to take a stand against bullying, whether at school, the workplace, in their homes or elsewhere in the community.

“This is just to raise awareness and to send a message,” Wragg said. “It’s we the people against you bullies.”

Orleans Hub will post the finished video when it’s ready in a few days.


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Suburban kids visit the farm

Watt Farms hosts several schools each fall

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 1 October 2014
ALBION – Chris Watt, owner of Watt Farms in Albion, gives kindergarteners tips on how to pick an apple during a visit to an orchard today. The students are from Cayuga Heights Elementary School in Depew.


Watt Farms hosts about 15 school visits each fall with most from Erie County. Watt said the farm used to do about 30 tours with schools, but many of the schools scaled back on field trips.

The school from Depew has been coming to Watt’s for many years. Tara McCormick, one of the teachers, said the farm is very accommodating to students and their parents. The students rode out to the orchard in a train, which is actually a tractor trailer resembling a locomotive.


“We’ve been talking about apples in the classroom,” said teacher Nicole Valint. “Here they see you actually have to grow them. They don’t just come from the grocery store.”

One of the classes is pictured by the train. About 60 students from Cayuga Heights rode the train out to the orchard.

Each student picked four apples. Mary Krawczyk, center, walks in the orchard with her daughter MacKenzie, right, and Alivia, one of the kindergarteners.

Besides picking apples and riding the train, the students learned about the importance of bees and pollination from Karen Watt. Another station at the farm showed students how to make apple cider.


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Seasons change along Erie Canal

Photos by Peggy Barringer Posted 1 October 2014
ALBION – The Erie Canal is changing colors as the calendar turns to fall. Peggy Barringer of Albion captured the image of a heron along the canal bank on Tuesday while she was out for a walk along the towpath.


There is a lot of drizzle today, when it is forecast to reach a high of 71 degrees. The National Weather Service in Buffalo forecasts a high of 77 on Thursday and 79 on Friday with lots of sun. The temperature will drop on the weekend with a high of 60 on Saturday and 55 on Sunday.

Peggy Barringer also captured this canal scene in Albion near the Canal Corp. facilities.


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Bakery joins vendors in Albion gift shop

S-n-L Sweet Escapes seen as draw to downtown

Photos by Tom Rivers
S-n-L Sweet Escapes owner Sarah Brigham, right, is pictured in front of her baked goods with Lisa Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop on Main Street in Albion.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2014
ALBION – In her nearly three years as a downtown Albion merchant, Lisa Stratton has often heard people say the downtown could use a specialty bakery shop.

Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop, says that void is now being filled. She has a new vendor in her store selling cookies, cake pops, whoopee pies and other baked goods.

S-n-L Sweet Escapes opened at the Hazy Jade on Sept. 9. It has made for a great team, said S-n-L owner Sarah Brigham.

She makes the cookies, brownies and other baked goods either late at night or early in the morning. She delivers them to the Hazy Jade at about 10 a.m. after her kids head to school. Brigham is spared the expense of maintaining her own storefront and has more time freed up for her family.

Brigham has cake pops for sale.

“It’s been perfect, pairing this with a local gift shop,” Brigham said this morning at Hazy Jade, 50 North Main St.

Brigham started her business about five years ago, working out of her home. The business was focused on custom orders for weddings, parties and other events.

Working with Stratton gives Brigham a chance to “test the waters” to see the demand for her baked goods.

“This is to try it out before we invest in a storefront,” Brigham said this morning while making a delivery with her husband Tim. They named the business after their children, Sawyer and Lily.

Brigham will change up her selection to match seasons and other special events. These cookies have a fall foliage feel. Later this month, she will have cookies as a breast cancer awareness fund-raiser.

Stratton has 40 vendors selling products at the Hazy Jade. The bakery has generated traffic to the store, with some regulars there soon after the 10 a.m. deliveries.

“This is helping everybody,” she said about S-n-L. “We need specialty shops downtown.”

Stratton said Hazy Jade functions as a “business incubator” for some of her vendors, giving them a chance to establish a clientele before venturing into their own space.

For more on S-n-L, click here.


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Hawley plans 4 town hall meetings in Orleans on Saturday

Press release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley Posted 1 October 2014
ALBION – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) is holding a series of four town hall meetings for Orleans County constituents this Saturday.

Hawley invites his constituents to ask questions about any state or local issue that concerns them. Hawley frequently holds town halls across his district to make sure that the people his represents have as much access to him as possible and to give them the opportunity to provide their input of the direction of the area.

“One of my responsibilities as an elected official is to keep my constituents informed on state and local issues that affect them,” Hawley said. “These town halls are one way to do that. I invite every one of my constituents to come out and discuss whatever is on their minds. I am here to listen and work with them to make Western New York a great place to live and work.”

The schedule for the town hall events includes:


• 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at Ridgeway Town Hall, 410 W. Ave., Medina;


• 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at Carlton Town Hall, 14341 Waterport-Carlton Rd.;


• 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Albion Town Hall,3665 Clarendon Rd.;


• 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. at Murray Town Hall, 3840 Fancher Rd., Holley.


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DEC will issue trapping permits for refuge, wildlife management area

Press release, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation

Posted 1 October 2014

BASOM – Beginning today, trapping permits will be issued for the Oak Orchard, Tonawanda and John White Wildlife Management Areas for the 2014-2015 license year.

Permit applications can be obtained weekdays from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, by appearing in person at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge Office on Casey Road between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., or by writing to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Wildlife, 1101 Casey Road, Box B, Basom, New York 14013.


Trappers who obtain a permit will be required to report their harvest and trapping efforts on each area. The Western New York trapping season for fox, raccoon, coyote and other upland furbearing animals opens Oct. 25 and closes Feb. 15, with the exception of the John White WMA. On John White WMA the upland trapping season will run from Nov. 1 to Feb. 15.


This year beaver season in this area of NY (including on Tonawanda, Oak Orchard and John White WMAs) will run from Nov. 25 until Feb. 15.


The Western New York trapping season for mink and muskrat opens on Nov. 25 and closes on Feb. 15.


However, the 2014-2015 muskrat and mink seasons at the three WMAs start later than the Western NY trapping season and will run from Dec. 6 to Feb. 15. In addition, a 25-trap limit will be in place for muskrat and mink on the three WMAs (traps set for upland trapping and beaver will not require numbered tags and will not be considered in the trap limit). The trap limit provides a more equitable distribution of the harvest and prevents trappers from monopolizing the better trapping areas.


The maximum number of traps a trapper can set for muskrat and mink on the three areas is 25. To accomplish this, the DEC issues 25 numbered tags to each trapper who obtains a permit. A tag must be attached to each trap the trapper is using on the areas. Any trap that does not have one of these tags attached is considered an illegal trap. Also, an individual trapper can only operate traps that contain tags with their assigned numbers.


Management of the muskrat population promotes prime emergent marsh habitats used by waterfowl and uncommon marsh birds such as the black tern and least bittern. The trap limit allows Bureau of Wildlife personnel to better regulate the muskrat harvest according to water availability, habitat needs and population.

Hunters and trappers are reminded that no gas or electric motor boats are allowed on Oak Orchard or Tonawanda WMAs.


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School flies mourning flags after teacher’s death

Provided photos Posted 1 October 2014
MEDINA – The school district is flying black and white mourning flags following the death of beloved middle school teacher Barbara Barnes. She was killed in a car accident on Monday morning in Newfane on her way to school.

Barnes taught special education at the Clifford Wise Middle School for 18 years. She lived in Newfane. Her husband Bruce is a town justice. They have two sons, Troy and Braidy. Barnes is also survived by her step-children, Livia Santschi, Evan and Thaler.

Barbara Barnes


The mourning flags at the school district will be at half mast on Saturday, the day of Barnes’s funeral. There will be calling hours at the Rutland & Corwin Funeral Home on Friday from 2 to 7 p.m. with the funeral service at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Newfane Methodist Church.

Donations can be made to the Barbara Barnes Memorial Scholarship, Medina School District C/O Christine Griffin, One Mustang Drive, Medina, NY 14103.


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Medina man in serious condition after Hartland accident

Staff reports Posted 30 September 2014
HARTLAND – A Medina man is in serious condition after an accident in Hartland this afternoon, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Steven R. Churchfield, 48, of Medina was headed east at about 5 p.m. on the 9400 block of Ridge Road when he failed to negotiate a curve in the road, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

The vehicle traveled onto the south shoulder striking a utility pole, severing the pole in half. The vehicle continued off the road where it overturned coming to rest in a field.


Churchfield was transported by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. He is currently listed in serious condition at ECMC. The accident is being investigated by Niagara County Sheriff's Office Accident Investigation Unit. Charges are pending, the Sheriff’s Office said.


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To help stave off illnesses, wash your hands

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse, Public Health Educator for the Orleans County Health Department Posted 30 September 2014
Last week was International Clean Hands Week and September was National Preparedness Month.

So what does handwashing and emergency preparedness have to do with each other? In a word: resiliency. Being resilient means a person is able to recover more quickly and more fully from illness, depression, adversity or an emergency. It also means to “spring back” and “rebound.”

After an emergency of any sort, people need time to get back to “normal” or in some cases a new “normal” depending on the changes in their lives. Resiliency is the ability to come back to that place and is generally determined on the person’s health, both mental and physical, preparation prior to the event and previous experiences with emergencies. This article will focus on physical health and emergency preparation.

Let’s start with physical health. One of the easiest and most effective ways for people to stay healthy is by properly washing their hands. Proper handwashing and hand awareness is very simple, yet so many skip these steps because they are in a hurry.
How many times have you been in a public restroom and watched people leave without washing their hands after using the facilities or changing a baby’s diaper? It takes less time to properly wash your hands than it does to recover from being sick.

Follow these simple steps to stay healthier:

• If paper towels are used for hand drying, prepare them prior to washing your hands to lessen re-exposure to germs.

• Use warm water and lather the soap on your hands, fingers and wrists. Work around your fingers, hands and fingernails for about 20 seconds, the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” two times through, the Alphabet song, or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Rinse with your fingers pointing down.

• Take the paper towel and dry your hands. Use the paper towel to turn off the water and open the door to exit.

• If there is only a hand dryer, either use your elbow to turn off the water or after exiting the restroom use a hand sanitizer according to directions on the bottle.

• Be aware of your hands…keep them away from the “T-zone”, your eyes, nose and mouth.

• Do not sneeze or cough in your hands – use a tissue or your elbow or shoulder.

• Remember to wash your hands before preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom, after diapering babies or helping someone with toileting, after handling pets, after handling trash, cleaning, etc.

• Talk with your healthcare provider about getting a flu shot.

Regarding emergency preparedness, studies have shown those who had adequate supplies, an emergency evacuation plan and/or preparedness plan were able to handle the situation and bounce back more quickly after the emergency was over than those who were not prepared.

Being prepared does not have to cost a lot of money. Sitting with your family and talking about what you should do in the event of various emergencies is a big first step.

When preparing emergency supplies, look for sales / buy-one-get-one free items, free samples and promotional items to store in your emergency kit. Remember to have a hand can-opener, a good supply of batteries and extra set of tools in your emergency kit.

Check your supplies at least twice a year to make sure nothing has expired and replace anything that needs to be replaced. A good time to remember doing this is during the day light savings time changes in the fall (Nov. 2 move the clock ahead one hour) and spring.

At a minimum plan to have three days of food and water. Remember to have backup supplies such as medications, trash bags, toilet supplies and pet supplies.

If you or a family member has difficulty walking and getting around, talk with a neighbor or friend you trust, family members who live nearby and / or your local fire department so they are aware you will need help.

For more information on how to be more prepared visit www.Ready.gov. There are many templates and guides you can print or order to help your family be more prepared.


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Main Street Store in final days before move to Legion

Photos by Tom Rivers

The Main Street Store is selling most of its items at 30 to 90 percent off before it opens in about two weeks in the American Legion at 131 South Main St.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2014
ALBION – When it started eight years ago, the Main Street Store was intended as a place to teach job readiness skills for unemployed residents and also provide quality “nearly new” merchandise at low prices.

The store has been a big success, expanding to a neighboring storefront about two years after it first opened. The store outgrew those two storefronts in the downtown, said Angel Slick, the retail operations manager.

“We’ve just grown and grown through the programs that we do,” Slick said at the store today at 49 North Main St.

Elizabeth Daniels checks the inventory at the Main Street Store, which is in its final days in downtown Albion before moving to a bigger site on South Main Street.

Community Action of Orleans & Genesee operates the store and was looking for a bigger site. About a year ago it identified the American Legion as an ideal location for the store. The agency recently closed on the American Legion and has been busy painting the inside, working on the floor and making other improvements.

The Main Street Store expects to open in the Legion site in about two weeks with a grand opening planned from Oct. 22-25.

The agency works with about 100 people a year in the job readiness program. Slick said about 65 usually find jobs with 45 keeping those jobs for at least 90 days. Those job connections are the program’s greatest success, Slick said.

The store offers assistance with resumes, letters and job searches, while providing skills that would be valuable to employers.

Daisy Stroud, left, is the donor program specialist for the Main Street Store, helping to attract merchandise, volunteers and financial donations. She is pictured with Melissa Thompson, who is in the business and office administration program.

While the site serves as a job-training ground, Slick noticed that the community has responded to the merchandize, from clothes, to furniture and other household items. The Main Street Store won’t sell items that aren’t “like new.”

The store has a laundry machine and dryer, and every clothing item is washed before being displayed.

“We launder all of the clothes,” Slick said. “We avoid that thrift store smell.”

The Legion will boost the available retail space by 1 ½ times. There will be more parking and much more accessibility for customers, said Daisy Stroud, donation program specialist for the store. She tries to attract merchandise, volunteers and financial donations.

Community Action staff and volunteers have been busy getting the Legion ready for the store, while also boxing up some of the merchandise from the two downtown storefronts.

“The new location will be so much easier for the customers to meander through the racks,” Stroud said. “We’re striving for an upscale boutique where we can cater to all.”

The Legion is getting a makeover. The main room will have the store merchandise. The dining room will be used as a classroom. The Legion has access to the back bar for 18 months. When that time is up, Community Action could transform that space into the classroom, and use the other classroom space as a more upscale chic section, Slick said. She is grateful for the possibilities.

The new location will be open later on Tuesdays through Fridays until 7 p.m., and until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Monday. Currently, the store closes at 5 p.m.

“We’re trying to be there for the community,” Slick said.


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Before it used Lake Ontario, Albion’s water plant was next to canal

By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 30 September 2014
ALBION – In this picture from the 1950s we see the Albion municipal water system, pumping station and treatment plant which was located just west of the village, north of the Erie Canal.

Pools of water are being aired here for purification. This came from wells and Otter Creek before the present water treatment plant on Lake Ontario opened in the early 1960s.

The original Albion Water Works Co. was organized in 1887 with water being distributed for domestic use in the fall of 1888. An iron standpipe (water tower) was part of this system and was located on South Main Street and Allen Road. A second standpipe was added in the mid-1930s.

Laverne Kimball was the plant superintendent when our photo was taken. He and his wife Iva lived in the two-story brick residence that appears in the background.


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Lockout lifted at Holley after stabbing at Brockport college

Staff reports Posted 30 September 2014
BROCKPORT – Holley Central School had heightened security this morning after a Brockport student was stabbed at about 9 a.m. and the suspect fled on a bicycle.


Holley was in lockout from about 10:30 a.m. until the precautionary measure was lifted at about noon.

The suspect in the stabbing is believed to have headed east on a bicycle and was seen at Northampton Park, the direction opposite of Holley from Brockport.

The student stabbed has been identified as David Medina of Rochester. He went into surgery and is in stable condition at Strong Memorial Hospital, Time Warner Cable News is reporting.

Police are looking for a suspect described as a black male with a thin build, 5-foot 7-inches tall, wearing a black jacket.

Anyone with information about the suspect is urged to call 911.


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Owner seeks buyer to continue Curvin’s

Photo by Tom Rivers
John Grimes believes Curvin’s News on Main Street in Medina can be a profitable business. He wants to retire and sell the business after operating it the past 19 years.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2014
MEDINA – It looked like Curvin’s News was closing about a month ago, but owner John Grimes is giving the store more life – but not for long.

Grimes has owned and operated the business the past 19 years. He wants to retire and is looking for a buyer for the business.

“I’m old and out of ideas,” he said. “If someone has an idea they could make a decent amount of business. I think things could be done to make it more profitable.”

Grines is asking $50,000 “or reasonable offer” for Curvin’s, which has been a part of Medina for nearly a century.

Grimes thought he had a buyer for the business but that didn’t come to fruition. He is also trying to sell the next-door video store.

Grimes ran the businesses with his wife Barb. She died on Feb. 12, 2012 at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. Grimes said he has struggled to run the businesses without his wife.

He nearly shut down the business two years ago after a former employee stole about $65,000 worth of lottery tickets.

Curvin’s has long been a popular gathering place for residents. Grimes is hopeful a buyer will step forward and there will be a new generation of Curvin’s for the community.

He welcomes prospective buyers to give him a call at 798-4745 or stop by the store at 540 Main St.


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5 historic sites on 98 join for ‘Museum Crawl’ on Saturday

Provided photo
Three of the five museum leaders are pictured for the Museum Crawl from Batavia to Point Breeze on Saturday. Pictured, from left, include Amy Vlack from the Elba Historical Society Museum, Jeff Donahue from the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, and Sarah Karas from The Cobblestone Museum.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 September 2014
Five historic sites along Route 98, from Batavia to Point Breeze, are joining for their first “Museum Crawl” on Saturday. Participants can buy one ticket for $5 and get access to all five sites.

The museums all tell an American story, from the birthplace of Western New York at the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia to sites that showcase architecture, home life, agriculture, a schoolhouse and even outhouses from more than a century ago.

“I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to partner with some of the local historical organizations in our community,” said Sarah Karas, co-director of the Cobblestone Museum. “It is a great way to support each other.”

The Cobblestone Museum includes several historic structures. The museum has been declared a National Historic Landmark. The Holland Land Office Museum also has that lofty designation.

The DAR House in Albion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That site will be included on the Museum Crawl, and so will the Elba Historical Society Museum and Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum.

Photo by Tom Rivers

The Cobblestone Museum is a National Historic Landmark, the only site in Orleans County with that status from the U.S. Departent of the Interior.

Karas highlighted some of the features from each site:

• The Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum, completed in 2010, is the first lighthouse built on the Great Lakes in 100 years.

• The Cobblestone Museum preserves the unique cobblestone masonry style and life during the 1800s.

• The Orleans County Chapter DAR House is a Greek revival building with period furnishings and contains early Orleans County artifacts.

• The Elba Historical Society Museum is full of local artifacts and information, including the designation as the location of the first rural mail route in the country.

• The Holland Land Office Museum, which occupies the historic Holland Land Office Company Building, contains a rich history of how Western New York was settled.


“Each museum brings their own unique charm to the tour,” Karas said. “None of them are the same, so you will be learning something new at each one.”

The crawl runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, with the exception of the DAR House, which will be open from 12:30 to 5 p.m. for the event. (The DAR House will be open at 11:30 a.m. for a presentation on the Clarendon Historical Society and Cobblestone Museum’s efforts to restore a red fox that was stuffed 134 years ago by famed taxidermist Carl Akeley when he was only 16. The Cobblestone Museum owns the Akeley fox.)

Photo by Tom Rivers

The DAR House, at the corner of Route 98 and Linwood Avenue, will be open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Museum Crawl.


"This will be a great opportunity to learn about local history," said Diane Palmer, vice regent for the DAR and also a board member for the Cobblestone Museum. "People can stop by places they may have intended to visit but haven't taken the time."


The Cobblestone Museum is also hosting children’s author Cynthia Cotten for a book signing. Her book “Window Across Time” will be available for purchase at the museum. Cotton lives along the canal in Lockport. Her book spans almost two centuries, and consists of eight stories linked together by a cobblestone house in a fictional small town on the Erie Canal. Through the eyes of the young people who live there, readers get a look inside (or a window to) both large and small moments in the history of the house, Western New York and the United States.


Passbooks for the Crawl are $5 per person or $10 per family. They can be purchased pre-sale or day of the event at each museum and two local participating businesses: Bindings Bookstore in Albion and Chap’s Diner in Elba.


Participants will have their passbook stamped at each museum. Once all five stamps are collected, a certificate will be given that can be redeemed at one of the five local restaurants offering special promotions for Crawl participants. The restaurants participating this year include Oliver’s Candies, Chap’s Diner, The Crooked Door, Tillman’s Village Inn and the Black North. Crawl finishers will also be entered to win a souvenir basket from each museum.


The museums can be visited in any order at any time throughout the day. However, organizers suggest starting at either the Oak Orchard Lighthouse Museum or the Holland Land Office Museum and working your way through the museums in a linear fashion.

“It is a great way to get out and support your local museums, culture, and history while also having a good time.,” Karas said. “We hope to expand it out next year to make it even bigger and better.”


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Medina ghost-hunting group reveals findings

Photos by Sue Cook

Joey Robinson, left, explains the audio clip they are playing. Matt Roeseler operates the laptop and Brian Bogan provides extra information.


By Sue Cook, staff reporter Posted 30 September 2014

MEDINA – The Medina Area Paranormal Society (MAPS) revealed their ghost-hunt findings at a talk at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library last night for more than 75 people.

The group conducted investigations at three locations in Medina: the Greek Revival at 107 Pearl Street, NAPA Auto Parts and the Medina Historical Society.


Catherine Cooper is the director of the Lee-Whedon Library and is a board member of the Medina Historical Society. She invited the MAPS group to reveal their findings to the public to generate interest in the history and because the Halloween season is approaching. MAPS was invited to each location because the owners of each location were experiencing something they believed to be paranormal.


The Historical Society has hosted cemetery tours and ghost walks, with the events drawing good-size crowds. Cooper said there is community interest in the paranormal.


MAPS originally started in 2008 with seven members, when the group members were in high school. As time went on and graduation approached, they disbanded. In 2013, Joey Robinson and Matt Roeseler decided to reform the group and included Brian Bogan and Scott Barber in the four-person team.


“These guys got interested in doing their own research here locally so we asked them last year to speak,” Cooper said. “They've done more research this year and so we invited them back. We like the fact that there are young people interested in investigating the past and they're using new technology to support their interests. They're very professional.”


MAPS was inspired by watching the television show “Ghost Hunters” and uses similar equipment to conduct their own investigations. They use tape recorders, flashlights, temperature gauges, a camera and K-II meters, which measure electromagnetic fields.


They have also made some of their own equipment such as a full-spectrum camera, which captures non-visible light; an electromagnetic field generator, which is thought to possibly energize spirits; and a ghost box.


Roeseler explained the ghost box, saying, “There's a lot of different variations of it, but we've got a radio that scans through the stations really quickly. I put it in a foil box so it cuts down on the actual voices coming through so it's more white noise and more validation.”


The Medina Historical Society welcomed MAPS back into its building at 406 West Ave. for a second time. The museum was built in 1841 and belonged to the Merritt family. It was turned into the Town of Ridgeway building and eventually became a museum.


“I'm sure over time people have died there because it was a home and people tended to die at home in the past,” Cooper said. “I think the reason that the Historical Society might be haunted is that we have a collection of items that were of personal use and personal interest and had attachment to people that have gone on. I can only surmise.”

Provided photo
A strange mist was captured in the front room of the Medina Historical Society, across the hall from the war room. Their K-II electromagnetic meter was stating they had a high reading and this was photographed at the same time.


“At the Historical Society, some of the members would be very skeptical and others would be believers,” Cooper said. “Of the believers, a few of the board members attest to having seen a person in the kitchen.”


MAPS also investigated the NAPA Auto Parts building. It was constructed in the 1830s and held a jail cell in the basement. There were also more upper apartments, but a fire destroyed them. At least one death has occurred in the building, but possibly more.


“The owner has the upstairs apartment,” Joey Robinson said. “We validated some of the stuff he's heard go on there, like he says he hears knocks all the time and these unexplained footsteps.”


The Greek Revival building on Pearl Street was constructed in the 1850s and served as a rooming house for a while. There was a murder at the location in the 1980s.

MAPS captured electronic voice phenomena (EVPs) at all three locations. EVPs are voices of supposed spirits captured on a recording device that can be heard during playbacks. Many of the recordings are cryptic in nature because the voices are quiet and words can't always be heard clearly.


Some of the more distinct recordings this year included children's laughter at the Historical Society and a male voice at NAPA that is possibly saying, “What have I got in my pocket?” The Greek Revival produced an EVP of male voice saying “hey” and another of a little girl saying “matches” in response to the members trying to find matches in the room.

The audience listens intently to the clips, trying to determine what is being said in them.


Other sounds the group recorded are footsteps and banging. All the evidence is scrutinized and people may interpret the evidence differently. Much of it can be left to personal interpretation and some people may be highly skeptical of it.


The group works hard to find scientific explanations that may disprove the evidence as well. They have disproved some experiences as light from car headlights, sounds from plumbing or exterior noise. Exposed electrical wiring can even create an electromagnetic field that can cause the brain to send signals to make a person feel like they are being watched or even experiencing something paranormal.


“People can contact us,” said Robinson. “If someone calls and says they have something in their house, we'll come and investigate their house. As of right now, we've done commercial business areas and the museum, but we're willing to branch out and do other places around here. We like it enough we'll probably be doing this for a little while, so wherever it goes, it goes.”


To contact MAPS, visit the group's Facebook page by clicking here.


Historical Society members also welcome people to join them on the last Monday of every month at the Lee-Whedon Library to learn more about local history.


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Several are sentenced to jail or prison for drug crimes

Medina man, 74, gets a year in county jail
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 September 2014
ALBION – Orleans County Court Judge James Punch sentenced several drug criminals to either county jail or state prison today, including a 74-year-old Medina man.

Angel Gonzalez of Ricky Place pleaded guilty to criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. He faced a maximum of 2 ½ years in state prison. His attorney, Nathan Pace, asked the judge to keep Gonzalez out of jail or prison due to his age and declining health.

Punch said he doesn’t like to use a defendant’s illness as a reason for avoiding jail. If a defendant is well enough to commit a crime, the judge said the defendant should be able to serve time behind bars.

Gonzalez admitted to selling hydrocodone, his prescribed medication for pain relief, to make money. He has a “disturbing criminal history,” Punch said.

“I don’t think probation is appropriate,” the judge said in handing down a sentence of one year in jail and one year of post-release supervision.

In other cases:

• A former resident of West Park Street in Albion was sentenced to a year in state prison with a recommendation from Judge Punch for shock camp.

Tyriek Johnson, 26, now lives in Fairport. He is a first-time offender. He could have been sentenced to up to 9 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third and fifth degrees.

Johnson has his own business and has been respectful in court, his attorney Matthew Parrinello told the judge.

In a previous court appearance, Johnson said he was trying to sell cocaine in Albion on March 14, 2013. He said he was driving on Platt and Ingersoll streets, looking to sell the drug.

Johnson apologized to his family for getting into trouble with the law. He asked the judge for leniency.

“You were heavily involved in the drug trade around here,” Punch told Johnson. “You need to learn some discipline. You made the community a worse place by spreading these toxic substances around here.”

• Michael Nellist, 35, of East Center Street in Medina was sentenced to the maximum 1 ½ years in state prison for selling marijuana. He has prior drug and driving while intoxicated charges, the District Attorney’s Office noted.

Nellist has twice been on probation. He was also ordered to pay $1,020 in restitution to the Orleans County Major Felony Crime task Force, money it used for drug buys.

“You have a long record,” Punch said. “You’ve been given breaks in the past but did not take advantage of them.”


• A Rochester man was sentenced to three years in state prison. Luke Lawhorn, 27, was arrested on March 6 following a year-long investigation in the sale and distribution of crack cocaine from Rochester to Orleans County.

Lawhorn was only days away from graduating from the Monroe County Drug Court when he was arrested in March.

He apologized to his family and to the community during his sentencing today.

The district attorney requested state prison for Lawhorn, who continued to sell drugs even while in Drug Court, Cardone said.

The judge also ordered Lawhorn to pay back $480 to the Task Force.


• A Medina resident was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in state prison for burglary. Levy Hill, 42, admitted he used a brick to break a window at the Kwik Fill in Medina on Sept. 7, 2013. After he broke the window, he reached his hand in and grabbed some merchandise from the business on Pearl Street.


He is a second felony offender. He was also ordered to pay $1,353 in restitution.


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Batavia man, 35, admits having sex with girl, 14

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 September 2014
ALBION – A Batavia man admitted in Orleans County Court that he had sex with a 14-year-old girl on Dec. 28, 2013.

Christopher Bucci, 35, of Galloway Road pleaded guilty to attempted rape in the second degree. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 1 ½ to 4 years in state prison.

Bucci will be sentenced at 2 p.m. on Jan. 5.

In another case in County Court today, Debra Unell, 52, of Medina pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 2 ½ years in state.

She admitted in court to trying to sell cocaine in Medina. She will be sentenced at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 22.


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FFA and 4th-graders harvest squash from Albion’s land lab

Provided photos Posted 29 September 2014
ALBION – Albion FFA students and about 150 fourth-graders ventured out to the Land Lab on district property today to harvest squash. Last spring, FFA members and all of the then third-graders planted a squash seed in the Land Lab with the goal to harvest the squash the following school year when they were in fourth grade.

Anni Skowneski, case manager for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, talks with students about how some of the produce will go to a food pantry for needy families in the community. Some of the students will go to the food pantry to help distribute the produce.

“This gives the kids a chance to give back to the community and show them that even though we only planted a seed and harvested the crop that it can make all the difference in someone’s life who doesn't have much,” said Sara Millspaugh, FFA president. “This was a great experience for the students to take part in. This is something that they will always remember.”

Adam Krenning, FFA advisor and agricultural teacher, talks with students about growing food.


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