Santas add 6 to their Hall of Fame

Inductees wrote letters, made art, lifted spirits of children

Photos by Tom Rivers

Tim Cavender, a Santa from Georgia, is congratulated after being inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame on Friday in Albion. Cavender and five others are part of the Class of 2014.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2015
ALBION – One new member of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame answered thousands of letters from children who wrote Santa.

Another Hall of Famer created illustrations of a jovial Santa that helped shape the public perception of Santa as kind and loving.

Four other new Hall of Famers wear the red suit and bring joy to countless children.

The inductees were celebrated on Friday during the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference. The conference came to Albion, home of Charles Howard, who founded a Santa Claus School that he ran from 1937 until his death in 1966.


Howard was part of the inaugural Hall of Fame in 2010. The site is located in Santa Claus, Ind. (For more on the Hall of Fame, click here.)

The six inductees in the Santa Claus Hall of Fame, Class of 2014, include, top row from left: Bruce Templeton, Haddon Sundblom and James F. Martin. Bottom row: Ron Robertson, Sam Militello and Tim Cavender.


Four of the Santas in the new class of the Hall of Fame all do extensive humanitarian work.

Tim Cavender is a Santa in Ball Ground, Ga. He first wore the Santa suit at age 14.
He devotes much of his time to local charities, including Toys for Tots. He participates in many parades and work with photographers to the annual tree lighting at the Governor’s Mansion. Cavendar carries two integral traits with him – his concern for children and a deeply rooted faith in the “Reason for the Season,” said his wife Pam (Mrs. Claus) in introducing him on Friday.

Cavendar said he grew up without a “town Santa” in his Georgia community. His first exposure to seeing Santa was viewing Charlie Howard on the televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Cavendar has now been the town Santa in Ball Ground for 30 years.

“Santas are not the replacement for the Christ child,” Cavendar told the crowd on Friday night. “We are an extension. We need to be a great and wonderful example of Saint Nicholas.”

Cavendar said the Santas are held to a higher calling with their character.

“Don’t ever tarnish the red suit,” he said. “Now more than ever children need examples.”

Bruce Templeton


Bruce Templeton is a Santa in Canada at St. John’s, Newfoundland. Each year, with a team of helpers from the business community, Templeton helps lead a massive good will operation that includes collecting more than 20 tons of food.

Templeton also makes arrangements to fly 18 children with terminal illnesses on a real plane to meet Santa in the North Pole on what will likely be the children's final Christmas holidays. Seventeen of the children are selected by a radio station and one child is selected from the hospital.

Templeton said Santa is often asked to grieve with families, to give comfort and lift the spirits of ailing children.

“I know Saint Nicholas is beside me,” Templeton told the Santas at their conference in Albion. “Have no fear when you are asked to do the uncomfortable because Saint Nicholas is there beside you.”

Templeton has portrayed Santa 1,500 times over 37 years. He is a volunteer Santa. He gives all that revenue and a portion from the sale of his memoirs – “The Man in the Red Suit” and “The Man with the White Beard” – to Rotary International. That money has bought polio vaccines for more than 240,000 children in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Sam Militello


Sam Militello has portrayed Santa for more than 30 years in St. Clair, Mich., including as the Santa in downtown Detroit’s big Thanksgiving Day Parade. He even raises and tours with his own reindeer.

Militello helps with an annual Good Fellows charity drive, as well as Toys for Tots and other local charities.

He is also the owner of Santa and Co. LLC, which is the producer of the original Santa Claus suit – as designed by Charles W. Howard. The suit has been featured in media, print and on countless Santas around the world.

Ron Robertson

Ron Robertson is a Santa from San Juan Capistrano, Calif. He has appeared as Santa in advertisements for Best Buy, Pet Smart, Rosetta Stone and the Travel Channel as well as guest spots in series such as “Castle,” “The Mentalist” and “The Tonight Show.”

Robertson is a director and president emeritus of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas. In that capacity he has stood not only for excellence in the portrayal of Santa Claus among that body of Kringles, but for excellence throughout the entire Santa Claus community, according to his induction write-up.

Robertson said he has enjoyed portraying Santa.

“It’s a wonderful thing to bring joy to children and adults,” he said.

Two others went into the Hall of Fame, even though they weren’t Santas.

Haddon Sundblom, an artist from Chicago, illustrated many advertisements for Coca-Cola. Sundblom, who died in 1976, created the Santa paintings from the 1930s to the ’60s. His illustrations created a perception of a warm and caring Santa.

Coca-Cola advertisement by Haddon Sundblom

“In classic red and white, his larger than life representation of the warm, gentle Santa was different to the other interpretations of the time,” according to the Hall of Fame. “These vibrant, lifelike paintings were an instant hit with the general public.”

James F. Martin also was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He served as postmaster of Santa Claus, Indiana.

In 1914, Martin began to answer the letters addressed to Santa Claus that were received from children. People flocked to the town, seeking a special postmark.

Martin died in 1935. Today, a non-profit organization called Santa’s Elves, Inc. carries on the wonderful tradition, keeping James F. Martin’s and the town of Santa Claus’ historic legacy alive.

Another Santa and recent Hall of Famer was recognized during Friday’s program.

Sandra Raines, wife of the late J. Paul Raines, accepts a Marine Corps flag from a member of Santa’s Drill Team on Friday during an observance for fallen Santas.


J. Paul Raines was 66 when he died on Jan. 26, 2015 after a fight with cancer. Raines wanted to attend the Albion conference.

He was a Vietnam War veteran and an accountant, but he was best known as a professional Santa Claus for 43 years. He founded Santa Claus and Company, and created and taught “Santa's Workshop 101.” He was elected into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame in 2013.

Raines was among the fallen Santas remembered during the conference, a tribute that included the reading of a poem, “Santa’s Final Sleigh Ride.”


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Betty Genter, former teacher and administrator, had heart for children

Photo courtesy of Genter family
Betty Genter is pictured with her daughter Alexandra in this photo from 2010.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2015
ALBION – Clark Shaffer believes his four years living with Betty and Adolf Genter may have saved his life, putting him on the right course.

Shaffer is one of six foster kids who lived with the Genters. Adolf and Betty also had a son Joseph and a daughter, Alexandra, who they adopted from Russia.

Shaffer stayed with the Genters from fourth through eighth grades. He remembers the first ride home with Mrs. Genter. They stopped at the store to buy him clothes.

“Without her, who knows what would have happened to me,” Shaffer said. “She’s been everything.”

Genter was 79 when she died on April 11 following a long illness. She was a prolific local author, writing about growing up on a muck farm in Clarendon, restoring cobblestone structures, and her experiences adopting Alexandra and providing a home for Eddie Stone, a local orphan who would become a colonel in the U.S. Army. He gave the keynote address at her funeral on Friday.

Shaffer said Genter had a big heart full of love.

“I did a lot of mess-ups when I was younger but she always stuck by me,” Shaffer said.

Genter attended a one-room schoolhouse in the Manning hamlet in Clarendon. She worked for Albion Central School for 34 years, first as an elementary teacher, then as reading coordinator, assistant superintendent and principal of two elementary schools.

“She was very popular with the students,” said Linda Spierdowis, a long-time friend and teacher. “She had a way with the kids, especially the wayward kids.”

She remembers Genter going to student’s homes to find out why they weren’t in school. Sometimes she would have a carload of kids and take them for ice cream.

She used her caring nature and sense of humor to win them over. Spierdowis remembers Genter dressing up as a fox, a wolf and robin to make learning more fun for the elementary students. She felt drawn to children struggling, perhaps due to a difficult home environment.

“She just wanted to give them a better life,” Spierdowis said. “She could sort out the ones who needed the extra attention. She saved a lot of them. Her goal was to get as many kids to succeed as possible.”

When Genter was a small child, doctors said she wouldn’t ever walk because she was missing a hip joint. One leg was much shorter than the other. She would walk, but did so with a limp and it became more difficult in recent years.

“She was very strong-willed,” her daughter Alex said. “Whatever she wanted to achieve, she did. I always admired her determination. She was the strongest woman I knew.”


Alex has cerebral palsy and she wasn't walking when she was in the orphanage in Russia. Betty believed Alex would walk, and she felt drawn to a child that didn't have a family.


Alex, now 27, learned to walk and would become a college graduate. She and her husband Kevin Andrews welcomed their first baby, Bowen, about 2 weeks ago.

Genter’s husband said his wife always wanted a big family. The Genters owned a farm house on Brown Road and Mrs. Genter thought it could be an oasis for children, filling them with love.

“She had a love for children,” Mr. Genter said. “She wanted to give them a home.”

The Genters’ son, Joseph, is now 42 and lives in the Tug Hill area of northern New York. He remembers his mother being very positive to the children when he was growing up.

“She always said, ‘You can do it,’” Joseph said.

His mother was committed to local community in many other ways, active at Holy Family Catholic Parish, as a 4-H leader, the Clarendon Historical Society, and human service agencies.

“She touched a lot of lives,” Joseph said. “For her, children always came first.”


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Inmates throw unknown liquid at COs in Orleans, Attica prisons

Press Release, NYS Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association Posted 18 April 2015
ALBION – A corrections officer in the Orleans Correctional facility had an unknown liquid thrown at him by an inmate three days after a similar incident at Attica Correctional Facility, according to the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association.

The union said an inmate at Attica Correction Facility is facing criminal and disciplinary charges after taking a water bucket and throwing an unknown liquid on correction officers who were attempting to deliver his meal.

The Attica incident occurred on April 7 at approximately 4:15 p.m. Two officers were handing out meals to inmates on a unit at the maximum security facility. When they approached inmate Jeramias Santiago’s cell, they attempted to give him his meal tray through a hatch on the cell door.

Santiago pushed the tray back at the officers and became agitated, saying he wasn’t going to eat the meal. As one of the officers attempted to close the cell hatch the inmate grabbed a water bucket inside his cell, and threw an unknown liquid through the cell hatch, hitting both officers, the union reported.

One officer was hit in the face, upper body and legs. The second officer was struck in the arms and face. After getting hit with the liquid, both officers secured the cell hatch and exited the unit.

They were both brought to the prison’s medical facility for treatment. A doctor who examined them determined they had significant exposure. Both officers were then taken to Erie County Medical Center for further treatment and released later that evening, the union reported.

Santiago is serving a 4-year sentence after being convicted in Kings County in 2011 for Assault 2nd and Attempted Assault 2nd.

On April 10 a similar incident occurred at Orleans Correctional Facility, a medium security prison.


At approximately 5:05 p.m. an officer was making his rounds when an inmate, Jeddidia Manning, stopped the officer and stated he was going to flood his cell by stuffing toilet paper into the toilet, the union said in a news release.

The officer ordered the inmate to bring his hands out so he could put restraints on so other officers could go inside the cell and remove the toilet paper. Manning refused.

A sergeant who came to the scene, again ordered the inmate to put his hands out. Manning refused again, the union said.

The sergeant turned away to go and notify a supervisor of the situation. When he did the inmate threw liquid from a small cup through the cell hatch, striking the officer who was attempting to close the cell hatch.

The inmate was not charged with aggravated harassment based on a decision made by the administration at the prison.

The officer remained on duty but was not allowed by administrators to shower for two hours after the incident.

Manning is serving a 2- to 6-year sentence after being convicted in 2014 in Oswego County for Attempted Arson 3rd and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property 4th.

In 2013, lawmakers amended the current law at the time to make it a Class E Felony for throwing toilet water on a correctional officer.

“Correction officers work in adverse and difficult conditions every day. Even when performing routine duties, officers are subjected to conditions that can be, or are, dangerous to their health and safety,” stated Western Region Vice President Mike Dildine. “We are disappointed that the administration at Orleans Correctional Facility did not pursue criminal or disciplinary actions against the inmate. We will continue to monitor both situations and advocate on behalf of our members for criminal prosecution when it is appropriate.”


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Santa’s many faces on display in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 18 April 2015

ALBION – You can't have a Santa Claus conference and not have a group photo. About 200 Santas and some Mrs. Clauses gathered on the steps in front of the Orleans County Courthouse at noon today.


The group is in town for the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference. Howard started the first Santa Claus School, which he ran in Albion from 1937 until his death in 1966.


The conference continues today at the Albion Middle School Auditorium with sessions about business plans, improvisational acting and historic Charles Howard footage, including the 1959 Macy's Parade. That parade footage will be shown in its entirety, about an hour long, beginning at about 5 p.m.

This photo includes Charles Howard's granddaughter, Susan Howard-Brown (in black sweater), and some of the members of Santa's Drill Team from Florida.


The following show some of the Santas and other attendees at the conference. They sang some Christmas carols from the Courthouse steps.



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Local Scouts serve as Color Guard at Amerks’ game

Provided photos Posted 18 April 2015
ROCHESTER – Cub Scouts from Pack 164 of Albion, Pack 175 of Barre, and Pack 59 of Clarendon served as color guard for the National Anthem at Friday night’s Rochester Amerks’ hockey game. It was the final regular season home game of the season.

Albion has made this an annual tradition and this year joined forces with the packs from Barre and Clarendon after Cub Masters Mike Beach (Pack 164) and Steve Hickman (Pack 175) first discussed the idea in September during the elementary school open house recruitment.

Hickman then also reached out to Sarah MacCallum who is Cub Master of Pack 59. All three are Albion graduates and friends who now volunteer their time as leaders for the boys of their packs (their own sons included).


The Albion and Barre packs will again join forces in early May for their yearly trip to Mt. Albion Cemetery and St. Joseph’s Cemetery. They assist the American Legion each year in placing the small American flags at the graves of all those who served in the military.


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Founder of Santa Claus School also was a farmer

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 April 2015
ALBION – This photograph shows Charles W. Howard playing an unusual role; that of the secretary of the Orleans County Fair Association.


Taken sometime in the late 1910s, Charlie is shown standing on the race track of the old county fairgrounds in Albion. A number of men are lined up in the background, sitting atop the fence.


Born and raised at the family homestead on the corner of Route 31 and Gaines Basin Road, his earliest years were spent partaking in household chores and working the family farm. He was active in local agricultural societies and the Orleans County Fair Association for many years.


In 1926 Howard suffered injuries to his legs after falling from the top of a silo, 20 feet to the cement ground. After taking the plunge, he was rushed to the local hospital where it was discovered that he had broken his leg and broken bones in the other foot.


Around 10 years later, he suffered another fall, this time from atop a loaded hay wagon. After resting for four days, he returned to work performing his usual farm jobs. It was nearly three weeks later that he traveled to Rochester for x-rays, only to have the doctor exclaim, “My gosh, man, you’ve got a broken neck!” His neck was placed in a cast and he quickly returned to laboring on his farm.


Both injuries would have a lasting physical effect on Charlie. Despite this, he still went on to establish his famed Santa Claus School in 1937, operate his beloved Christmas Park, and enjoy the distinction of being one of the most adored men in the world. Howard has been an inspiration for many; a man of love, charity, and kindness – a true local legend.


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Arc ‘Best Friends’ are happy to serve senior citizens

Photo by Tom Rivers
Rob and Debbie Monnier are pictured on Friday night at the Hickory Ridge Golf and Country Club, where they were honored as The Arc of Orleans County’s ‘Best Friends” for 2014. The couple is active in the Meals on Wheels program.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2015
ALBION – An Albion couple who recently retired was looking for a way to give back to the community. Rob and Debbie Monnier heard The Arc of Orleans County could use volunteers for the Meals of Wheels program.

They figured they would help once a week, delivering meals to home-bound senior citizens. The Arc runs the program from the former grammar school on East Academy Street.

The Monniers have gone far above their initial commitment. They typically volunteer five days a week. They have befriended many of the seniors, who wouldn’t otherwise have a visitor on many of those days.

The Monniers will make return visits or call the seniors to check on their well-being. Often they will get their mail or newspapers for them.

“Sometimes, we’re the only ones they will see all day,” said Mrs. Monnier, a retired home health aide. Her husband is retired from Kodak and as a school bus driver.

She and her husband were honored as the “Best Friends” for The Arc of Orleans County on Friday night, when the agency recognized other volunteers and supporters.

The Albion couple started volunteering in October 2013 with The Arc. The agency has long been close to their hearts.

Their son Matthew had epilepsy and The Arc was helpful in providing him services with physical and occupational therapy at Rainbow Preschool.

Matthew was born in 1997 and had his first seizure at 6 months. The Arc bought the family a generator, which provided backup power for a machine to suction when Matthew was having a seizure and foaming at the mouth.

Matthew lived until he was 8 ½ years old. The family remains grateful for the services from The Arc.

“We’re just trying to give back because they did so much for us,” Mrs. Monnier said.

The agency praised the Monniers for their willingness to reach out to so many senior citizens and fill in on routes throughout the county.

“You meet a lot of interesting people and they look forward to seeing us,” Mrs. Monnier said.

The agency also presented the following awards on Friday:

• Heritage Award – Keding Automotive in Albion for being a long-time supporter of the agency, sponsoring many Arc events.

• Business Partnership Award – Tillman’s Village Inn, which hired a person with developmental disabilities in 1986. That person worked there until retiring in 2012. The Village Inn continues to hire some staff who are served by The Arc through the agency’s Supported Employment Program.

• Self-Advocate of the Year – Shelley Hilbrand, who encourages her friends, works hard at her job and pushes to fulfill her dreams.

• Community Worker of the Year – Jessa Pollock, who works as a teacher aide at Rainbow Preschool.

• Enclave Worker of the Year – Brittany Marciszewski, who worked at Associated Brands in Medina before taking a job with the Ford Gum Enclave. She is a highly productive worker, Arc officials said.

• Mobile Crew Worker of the Year – Donna Biaselli, who has worked full-time with the Medina mobile crew since 2007. “She is always ready to help wherever she is needed.”

• Orleans Enterprises Worker of the Year – Benjamin Litchfield, who is dedicated to his work, performing it with a positive attitude.

• Community Service Award – Emily Sorta, who volunteers in an Albion classroom, helping with crafts and other projects.


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Local Santa honored with prestigious Charles W. Howard Award

Photos by Tom Rivers
Ken McPherson walks across the stage in the Albion Middle School Auditorium on Friday nightto receive the Charles W. Howard Award for his efforts to keep Howard's legacy alive in Albion and Orleans County. Howard, founder of a Santa Claus School, is pictured in lower left.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2015
ALBION – In Orleans County, Ken McPherson is the go-to person for information and artifacts about the late Charles W. Howard, who founded and ran a Santa Claus School in Albion.

McPherson gives many talks a year to service clubs and other organizations about Howard, discussing how the Santa School founded developed standards for Santa’s dress and his interactions with children. Howard even wanted Santa to be light on his feet. That’s why he made them take dancing lessons at the school.

McPherson also has become a collector of memorabilia from Christmas Park, which Howard ran with the Santa School.

“No one has done more to has keep Charlie Howard's legacy alive in his hometown,” said Phil Wenz, founder of the Santa Claus Oath Foundation.

He presented McPherson with the Charles W. Howard Award on Friday night at the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference.

Ken McPherson of Shelby, right, is presented with the Charles W. Howard Award by Phil Wenz, founder of the Santa Claus Oath Foundation and coordinator of the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference.

Howard remains a revered figure among the Santa community. In addition to establishing the Santa School, Howard served as the Santa in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, sitting atop a float and waving to more than a million people on the parade route. That parade was also on national television and catapulted Howard into fame. Howard was the parade Santa from 1948 to 1965.

After Howard’s death in 1966, the Santa Claus School moved to Midland, Michigan. It continues today and bears Howard’s name.


McPherson has attended the school several times and has portrayed Santa for three decades locally, getting his first start at the Millville United Methodist Church.

McPherson works as a press operator for the Lake Country Pennysaver in Albion. He told a crowd of about 200 Santas on Friday night it is his honor to portray Santa “in Charlie’s backyard.”

A Santa resembling Ken McPherson visits with children in Albion last December.


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Santas help dedicate International Peace Garden at corner of 98 and 104

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 17 April 2015

GAINES – A crowd gathers on the front lawn at Fair Haven Treasures this afternoon to dedicate an International Peace Garden. Many of the attendees were Santas in town for the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference.

Ray and Linda Burke, owners of Fair Haven Treasures, are pictured with members of the Claus Clan, a group of Santas who like to celebrate their Scottish heritage.


The Burkes were praised by speakers for transforming the homestead into an art gallery and co-op.


"Thank you Ray and Linda Burke for unlocking the door to a promising future," said Carol Culhane, the Gaines town supervisor.


John Proctor named the hamlet in Gaines "Fairhaven" more than 200 years ago. Proctor is considered the Paul Revere of Ridge Road because he rode along the Ridge, warning settlers that the British were coming during the War of 1812. He had a log cabin at the corner of 98 and 104 before the large brick house was built in 1834.

Ruby Hoffey, a music therapist at Rainbow Preschool in Albion, sings the American national anthem during today's ceremony. She also sang the Canadian anthem.


The Peace Garden celebrates the friendship between the United States and Canada and the largest unguarded border in the world.

A member of the Claus Clan watches the celebration in Gaines today.

Paula Savage, left, of Batavia is founder of the Peace Garden Foundation. She presents a certificate to Carol Culhane, Gaines town supervisor, that certifies the garden at Fair Haven is on the International Peace Garden Trail.


There is also a peace garden at Brown's Berry Patch in Carlton. The gardens must have a connection to the War of 1812.


At the Browns, family matriarch Bathshua Brown settled in the area in 1804 when the trees were so dense in Carlton the area was known as the Black North. She helped fight off the British in the war and took one of their captains captive.

Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson said John Proctor and Bathshua Brown should both be considered heroes in Orleans County, and their efforts should not be forgotten.

County Legislator Lynne Johnson addresses the crowd. She cited the pioneer grit of many of the early settlers such as John Proctor and Bathshua Brown.


Johnson thanked Ray and Linda Burke for their efforts to upgrade a vacant house and turn it into Fair Haven Treasures.


The Burkes were also presented with a proclamation from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley's office for the garden.

Georgia Thomas, a volunteer at the Cobblestone Museum, is pictured with a Santa from Gatlinburg, Tenn. Fair Haven Treasures is located in historic Gaines, which includes the Cobblestone Museum, the only National Historic Landmark in the county.

Gaines Town Justice Bruce Schmidt served as master of cermonies during today's dedication.

These three Santas are all from New England. They said a peace garden fits perfectly with their efforts as Santa.


"People say Christmas is all about children, but it's really all about heart and believing in the good in everyone," said Jim Rizzio, a Santa from Ansonia, Conn.


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Vaccinating on time is important for disease protection

By Kristine Voos, Public Health Educator for the Genesee County Health Department Posted 17 April 2015

The Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming County Health Departments are encouraging county residents to “Think Health.” Taking time to think about your health and taking positive health steps will lead to healthier outcomes. Learning something new every day is one way to “Think Health”…

Parents and guardians make decisions daily that impact their children’s health and deciding whether or not to vaccinate your little one(s) is one of the most important decisions you will make. In the spirit of National Infant Immunization Week (April 18 – 25), take time to learn about vaccines.


Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.


A child’s first vaccination is scheduled to be given before they even leave the hospital after being born.


“There are recommended immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults," said Laura Paolucci, administrator of the Wyoming County Health Department. "Schedules for children are designed to offer protection early in life, decreasing the chances a child could become ill and possibly experience complications from a preventable disease.”


Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday. Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.


Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.


“When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough," said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”


Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of Hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 to 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s health care professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.


For details on vaccines and the disease they prevent visit:

Center for Disease Control & Prevention

New York State Department of Health


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Menagerie of animals spend day at Medina High School

FFA concludes Agriculture Appreciation Week with lots of creatures

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 17 April 2015
MEDINA – Michael Carson, a member of the Medina FFA, holds a baby duck inside the FFA classroom today. The duck is among a big collection of animals on dispaly for animal appreciation day, the conclusion of a week of activities for Agriculture Appreciation Week in the school.

Emma Watson, left, and Abby Jones hold Simone, a Great Dane ownedby the Schmidt family in Medina.


More than 1,000 students are streaming through the FFA classrooms and shop today, seeing all kinds of animals, from tiny quail and baby ducks to a horse and a llama.

There are also bearded dragons, dogs, hamsters, a tortoise, snapping turtle and many other animals.

Students take a look at two sheep brought to the high school today.

Katie Baron, a junior at Medina, is pictured with her horse, Lily.

Cattrianna Hernandez, a Medina junior, shows off a very active Chinese Dwarf Hamster.

The classroom shows baby ducks, poultry and many other animals.

Mason Eick, 7, gives his dog Buddy a break from the crowds of people. Mason's father, Todd Eick, is FFA advisor and agriculture teacher.


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New York State Police step up enforcement for “Speed Week”

Press release, New York State Police Posted 17 April 2015

The New York State Police began a week-long enforcement initiative targeting speeding and aggressive driving across the state. This year’s “Speed Week” campaign runs through next Wed., April 22. The goal of this campaign is to reduce speed-related crashes and improve safe travel for drivers and passengers on New York’s roads. Speeding by all vehicle types, as well as other traffic violations, will be heavily enforced throughout the week in addition to normal year-round enforcement.
New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said. “The public can do their part to keep our streets safe simply by slowing down. We want everyone to follow the posted speed limits and to watch their speed. These actions will increase a driver’s chances of making it to their destination safely.”
Speed remains one of the leading causes of fatalities on our roadways, averaging approximately one third of all fatal crashes each year. Troopers will also be watching for distracted or impaired drivers, vehicle occupants who are not properly buckled up, and drivers that are violating the “Move Over Law.”
Drivers can expect to see more troopers on major highways during this detail. During the campaign, Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation. The CITE vehicles allow Troopers to more easily identify motorists who are violating the vehicle and traffic law. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
If someone feels another driver is endangering the public on the road, they have the option of calling 911.
During the last “Speed Week” campaign from Aug. 6, 2014 to Aug. 12, 2014, State Police issued more than 22,000 tickets.

The fines for speeding on 55 mph Highway or Posted 65 mph zones are as follows:
10 mph or less over the limit - min $45/max $150
11- 30 mph over the limit - min $90/max $300
31 mph or more over the limit - min $180/max $600
Second Conviction
10 mph or less over the limit - min $45/max $300
11 - 30 over the limit - min $90 /max $450
31 or more over the limit - min $180/max $750
Third Conviction
10 mph or less over the limit - min $45/max $525
11 - 30 over the limit - min $90 /max $675
31 or more over the limit - min $180/max $975
Court Surcharges are as follows:
Town or village courts - $93
Other Courts (city traffic courts, etc.) - $88
Violation Point Structure:
1-10 mph over limit = 3 points
11-20 mph over limit = 4 points
21 - 30 mph over limit = 6 points
30 - 40 mph over limit = 8 points
over 40 mph over limit = 11 points (triggers suspension)


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Albion’s LDC acquires 2 houses, 1 to rehab and 1 to demolish

Photo by Tom Rivers
This house at 544 East State Street, pictured in January, will be transferred from Wells Fargo to a village-owned LDC which will seek proposals from developers to buy and renovate the house.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2015
ALBION – The reactivated Albion Housing and Economic Development Corporation will soon have two houses in its control, with one to be rehabbed and the other to be demolished to open up 4.4 acres for development for possible patio homes on Caroline Street.

Albion Housing and Economic Development Corporation is a local development corporation with members appointed by the Village Board. Albion Mayor Dean London and Village Trustee Gary Katsanis serve on the LDC with real estate broker Jim Theodorakos, former mayor Ed Salvatore and former Gaines Town Supervisor Richard DeCarlo Sr.

The LDC last week voted to accept a house at 231 Caroline St. from Wells Fargo. The house is missing some windows, but it’s a solid structure that can be rehabilitated, Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti said.

He didn’t want to see a house that could be salvaged taken down, depriving the village of more tax base and revenue.

The LDC will put out a request for proposals (RFP) from developers to acquire and renovate the site.

The LDC also voted to accept a house that is part of a 4.4-acre property at 231 Caroline St. Hugh McCarthy is relinquishing the property to the village, Vendetti said.


The site has a big chunk of undeveloped land behind it, stretching back 858 feet from the road. Vendetti said the house should be demolished and an access road put in to make the land open for smaller patio homes.

There aren’t many spots left in the village for such a housing development, he said. The project could help the village attract more residents and tax base, Vendetti said.

He estimated it would cost about $20,000 to take down the house. The LDC and village should reach out to developers about the potential housing project, with developers putting in the access road.

Trustee Katsanis cast the lone vote on accepting the house from McCarthy. Katsanis said the village doesn’t have the funds in its budget for the house removal.

“The Village Board is scraping the bottom of the barrel here,” Katsanis said.

London said the village can pursue grants, donations and perhaps other funding to advance the project.

Vendetti said the project has potential to be a big boost for the village and residents looking for smaller houses.

“We could serve a need and develop new tax base for the community,” he said.


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4 grand sites – sacred and solemn – join Sandstone Hall of Fame

Photos by Tom Rivers

New inductees of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame were celebrated during an induction program on Thursday. Pictured include, front row, from left: Father Michael Ferrick, rector of St. Peter Cathedral in Erie, Pa.; Stan Farone, trustee of Village of Albion which owns Mount Albion Cemetery; Jason Zicari, superintendent at Mount Albion.


Back row: Keith Boerner, member of Church Council at St. Louis Catholic Church in Buffalo; Rev. Salvatore Manganello, pastor of St. Louis Church; Bill Lattin, member of the "Save The Tower" campaign in Mount Albion; and Scot Fisher, Babeville manager in Buffalo.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 April 2015
MEDINA – The second class of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame includes towering works of architecture, and structures intended to inspire worship of God or reflection on the sacrifice of the dead.

The Medina Sandstone Society inducted three churches and a Civil War memorial into the Hall of Fame on Thursday. Society President Robert Waters said the new inductees are all “magnificent.”

Robert Waters, president of the Medina Sandstone Society, is pleased with the success of the Hall of Fame, which added its second class on Thursday.

Waters praised a committee – Jim Hancock, David Miller, outgoing member John Slack and newcomer Don Colquhoun – for its efforts in researching nominations, which total 31 over two years.

Hancock is the group’s chairman and he said visiting the sites has given him a deeper appreciation of the local stone’s role in so many of the most durable civic structures in the region and beyond.

The Sandstone Society also wants to highlight the long-term stewardship with many of the buildings, and Herculean restoration efforts for many of the sites that likely would have been demolished.

The following were inducted in the Hall of Fame’s second class:

Delaware-Asbury Church (Babeville)

The church towers more than 200 feet, made of brown Medina sandstone. It was built in a Gothic Revival style between 1871 to 1876. It has one of Buffalo’s most recognizable steeples.


It was originally the Delaware Avenue Methodist Church. It remained an active church site until the 1980s. It was slated for demolition in 1995, but public opposition put off the wrecking ball.

Famed musician Ani DiFranco and her manager Scot Fisher purchased the building and now – $6.5 million dollars later – it has been transformed into a 21st century multi-purpose venue.

Fisher said the building’s new life has been part of the recent Buffalo revivial. He remembers when 20 years ago the sidewalk near the church was blocked off due to worries about falling pieces from the building.

He recalled when DiFranco walked into the church for the first time and saw the horseshoe-shaped balcony.

“What a great place for concerts,” she declared.

Fisher said the renovations have taken years. He is grateful the building has remained part of the Buffalo landscape.

“It’s no longer a church, but it’s a very special building in Buffalo,” he said. “We put our hearts and souls into saving this building.”

St. Louis Church in Buffalo

“The Mother Church” in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese was built in a Gothic Revival style from 1886 through 1889 and features the tallest open-work spire completely made of stone ever built in the United States at 245 feet high.

The two side towers are each 128 feet high. The church has room to seat 2,000 people.

The church completed a major restoration in 2002-03 that included slate roof repairs, tower restoration, exterior stone re-pointing and cleaning.

“It’s a wonderful structure and a beautiful part of the history of Western New York,” said the Rev. Salvatore Manganello, pastor of the church. “The parishioners do all they can to keep up the church as a beautiful place to visit and worship.”

St. Peter Cathedral, Erie, Pa.

It took 20 years to build, from 1873 to 1893. The Catholic Diocese based in Erie would run out of money on different occasions for the project, but Bishop Mullen kept rallying the faithful to get the project done, despite critics who deemed the church “Mullen’s Folly.”

The central tower stands 265 feet high with twin towers at 150 feet on each side of the main tower. It is a dominant landmark in the Erie skyline.

Hancock and the Hall of Fame Committee were awestruck by the grandeur and enormity of the church.

“We were overwhelmed by the beauty of this particular edifice,” Hancock said at the Hall of Fame induction inside Medina City Hall.


Father Michael Ferrick, rector of St. Peter Cathedral, accepted the award “on behalf of the people who worked in the quarry, on behalf of the people who built the cathedral, and on behalf of the parishioners who have cared for the church the past 122 years.”

The people in the church sacrificed to build the immense structure and to maintain it for more than a century “for the greater glory and to honor God,” Ferrick said.

There are now 10 Hall of Fame members and St. Peter Cathedral is the first outside New York State.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Mount Albion Cemetery

It took 11 years to raise the money and build the 68-foot-high tower on a hill in the back of Albion’s historic cemetery. The tower was ready in time for the country’s centennial celebration on July 4, 1876. It is a memorial for the 463 people from Orleans County who died in the Civil War.

It is a unique structure, with a spiral staircase leading to the top, offering a view to Lake Ontario and beyond.

The tower would gradually fall into disrepair and in the 1970s the village was considering blocking it off and perhaps demolishing it. But local citizens rallied, raising $20,000 for repairs. The tower was rededicated on July 4, 1976, the 200th anniversary of the country.

Bill Lattin, the retired Orleans County historian, was part of the “Save The Tower” campaign and delivered remarks at the rededication nearly 40 years ago.

He also spoke at the Hall of Fame ceremony, thankful for the people who worked to build the tower and those that pushed to save it.

“It remains today a pride in Mount Albion Cemetery and for our Orleans County community,” Lattin said.

Jason Zicari, the cemetery superintendent, also thanked the Hall of Fame Committee for choosing the tower.

“We’re very proud of our Soldiers and Sailors Monument,” he said.


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Santas reconnect, kick off conference

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 16 April 2015
GAINES – Members of Santa’s Drill Team perform a routine at Fair Haven Treasures this evening in Gaines. The Drill Team did beard inspections, ate cookies and sampled milk.

The Drill Team turned serious in honoring the American flag, in singing “God Bless America” and thanking God for the privilege of being Santa.

One of the Santas visiting Albion for the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference has his camera phone out and takes photos of the Drill Team.

Bob Elkin is president and a charter member of the Palm Tree Santa's Drill Team from Tampa, Fla.

These Santas are happy to shake hands and chat during a "meet and greet" at Fair Haven Treasures.

George Long (left), a Santa from near Orlando, Fla., is happy to meet with Joe Slifer, a Santa from Raleigh, N.C. They are pictured outside Fair Haven Treasures. Long is wearing his Santa workshop apron.

Long and Slifer are in town for the Charles W. Howard Legendary Santa Claus Conference, which runs until Sunday.

Many of the Santas will be back at Fair Haven on Friday at 2 p.m. for the dedication of an International Peace Garden.

Joe Slifer, right, also is happy to pose with this Santa who made the trip from Norway.

These Santas watch the Drill Team this evening. Many of the visiting Santas will be at the Elk's Club on West State Street on Friday and Saturday during the morning and afternoon.


The Albion Middle School Auditorium will be used for the convention's evening programs on Friday and Saturday.


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