County will put hitching post on courthouse lawn

Provided photo
In this undate photo, provided by Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin, shows the courthouse Square in its pre-automobile days with hitching posts to tie up horses.

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 29 July 2014
 ALBION – The historic Courthouse Square will soon add an artifact from a bygone era.

The County Legislature has agreed to accept a hitching post from the Albion Main Street Alliance. The post will be added to the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn, likely in August, said Legislature Chairman David Callard.

The post will be located near a historical marker that was installed last July. That marker, with a log cabin logo, honors the pioneering spirit of Albion’s first residents. The marker recognizes William McAllister.


In December 1810, McAllister bought 368 acres in Albion, the east side of the village, from the Holland Land Company. The following year he built a log cabin where the current County Clerks’ Building stands next the county courthouse.

Photo by Tom Rivers
A hitching post will be installed sometime soon near the historical marker at the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn.

McAllister and his wife, known only in historical information as “Mrs. McAllister,” were Albion’s first settlers. The hitching post adds to that spirit of honoring the pioneers and early residents in the community. That was part of my message last week when I addressed the Legislature.

I showed them pictures of the many hitching posts and carriage steps in the community. I think Albion and Gaines have more of these survivors from the horse-and-buggy era than anywhere else. (I don’t think an inventory has ever been done to see which community has the most of these historical relics.)

This hitching post is next to the home where Grace Bedell grew up on West State Street in Albion. Bedell is the girl who wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, encouraging him to grow a beard. 

Most of Albion’s hitching posts and carriage are on side streets. We don’t have too many along the state roads. AMSA is working with the village and now the county to have four hitching posts put back on Main Street. They will be set back off the state right of way. By having four in more prominent places on Main Street, we’ll be better able to promote the other sites that have hitching posts and carriage steps.

Many of them are in front of grand old houses from the 1800s or other historical sites, including the Cobblestone Society Museum and Mount Albion Cemetery.


I encouraged the Legislature to consider putting six to eight hitching posts along Main Street in front of the courthouse lawn, replicating the setup from the 1800s. I think we could find that many hitching posts or have them made.


I think the county could negotiate the placement with the state Department of Transportation, as long as the county assumes liability. I just wanted to put that idea out there for the county officials to mull over. For now I'm happy the Legislature will allow the one to go by the historical marker.


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Glenwood Lake will drop by 2 feet this week

Staff reports Posted 29 July 2014
MEDINA – Glenwood Lake will drop about 2 feet this week so emergency repairs can be made to the Medina Sewer Treatment Plant.

The village is repairing a manhole and needs the lake to drop down or else the lake water will run into the sewer plant, said Peter Houseknecht, Medina’s Department of Public Works superintendent.

Brookfield Power started lowering the water level at Glenwood Lake on Monday. The water level should begin returning to normal after Thursday when the work is set to be complete at the plant, Brookfield officials said.

During the low level period the boat ramp near Boxwood Cemetery at Route 63 will be closed.


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Medina library will accept school supplies in lieu of fines

Press release, Lee-Whedon Memorial Library Posted 29 July 2014
MEDINA – Lee-Whedon Memorial Library will be accepting new school supplies in lieu of fines.

For every dollar owed in overdue fines up to $5, one new packaged item may be donated during the week of Aug. 4-8. We will continue to accept donations for the remainder of the month. However, those donations will not be counted towards fines.

All school supplies donated will benefit the children of the Medina Central School District.


Suggested donations include the following: pens, pencils, colored pencils, crayons, binders, rulers, folders, glue sticks, notebooks, scissors, pencil sharpeners, filler paper, markers, notebooks, scotch tape, and composition books.


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The storm raged over Point Breeze

Photos courtesy of Steven Wilson Posted 29 July 2014

POINT BREEZE – When the Weather Service predicted a big storm was coming on Sunday night, Steven Wilson of Albion knew where he wanted to be. He headed to the Bridges in Point Breeze.

Wilson, an aspiring professional photographer, positioned himself near a closed down bridge by Narby’s. He aimed his camera to the big bridge on Route 18 that stretches across the Oak Orchard River. He wanted to capture the lightning over a local landmark.

He also likes this photo of lightning in the clouds over the bridge.


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Towns say they can cut Medina village taxes through shared services

Shelby, Ridgeway decline dissolution, will look at savings through highway

Photos by Tom Rivers
Shelby Town Supervisor Merle “Skip” Draper, center, said the town will look at assuming some of Medina’s non-emergency services to see how that would affect the tax rate for village residents and town residents outside the village. Town Board members William Bacon, left, and Steve Seitz were also at a joint session among Shelby, Ridgeway and Medina officials.


By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 29 July 2014
MEDINA – Before the Village of Medina makes a radical change and dissolves – a move that could shave $6 off the village’s tax rate – the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway believe they can find significant savings for the village with shared services.

Shelby Town Supervisor Skip Draper wants to see how much villagers could save if the two towns took over the village’s highway services. The village already pays twice for the service: to the village and then to either Ridgeway or Shelby.

Draper noted that the town of Yates plows the village of Lyndonville’s roads. He thinks a similar arrangement could work for the village of Medina, which sits about halfway in Shelby and halfway in Ridgeway.

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier reluctantly supported the shared service pursuit. Meier said the issue was brought up before during doomed shared services discussions about two years ago. Meier said a dissolution plan already gives village taxpayers the $6 savings and spells out how current village services would be provided by either the towns, or local development corporations.

About 50 residents attended the meeting at Shelby Town Hall to watch 15 elected officials talk about possibly sharing more services among two towns and the village of Medina.

But Ridgeway and Shelby officials say they won’t talk about dissolution. That angered Meier, who said a committee and consultants worked for nearly a year on the plan.

“There has been a concerted effort to ignore the plan,” Meier said at a joint meeting Monday evening among the three boards.

He asked the two towns to correct “false statements” they have made publicly about the plan.

“That’s your opinion,” Draper responded.

Napoli said the two towns weren’t asked to helped shape the plan.

“That is your plan,” Napoli told Meier. “We were not asked to be involved.”

Meier shared an email from July 2013 that Napoli sent to Scott Sittig, the lead consultant for the plan from the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester. Napoli told Sittig that Ridgeway would not cooperate with the study because “it was a waste of taxpayer money and a waste of Town of Ridgeway employees’ time.”

Meier told Napoli he “removed himself from this process.”

Meier was chided by a mediator, Richard Moffit, for pressing dissolution and Meier’s perceived slights from the towns.

“You can’t keep bringing up the past,” Moffit said.

The highway discussions represented a good start in potential tax savings, he said.

Medina Village Trustee Mike Sidari urged the three local boards to find some common ground. He is joined by Trustee Marguerite Sherman of Medina, Mayor Andrew Meier, left, and Richard Moffit, right, who served as mediator at Monday's meeting.

Ridgeway and Shelby officials said they wanted to focus on shared services, which can provide immediate relief to taxpayers, rather than a drawn-out process with dissolution. That plan called for creating an LDC to manage some services, create an ambulance district, a debt district and pass other services, including police, to the towns. Draper said it could take years to establish the new taxing entities.

“We should look at everything rather than create LDCs and new layers of government,” he said.

Draper took command of the meeting at times, offering to crunch the numbers and work with Shelby Town Highway Superintendent Mike Fuller about how the town could take over some of the village highway costs.

Draper asked Meier to provide the village’s non-emergency budget for costs outside of police, fire and ambulance. Draper said emergency services account for about $10 of the village $16.45 tax rate. He expects the towns could bring down the other $6-plus of the village tax rate by assuming some of the non-emergency services.

Meier said he would have those budget figures, as well as the revenues for each service, to the two towns by the end of the week.

Draper said he would determine potential cost savings to the village and cost increase to Shelby by the next joint session, which was scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 2.

Meier said the cost impacts have already been spelled out in the dissolution plan. He returned to that document several times during Monday’s hour-long meeting, but town officials wouldn’t discuss the plan in detail.

Mary Woodruff, a Ridgeway councilwoman, said the community isn’t ready for dissolution. The shared services discussions could better prepare the community and the boards for a dissolution and perhaps a merger of the two towns, she said.

One Medina, a group headed by local attorney Nathan Pace with support from Meier, favors dissolving the village and merging the two towns. But Woodruff said that is premature right now.

Town leaders also want to look at how water and sewer services are provided among the three governments and try to find ways to reduce administration and costs for that service.

A long-awaited joint session among the Medina, Ridgeway and Shelby boards occurred on Monday at the Shelby Town Hall.

Draper said the local government leaders will have their work cut out if they are to make a significant change in the tax burden for the village.

“That $6 won’t just disappear with a magic wand,” he said. “There’s work you have to do.”

Meier has pressed for dissolution because he said the current village government isn’t sustainable. The tax base tends to shrink every year as housing values fall. That puts pressure on the village to raise the tax rate. The $16.45 per $1,000 of assessed property is one of the highest in the region. Villagers then have the added burden of paying a $3.04 rate to Ridgeway and $3.35 to Shelby for a combined town-village rate of nearly $20.

“The elephant in the room is the $16.45,” Draper acknowledged.  

Dissolution would shift some costs to the two towns. But even with dissolution residents outside the village would pay far less in taxes than the village property owners.

The Ridgeway residents outside the village currently pay a $6.71 rate for town, lighting and fire protection. That would rise 46 percent to $9.83 if the village dissolves and services are picked up according to the plan.

Shelby residents would see a 10 percent increase with dissolution with the current rate for outside-village residents going from $8.36 per $1,000 of assessed property to $9.17. That would raise taxes for a $70,000 home from $585 to $642.

Meier said he wants to compare the impact to outside-village residents with the shared service possibilities and the dissolution plan. The dissolution plan should receive support from the towns, Meier said, if it proves the best way to reduce village taxes while minimizing an increase to the towns, and still maintaining services in the community.


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Police make arrest in July 18 gunshot in Medina

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 28 July 2014
MEDINA – A Rochester man has been arrested for a July 18 incident in the village of Medina when he allegedly fired one shot from a rifle at two people fleeing after an altercation. The gunshot missed the two men and also an elderly woman who was working in her garden along South Main Street.

Nathaniel Harvey, 21, of Rochester has been charged with attempted murder in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree. He was arraigned in Shelby Town Court and placed in Orleans County Jail on $250,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in Shelby Town Court on Tuesday.

Harvey was arrested on Thursday by the Medina Police Department and Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force. The arrest was made following an investigation with assistance from the State Police and Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

The two men who fled on foot on July 18 were not injured. A verbal altercation started on Church Street and moved near the corner of South Main and Oak Orchard streets.


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Small Lyndonville building served as doctor's office

By Matt Ballard, Cobblestone Society Museum co-director Posted 28 July 2014
LYNDONVILLE – This small building, standing on the east side of Main Street in the Village of Lyndonville, once served as the office of Dr. John D. Warren.

Later, this same building was used by Dr. Warren's son-in-law, Dr. Charles E. Fairman. It was common practice for a physician to have a smaller building located near their home for use as an office. Many homes had separate wings or extensions that served as the location for their practice.

Dr. Warren was well known for his interest in fruit and vegetable drying. Around 1880, he submitted a patent for “Warren's Vegetable Soup Package,” the precursor to the instant soup packets we currently use today. Later that same year, Gaines farmer A. J. Palmer assigned half of the patent for his fruit dryer to Dr. Warren. The Cobblestone Museum has the patent model of Palmer's fruit dryer on display in the Farmer's Hall.

Editor’s Note: The Cobblestone Museum is hosting an exhibit, “Medicine at the Museum,” through Oct. 13, The exhibit displays a collection of medical artifacts from the Rexall Drug Store in Albion and features over 20 local physicians and pharmaceutical giants.

The museum in August and September also will have a four-part lecture series about the development of the medical profession in Western New York. The series starts with the development of Buffalo’s Medical College in the 1840s, and goes through the progression of 19th century medicine from the establishment of WNY health spas and sanitariums to the trivial and candid stories of Orleans County physicians. The series will conclude with a look into the Victorian culture surrounding death and illness in the 19th century.

For more information about the museum and its events, click here.


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Morris Taylor admits selling cocaine

Former track star could get up to 6 months in jail
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 28 July 2014
ALBION – Morris Taylor, 24, admitted in Orleans County Court today that he sold cocaine on State Street in the village of Albion last Sept. 4.

Taylor has no prior felony convictions and has never served on Probation. District Attorney Joe Cardone presented a plea deal to Taylor where he would face no more than 6 months in Orleans County Jail and 5 years on Probation. Taylor accepted the plea offer in court today.

If Judge James Punch gives Taylor more than 6 months in jail, Taylor can rescind his plea and go to trial. He has been charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which carries a maximum of 2 ½ years in state prison.


Taylor, a former state track champion and football star for Albion, was accused of robbing Mark’s Pizzeria in February 2013. That case went to trial and Taylor was found not guilty.

Taylor on Dec. 2 also was arraigned on first-degree rape and forcible compulsion rape. Those crimes allegedly occurred on Thanksgiving morning. Those charges are now in a lower court and will be prosecuted separate from the drug case. Cardone said in court today there are some “issues” with the rape case. It may be handled as a misdemeanor.

“Some are questioning her motives with coming forward,” Cardone told the judge about the alleged victim.

Punch set Oct. 20 for sentencing for the drug charge.


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Heavy rains saturate fields

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 July 2014
It’s been raining hard since about 11 last night, and many of the local farm fields, including this one on Brown Road in Albion, are flooded.

The rain also have swollen local creeks, including Sandy Creek in Kendall. This pictured was taken from Route 272, looking west.

This field on Route 18 in Kendall, just east of the Kendall Junior-Senior High School, also is full of water.


The National Weather Service in Buffalo says there is a chance of rain each of the next four days.


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Kendall teen in guarded condition after accident on Sunday

Press release, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess Posted 28 July 2014
KENDALL – A Kendall teen-ager remains hospitalized in guarded condition this morning after crashing his pick-up truck late Sunday afternoon in the Town of Kendall.

The incident occurred shortly before 6 p.m. in the 16100 block of Woodchuck Alley, near West Kendall Road. Ryan D. Clay, 17, was operating a ’96 Chevrolet pick-up, travelling west on gravel road surface when he lost control of the vehicle.

The truck ran off the north side of the roadway, turned sideways, and slammed driver’s side into a tree. Clay was extricated by Kendall firefighters and transported to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester by Kendall FD ambulance.

A front seat passenger is identified as Andrew A. Eden, 17, of Kent. Eden was treated at the scene for minor injuries. He was not transported by ambulance.

The incident was investigated by Deputy T.N. Tooley, assisted by Deputy K.J. Colonna and Sergeant G.T. Gunkler. It appears that excessive speed was a contributing factor in the crash.


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