Weather Service warns of severe thunderstorm

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 7 July 2014
ALBION – A hanging basket of flowers is pictured this afternoon in downtown Albion at the corner of Bank and Main streets.


The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm warning southeastern Orleans County, western Monroe County, Genesee County and northwestern Livingston County until 5:15 p.m. today.


The storm is capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 miles per hour, the Weather Service said.


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Governor signs legislation combating sexual assault on college campuses

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office Posted 7 July 2015

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed his “Enough is Enough” legislation to combat sexual assault on college and university campuses statewide.


The new law requires all colleges to adopt a set of comprehensive procedures and guidelines, including a uniform definition of affirmative consent, a statewide amnesty policy, and expanded access to law enforcement to ensure the safety of all students attending colleges in New York State.


“I am proud to sign into law the most aggressive policy in the nation to fight against sexual assault on college campuses," Cuomo said. "Today, New York is making a clear and bold statement: sexual violence is a crime, and from now on in this state it will be investigated and prosecuted like one. With this law, we will better protect every student that attends college within our borders, and I am proud New York is leading the way once again.”


This legislation was first proposed by Cuomo in January and will extend the preventive policy and protections adopted by SUNY campuses to all university campuses statewide.

Specifically, the new law requires private colleges in New York State to adopt or implement:

• A uniform definition of affirmative consent, defining consent as a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity;

• An amnesty policy, to ensure that students reporting incidents of sexual assault or other sexual violence are granted immunity for certain campus policy violations, such as drug and alcohol use;

• A Students’ Bill of Rights, which campuses will be required to distribute to all students in order to specifically inform sexual violence victims of their legal rights and how they may access appropriate resources. The Bill of Rights clearly states that students are given the right to know they can report sexual assaults to outside law enforcement, including the State Police;

• Comprehensive training requirements for administrators, staff, and students, including at new student orientations.;

• Reporting requirements for campuses to annually submit aggregate data on reported incidents of sexual violence and their adjudication and handling to the State Education Department;


House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Cuomo at the bill signing today at New York University School of Law.


“Campus sexual assault is an all-hands-on-deck epidemic in America,” Pelosi said. “Today is a tipping point day, and I was proud to stand with the Governor Cuomo as he signed into law a strong tool for all the educators, administrators and women fighting to end campus sexual assault once and for all. We must confront this issue everywhere, from campus to Congress – and New York is leading the way forward for our nation.”

Additionally, the new law includes:

• The creation of a new unit within the State Police called the “sexual assault victims unit,” with a focus on advanced training in responding to sexual assaults and related crimes that shall also provide assistance to campus police or local law enforcement, as well as training to college campus communities;


• A commitment of $10 million to help combat campus sexual assault through various partners, split in the following manner: $4.5 million to rape crisis centers to provide services and resources to students, $4.5 million to the State Police to create sexual assault victims unit, and $1 million to colleges and universities; and


• A requirement for first responders to notify survivors of their right to contact outside law enforcement.


“As state leaders and educators, our first and foremost responsibility is to ensure that our college and university campuses provide a safe haven for students as they complete their higher education and work toward a degree,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said. “The ‘Enough is Enough’ legislation signed today is a promise of safe and secure learning environments for students attending college anywhere in New York State, and SUNY has been proud to serve as the policy model for these comprehensive reforms. With this historic bill, Governor Cuomo and the legislature have further positioned SUNY and New York to lead the nation in combating sexual assault and violence on college campuses.”


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Albion man admits selling cocaine

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 July 2015
ALBION – An Albion man admitted in Orleans County Court that he sold cocaine and could be sentenced to state prison.


Martin Eusebio, 20, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree. He could be sentenced to a maximum of 1 to 2 ½ years in state prison.

Eusebio was arrested in November and accused of cocaine trafficking in the Village of Albion. He was living at 201 Washington St., Apt. 1. He has been in jail since his arrest on $50,000 bail.

Eusebio had cocaine on Oct. 28 and sold it, he told Judge James Punch in court on Monday. Eusebio also said he isn’t a U.S. citizen.

He could be deported after serving his sentence. He will be sentenced on Oct. 5.

In other cases in County Court:


• A former Medina resident who has been in state prison for more than two years was classified as a Level 2 sex offender.

Kawika Kamae, 30, has been in state prison since April 2013, when he was sentenced first-degree rape. Kamae allegedly had sex with a highly intoxicated 16-year-old girl. The girl was so intoxicated that she needed hospitalization. She was determined to have a blood alcohol content of .28 percent.

Kamae was designated as a Level 2 sex offender, which means he is a moderate risk of reoffending.

He is currently an inmate at Collins Correctional Facility. He is due to be released on Aug. 25.

He was sentenced to seven years of post-release supervision.

• The judge is holding off on a plea deal for a Ridgeway resident, who faces charges of third-degree welfare fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument.


Kathy Mungenast, 51, of Ridgeway allegedly accepted $5,267 in welfare benefits she was not entitled to from July 1, 2012 to Nov. 30, 2013. She allegedly filed false paperwork to access those benefits, according to the District Attorney’s office.

Mungenast spent about three days a week with a boyfriend, and did not note with her application for public benefits that she wasn’t always living at her residence. District Attorney Joe Cardone said because Mungenast was living at another residence, she shouldn’t have received the full amount of welfare benefits she was getting.


Mungenast has no prior criminal record. She could face a year in jail, but Cardone has offered a plea deal where she would avoid jail and pay restitution.


However, Judge Punch wanted to see case law that someone living temporarily for a few days a week with a boyfriend isn’t entitled to what Mungenast received. Punch said Mungenast was still required to pay rent, buy groceries and maintain a household that includes two children.


Punch wanted to research the issue before allowing the plea deal.


• An Albion woman who pleaded guilty in May to a drug charge was again arrested on June 18. Judge Punch said Leeanne Krull will be held without bail at the Orleans County Jail and needs a psychologocial evaluation.


Krull, 45, was most recently arrested with criminal mischief - intent to damage property in the fourth degree, disorderly conduct - obscene language gestures, and trespassing. She allegedly kicked in a door causing $200 in damage.

Krull on May 18 pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which usually carries a maximum sentence of 2 ½ years in state prison. Because Krull has a prior felony, the maximum will be 4 years in state prison. She will be sentenced for that crime on July 27.


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Artist shows some attitude in taking on Common Core

Photos and article by Tom Rivers Posted 7 July 2015
ALBION – Jennifer Ohar Scott has found a way to funnel her outrage about what she sees as the over-testing of children and stifling of their creativity.

Scott, a Medina High School art teacher, has turned to painting to vent her frustrations with Common Core and state leaders, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Education Commissioner Dr. John King. He was commissioner when the state implemented Common Core.

Some of Scott’s paintings are featured in an art show at the Marti’s on Main art gallery at 229 North Main St., Albion. There will be a closing reception there on July 24 from 5:30 to 9 p.m.


The top photo shows Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a crown of hundred-dollar bills on his head. That mixed media art work is entitled "Cuomo: The Emperor of Contingent Funding."


It is includes a column from New York Times writer Paul Krugman, who on Feb. 23, 2015, wrote "Knowledge isn't power." Krugman argues that a failed education system isn't the cause of the wealth gap in the country. Click here to see the article.

Jennifer Scott created this mixed media artwork of John King, the former state education commissioner.


"The King of Standardized Testing and Unregulated Data Sharing" depicts King wearing a crown made of a test bubble sheet.


The artwork also include portions of a letter written from Medina English teacher Karen Jones to King. She sent him a six-page letter, detailing her concerns about Common Core testing. Scott said King never responded, and his lack of a response angered her.


Her Common Core-themed artwork has been featured in Buffalo galleries. She won the "People's Choice" award for the artwork on John King at Gallery 464 in Buffalo.


"At the very least this should provoke a conversation," said Scott, who lives in Lockport. "I feel strongly about educating parents, but I don't want to shove my viewpoint down their throats."

"One Size Will Not Fit All" is a statement about standardized testing.


Scott opposes the reliance on standardized tests in assessing students' and teachers'. Those state tests don't measure students who may learn and test better through auditory, cognitiive and other learning styles, she said.


"One style of testing is the antithesis of what I've learned," Scott said. "The testing they're doing now is not helpful. It only benefits the testing companies."


"This is a Normal Brain" is a work by Jennifer Ohar Scott.

"This is Your Brain on Common Core" is displayed next to the other painting of a healthy brain.


Scott teaches teaches eighth grade and high school at Medina. She was recently selected as one of 25 teachers of merit by Buffalo Business First.


She said she doesn't oppose the state wanting accountability for teachers. But she said the overreliance on test scores is not good for students, teachers or the community.


She stressed her artwork is her opinion and not the Medina school district's. Scott said the testing issue, which prompted many students and parents to "opt out" of the most recent tests this spring, has dominated her artwork.


"Everything I've been doing lately is about Common Core," she said.


For more on Jennifer Ohar Scott, click here to see her website.


To see the artwork at Marti's, contact gallery owner Kim Martillotta-Muscarella at 589-6715.


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Missing man found after day-long search in Carlton

Staff Reports Posted 7 July 2015
CARLTON — A Barre man who went missing on Sunday night was found safe on Monday afternoon, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess said.

The man's family had called Orleans County 911 on Sunday night at about 11:20 after he failed to return to a campsite at Lakeside Beach State Park in Carlton, where they were staying.

The man, who was not identified by law enforcement, had left the park to take someone home, and was expected to come right back. The family further reported that the individual might be suffering from early onset dementia, Hess said.

A missing person’s report was filed and the vehicle description was disseminated to local law enforcement agencies.

The search intensified around 12:30 p.m. Monday when Lakeside Beach State Park Manager Thomas Rowland found the missing man’s truck on state park property off the west end of an unpaved park service road that is normally off-limits to park patrons.

The truck was stuck in some soft ground on the east bank of Johnson's Creek, and appeared to have been abandoned there, Hess said. This prompted a massive search detail involving several law enforcement agencies, the Sheriff's Marine Unit, K-9 dogs, a State Police helicopter, state park employees and the Carlton Fire Department.

Searchers located the man shortly before 4:30 p.m. and after he was checked out by EMS personnel, he was returned to his family. Hess didn’t detail where the man was located.

In addition to the Sheriff's Office, agencies involved in the search included the New York State Park Police, state troopers from the Albion barracks, New York State Environmental Conservation Police, Niagara County Sheriff's Office and the United States Border Patrol.


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Big rain soaks fields

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 6 July 2015
BARRE – A strong thunderstorm barreled through Orleans County a little after 7 p.m. It drenched the baseball fields at Barre and forced the postponement of a Midget League game between the Barre Cubs and St. Mary’s.


The Weather Service said the 10-minute “torrential downpour” could have left a ½ inch to an inch of rain.


Tuesday is forecast to be hot with a high of 90 degrees with a chance for thunderstorms and heavy rain. Wednesday is forecast to be mostly sunny with a high of 75.


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Judge sentences 3 to jail/prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 July 2015
ALBION – Three people will spend time in jail or prison after being sentenced in Orleans County Court today by Judge James Punch.

Andre D. Shine, 31, of Starr Street in Medina received the longest sentence – five years in state prison.

Shine pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. As a second felony offender (criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fourth degree), the latest charge would normally carry an 8-year maximum in state prison. But as part of a plea deal, Shine was offered a maximum of five years in prison.

Shine, during his sentencing, said he takes responsibility for his actions.

Punch gave Shine the maximum sentence as part of the plea deal.

“You’ve targeted this community by spreading drugs into the community,” Punch said. “You have a long and serious criminal history. The things you have done have diminished the quality of life in this community.”

In other cases, the judge:

• Sentenced Lazaro Botello, 24, of Center Road in Kendall in one to three years in state prison for driving under the influence of alcohol on Nov. 26. Punch ordered Botello to pay $250 in restitution to the Town of Kendall for damaging graves at a cemetery.

Botello had a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.21 percent, more than twice the legal limit. He has a prior conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol in June 2012 in the Town of Sweden.

His lawyer, Nathan Pace, asked that Botello not be sentenced to state prison. Pace said Botello immediately took responsibility for the crime and has received treatment through the Genesee-Orleans Regional Council on Substance Abuse.

Punch said Botello committed the crime while on Probation.

“You have been given just about every opportunity we can give you,” Punch said, calling Botello a danger on the highways.

• Norman Bloom Sr., 48, of West Center Street in Medina was sentenced to a year in Orleans County Jail for driving while intoxicated. Punch said the Nov. 8 incident, which included leaving the scene of an accident, was Bloom’s fourth DWI.

“I know it was wrong and I apologize,” Bloom said.


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A long bike journey – 12,000 miles around the country – raises awareness about sex trafficking

Photo by Tom Rivers
Daniel Lemke is pictured on Route 18 in Carlton today. He stayed in Orleans County since Saturday night and is headed east today. He has travelled 2,500 miles by bike since starting his trip on April 19 in Colorado.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 July 2015
ALBION – Daniel Lemke was just going to the gym in Chicago for a workout. He didn’t expect to have a life-changing experience, one that would set him on a mission to bike 12,000 miles, touching the four corners of the continental United States.

Lemke, a recent graduate of a Christian college in Chicago, met a police officer at the gym, who shared that the owner of a nail salon near the gym had been arrested for sex trafficking with a brothel operating out of that salon involving children.

Lemke, 22, didn’t know much about the issue, but he has learned that many people are trafficked for sex, labor and even for their organs. It’s a problem in big cities and even in rural areas.

“It’s not just a Third World problem anymore,” he said.

Daniel Lemke is riding across the country to raise awareness about sex trafficking. He is pictured on Route 18 this morning.

He formed a not-for-profit organization, Bike Through Traffic, and on April 19 began a 12,000-mile journey. He has biked about 2,500 miles so far and is scheduled to complete the effort next July. Click here to see a map of the trip.

The mission brought Lemke to Albion and Orleans County the past two days. He arrived on Saturday evening, spoke at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Albion on Sunday morning and was back on the road this morning, riding east on Route 18 before going down Peter Smith Road to get on Route 104.

I met him for breakfast at the Village House this morning. He spent the previous two nights with Gary and Linda Derwick in Carlton.

Lemke acknowledges he has a difficult message for people to hear, especially the church community. He talks about pornography, how that addiction can often lead people to pursue victims in sex trafficking. In fact, many of the children in pornography videos are being trafficked, he said.

Those children are often runaways or they may be in an abusive foster home, he said.

Lemke wants the issues and painful realities to be discussed by churches, families and the communities – with the goal to end sex trafficking and to get help for people with pornography and sex addictions.

“Christians need to be loving,” he said. “Love is powerful and can lead to redemption.”

Lemke pedals east on Route 18, near the Transit Road intersection.

Lemke is traveling alone with support from his family and friends back home in Loveland, Colo.

“I got God on my side,” he said about the traveling.

Along the way he stops to speak at churches, schools and other venues.

He is working his way to Maine and then will head south down the East Coast.

“This is about raising awareness and money to get victims out of sex trafficking,” he said. "It's not about a bike ride."


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Albion family has nice waterfalls in backyard

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 6 July 2015
ALBION – The quest for discovering some of the nicest nature spots in Orleans County continued on Sunday evening, with another waterfalls to put on the list.

Kyle and Jessy Holz invited some friends and family over to their house on Route 31 across from Bullard Park. They recently moved to the spot, and welcomed people over to watch the fireworks on Sunday.

They also told people about the big waterfalls in their backyard.

The west branch of Sandy Creek runs through here and then goes under Route 31 and passes along the west side of Bullard Park.


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Fireworks light up Bullard Park in Albion

For fourth year church treats community to event

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 5 July 2015
ALBION – The skateboarding ramp provides a nice spot to watch the fireworks tonight at Bullard Park in Albion.


The High Point Community Church in Corfu paid for the fireworks show, and also served food, provided games and played Christian music at the park. This is the fourth straight July 5 that the church has put on the event for Albion.

Two girls are on the swings while the fireworks go off. They appear blurred because of the slow shutter speed on the camera.

Some young families watch the fireworks from another swingset at the park on Route 31.

People watched the fireworks from lawn chairs, picnic tables, blankets on the ground or many just stood to take in the sights and sounds.

The fireworks were launched from near the big sledding hill at the park.

Before the fireworks, the praise band at High Point played for the crowd. The church is looking to start a congregation in Albion.

Marci Jonathan is the bass guitarist in the praise band. Her brother Nate plays the drums and their father Dave also is in the band.

Melanie Dean, ceneter, is one of the singers in the priase band. Her father, Bobby Dean, is the church pastor. Her brother Matt is lead singer in the band and their brother Mike sings and plays guitar for the group.

Bobby Dean, pastor of the church, shares a message before the fireworks. Nate Jonathan is in back on the drums.

Matt Dean is a high-energy singer for the praise band.


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Church serves up games, music, food and (later) fireworks

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 5 July 2015
ALBION – Volunteers with the High Point Community Church in Corfu are serving up hot dogs, music and games to the Albion community at Bullard Park.

The top photo shows Robin Johnson, right, and Ralph Peterson (in Muckdogs hat) cooking hot dogs that will be available for free.

The church, which is looking to start a congregation in Albion, also has many games, face painting, a bounce house and other activities. The church’s praise band will also be playing as well as a Christian musical guest, the Needhams.

Later at about 9:30 p.m. there will also be fireworks at Bullard, with the church paying for the bulk of the expense.

Nathanael Sugar, 20, of Albion rides his skateboard at Bullard while waiting for the fireworks to start.


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