5 are honored for efforts to preserve and promote local heritage

Five People named Heritage Heroes

Photos by Tom Rivers

Five Orleans County residents were honored on Friday for their efforts to preserve Orleans County history. The group includes, from left: Melissa Ierlan, Delia Robinson, Peg Wiley, Al Capurso and Tim Archer.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 March 2016
ALBION – Three people were recognized as Heritage Heroes on Friday for efforts to preserve and promote local history. In addition, two other Orleans County residents were given special awards for their heritage efforts.

Genesee Community College recognized the third class of Heritage heroes on Friday during an awards reception at GCC in Albion. The college first recognized Heritage Heroes in 2014 as part of GCC’s Civil War Encampment. The 150th anniversary of the Civil War has passed and GCC no longer hosts the encampment.

But GCC plans to continue to recognize Heritage Heroes, said Jim Simon, GCC dean of the campus centers in Albion and Medina, and Derek Maxfield, GCC history professor. They also announced plans for a new Orleans County Heritage Festival on Sept. 9-11 featuring historic sites and attractions around the county.

Simon and Maxfield both said the county is fortunate to have many energetic citizens working to preserve historic sites and share stories of pioneer residents and others from many generations ago.

Derek Maxfield speaks at Heritage Heroes reception

Derek Maxfield, a history professor at Genesee Community College, speaks during the Heritage Heroes awards celebration on Friday at GCC in Albion. Maxfield serves on the selection committee. He announced plans for a new Orleans County Heritage Festival this year from Sept. 9-11.

The Heritage Heroes recognized for 2016 include:

Al Capurso is a retired case manager for the Department of Social Services, Probation and Mental Health. He worked there for 24 years. He also owned the Bait Barn shop by his home on Route 279.

Since retiring he has tackled many local projects, including new historical markers at the Courthouse Square for the first pioneer settler and also one by a cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road. Capurso has led efforts to save that cobblestone building, with volunteers repairing windows and paying to have a new roof put on the site, which could become a meeting house and building used to display historic artifacts.

Capurso also gained government approvals to have a local stream named Gilbert Creek in honor of pioneer settler Elizabeth Gilbert. Capurso said many community members have stepped forward to help preserve the former schoolhouse.

Peg Wiley and her husband Richard moved to Point Breeze in 2002 to run their business, Wiley’s Riverside Marina. Mrs. Wiley soon became involved in community projects, including leading the effort to build a replica of the Oak Orchard Lighthouse that was toppled in 1916 during a wind storm.

Wiley helped raise $300,000 for the new lighthouse, which was completed in 2010 and now serves as an iconic symbol for the county featured in tourism guides. The lighthouse also includes a small museum telling the history of the original lighthouse.

The project helped inspire other community fund-raising efforts for a new public library in Albion, a new Education Center at the 4-H Fairgrounds and the new Hospice residence in Albion.

“The lighthouse was built by the community,” Wiley said at the awards program. “The community became empowered. They believed they could do it.”

Wiley said many people helped with the project, including the late Cheryl Staines, who served as treasurer of the project. Staines died on Friday after battling cancer.
“We couldn’t have done it without her,” Wiley said.

Tim Archer is the service learning teacher at Albion, working with seventh graders. He has led them on several historic preservation efforts in Albion and beyond.


They have cleaned up the Prisoner of War Camp from World War II in Hamlin, and are working to have a historic marker at Hillside Cemetery in Holley for Charles Herbert Taylor, the only known resident of the county killed in the battle of Gettysburg.

Archer and Albion students cleaned up the cemetery at the former County Alms House on County House Road in Albion, resetting stones, clearing brush, researching the names of residents and erecting a memorial in their honor.

Archer said he has 140 students each year to work on projects. The students are determined and feel pride in the efforts.

“They need to take ownership of their community,” he said.

Bill Lattin gives Heritage Hero award to Melissa Ierlan

Bill Lattin, retired Orleans County historian, presents the first C.W. “Bill” Lattin Award for Excellence in Municipal History to Melissa Ierlan, the Clarendon town historian.


The Heritage Heroes program this year included two new awards to recognize municipal historians, who were excluded from previous Heritage Hero recognition. Maxfield said the Heritage Hero Committee wanted to recognize municipal historians, who he said are “unsung heroes,” often working long hours for little pay.

The committee created the C.W. “Bill” Lattin Award for Excellence in Municipal History in honor of Lattin, the county’s historian for nearly four decades. He also led the Cobblestone Society Museum for about 40 years.

Melissa Ierlan is first recipient. She works as Clarendon’s historian and code enforcement officer. She also is active in the Clarendon Historical Society and has spearheaded efforts to save the chapel at Hillside Cemetery.

Ierlan has also repainted 15 historic markers in the county (including one in Elba for the mucklands). She scrapes the paint off the markers and meticulously repaints them, projects that take several days. She has volunteers who help re-weld some of the markers.

Lattin said Ierlan has a can-do attitude. He compared her to former Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton.

“Melissa is supercharged,” Lattin said. “She sees things to do and does them.”

The Committee also created the Robert E. Waters Award for Lifetime Achievement in honor of the late Waters, a newspaper publisher who was active in many community causes. Waters was in the inaugural Heritage Heroes class.

Delia Robinson is the first recipient of the award. She served as a Gaines town historian for more than three decades, writing books on cobblestone buildings, Gaines history and contributions of women to the county’s history.

Robinson was influential in many historical markers being placed in the county, noting efforts by women. She continues to give monthly historical talks at Hoag Library.

“You never know all of the history,” Robinson said. “History is never done. There’s always something to find out.”


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Albion was focus of big moonshine raid in 1927

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 30 April 2016

Volume 2, Issue 18


Taken on October 13, 1927, these five men headed one of the largest raids on an illegal liquor manufacturing operation in Orleans County. Pictured from left to right are NYS Trooper J. P. Fisher, Undersheriff Lawrence Higley, Sheriff Ross Hollenbeck, Deputy Matthew McGlen, and NYS Trooper B. L. DeBrine; the plate on the motorcycle shows that the men were stationed at the Troop A barracks in Batavia.

Just after midnight on the 13th of October, police surrounded the abandoned canning factory once owned by Thomas Page at the corner of King Street and West Avenue. Upon entering the building they located one the largest alcohol stills ever seen in the area, allowing for the manufacture of over 5,000 gallons of moonshine liquor. Also seized was a truck carrying 205 gallons of alcohol stored in 5 gallon cans, which was to be shipped to Rochester that night.

Giuseppe Gagliano, Tony Gagliano, Joseph Mineo, James Mineo, and Joseph Lomeo all of Utica were taken into custody and arraigned in front of U.S. Commissioner Cyrus Phillips at Rochester. The men refused to provide any information about the illegal operation but claimed that they were hired by Charles Day of Rochester, a man they had never met before, to operate the still. All five were released from custody on $10,000 bail each.

Federal officers estimated the seizure of equipment in excess of $50,000 and the total value of the liquor and raw materials at nearly $200,000, roughly $3.5 million today.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before the abandoned canning factory became the central location for another large distilling operation when federal officers in cooperation with local police raided the site in October of 1930. At that point, the still inside was capable of manufacturing over 1,000 gallons of alcohol each day and multiple storage vats were discovered alongside the 5,000 gallon still. Moonshiners were shipping the alcohol by truck to Buffalo where it was loaded on railcars and distributed throughout the region.

Lawrence Higley would later serve as Orleans County Sheriff and Matthew McGlen eventually found himself working for the federal government as a U.S. Customs and Border Agent. Naturally, this raid was quite the notch in their belts.


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3 municipalities want moratorium on mobile home construction outside of mobile home parks

Planners support gun shop in Clarendon


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2016
Three municipalities in Orleans County plan to enact six-month moratoriums on mobile home construction outside of mobile home parks.

Location has generally been limited to mobile home parks, but new state legislation allows construction of manufactured outside of designated mobile home parks as long as a manufactured home “is aesthetically similar to site-built single-family homes in a residential district,” and is deemed a single-family home by the local government’s zoning law, according to the state legislation.

The villages of Albion and Holley, and the Town of Murray want a six-month moratorium on mobile home construction outside designated parks so those municipalities can work on amending their zoning ordinances. The Orleans County Planning Board backed those efforts by the three municipalities.

The Planning Board on Thursday also recommended the Town of Clarendon approve a permit for a home occupation at 4257 Hindsburg Rd., which is in a residential/agricultural district.

Erin Neale wants to operate a firearms sales business from the site. He sold firearms from the site from 1999 to 2009. He wants to reopen the business with the same setup.

The gun shop would be set back about 500 feet from Hindsburg Road in a detached structure east of Neale’s house. In addition to selling rifles, pistols and shotguns, Neale plans to sell black powder, ammunition and accessories.


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Planners approve drive-thru ATM for Bank of America at Dunkin Donuts


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 April 2016
ALBION – Bank of America is adding a drive-through ATM in Albion. The new feature won’t be at the bank’s site. It will be across from Bank of America at Dunkin Donuts.

The Orleans County Planning Board supported the project during its meeting on Thursday. The ATM will be at the southeast corner of the Donut Donuts lot near the entrance by Platt Street. It will have room for three vehicles, will be lighted and will have a monument sign noting the ATM.

Bank of America doesn’t have room for a drive-through ATM at its site, said Ron Vendetti, village code enforcement officer.

The bank will continue to run a walk-up ATM at its Main Street location.

The project needs two variances, and the County Planning Board recommended Albion approve both. The village code requires room for five vehicles in a drive-through, but this proposed ATM has room for three vehicles. Planners said the ATM “is not expected to be a substantial traffic generator.” The walk-up ATM at the bank also will ease some pressure on the drive-through ATM, planners said.

The village code allows one freestanding sign per commercial property and this will have two with the Bank of America ATM and Dunkin Donuts.

Planners said the new sign noting ATM should be located in a way that doesn’t obstruct sight lines for vehicles attempting to exit the property.


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Medina celebrates Arbor Day by planting 71 trees

Students join in tree planting at State Street Park

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 April 2016
MEDINA – The Village of Medina celebrated Arbor Day today with help from students from Oak Orchard Elementary School. The village held a tree-planting celebration at State Street Park.


The village has planted about 1,500 trees in the past 15 years. This Arbor Day marks the ninth year in a row that the Village of Medina has been awarded the Tree City USA designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation. The award honors Medina’s commitment to community forestry.

Medina is planted 71 trees this spring, mostly along areas of West Center Street with additional plantings on West Avenue, Gwinn Street and State Street Park.

Aidyn Jackson, a Medina first-grader, puts the final shovel of dirt on a flowering pear tree at State Street Park. The village planted six flowering pear trees along the park's perimeter.

This first grade class poses for a picture in front a newly planted tree.

Dan Doctor, the Oak Orchard principal, gets a picture of students by a new tree. Doctor told the kids to "Say Trees!" when he took the picture.

Medina Mayor Michael Sidari is pictured with Tree Board Chairman Chris Busch on a stage during the Arbor Day celebration. Sidari said saplings will go to be tall trees. He told students to return to the park often as adults and take pride in the new trees.


The mayor also read a proclamation about Arbor Day.

Sidari and Busch presented a "Friend of the Urban Forest Award" to Bob Sanderson, a Medina resident who donated $5,700 to plant many of the new trees. Sanderson owns Candlelight Cabinetry and Kitchen World in Lockport, employing 230 people. The company uses lots of wood, and Sanderson said the business is committed to planting new trees through several "Tree Hugger Initiatives." Sanderson said Medina is becoming known as "the town that plants all of the trees."

Medina third-graders Garrett Koch, center, and Elizabeth Thompson read a poem about Arbor Day. hey are joined by teacher Nicole Goyette.

Mayor Sidari poses with elementary students after planting trees at State Street Park.


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3 sites will take unused prescriptions on Saturday

Staff Reports Posted 29 April 2016
Orleans County residents can dispose of unused prescription medication, sharps and pet medications on Saturday at three drop-off sites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The goal of this event is to provide a safe disposal method that will prevent the contamination of the water supply and most importantly decrease the likelihood of theft and abuse of prescription medications. Upon completion of this event all collected medication will be destroyed in the presence of law enforcement officers at a designated incineration facility, said Sheriff Randy Bower.

“This is a great opportunity for the public to surrender unwanted and/or expired medications for safe and proper disposal,” Bower said. “Events such as these have dramatically reduced the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, as well as increasing awareness of this critical public health issue.”

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative includes the following sites in Orleans County:


• Orleans County Public Safety Building – 13925 State Route 31 – Albion
• Holley Fire Department – 7 Thomas Street – Holley
• Medina Fire Department – 600 Main Street – Medina


The Public Safety Building also has a collection box that is available five days a week during regular business hours.


Saturday’s collection is a collaborative effort with the U.S. Department of Justice – Drug Enforcement Administration, the Orleans County Health Department, and the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse.


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County Planning Board backs tougher wind energy law in Yates

Photos by Tom Rivers
Gary Daum, a Yates resident and a member of the Orleans County Planning Board, discusses Yates’ proposed moratorium and a updated law on wind energy facilities. The Planning Board supported the proposals by Yates.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 April 2016
YATES – The Orleans County Planning Board is supporting the Town of Yates in revising a nearly decade-old local law on wind energy facilities.

The previous town ordinance from 2008 caps the height of turbines at 420 feet. Apex Clean Energy wants to build up to 71 turbines in Yates and Somerset that would be between 490 to 620 feet in height to the top of the turbine blade.

Yates isn’t proposing a height restriction with the new law, but instead would require setbacks from residences, roads, municipal boundaries and other public use areas 4.5 times the turbine height. With turbines at 620 feet, the setbacks would need to be more than a half mile.

“This would effectively be a ban on turbines,” Dan Fitzgerald, project manager for Apex Clean Energy, told the County Planning Board on Thursday.

Apex submitted 13 pages of comments about the local law.

Jim Simon, the Yates town supervisor, said town officials aren’t trying to ban turbines.

“This law wasn’t written for a developer,” Simon said. “This law is written for our town and for our people.”

Dan Fitzgerald, project manager for Apex Clean Energy, shares his concerns about the Yates proposed law. The meeting on Thursday was held at the Carlton Recreation Hall.

The Planning Board said the new regulations are more rigorous than the 2008 law, as they should be because the latest-generation of utility-scale turbines “rise to much greater heights than those envisioned when Yates’ current law was adopted.”

The bigger turbines involve deeper foundations, longer shadows, farther ice throws, greater visibility, and more reasons to analyze potential impacts on birds and wildlife, the Planning Board said.

“It’s still evolving,” said Planning Board member Gary Daum, a Yates resident. “It’s about people and innovation and new things.”

The revised Yates law expands the findings section from 10 to 24 items, with the developer required to analyze ambient sound, background sound, weighted sound pressures, shadow flicker and tower height, and many other issues.

The town also will require a transportation plan for construction of turbines to assess potential damage to local roads and bridges, and mitigation of traffic congestion with movement of turbine materials.

Yates also will require developers with wind energy facilities to complete reports and analysis from the projects on groundwater, geotechnical, flora/fauna, cultural/historical/architectural/, wildlife, blade throw, stray voltage and aviation.

Planners noted that the strength of the local laws for wind turbines is currently unsettled given that the state leads the process through Article 10, with a state siting board voting on the projects.

Yates also is seeking a six-month moratorium on wind energy conversion systems. That moratorium will give the town time to pass its revised law and also incorporate revisions into the Yates-Carlton-Kendall Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, as well as the town’s comprehensive plan.

Apex officials said they thought their project should be grandfathered in and not be subject to the moratorium. Apex has been meeting with landowners in Yates about the project for 22 months, said Taylor Quarles, development manager.

Apex hasn’t submitted a formal application for its project. It is seeking a second meteorological tower to assess wind strength. That tower wouldn’t be able to go up until after the moratorium.


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Holley school district supports plans to redevelop old high school

Kendall and Holley also will meet to discuss shared services

Photos by Kristina Gabalski
The old Holley High School has been vacant for more than two decades.


By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 28 April 2016
HOLLEY – Members of the Holley Board of Education were updated during their regular meeting Tuesday evening regarding the status of the old Holley High School building in the village.


School district attorney Jeff Martin informed board members about recent efforts by Home Leasing, LLC of Rochester to acquire the building, which was constructed in the 1931 and was last used by the district in 1975. Home Leasing wants to turn it into senior housing with 26-30 units.


Martin explained that a major obstacle – sorting out title issues – may be overcome with recent news that, "Orleans County will get involved."

The county will likely foreclose on the property, Martin explained, and that would facilitate cleaning up title issues.

“It would be a benefit to the whole community,” Martin said of the possible development of the building.

The old Holley High School does contain asbestos, Martin noted. It has sat unused since the early 1990s when Lift Tech Systems, which had owned and utilized the building, declared bankruptcy. The owner of the property died suddenly following that, Martin said. The building has been off the tax rolls for several years.

Martin said he attended a meeting in March regarding the school and was asked to see if school board members were receptive to moving forward with the possible development. He explained that a 15-year PILOT agreement may be offered to developers, which would mean that tax revenue would again be generated from the site.

This photo shows the back side of the building.


“It's a win-win situation,” Martin said, and noted the Orleans Economic Development Agency would likely be involved due to the expense of renovations. He said much time still needs to go into developers acquiring the property and renovation work. “It could take a couple of years,” Martin said.


School Board members expressed their approval of the process moving forward.


In other business, Superintendent Robert D'Angelo reported that he had recently been contacted by Kendall Central School Superintendent Julie Christensen, who requested a joint meeting of both boards, superintendents, high school principals and business officials be held sometime this summer. The meeting would be to, "discuss shared services across the board... it would not be restricted to athletics,” D'Angelo said.

The districts agreed this spring to field a combined baseball team, and D'Angelo noted that agreement is working well. He said Tuesday evening football and wrestling have been mentioned as other sports where the districts could form a merged team.

Currently, Kendall does not have a football team.


He said both districts/school boards sitting down at one table will be, "a positive thing for both of us. I look forward to meeting with Kendall during the summer. There are so many things we can do for students in the classroom if we join forces. They are just a hop, skip and a jump away. It's definitely an advancement for us and them.”

“It would benefit both districts,” school board vice-president Robin Silvis said.


“In the long term I see us sharing a lot of different things,” board member John Heise said.


Additionally, Superintendent D'Angelo said Holley is meeting on Friday with its counterparts in the Pembroke Central School District to talk about football.

“I will not let the distance interfere with our kids having a good program,” he said.


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Town supervisor says Barre just now hearing about possible wind project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2016
BARRE – Town Supervisor Mark Chamberlain said he is just learning this week about Apex Clean Energy’s new plan for a 200 Megawatt wind energy project focused in Barre and stretching into Elba, Albion and other neighboring communities.

Apex made the announcement on Wednesday. The company sent a letter to Barre town officials earlier this week, requesting a meeting to discuss the project.

Chamberlain said he hadn’t heard any talk of the project until this week.

“This is the first that the community has heard of it,” he said this afternoon. “This has all come very quickly and very fast.”

Barre was considered for a wind energy project about a decade ago, but the developer backed off after concerns turbines would be sited too close to the Pine Hill Airport.

Chamberlain said the Apex project appears to be away from the airport, with the new focus apparently in southeastern Barre.

Apex is proposing a project in Yates and Somerset that would include up to 71 turbines that would peak at 620 feet high. Those turbines are about 200 feet taller than the ones proposed in Barre a decade ago. Apex hasn't detailed the size of Barre turbines.

There is a big change, compared to a decade ago, with the new “Heritage Wind” project proposed for Barre: the Article 10 process. That gives the majority of the siting power to state officials.


“It takes town input out of it,” Chamberlain said.


Apex said today it will have many public meetings with officials and residents in Barre, Albion and the rest of the project area.

“This is a process that has just begun, and we are reaching out to various stakeholders simultaneously, including officials with the Town of Barre, the Town and Village of Albion, Orleans County, and many others,” said Cat Mosely, Public Affairs manager for Apex.


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Man escapes fiery crash in Ridgeway without serious injury

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 28 April 2016 3:00 p.m.
RIDGEWAY – The driver of this Chevrolet S-10 pickup escaped serious injury after an accident on Marshall Road, just north of the Erie Canal, today at about 1 p.m.


A state trooper at the scene said the driver, a man about age 25, was travelling south on Marshall Road when he fell asleep, drove off the shoulder of the road and struck a tree stump.


The truck overturned and caught on fire.

Ridgeway firefighters, including Don Marchner (back to camera), put out fire with the truck. The driver was able to crawl out of the vehicle and get a safe distance from the wreck.


The driver had injuries to both feet and was taken to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester by the Medina Fire Department.

The driver hit the stump in the lower right and then overturned the pickup. Lyons Collision in Medina removed the vehicle.


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Holley passes village budget with tax increase

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 28 April 2016
HOLLEY – Village Board members on Wednesday evening adopted a $1.14 million budget for the general fund, which increases the tax rate increase 63 cents to $15.44 per $1,000 of assessed property. That’s an increase of 4.45 percent.

The Water Fund appropriation is $395,612 and the Sewer Fund appropriation is $157,650. The appropriation for the Department of Public Works is down 0.4 percent while the appropriation for the Village Police Department rises 17.4 percent. The employee benefit appropriation is down 36.5 percent.


The 2016/17 amount of the budget to be raised by taxes is $820,799, which is up 4.5 percent or $35,001 from $785,798 in the 2015/16 budget.


Trustees considered several options - from using $60,850 in Appropriated Fund Balance to keep the tax rate the same, to using no Fund Balance which would have raised the tax rate $1.14.


The option agreed upon added $10,000 to contingency and utilized $27,380 from Fund Balance. This option brings the anticipated Fund Balance after the new budget to $100,000. The 2016/17 budget was adopted by a unanimous vote.


Holley Mayor John Kenney, Jr., said work on the budget began last November and village leaders tried diligently to find savings wherever possible, despite the increasing costs of retirement and health insurance.


“The supervisors were good about addressing the needs of the village,” the mayor noted. “All services are maintained.”


Kenney encouraged village residents to get out and vote in the upcoming village election which will be held in June. Two trustee seats and the mayor are up for election.


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Albion village tells Gaines fire protection contract terminated Aug. 31

File photo by Tom Rivers
Albion firefighters respond to this fire in Gaines on Oct. 25 at a house owned by Watt Farms at 3161 Oak Orchard Rd.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2016
ALBION – The Village Board has notified Gaines Town Supervisor Carol Culhane that the village will terminate a fire protection contract with Gaines on Aug. 31, at 11:59 p.m.


The contract between the town and village expired on Dec. 31, 2015. Village officials have pushed for Gaines to pay $1 per $1,000 of assessed property for fire protection. That is what the Town of Albion pays the village.


Gaines pays only 32 cents per $1,000, by far the lowest rate in Orleans County. Village officials said Wednesday that Gaines officials have resisted paying more and haven't responded to village requests for the two municipal boards to meet and discuss the issue.


"The Village Board regrets having to terminate a longstanding association with the Town of Gaines regarding fire protection services," according to an April 22 letter from village attorney John Gavenda to Culhane. "Since the Town of Gaines has rejected the proposal made by the Village of Albion for said services, it has no alternative but to sever the association."


Gaines officials had suggested the town pay based on percentage of calls in Albion fire protection district, which includes the Town of Albion, village and Gaines. Village officials want it based on assessment with the two towns each paying $1 per $1,000 of assessed property.


Village officials are hopeful a deal can be reached with Gaines before the contract expires after Aug. 31. Albion wants to keep Gaines partly because 20 to 25 volunteer firefighters live in that town. If Gaines isn't in Albion's service area, those members should join whatever fire department serves the town. But that would leave the Albion Fire Department with fewer members.


Gavenda, in his letter to Gaines on April 22, urged the town to "take all necessary measures to secure fire protection from an alternative source to avoid any lapse of service."


The village agreed in 1995 to a 20-year deeply discounted fire protection rate in exchange for Gaines making the sewer plant on Densmore Street tax exempt.


Here are the fire protection rates for towns for 2016:


Albion, $1.00; Barre, $1.45; Carlton, 75 cents; Clarendon, $1.02; Gaines, 32 cents; Kendall – $1.40 to Kendall and $1.61 to Morton; Murray – $1.58 to Holley and $1.59 to Fancher-Hulberton-Murray; Ridgeway, $1.29; Shelby, $1.74; and Yates, 49 cents to Lyndonville.

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Albion village budget reduces taxes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 April 2016
ALBION – The Village Board adopted a $6,633,734 budget for 2016-17 that will reduce taxes, slightly, for village property owners.

The village’s tax rate will drop from $17.75 to $17.66 per $1,000 of assessed property. The amount of taxes to be collected will also drop 0.4 percent from $2,497,252 to $2,487,946, which is a $9,305 reduction.

Mayor Dean London and the board unanimously approved the budget on Wednesday. London said department heads deserve credit for presenting “realistic numbers” and working with the board to prevent a tax increase.

London said the village is “thinking outside the box” to try to bring down taxes. Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni, for example, also serves as Holley’s police chief in an agreement that brings in revenue for Albion. Other village personnel also work with Holley’s sewer plant, and Elba’s water and sewer.

The budget also stops a downward slide in overall assessments in the village. After several years of a declining tax base, Albion grew by $190,060 to $140,880,321. That represents only a 0.13 percent growth, but it wasn’t a decrease, village officials noted on Wednesday.

Other good news in the budget, according to Clerk/Treasurer Linda Babcock: the village is only using $193,000 from reserves or its fund balance. She thinks that is the lowest level in many years. In the 2015-16 budget, the village used $248,000 from its fund balance, which was down from the $300,000 in fund balance in 2014-15.


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Apex announces it’s looking at second wind energy project in Orleans

Apex Clean Energy
Apex has identified Barre and surrounding area for the focus of a wind energy project.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 April 2016
BARRE – Apex Clean Energy announced today the company is looking at a second wind energy project in Orleans County that would be focused in Barre and spread out in surrounding towns, as far northeast as Fancher and south into Elba.

The project would be called Heritage Wind and would represent a private investment by Apex “in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Apex said it’s too early to say how many turbines would be in the project, but it said is looking at a 200 Megawatt project, the same as the proposed Lighthouse Wind in Yates and Somerset.

The company will be actively meeting with landowners, community leaders and the public in the next several months, Apex posted on a website for “Heritage Wind.”

“The Heritage Wind project would provide an opportunity to help address New York's growing electricity demand with clean, homegrown energy, while diversifying Orleans County's economy and supporting jobs in the local community,” the company states on the website.

Apex is working on Lighthouse Wind, a project with about 70 turbines in Yates and Somerset in those two towns along Lake Ontario. The project has faced community opposition and is going through the state Article 10 review process.

Apex Clean Energy is based in Charlottesville, Va. It sees several positives with a project in the Barre area, including: verified wind resource, existing high-voltage power lines, expansive private land, and proximity to state highways.

The existing high-voltage power lines and highways would limit the need for new infrastructure, the company said.

Apex said Heritage Wind would create hundreds of jobs and significant local spending during construction, and up to 10 full-time local jobs for operations and maintenance.

The company would pay “millions of dollars” annually over 30 years to county and local landowners.

“Apex has spent the last few years working in Orleans County, and we’ve talked to hundreds of local people who are interested in bringing more wind energy to their county,” said Mark Goodwin, president and COO of Apex Clean Energy in a news release. “Orleans County is blessed with a very strong wind resource, and we look forward to working with the people of Barre to bring the benefits of wind energy to their community as well.”

For more on Heritage Wind, click here.


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Accident, sheared off poles close 63 for several hours

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 April 2016 5:53 p.m.

SHELBY – A Winnebago that left the road on Route 63, south of the Village of Medina, took down telephone poles, forcing the shut down of the road for several hours today.


National Grid crews have been on the scene putting up at least two new telephone poles.

The accident occurred at about noon on a section of Route 63 known as Coleman's Curve. No one was seriously injured in the accident. This photo shows the RV after it was towed to Lyon's Collision in Medina.

National Grid works to restore power and put up new poles.


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Orleans may relocate offices to new addition at County Administration Building

Photos by Tom Rivers
The County Administration Building on Route 31, behind The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center, could have an addition to make room for relocated county offices.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 April 2016
ALBION – Orleans County legislators are expected to vote this afternoon to hire a firm to look at putting on an addition to the County Administration Building.

The county may shift several offices to the addition, including the Board of Elections and Public Health Department, which is leasing space from Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services. Comprehensive purchased the former county-owned nursing home for $7.8 million in January 2014. The county has been leasing space from Comprehensive for Elections and Public Health because those offices are part of the nursing home complex.

Public Health leases space next to the former Orleans County Nursing Home on Route 31 in Albion.

The county could also shift information technology (currently in Treasurer's Office), the legislative chambers (in County Clerk's Building), the county's administrative office (also in Clerk's Building) and create large multi-use rooms to accommodate training for large groups, conference rooms and offices.

A resolution at today’s 4:30 p.m. meeting calls for paying the Wendel firm $30,000 for a feasibility study for an addition to the County Administration Building.


David Callard, the Legislature chairman, said the feasibility study will look at many options with a goal for improved efficiency in county operations.


He said moving Elections and Public Health from leased space will free up money that could go towards the addition, perhaps making the project cost neutral to county taxpayers.

Board of Elections uses part of a wing in the former county-owned nursing home.


Callard said he and county offices have looked at existing buildings, including sites in Albion's historic downtown, but those sites wouldn't improve efficiency of the county government operations by being "in remote locations."


Moving out county staff from space owned by Comprehensive could allow that company to add services, Callard said, suggesting assisted adult care.


If the Legislature and its staff also move to a new addition at the Administration Building that would free up space for the Real Property Tax Services Department to move from the building's basement to upstairs, Callard said.


If the Legislature leaves the Clerk's Building, an iconic historic structure next to the courthouse, Callard said the community can be assured the building will remain well cared for by the county.


"We aren't letting that building go, ever," he said.


He said nothing is set with the addition and which offices might go there.


"There's all sorts of variables," he said. "We're just exploring the possibility of consolidation."


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Culvert work in Gaines will close section of Route 98 in May

Press Release, NYS Department of Transportation Posted 27 April 2016
GAINES – The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is advising motorists today a portion of Route 98 (Oak Orchard Road) in the town of Gaines, Orleans County, will be closed to traffic for up to two weeks beginning Monday, May 9, while a deteriorated culvert under the highway is replaced.

The culvert is located midway between Route 104 (Ridge Road) and the intersection of Route 279 (Gaines Road) and East/West Bacon roads.

A posted detour will direct traffic to use Route 279 (Gaines Road) and Route 104 (Ridge Road) to bypass the work site.


The schedule calls for the road to be re-opened by approximately May 23.

This work is being coordinated with a planned paving project on Route 98 between Route 31A (W. Lee Road) in the town of Barre through the town and village of Albion to Route 104 (Ridge Road) in the town of Gaines this summer. The construction schedule is yet to be finalized.


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Canal gets early start on 192nd season

Today is earliest opening of historic waterway in more than 30 years

Photo by Tom Rivers
A tugboat is pictured in Albion on Tuesday morning, getting ready for the canal season which starts today.


Press Release, Gov. Cuomo's Office Posted 27 April 2016

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the opening of New York State's Canal system for the 192nd consecutive season of navigation.


The April 27 opening date marks the earliest start to the navigation season since 1982 thanks to a mild winter which allowed staff to complete maintenance projects, and opening preparations, ahead of schedule. The Canal system includes the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca Canals in upstate New York.


"New York's Canal system is an engineering marvel of epic proportions and its construction demonstrated the sort of vision, determination and boldness that define us as New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "Nearly two centuries after its completion, the Canal system continues to be an important tourist destination, while also playing a vital role supporting industries throughout Upstate New York."


The Erie Canal represents one of the most significant engineering achievements in New York’s history and along with its adjoining canals, it continues to play a pivotal role in supporting the state’s economy.


According to a 2014 report (click here), the system generates nearly $380 million in tourism spending annually across upstate New York, and more than $6.2 billion from non-tourism uses such as agricultural irrigation, commercial shipping, and renewable power generated at 27 hydroelectric facilities located along the Canal. The report also determined that the Canals support 26,472 jobs, $1.6 billion in personal income, and $702 million in tax revenue, both directly and indirectly.


New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation Chair Joanie M. Mahoney said, "We are proud to join with Governor Cuomo in announcing the earliest annual opening of New York’s Canals in over three decades. I know that the communities and businesses which rely on the positive economic benefit of Canal tourism will be happy to see vessels plying the majestic waters of our Canals again, and we join them in welcoming boaters from around the world to the waterway which put the 'Empire' in 'Empire State' – the Erie Canal."


New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, "Each year, our iconic Canal system draws scores of visitors from all over the world to travel along America's most storied manmade waterway and to enjoy walking, biking, and fishing along its banks. It is a historical marvel that has consistently fueled New York's economy through recreation and tourism, and I look forward to seeing what this year's Canal navigation season adds to that already-rich history."


The Canal system plays host to several special events each season, including races, festivals, and other recreational activities which can be found by visiting the Canal's Calendar of Events. New Yorkers are strongly encouraged to take part in these events that last throughout the duration of the navigation season.


Twenty-four hour service is available to commercial vessels such as tour boats, tugboats, charter boats, cruise ships, and hire-boats operating on the Canal system. Registered commercial operators should call (518) 471-5016 during regular business hours and (518) 499-1700 after hours to make arrangements for lock and lift bridge service outside of the Canal’s regular operating schedule.


The Canal navigation season is scheduled to end on Nov. 20, weather permitting.


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