Bridge removal begins on Clarendon Street

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 March 2015
ALBION – Keeler Construction has begun demolition of the Clarendon Street bridge in the Village of Albion.

The company has torn off some of the pavement and moved the concrete barriers on the approaches leading to the bridge.

The bridge was originally built in 1976 over the railroad tracks. It will be torn out, the highway embankments will be lowered and the street will be blocked off at a 90-degree angle at Crimson Drive. On the north side, it will also be blocked off with a turnaround spot near Childs Street.

The project is expected to take about three months.


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Planners say $5M expansion at H.H. Dobbins needs more information

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2015
LYNDONVILLE – Orleans County Planning Board members voted to kick back an application to the developer and Yates town officials for a $5 million project that would add controlled-atmosphere storage for apples.

Empire Fruit LLC (H.H. Dobbins) wants to construct a 26,240-square-foot metal building with ancillary facilities for CA storage at 10775 Millers Rd. The company wants to get started on the project soon and have it ready for the fall harvest.

The project has support from the Orleans Economic Development Agency for tax incentives.

The problem, planners said on Thursday, was the project disturbs more than 1 acre of land. When that happens, the developer needs to provide a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan. That hasn’t been done for the project.

That prompted planners to deem the application incomplete. Dobbins needs to provide the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan for the application to move forward.


County planners said 3 acres of land would be disturbed for the project, when parking spaces, the driveway and the building footprint are all factored.


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Company offered $1.3 million in tax savings to come to Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2015
ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency approved a plan today that would save a Canadian $1 million in property taxes over 20 years.

The agency is offering an aggressive tax incentive proposal to try to sway Pride Pak Canada Ltd. to move into the former BernzOmatic property. Pride Pak officials are weighing other sites in Western New York and Pennsylvania for a new vegetable processing, packaging and distribution facility.

The site in Medina was vacated last year by Worthington Cylinders. The site is a 180,000-square-foot facility at 1 BernzOmatic Drive.

In addition to a discount on property taxes, Pride Pak would receive a sales tax exemption for equipment and building materials, an estimated savings of $280,000.

The total benefits – sales tax and property taxes – are calculated at $1,273,014. The EDA projected the company would spend $136,890,650 in Orleans County over 20 years. That translates into $107.50 spent in Orleans for every $1 given back as an incentive.

If the company chooses Orleans for the project, it is expected to hire 80 people the first year, then be up to 136 in year 2, and 206 after three years. The positions are expected to pay an average of $27,500 after the first year, $28,000 the second year, and $28,500 after the third year.

Pride Pak would buy some local produce, and package it to be distributed to grocery stores. The company wants to expand its operations from Canada and better serve a large northeastern US grocery chain, Orleans EDA officials said.

“It’s perfect for Orleans County,” said Jim Whipple, the Orleans EDA chief executive officer.

The EDA has worked to finalize the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) plan to eliminate that uncertainty in its taxes for the company.


Generally, the EDA and local governments approve 10-year tax-savings deals for companies where they pay a sliding scale of the tax burden, adding 10 percent increments over 10 years.


Pride Pak would get a 20-year deal and see the increments rise 5 percent annually. The tax savings would help offset the costs needed to renovate and retrofit the manufacturing space into food grade specifications and other company needs, EDA officials said.


Pride Pak is looking to invest $10 million into the site, by acquiring the building and installing new machinery and equipment. The EDA is proposing the company be spared from paying sales tax on up to $4 million worth of equipment and materials.


The complex is currently assessed for $2.4 million. The EDA plan would have the company pay a fraction of the taxes on a reduced assessment, starting at 0 percent of a $1.2 million assessment in year 1.


The payment in lieu of taxes plan raises the assessment by 3 percent each following year until it’s at $2,104,207 in year 20.

The PILOT plan also sets the tax rates at a combined $45 per $1,000 of assessed property. That is below the combined tax rates of $54.21 for the Village of Medina, Town of Ridgeway, Orleans County and Medina Central School. Those entities will receive PILOT payments on a percentage of their overall share of the combined tax rate.

Should the tax rates fall below a combined $45, perhaps through a dissolution of the village and/or a significant increase in state aid, the PILOTs would then be based on whatever the combined rates are below $45.

Whipple said the EDA wanted to show Pride Pak the community wants them in Medina. He is hopeful the company will soon announce a commitment to Orleans County, but he said it’s not a done deal.


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Albion students get a taste of farm life

FFA students bring in animals, farm equipment

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 March 2015
ALBION – FFA member Aaron Burnside shows students a farm tractor, which he told them cost $450,000.

The FFA is hosting its annual Mini-Farm Day today, with elementary students visiting 12 stations of equipment and animals. The event is held the last day of school before Easter break.

This year’s Mini-Farm includes chicks that hatched through an ag science class. Shelby Restivo holds this 7-day-old chick.

These chicks hatched 28 days ago.

Geddy Morgan, an FFA member, shows a baby duck.

Jayne Bannister, a senior, sips a cup of cappuccino while chatting with Janie Schutz. Jayne talked with students about the two beef cattle in the pens: Eva Encore, born Feb. 25, 2013, and Saint Nick, a calf born this past Christmas.

Mackenzie Luft introduces students to Cheerio, a Nigerian Dwarf goat.

Andrew Moore provides tidbits about Oops, his family's miniature horse.


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Some Swan artifacts find new home at Hoag Library

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 27 March 2015
ALBION – Diane Morrell of Albion works on a project at Hoag Library. A large oil painting that was at Swan Library was added to the loft area in the Hoag, one of many paintings from Swan that are now at the Hoag.

Display cases, book shelves and other artifacts from the Swan have been brought to the Hoag, including this display case. Library Director Betty Sue Miller, left, and reference librarian Cheryl Mowatt look over some of the items in the case.

A 1897 graduation program for Albion High School is among the artifacts featured in the display case.

Library staff and volunteers aren’t sure who is pictured in this portrait. Betty Sue Miller said there are other mysteries in portraits and relics discovered at the former Swan Library.


That building has been sold to Chad Fabry of Holley. Library staff, volunteers and professional movers cleared the library of most of the items, with many of those pieces moved to a 24-by-36-foot storage unit.

The book case in memory of Simon Adler used to be behind the circulation desk at Swan Library. Now it's just around the corner from the circulation desk in the new library.


"We're trying to bring some of what was Swan Library here," Miller said.

This portrait of Abraham Lincoln was discovered stashed away in the former Swan Library.


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Run/walk will honor memory of Wayne Burlison

Music teacher helped start Albion Running Club

Photo by Tom Rivers
Participants in Saturday’s “Run for Wayne” in Albion will receive a medal for completing the 1-mile walk or the 3.17-mile run. The event begins at 12:01 p.m. at the elementary school, where Burlison was a music teacher.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 March 2015
ALBION – Wayne Burlison was 36 when he was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2013.


An Albion elementary music teacher, Burlsion lived 3 months and 17 days after his diagnosis. Thursday (March 26) was the one-year anniversary of his death.

On Saturday, his friends have organized the first “Run for Wayne,” a 3.17-mile run or walk to raise money for a scholarship in his name. Participants also have the option of a 1-mile course.


Organizers will post signs along the course route with some of Burlison's favorite sayings, including "Can’t isn’t a word, try again."

The event will begin at 12:01 p.m. at the elementary school and participants will head east on Route 31 to Mount Albion Cemetery. They will pass Burlison’s grave and then head back to the school.

“It seems very poignant to honor Wayne in this way because running was very important to him,” said Mark Moore, the race director and member of the Albion Running Club.

Nearly 150 people have already registered for the event. Registrations are open up until 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Participants will receive a shirt and medal, with proceeds going to a scholarship in Burlison’s memory. (Click here for more information.)

Provided photo
Wayne Burlison runs in a race. Once he took up running and a eating more nutritious foods, he lost nearly 150 pounds. He became a long-distance runner and also led running programs for beginners in Albion.

Burlison was an active musician performing with many community bands and also participated in many groups at the school district. A concert in January with many of those musicians raised about $7,000 for the scholarship.

Brian Krieger, executive director of the Albion Running Club, expects the Run for Wayne will push get the scholarship funding past the $10,000 goal, including the fund-raising from the concert.

Krieger trained for a marathon with Burlison. The two were close friends. They led the “Run for God” program at the Albion Free Methodist Church, which helped beginning runners go from the couch to a 5K in about three months.

Burlison once weighed nearly 300 pounds and lost about half that weight. He became a big proponent for a balanced life with family, friends and faith, while also embracing fitness and healthy eating.

Krieger and Moore want the “Run for Wayne” to honor their friend, and also provide fitness motivation for people during the winter. The event can give people a training goal during the cold-weather months of January, February and March.

“We want to promote fitness earlier in the season and help kick off the running season,” Moore said.

The run/walk on Saturday will include opening ceremonies with a prayer and message from Lisa Burlison, Wayne’s wife.

"Run for Wayne" is set for a 12:01 start to represent one of Wayne’s favorite Bible verses, Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”


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Firefighters respond to smoky fireplace in downtown

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 26 March 2015 11:58 p.m.
ALBION – Firefighters were dispatched to an upstairs apartment in downtown Albion at 11:11 p.m. on Thursday. A fireplace was smoky and smelly, perhaps from melting crayons, firefighters said.

The Albion Fire Department ventilated the apartment at 28 East Bank St.


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Albion code enforcement officer to retire within year

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2015
ALBION – Ron Vendetti, the village’s code enforcement officer since 2001, has announced his intention to retire in the village’s 2015-16 fiscal year, which begins June 1.

Vendetti had to notify the village of his intentions by the end of March that he would retire within the next fiscal year.

When Vendetti was hired, he was tasked with pursuing unlicensed cars, property maintenance issues and neighborhood decline. The village has made strides in his 14 years on the job, he said today.

“When I started here we had unlicensed cars in front yards and a lot of property maintenance problems,” he said.

Residents often complained to Village Board members that Vendetti was abrasive and unfair in ticketing residents for infractions. The board even tried to fire Vendetti, but he prevailed in court.

Vendetti acknowledged the code enforcement officer makes many enemies. But he said he also has made friends, working with developers on new projects and reconstruction in Albion, in particular the many new buildings that went up on routes 31 and 98.

He also has pushed the village to create an LDC to focus on distressed properties, and has worked on the downtown concert series and other community projects.

Vendetti also is the code enforcement officer in Murray and Holley, and is managing Holley’s grant program. After he retires, he said he would like to continue in a part-time role in Murray or Holley.

Vendetti said Albion has benefitted in the past 14 years with a strong police department, stepped up efforts for street maintenance and overhauled neighborhood parks, which have helped the quality of life in the community.


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Rubble remains 2 years after demolition started on downtown building in Albion

Neighbor asks village to clean up site

Photos by Tom Rivers
A sandstone building from 1840, one of the oldest in downtown Albion, has been reduced largely to rubble. However, the site hasn’t been cleaned up after demolition started two years ago.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 March 2015
ALBION – Mary Anne Braunbach said two years is long enough for the village to move on cleaning up the rubble and remains of a sandstone building originally constructed in 1840.

Braunbach owns a building near the ruin at the corner of Beaver Alley and Liberty Street. She said the “pile of rocks” drags down the appearance of the entire downtown historic district, which is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Two years of patience is more than any taxpayer should have to bear,” Braunbach told the Village Board on Wednesday evening.

Dan Dunn of Ridgeway started removing the building in April 2013, but work was stopped because Dunn didn’t secure an asbestos removal permit from the state Department of Labor.

Dunn contested he needs a certified asbestos removal company for the work. Dunn, owner of salvage company, believes he could handle the job.

The DOL’s Asbestos Control unit tagged the building as a “suspended action.”

The building, once used to manufacture carriages more than a century ago, was deemed a “dangerous building” when it was standing and the village wanted it to come down. Dunn needed a permit from the DOL before removing the 5,000-square-foot building that was last used as a furniture warehouse about a half century ago.

Dunn took down some of the structure and removed some of the stone. But some of the rubble and his equipment remain on site.

Village Attorney John Gavenda said the village has taken Dunn to court to have him clean up the site, but the rubble remains.

Village officials say it would cost abut $16,000 to pay a contractor to remove the remaining debris. Braunbach urged the village to hire a contractor to get the job done, and try to recoup the costs from Dunn or by selling the land.

“It comes down to the village’s budget. Do we have the money?” Gavenda asked the board.

Village trustees are working on the 2015-16 budget, which must be approved by May 1.

“My personal opinion is that is a mess and we should clean it up,” Trustee Gary Katsanis said.

Here is how the building looked about two years ago before demolition started.

Trustee Eileen Banker didn’t want to see the village expend public resources cleaning up sites and buildings that are abandoned. She said there are 47 vacant houses in Albion and she worries the village could be stuck with some of them.

David Snell, a local real estate broker, said neighborhoods and the community suffer from buildings and sites left to rot.

“We’re suffering,” Snell said. “These homes are a cancer on our village.”

The Village Board said it would know more on May 1, after its new budget is in place to see if it has money to address the clean up of the Dunn building and address any of the housing issues.

Braunbach said putting off the cleanup another year isn’t an option. She wants the village to address it soon – or she may take legal action.

“We may include it in the budget,” Banker said. “We’ll do our best.”


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