Districts have seen an exodus in the past 2 decades
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 10 March 2014
Local school districts have far fewer students now than two decades ago, a trend that mirrors the state but is more pronounced in Orleans County.
The five school districts – Albion, Holley, Kendall, Lyndonville and Medina – combined had 8,651 students in the 1994-95 school year. Those districts have shed 2,474 students in about 20 years, a 28.6 percent drop. The combined enrollment for the five districts was 6,177 in 2012-13, according to figures from the state Education Department.
The combined loss is about 500 more students than Albion’s 1,963 student enrollment in 2012-13. Albion is the county’s largest school district.
State-wide enrollment fell 4.5 percent, from 2,701,438 in 1994-95 to 2,579,011 in 2012-13. The state-wide enrollment peaked recently with 2,829,151 in 1999-2000. The 2012-13 enrollment represents a 9.7 percent drop from 1999-2000.
The declining enrollment was the Sunday cover story in The Buffalo News. That article (click here) showed 34 of the 38 districts in Erie and Niagara counties lost students in the nearly 20-year time span. Five of the districts – Holland, Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, Buffalo and Lackawanna – suffered losses at 30 percent or greater.
Three districts saw sizable increases: Starpoint at 11.7 percent, Lancaster at 17.3 percent, and Clarence at 28.6.
In Orleans, all five have experienced significant enrollment losses with Kendall seeing the largest decline: 36.7 percent or 432 students from 1994-95 to 2012-13, according to the state Education Department. The loss is even greater if it is measured from 1997-98 when Kendall had 1,197 students. It dropped by 453 or 37.8 percent to 2012-13.
Lyndonville is down 33.9 percent or 315 students during the 19 years. Lyndonville and Barker talked about a merger, and Lyndonville school officials wanted to put it to a public vote about three years ago. But the Barker Board of Education declined to push the issue. Barker, located in eastern Niagara County, has lost 25.0 percent of its students, down 1,134 in 1994-95 to 851 in 2012-13.
Lyndonville closed its elementary school after the 2011-12 school year, shifting those students to one building that is shared by the junior high and high schoolers.
Lyndonville is sharing some extracurricular sports programs with Medina. Lyndonville also has Medina students in its musical program, while some Lyndonville students are part of Medina’s Marching Band. It's a way for districts to offer opportunities for students in light of the dwindling number of student bodies.
Medina’s enrollment is down 29.0 percent over the 19 years, a drop of 689 students. That decline is more than the current enrollment at Lyndonville. Medina closed Towne Primary School after 2011-12 and moved those grades into Oak Orchard Elementary School.
The Orleans districts have all made significant cuts in staff, teachers and administrators to reflect the shrinking enrollment and also a drop in state aid. Medina cut 30 positions after the 2010-11 school year.
Albion has shrunk 26.9 percent or by 721 students since 1994-95. The district dipped below 2,000 in 2012-13 when it reached 1,963. Medina fell below 2,000 in 2002-03 when the enrollment was 1,997.
Holley’s enrollment is down 21.3 percent since 1994-95, falling from 1,485 to 1,168. Some of the districts actually grew after 1994-95, and then began a steady decline. Holley had 1,501 students in 1996-97, but has dropped by 22.2 percent or 333 students since then.
To see the data on enrollment at every district state-wide, click here.
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 10 March 2014
ALBION – The woman who admitted to driving the getaway car during a bank robbery in Albion last July 2 was sentenced to five years in state prison today.
Elyse A. Hoffer, 22, of Rochester apologized in court to the Bank of America employees, her family and the community.
Hoffer was the girlfriend of Jeremy J. Rothmund, who robbed the Bank of America on July 2. Rothmund went into the bank with a false bomb. He robbed the bank of $18,000. He was sentenced to 15 years in state prison last week.
Hoffer in December pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. She had the getaway car behind Freeze-Dry Foods near the railroad tracks. The couple was spotted by an Albion resident who gave the vehicle ID to police. The two were stopped and arrested in Holley.
Hoffer in December pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery.
In other cases in county court today:
• Alejandro Mendoza, 28, was sentenced by Judge James Punch to five more years in state prison for assault. Mendoza was an inmate at Orleans Correctional Facility when he allegedly used a razor to slash the neck, stomach and finger of another inmate.
That inmate needed 12 stitches for his neck and five stitches for his cut finger, the District Attorney’s Office stated.
Mendoza is currently in Southport Correctional Facility in Pine City. He is a Mexican citizen without legal documents to be in the United States, the DA’s Office said.
• Jairo Chavez was sentenced to two years in state prison for two counts of third-degree rape. Chavez was living in Orleans County as a farmworker when he allegedly twice had sex with a 15-year-old girl who became pregnant. Chavez was 26 at the time. He also is a prior felon.
After prison, Chavez will be subject to 15 years of post-release supervision.
Most of land likely will be converted to farmland
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 10 March 2014
WATERPORT – A golf course that opened 50 years ago on Route 98 in Carlton has been purchased by a local farm, which will discontinue the site as a golf venue.
Lynn-Ette and Sons closed on a deal Friday to acquire Harbor Pointe Country Club from the Cardone family. The Cardones owned and operated the course since June 1, 1981. The course opened in 1964 as the Oak Orchard Country Club.
The course had several owners before the Cardones bought it in 1981.
“It was a wonderful business to operate,” said Joe Cardone. “My mother and father made a lot of close friends. We appreciate their business and friendships.”
The golf business has struggled in the region in recent years, due to the economy and increased competition with many golf courses, Cardone said.
“There has been a drop off in golf play,” he said. “It’s also an indication of the economic times in Orleans County.”
As part of the deal, Lynn-Ette purchased 93 acres on the east side of Route 98 that have been farmed. The local farm also bought the 100-plus acres that is the golf course.
The land won’t be orchards. The farm is cleaning up the property and clearing some trees. It will need to do soil tests to determine a good crop match for the ground.
The farm’s owners weren’t available to comment today, but an employee said Lynn-Ette will likely keep the existing buildings. The farm is still evaluating how it wants to use the site.
Cardone said he was happy to have a local buyer – Lynn Roberts and his family – pursue the property.
“We were thankful we were able to work something out with the Roberts family,” Cardone said. “They’re a wonderful family and they’re working hard down there.”
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 10 March 2014
ALBION – The trial against accused murderer Frederick Miller of Carlton has been pushed back two months. The trial was scheduled to begin with jury selection today but will now start on May 12.
Miller’s lawyer, Robert King of Rochester, filed notice he is seeking a psychiatric defense for Miller. That prompted Orleans County Court Judge James Punch to adjourn the trial so District Attorney Joe Cardone would have time to hire an independent psychiatrist to evaluate Miller. Cardone will then review the psychiatrist’s report.
Miller faces second-degree murder charges after he allegedly killed his girlfriend, Rachel Miller, on March 4, 2013.
Rachel Miller, 53, died of blunt force trauma combined with multiple stab wounds. The couple allegedly had a fight at a home they shared on Oak Orchard River Road.
Press release, Albion Central School Posted 10 March 2014
ALBION – A Charles D’Amico High School senior has been named to Business First’s 2014 All-Western New York Academic Team.
Jonathan Trembley (Second Team) has qualified for this year’s list of the 100 most outstanding high-school seniors in the eight-county region. Winners were chosen for their records of academic excellence, school leadership and community involvement. The top 25 were named to the First Team, 25 runners-up to the Second Team, and another 50 to the Special Mention list.
“This is a highly competitive award,” said Jack Connors, president and publisher of Business First. “Think of it this way: We have about 20,000 high-school seniors in Western New York this year, and we’ve picked only 100 for the Academic Team. That puts them in the upper one-half of one percent. They’re the best and brightest students anywhere in this region.”
Schools throughout the eight-county area were asked to nominate their smartest and most accomplished students for consideration by an eight-member committee, which included six admissions directors at area colleges and two Business First editors. A total of 122 schools responded with 419 nominees. (Each school was limited to four candidates.)
The complete list of 100 honorees, along with their photos and profiles, will be published in Business First’s 2014-2015 Guide to Western New York Schools, which will hit newsstands on June 13.
By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 10 March 2014
Champions Kendall and Barker have both placed two players on the first team of the inaugural OrleansHub All-Area boys basketball squad.
Kendall, which captured its first Genesee Region League Division 1 championship in 13 years, has placed senior center Garett Love and junior guard Mookie Nauden.
Barker, which captured its first Niagara-Orleans League championship since 1945 with a perfect 14-0 record, is represented by forward Jacob Haight and guard Mitchell Luckman, both seniors.
Medina senior Munjie Brown rounds out the starting five while Albion senior Ryan Fannin earns sixth man honors completing the first team.
Haight, a four-year varsity starter who became Barker's career scoring leader during the season, averaged a double-double with 360 points (18.0 ave.) and grabbing off 200 rebounds (10.0 ave.). He also had 85 steals, 84 assists and 37 blocks.
Luckman, a three-year varsity starter, scored 289 points for a 14.4 average and had 85 rebounds and 42 steals.
Love averaged 10.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.5 assists for Kendall.
The Eagles playmaking guard, Nauden averaged 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6 assists and 2.2 steals.
Brown also averaged a double-double for the Mustangs scoring 253 points (15.3 ave.) and grabbing off 182 rebounds (11.4 ave.). He also had 43 steals and 40 assists.
Fannin scored 151 points for a 10.7 average and grabbed off 113 rebounds for the Purple Eagles.
Barker, which finished the season with a 19-1 record, has also placed two players on the second team in senior center Bryce Moeller and junior guard Christopher Sweeney.
Kendall likewise has a pair of second team honorees in senior center Isaiah Brown and junior forward Will Condo who handles the sixth man role.
Roy-Hart senior forward Alex Stoddard and Holley senior forward Corey Winter round out the second team.
Moeller scored 193 points (9.6 ave.) and had 144 rebounds, 76 blocks, 26 steals and 25 assists.
Sweeeny had 194 points (9.7 ave), 87 rebounds, 45 steals and 30 assists.
Brown averaged 8.7 points, 8 rebounds, 2.75 blocks and 1.5 steals.
Condo averaged 7.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.7 steals.
Stoddard also averaged a double-double on the season with 389 points (19.4 ave.) and 204 rebounds (10 ave.) He also had 46 assists and 26 steals.
Winter, the only senior on the Holley squad, averaged 10.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per outing.
Earning honorable mention on the All-Area squad are Medina junior Jason Hellwig, Albion junior Des Blackmon, Holley junior Joey DeFelice, Lyndonville senior Patrick Hinkson, Barker senior Hayden Gooding, Kendall seniors Alex Sutphen and Devin Appleton and Roy-Hart senior Cody Breedlove and sophomore Andy Xapsos.
By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 10 March 2014
ALBION – This image is an ambrotype, which is a positive picture made of a photographic negative on glass backed by a black surface.
It shows the graduating class of girls in 1858 from Phipps Union Female Seminary in Albion. Caroline Phipps Achilles operated this private school for girls from 1833 to 1874. It was located on the Courthouse Square and removed in 1882 when the county purchased it and built the County Clerks Office on the site.
Adelaide Murdock Pells from Ridgeway is in the top row, fourth from left. Thanks to Nelda Callard for the donation of this picture to the Orleans County Department of History.
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 9 March 2014
ALBION – A group of churches is trying to “flip the list,” and the break the cycle of poverty for local residents.
The churches have formed Hands 4 Hope Orleans and launched a “Jobs for Life” program that is designed to give residents basic job skills, and also connect them to job opportunities and a mentor who will be a source of encouragement. The Rev. Tim Lindsay, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Albion, is site leader of the program.
“We’re trying to do things that foster independence and help people become self-supporting,” Lindsay told the Albion Rotary Club on Thursday. “We want to put jobs at the top and get people out of the cycle of dependency.”
Hands 4 Hope Orleans started the 16-class program on Jan. 27. The class meets twice a week at Hoag Library. Local business leaders have volunteered to help lead some of the classes. The first group of five students is scheduled to graduate on March 24.
Lindsay said he has witnessed big changes in the students in about six weeks of classes. They have gained confidence and direction.
He urged the Rotary Club, which includes several local business owners, to consider hiring a Jobs for Life graduate. The first class is expected to include five graduates. Lindsay expects to have additional classes in the future.
Each graduate will receive a certificate and businesses can have faith the students have learned the importance of values, showing up on time, conflict resolution, team work, a positive attitude, taking responsibility and overcoming roadblocks.
“We want this certificate to mean something to employers,” Lindsay said.
Besides Harvest Christian Fellowship, the Oak Orchard Assembly of God, Light of Victory, Albion Free Methodist Church and Alabama Full Gospel are all helping with Jobs for Life. For more information on Hands 4 Hope Orleans, click here.
Press release, Medina Marching Band Posted 9 March 2014
Medina's Winterguard competed Saturday at Marcus Whitman High School, the Mustangs’ fifth competitive performance this season.
There were four guard units in the Scholastic A Class and Medina took second place with a score of 80.22. Victor was first with 81.81, while Lancaster came in third with 78.69 and Hinsdale was fourth with 71.60.
Guard Instructor Diana Baker thought the performance was very good for this
time of the season. She said the schools were appropriately placed in the
Scholastic A class and the students were receptive to trying new things.
The Winterguard’s next performance is March 22 in Holley. The Championships are March 29 at Brockport State College.
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 9 March 2014
MEDINA - There’s been a lot talk in the news recently about the frozen Niagara Falls. It’s a spectacle getting world-wide attention and drawing tourists to the natural wonder when we were in our deep freeze recently. (Click here to see a story about the phenomenon.)
I wondered about the most powerful waterfalls in Orleans County. How has it held up in the freeze?
A good portion has been held up in ice. But the fast-moving part is still flowing strong, plummeting over a gorge.
I had never seen the Medina Waterfalls until November. I had heard about it and wanted to see it. It has the “wow” effect.
It’s disappointing to me how difficult it is to reach the falls. I stopped by on Saturday morning. It’s somewhat of a perilous journey through a wooded area, climbing over fallen trees. There are steep embankments and one slip could send you into the Oak Orchard Creek.
The powers-that-be should recognize this is a great untapped resource for tourism, recreation and improving our quality of life. I’d highly recommend a safe walking trail to the waterfalls, a ladder from the towpath, perhaps a pavilion area and some guardrails to improve the safety.
Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 8 March 2014
Here’s another reminder to turn your clocks ahead by an hour tonight. Daylight saving time officially starts at 2 a.m. Firefighters also encourage you to check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
The photo above shows the very impressive clock tower at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown. This church was built from 1892 to 1894 and is one of the most impressive Medina sandstone churches I’ve seen. The four-sided clock tower is home to the only chime bells in the city of Jamestown.
Article by FFA reporter Megan Rosato Posted 8 March 2014
BATAVIA – Albion FFA members went to BOCES in Batavia on Thursday to compete in FFA Districts. Students competed in Career Development Events (CDEs), which help students develop the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly, and perform effectively in a competitive manner.
There are 24 CDEs, covering job skills in everything from communications to mechanics. The finalists moving on to substates include:
Junior prepared: Lauren Beam 2nd;
Junior Creed: Alexis Maines 2nd, Alexis Bentley 4th, Clara Stilwell 5th;
Senior Prepared: Sara Millspaugh 3rd;
Senior Extemporaneous: Jayne Bannister 1st, Elizabeth Bentley 2nd, Abigail Maines 4th, Megan Rosato 5th;
Job Interview: Sara Millspaugh 3rd, Logan London 5th.
Congratulations to everyone who competed and also to those who will be advancing on to the next level.
Copyright 2013-2014 Albion-Holley Pennysaver, Inc.