Ortt backs law establishing homicide charges when death from overdose

Press Release, State Sen. Robert Ortt Posted 11 February 2016

In the wake of alarming news reports, where a deadly batch of heroin has led to 23 deaths in Erie County and numerous other overdoses in less than two weeks, state senators Rob Ortt, George Amedore, and Terrence Murphy are calling for the enactment of “Laree’s Law.”


This legislation (S.4163) would allow law enforcement officials to charge a dealer with homicide if heroin or an opiate-controlled substance they sell causes an overdose death.


In the 11-day period beginning on January 29, 23 people aging in range from 20-61 in Erie County died as a result of overdose from heroin use. The majority of the overdoses are believed to be linked to an extremely deadly batch of heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opiate that can be 50 times stronger than heroin.


“The heroin in our backyard is stronger and deadlier than anything out there. This must serve as a wake-up call to our community and to our state,” said Senator Rob Ortt. “We lost at least 23 lives over the last two weeks as a result of this heroin. That’s 23 of our sons and daughters. And that should be 23 homicide charges against the dealers bringing these drugs onto our streets and into our schools. Enforcement alone will not cure the heroin epidemic, but it will provide a serious tool to law enforcement officials and a serious blow to the criminals killing our citizens.”


“The State of New York is facing a heroin crisis, and we need to do everything we can to stop the flow of these deadly drugs into our streets,” said Senator George Amedore. “Our efforts to increase prevention, treatment and recovery to help those suffering with addiction need to go hand-in-hand with stronger penalties for those who are bringing these drugs into our communities.”


“The face of heroin has changed. It is no longer solely associated with disreputable people in crumbling communities,” said Senator Terrence Murphy. “It has come to roost amongst the rich and the poor, in our schools and our homes. We need to protect our families through more stringent legislation that seeks to punish drug dealers peddling their poison. Of the 17 pieces of legislation the senate passed last year, only one became a law. If we are serious about winning the war on drugs the Assembly needs to act.”


Laree’s Law is named after Laree Farrell Lincoln, a Colonie teenager who died of a heroin overdose three years ago. This bill would establish the crime of homicide for drug dealers who sell opiate-controlled substances that result in overdose, an A-1 felony punishable by 15-25 years in jail.


The legislation targets mid-to-high level drug dealers who profit from heroin sales, and includes a co-user carve out. In 2011, New York adopted a “Good Samaritan” law to protect individuals from charges related to an overdose if they attempt to help the individual and report the incident in a timely manner.


The Senate overwhelmingly passed Laree’s Law last year, with a vote of 53-9, but the Assembly failed to bring it to the floor for a vote.


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Holley police strengthen connections at school

Chief commends school district for security efforts

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 February 2016

HOLLEY – If you’ve noticed more Holley Police vehicles on the campus of Holley Central School lately, there’s a good reason.


Police Chief Roland Nenni spoke to members of the School Board during their regular meeting Monday regarding his efforts to increase police presence at the school and around the village in general.


Nenni said he has had officers working days stop at both the elementary and middle school/high school buildings on a regular basis over the past few weeks to assist with “bonding with staff and students.”


He explained that the recent efforts are only the beginning of work to strengthen ties between the village police and the school district.


“We want to build bridges,” Chief Nenni told board members. “We want to build a relationship ... interact with students ... bridge those gaps and make a bond. I can’t thank the staff of the school enough.”


The police chief also thanked board members and commended the district for their campus security efforts. Nenni explained that he acts as commander for the county-wide SWAT team and that, “Holley is above the grade of everybody else,” he observed. “It’s phenomenal, Holley really stepped up over the need for security. I can’t commend you enough.”


Nenni serves as chief of both the Albion and Holley Police Departments and he said he sees the stepped up efforts at the school as part of building a relationship with the entire Holley community.


“It’s nice to see us doing this together,” Board President Brenda Swanger told Nenni. “It’s what we need ... I’ve seen your cars around more.”


Board member John Heise agreed with Swanger. “I see the (police) cars much more, they are active around the community. It’s amazing, the change.”


Nenni took over leadership of the Holley Police force in October 2015. He said he is well acquainted with the needs of small communities and wants to respond well to residents’ concerns.


“I want to do our business better,” he said, “have our customers tell us what they are looking for. We want to serve you the best we can.”

In other business, Elementary School Principal Karri Schiavone said parents will see different looking report cards next year as the school is working to move to a standards-based report for parents.

Schiavone said the district has formed a committee that is looking at samples from other districts and working on templates. She noted Holley is behind in aligning grades to standards.


“We need to start reporting to parents on standards,” she explained. “We work with standards in the classroom and on curriculum writing ... this is going to be a huge shift and an uncomfortable shift, but we need to do it.”


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Lyndonville school pleased to be featured on Need to Know TV show

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 February 2016
LYNDONVILLE – “Need to Know,” a public affairs program produced by WXXI in Rochester, aired a segment on Lyndonville's character education program on Feb. 4.


Jason Smith, the district superintendent, is pleased with the attention for the program, We R 3C. The segment on Need to Know includes interviews with teachers and students at Lyndonville.


The core of the We R 3C curriculum promotes values, respect, kindness and compassion and recognizes the definitive responsibility of the individual to the well-being of the community and reciprocally, the community’s responsibility to the well-being of the individual.


To see the feature on Lyndonville, click here for a link to the show. Lyndonville starts at the 23:50 mark.


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Albion village wants to pursue Main Street grant

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 February 2016
ALBION – The Village Board wants to pursue a state grant that would provide money to renovate and spruce up downtown buildings.

The board hasn’t decided how the grant would be managed or administered. It is considering options, including having Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti work as the grant administrator.

“We definitely don’t want to miss out on the opportunity,” Mayor Dean London said at Wednesday’s board meeting.

Adam Johnson, president of the Albion Merchants Association and owner of a downtown building, urged the village to pursue the Main Street grant in the next round of state funding this year.

Medina was approved for a Main Street grant in December and will work over two years to implement the grant. The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce is administering the grant for Medina.

The grants provide matching funds for building owners for smaller projects such as painting to more costly interior renovations. Johnson is working to renovate his building so it can be used for a restaurant.

“It would be a great help for the businesses,” Johnson said about the grant.

Village Board members are expected to discuss the grant more during a 7 p.m. Feb. 24 meeting.

In another downtown issue, Lisa Stratton updated the board on efforts for flowers in planters and hanging baskets. Stratton, owner of the Hazy Jade Gift Shop, said the flowers will cost $1,469.81. The Town of Albion has offered to pay $1,000 towards the effort.

Stratton asked the village to help cover the difference. Village Trustee Eileen Banker said she would work with Stratton in seeking donations or sponsors.

Stratton also said Albion Merchants Association could use volunteers to help water the flowers on weekends once the flowers are put on Main Street. Volunteers also water flowers by the welcome signs and at Bullard Park.


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2 Albion grads are key leaders at RIT

Dr. Howard Ward and Jeremy Babcock work to ensure top-notch facilities, services for students

Photos by Tom Rivers

Howard Ward and Jeremy Babcock, both Albion graduates, are pictured at Rochester Institute of Technology, where Ward is an associate vice president and Babcock the executive director of housing facilities.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2016
ROCHESTER – His spacious office in the Global Village at the Rochester Institute of Technology is a long way from his living conditions as a kid, when Howard Ward grew up without running water at a migrant labor camp on Baker Road.

Ward, who earned a doctorate in higher education, is an associate vice president at RIT. He has worked 39 years for colleges and universities.

At RIT, he oversees an $82 million annual budget, 208 employees and leads a team committed to impeccable facilities and service for students and staff. The Global Village is a $55 million student housing and retail complex.

Jeremy Babcock has known Ward for two decades. He spoke at Babcock’s Albion High School graduation in 1995. The two stayed in touch when Babcock worked in student services at Brockport State College. Babcock had the tough job of handling student discipline. He also helped manage construction projects.

He would often call Ward or have lunch with him, seeing him as a friend and sounding board.


Babcock, after 10 years at Brockport, joined Ward’s team at RIT on Feb. 20, 2012 – Babcock can recite the day. Babcock took a job as an assistant director of housing. On Nov. 1, Babcock was promoted to executive director of housing facilities following a grueling search and interview process.

“He’s skilled and talented,” Ward said about Babcock. “He’s well respected on campus. I look forward to his vision.”

Babcock, 39, oversees a staff of 24, the residential halls and 1,000 apartments. He deals with everything from keys, pest control, furniture, laundry facilities and many other issues.


Two overcomers


Ward and Babcock have more in common than their high school alma mater. They have both overcome challenges, and they both left Albion after high school, attending small colleges about six hours away from home. Both wanted to push themselves, and see if they could make it on their own.


Ward, a 1972 Albion grad, grew up in the former Coloney Camp in Carlton. He lived there from when he was 2 until he graduated. It was one of the state’s largest farmworker labor camps, home to 60 African-American families.

Ward grew up in a loving home with loving neighbors. But his house resembled a shack. It was small, poorly insulated and field rats made a racket at night, scratching against the pasteboard outer walls, trying to get inside.

Ward was a star football player for Albion. He earned a scholarship at Mount Union College in Ohio. (In 1973, Coloney Camp was torn down and Ward's family moved into a newly-built housing development, Carlton Manor, on Baker Road.)

He excelled as a lineman for the Mount Union football team, and was leading tackler in a senior all-star game among Ohio football players. Some NFL scouts were interested. But Ward, who was popular on campus with students, college professors and even the president, was urged to consider a career in college student services.

He took that advice and would work at Mount Union, Bowling Green, Ohio Northern University and RIT. He said he has been blessed. He hasn’t forgotten his Albion roots, and he has led diversity training for school staff, and worked with students on the college admissions process.

Howard Ward and Jeremy Babcock work out of the Global Village at RIT, a $55 million student housing and retail complex.


Babcock, the son of Jim and Linda Babcock, is an active member of the Albion Fire Department and a skilled golfer. He and Ward often play golf together, including at charity events. Babcock has a knack for hitting the ball straight, about 200 yards down the middle for his tee offs.

He does it all despite being born with birth defects in both arms. Babcock said his parents and friends always encouraged him as a kid. He played Little League baseball, basketball and used adaptive equipment made by his father to ride snowmobiles and be active in many other ways. Babcock these days drives the biggest fire trucks for the fire department.

“I’m really fortunate with what I can do,” Babcock said. “My family and friends always pushed me.”

He brings a knowledge of construction, and that helps at RIT when he reviews plans for buildings, housing units and other projects. Ward said Babcock also brings a sensitivity to using doors and buildings that many staff don’t consider in the design and construction of the space.

Babcock sees the big picture, working to do what’s best for the university and the students, Ward said.

“I like his tenacity,” he said.


Babcock was 18 when he ventured from Albion to attend college near Pittsburgh at the California University of Pennsylvania. He earned a degree in business in 1999, and then a master’s degree in business administration in 2001.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I could be on my own,” he said.


A similar path


Ward also needed that distance to become his own man. He said he was a "momma's boy" in high school and had to fight homesickness in college. He was also one of the few black students at Mount Union.


He gained confidence and friends through football, good grades and a welcoming personality. He started his career as a residence hall director. He is now one of the key leaders at RIT. He said he enjoys empowering staff and students.


Babcock started his career as a resident director at Brockport, overseeing a residence hall with 200 students and a staff of six. He had to discipline students and have some expelled from school. Some of those students used the punishment as a wake-up call. They turned themselves around, graduated and thanked Babcock for pointing them on the right track.

Ward stayed in touch with Babcock, and was impressed how he handled some of the situations at Brockport, working with students and also with construction of new townhouses.

“He’s worked with tough characters and high-level people,” Ward said. “He’s been involved with major projects.”

RIT has been in growth mode in recent years, and continues to expand. Babcock will helped manage another $1.9 million in renovations and projects this year.

Babcock said RIT is a home away from home for students. He appreciates Ward’s push for excellence, to make the facilities safe, comfortable and appealing for students and staff.

“We need to give them the best possible experience whether dining, the residence halls, or the apartments,” Babcock said.


The two joked over lunch Tuesday about the upcoming golf season. Babcock, a lefty, is consistent with the 200-yard drives down the middle of the fairway. Ward and some of the long hitters may hit the ball farther than Babcock, but it is often sliced or hooked.


At the end of the day, Babcock wins almost every time.


"He is amazing," Ward said.

Jeremy Babcock and Howard Ward are pictured at Ward's office at RIT on Monday.


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Gaines officially turns 200 on Feb. 14

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2016
GAINES – The Town of Gaines has long marked the year 1809 as the birth of the town. That’s when several pioneer settlers started to arrive, making a new home in what was then a wilderness.

The town marked its centennial in 1909, its 150th anniversary in 1959 and a bicentennial in 2009.

However, Town Historian Al Capurso said the town didn’t officially exist until Feb. 14, 1816. That’s when the State Legislature recognized the Town of Gaines.

The first official Town Board meeting was soon after the state’s move to recognize Gaines. Capurso shared the tidbits with the Town Board on Tuesday. He noted that this Valentine’s Day will mark the town’s 200th official birthday.

Capurso shared other news with the Town Board. He is part of a committee working on the new Orleans County Heritage Festival the second weekend in September. Capurso said the event, which includes assistance from Genesee Community College, will highlight transportation, architecture, historic gems and historic cemeteries in the county.


He would like the Gaines Cemetery on Ridge Road, behind the Gaines Congregational Church, to be included on the cemetery tour. Capurso said that is the first cemetery in the county and includes two Revolutionary War soldiers.

At least one new historical marker will go up in Orleans County this year, with the Orleans County Department of History and the Orleans County Historical Association splitting the estimated $1,200 cost, Capurso said. He expects historians will vie for sites for the marker around the county. He would like one on Route 279, just south of Route 104 in honor of James Mather, one of the early Gaines settlers.

Capurso also has been leading the effort to preserve a former cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, just north of the Erie Canal. Capurso said a variance has been approved to allow the site as a meeting house for the Historical Association. Attorneys are working on getting the title for the property for the Historical Association.

In other action at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting:

• The board discussed options for water accessibility for employees in the building. The Town Hall only has sinks in the two bathrooms. There isn’t a utility sink.
Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said that makes it difficult to fill a coffee pot or wash a dish.

“I think it’s unreasonable that we have something like this,” Culhane said. “We wash a dish in the bathroom sink because there is no sink.”

She thought water from the Culligan company, which would include 5-gallon jugs of water and a water cooler, would solve the problem temporarily. Culligan would charge $6.25 a month for the cooler, plus $7.99 per jug.

Town Councilman Richard DeCarlo wants to explore running a waterline in the building and creating a utility sink.

The board will look at options for either bottled water, Culligan or a waterline.


Ultimately the Town Hall needs some renovations for security and handicapped accessibility. Those changes could include a sink for the employees, Culhane said.

“But that’s down the road,” she said.

• The board approved spending $2,709 to Star Electric of Pavilion to add phones and upgrade the phone system for the Town Hall, where the phones haven't been updated in more than a decade.


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Clarendon residents urge Holley to keep Junefest going

File photo Tom Rivers
The Hamburg Kingsmen Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps march down Route 31 in the Public Square during a parade in Holley last June 6.


By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 10 February 2016
HOLLEY – Two Clarendon residents are hoping to keep the Village of Holley's Junefest alive. Marge and John Krizan presented a proposal to members of the Holley Village Board during Tuesday's regular meeting.


“People have enjoyed it,” John Krizan said of the annual festival which was cancelled in recent months due the Town of Murray deciding not to fund its portion of the 2016 celebration and members of the organizing committee saying they could not find enough people to try to keep Junefest going.


“The village has taken a lot of pride in it and all of that meant one wonderful day,” Krizan said. “I would hate to see that go bye-bye.”


He added that he and his wife have talked with many people who have been surprised and shocked to learn that this year’s Junefest had been cancelled.


The Krizans told trustees they are willing to spearhead a movement to form a committee and organize a scaled-back event for this year. They hope to be able to stage a parade, have a band for musical entertainment and locate the celebration “up on the knoll” in the park around the gazebo.


Trustee/Deputy Mayor Brian Sorochty said he was in favor of giving it a try and noted the village should be able to gather information regarding festival organization from former committee members.

“If we walk away (fail to hold Junefest this year) it’s gone,” Sorochty said. “I appreciate your energy. I think it's great.”


Mayor John Kenney thanked the Krizans for coming to the Village Board and said he will be getting back in touch with them.


“It comes down to manpower,” he advised them. “That is the issue at the forefront.”


In past years the Town of Murray and the Village of Holley have each contributed $5,000 to the Junefest, and Mayor Kenney said the event was also supported by many donations.


Marge Krizan said she hopes groups like the Rotary Club might become involved as well as students from Holley Central School. The Krizans suggested more Clarendon residents might also be interested in helping to organize the event.


“If you think positive, positive things can happen,” she said.


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Gaines works to implement zoning changes, updates to comprehensive plan

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 February 2016
GAINES – The Town of Gaines in January approved a comprehensive plan for land use and now the town is pushing to implement some of the changes, including creating a land use map


The Town Board on Tuesday voted to spend $11,400 for General Codes to revise the town zoning map to reflect changes from the comprehensive plan. The current map is confusing with contradictions, Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said.

“It would bring us a lot of clarity and confirmation,” she said.


Mike Grabowski, the ZBA chairman and town’s representative on the Orleans County Planning Board, also was given permission by the Town Board on Tuesday to work on digitizing the map with James Bensley, the director of the county’s Planning Department.


One big change includes an expanded commercial zone on Route 104 from west of Brown Street Road to east of Route 279.


The comprehensive plan also encourages the town to create an overlay district to better preserve and promote historic sites in the town, including the Erie Canal and the Cobblestone Historic District.


The town also wants to encourage single-family development to preserve the rural character of the community. The town is also open to extending public sewer lines in the future, with the priority given to higher-density areas for residential and business development, and also for residents with pollution problems from their sewage disposal systems.


The comprehensive plan also adds multiple definitions of farming including enclosed farm operations (greenhouses), agricultural industrial operations (large-scale cattle, hog, dairy and poultry farms). Traditional Open Land Farming Operations include crop farming (vegetables, fruit, grain) and hay farming.


Culhane said now that the comprehensive plan has been adopted, there is more work needed to implement the plan.


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Weather Service says snowfall could be 15 inches by Thursday

Staff Reports Posted 10 February 2016
The National Weather Service says the snowfall could be up to 15 inches in Orleans, Niagara and Monroe counties from today through 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The Weather Service had issued a lake effect advisory, predicting up to 4 to 7 inches by 4 p.m. Thursday. But that has been upgraded this morning to a snow warning with 4 to 8 inches today, 2 to 4 inches overnight, and 1 to 3 inches on Thursday for 7 to 15 inches total.


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Albion school counselor recognized by Army

Provided photo, Albion Central School Posted 9 February 2016
ALBION – During the Albion High School staff meeting for February, colleagues took time to recognize A.H.S. School Counselor Scott Green, who was selected by recruiters from the U.S. Army for his undying dedication to Albion students and his willingness to make a difference in the community.


Green was instrumental in organizing a large fund-raiser in October to benefit a former Albion graduate injured after a tragic accident. His efforts resulted in assisting the family to obtain and equip a specialized vehicle to transport the student.


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Quick Questions with Trisha Laszewski

Assessor now works for 3 western Orleans towns

Photos by Tom Rivers
Patricia Laszewski has worked the past 15 years in assessing for Rdgeway. This year she added assessor for Shelby and Yates to her duties.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2016

RIDGEWAY – Patricia Laszewski grew up in Middleport and moved to Medina in 1990 with her husband Frank. They have four grown daughters.


She was hired as a full-time assessor clerk for Ridgeway in April 2001, and became assessor in July 2002 when Kate Lake retired.


Her job expanded this year when she became assessor for Shelby and Yates, in addition to Ridgeway. She will assess values for 7,300 parcels of property in the three towns.


She admits the job doesn’t always make her popular with the public. She said she strives to be fair and treat everyone with respect.


The following interview was conducted at Laszewski’s office at the Ridgeway Town Hall.


Question: How did you get into assessing?


Answer: I was subbing at the school in clerical and as an aide. I knew there was a position opening up in the middle school for a clerk in the office. I decided to take the Civil Service test for clerk and this position (in Ridgeway assessor’s office) opened up before they hired for that position. I interviewed and I accepted the job not knowing anything about assessments.


I had no intention of applying for this job, it just came about.


Q: Was it overwhelming initially?


A: It was very overwhelming. When I was hired there was such a short amount of time when I was with the current assessor. I don’t think it was enough time to understand how everything worked. I never had a job where I dealt so much with the public so it’s definitely been a growing experience. I think it changes you a little bit, including your personality. You learn to look at things a lot differently. You are offended by very little after a while.


Q: I think it would be a tough job. I don’t think people necessarily like the assessor. It can be tough as a property owner because you want a nice property but you don’t want your assessment to go up and have to pay more in taxes.


A: Exactly. When people come in and they’re frustrated, you can not take it personally. Bottom line is they feel what you have done is touching their wallet and that’s sensitive to everyone.

Q: So how to you keep the peace here?


A: I find that most people who come in I approach it as, ‘I know you are frustrated.’ We sit down, and I let them talk. I explain the process and a lot of times you agree to disagree.

Q: Don’t you determine values through comparables?


A: It’s basically what homes are selling for, business and commercial properties. What they’re selling for on the market. We take that information and analyze it and compare it the best we can. There is no black and white. It’s not that every ranch is assessed so-many dollars for every square foot. It depends on what the market is doing. There is a lot of gray area.

Q: Where is the market strong in Orleans County?


A: Right now I’m seeing that the homes outside the village (of Medina) are selling above assessed value. Homes inside the village, if they are move-in ready homes, they are also selling above assessed value. The houses that are your run-of-the-mill houses can sit on the market for a year or year and a half.

Q: When you think about the three towns you are now working in, they really aren’t the same with lakefront, the wildlife refuge and the village.


A: I can consider Shelby and Ridgeway, obviously, more similar than Yates because of the lakefront. That is definitely going to be all new to me. With Shelby, I’m pretty comfortable with all the agricultural properties. It’s just learning different faces and where everything is.

Q: Would you use the same strategy with comparables for all three towns?


A: Yes. That’s the same. It’s just knowing your properties and analyzing the data to the best of your ability because it’s not black and white.

Q: Do you look at recent sales?


A: When assessors use comparables we use comparables normally over the last three years. The last time I did an update was in 2013. The comparables would have gone back to 2010. Until I do a new update, anything I have to reassess, I have to use the same comparables that I used from back in 2013. That’s what meets the state guidelines of everyone being assessed equally. Your comparing this property to the properties that I used when I reassessed the entire town.


Sometimes that’s hard for people to understand because they’ll say, ‘Just six months ago this house sold,’ but I can’t use that as a comparable. That being said, do I take that into consideration? Yes.


Q: Is there a town-wide reassessment this year?


A: No.

Q: Is it every four years?


A: It’s every three years but because of the move we just made there is no possible way I could do an update. I’m not really sure when there will be a new update.

Q: Your not obligated to do it every three years?


A: You’re encouraged. I would guess one of the towns will be done in 2018. Right now we’re seeing how things go. I would guess Shelby and Ridgeway we would keep them together because we share the village. That just makes sense.

Patricia Laszewski works most days out of the Ridgeway Town Hall but also keeps office hours in Yates on Fridays.


Q: Is there concern about the assessments in the village, how they are declining?


A: They are definitely declining.

Q: I wonder how low can they go?


A: I know with the 2004 or 2007 reassessment, they took a huge leap, like $20,000 to $30,000. We as assessors when we got together said there would never be another $40,000 house again. Those days are gone. Well, they are not.

They only thing you can hope is that these houses people are picking up they are going to rehab them and maybe property values will increase.

There are so many different pieces of the pie. When people come in and they are frustrated with their tax bill it’s not just the assessment that affects that. That’s one piece of the pie. The rest of it, take a look at the municipalities. Take a look at the town, the county, the school and the village. How are they budgeting their money?
It’s hard to educate the residents on that because they say you’ve raised my taxes and now you need to fix it.


Q: Why have you stayed in this job?


A: It’s worked for me. It’s a great job as far as being a family-friendly job. I’m just a few blocks from home so that’s awesome. I was always able to participate in my daughters’ things at school. If somebody was sick, I could run over and get them and take them home. There were a lot of conveniences.

After a while I just settled in and this is what I do. I’ve never in the 15 years gone out and tried to hunt for something different. I’ve kind of embraced it.

Q: I suppose you would get good at it after a while.


A: I’d hope so. I’m much more comfortable.

Q: Has the technology helped, such as the Pictometry?

A: Absolutely. The Pictometry is amazing. It is a great tool to be able to measure properties. Not everyone is home during the day. Not everyone wants you on their property. You still need to get out and drive around or else you lose touch.

Q: If there is a building permit, is that something you’re aware of?

A: Yes.

Q: Maybe not everyone gets a permit when they work on their house or property.

A: Right, but Pictometry has helped us to find things.


Q: What does it take to be good at this job?

A: It takes patience, good people skills, open to learning as much as you can.

Q: If people think you’ve made a mistake, you have the Assessment Review Board?

A: Yes. We encourage people to come in and talk to me. We try to keep the lines of communication open. For the most part I’ve got positive feedback from that.

With the Assessment Review Board at that point that decision is out of my hand so they are able to discuss what they believe the value of their property is with five other people and they get to make the decision.

Q: In terms of hopefulness for the community with the STAMP project and its impact, do you think we will see more demand in the local housing market.

A: I hope so. It would be awesome. We have a great community.

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Parents of children birth to age 5 invited to literacy program at Albion

File photo by Tom Rivers
Gretchen Murray Sepik of Albion stars as Erie Canal Sal during a performance at the Strawberry Festival in June 2013. She will be part of a family fun night to promote storytelling and literacy on March 31 at the elementary school. The literacy effort will be on four Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. beginning Feb. 11.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2016
ALBION – A four-part literacy program will give parents of children from birth to age 5 tips on helping their children excel at school.

Community Action of Orleans & Genesee is teaming with Albion Central School and the Albion Rotary Club to run literacy workshops on four Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m.

The first workshop will be at the elementary school this Thursday and will focus on early brain development, the beginning of speech and use of technology with young children.

“Parents are first and foremost their children’s first teacher,” said Bonnie Malakie, director of the Head Start program through Community Action. “This will help parents with fulfilling their role.”

The program will bring in specialists in speech pathology, language development and storytelling.


The program is free and open to parents in the Albion school district. Child care will be provided. Parents should enter at about 5:45 p.m. through the community entrance in the back of the school.

Besides the Feb. 11 workshop, other sessions include Feb. 25 on story telling (will help parents tell their own stories) and will focus on making reading fun; March 10 will focus on prekindergarten and kindergarten readiness with the parents’ role. The workshop will include classroom visits.

The program will conclude on March 31 with a family fun night that includes children’s author Josie Waverly, professional storyteller Gretchen Murray Sepik, and other games, stories, prizes, refreshments and a book fair.

For more information, contact Community Action at 589-5683.


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3 are arraigned on felony charges in County Court

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2016
ALBION – Three people were arraigned in Orleans County Court on Monday for alleged felony crimes, including drug sales, driving while intoxicated and burglary.

A Rochester man arrested in December following a three-month investigation into the sale and distribution of crack cocaine from Rochester to Orleans County was arraigned on charges of third degree criminal possession and criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Maurice D. Jacobs, 37, of Conkey Avenue has no prior felonies, but he does have a long history of misdemeanor convictions as well as failures to appear at court, County Court Judge James Punch said. He set bail at $20,000 for Jacobs.

In other arraignments:

A resident of Ridge Road in Holley had his bail increased from $100 in the Kendall Town Court to $25,000.

Norman Henhawk, 58, allegedly was driving drunk on Dec. 5 when he went through a stop sign and hit another vehicle, causing injuries to people in the other vehicle and Henhawk’s passenger, District Attorney Joe Cardone said.

Henhawk was arraigned on reckless endangerment in the first degree, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in the first degree, operating under the influence of alcohol and driving while intoxicated.

The DA said Henhawk has two prior felonies and several misdemeanors.

“This is a serious crime and he has an incredibly serious record,” Punch said in setting bail.

Mary Golding, 51, of Harris Road in Waterport was arraigned for second-degree burglary and pettit larceny. She allegedly stole money and jewelry from a Harris Road resident in November.

Judge Punch set bail at $5,000 for Golding.


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Grillo honored by Holley for 700 wins as wrestling coach

Photo by Kristina Gabalski
Holley Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory presents head wrestling coach John Grillo with the February Soaring to New Heights Award.


By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 9 February 2016
HOLLEY – John Grillo, Holley’s head wrestling coach, was recognized during Monday evening’s Board of Education meeting for his milestone 700th win, which came Jan. 20 in a Genesee Region League match hosted at Lyndonville High School.


Grillo was presented with the “Soaring to New Heights” award by Holley Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory. Grillo’s 700 wins are the most of any wrestling coach in New York State.


“This is huge,” Cory said. “John has given a lot of dedication to the wrestling program.”


Grillo has coached wrestling for more than 40 years, 30 of those at Holley. He also coached at Pavilion Central School. His Holley Hawk wrestlers have won 20 Genesee Region League titles and 11 Section V championships. Grillo was named Genesee Region Coach of the Year 15 times and Section V Coach of the Year six times.

Grillo, who also teaches physical education at Holley, coached his three sons over the years – Ashley John, Adam and Andrew – who continue to assist their dad in coaching the Holley wrestling teams. Ashley is now Elementary Assistant Principal at Holley and Andrew is a grade K-12 physical education teacher at Holley.


“We didn’t have a winning season until you joined us,” Board member John Heise said and noted Grillo has also worked over the years to help students who have been struggling academically as well those with discipline issues. “After they talked to you, the behavior stopped.”


“You’ve helped a lot of kids,” Board President Brenda Swanger told Grillo. “We appreciate all you have done for the kids.”

Grillo thanked students, parents and school staff. “Your support is part of it,” he said of his accomplishment.


In other business, Assistant Superintendent for Business Sharon Zacher reported to board members regarding the tax cap for the 2016/2017 budget. Zacher said the state must be notified by March 1 as to whether or not the district thinks it will need to override the tax cap.


With the allowed carryover, Zacher estimated the increase on the 2016/2017 tax levy to be capped at 2.173 percent. Board members agreed that they did not foresee a need to override that figure.


Superintendent Robert D’Angelo said during his report that the governor’s proposal for school districts is “ridiculously low.” However, he noted that Holley is in “pretty good shape.”


“I have a sense of optimism,” D'Angelo said, which stems from assurances he has received from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Sen. Robert Ortt that there will be “a huge difference between what the governor is proposing (in aid) and what members of the State Senate and Assembly arrive at.”


He said local superintendents have made it clear to state lawmakers that, "the proposed aid to education is unacceptable at this point."


Although D’Angelo had wanted lawmakers to take real steps to provide relief from unfunded mandates, he said Monday evening that at this point he does not see that coming.


“They are not serious about it,” he said of lawmakers. “It hurts both the districts and the taxpayers.”


Holley Central will continue to monitor the state budget process in relation to its own budget development, D’Angelo said.


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