Photos by Kristina Gabalski Posted 30 July 2015
KNOWLESVILLE – Rebecca Semmel, a 4-H’er from Wyoming County, braved hot, sticky conditions to model this outfit she made during the WNY 4-H District Clothing Review on Wednesday at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.
A visit to Gettysburg, Pa., inspired the historical outfit which is typical of women's fashion, circa 1863. Rebecca will wear her outfit when she works in the
Historical House at the Wyoming County Fair later this summer.
The Orleans County 4-H Fair played host to the Western New York 4-H District Clothing Review Wednesday afternoon. 4-Hers from Chautauqua, Niagara, Wyoming and Orleans counties took part, modeling garments and clothing ensembles they had made or embellished.
Melinda Waag, 14, of Fredonia models her outfit.
Orleans County’s own Emma Mathes, 14, of Barre models her lacy party dress during the WNY 4-H District Clothing Review. She is a member of the Adventurers 4-H Club.
Dana Daigler, 17, of Niagara County models a purchased skating outfit she embellished by hand with 2,300 Swarovski crystals.
Dana spent 12 hours on the project and used crystal AB and fire opal colored crystals to accent the bright red skating outfit.
Staff Reports Posted 30 July 2015
MEDINA – Medina Memorial Hospital officials say they have reduced MRSA and C. Diff infections by 71.4 percent this year compared to data in 2013-14, when Consumer Reports says Medina Memorial had the highest rate of infections for Western New York hospitals.
Officials at Orleans Community Health, the parent organization of Medina Memorial, say they believe in the transparency of reporting of quality measures.
“However, we are concerned with the Consumer Reports methodology, which according to their technical specifications states that ‘although extremely serious, these infections are relatively infrequent, which makes the infection rates volatile, as the occurrence of one or two infections can have a large impact on reported rates ...’” according to a statement from the hospital today.
Medina Memorial staff have made changes to cleaning processes, skin preparation prior to certain procedures and education for staff ordering and obtaining blood cultures to accurately reflect a community acquired or a hospital acquired infection, hospital officials said in a statement.
“We will continue to implement best practice measures in our hospital to continue to provide quality care close to home,” Medina Memorial officials said.
Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office Posted 30 July 2015
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New Yorkers now have the opportunity to print a temporary license from the Department of Motor Vehicles website when they renew or replace their driver licenses, learner permits, or non-driver identification card online.
This service will provide a quick, convenient way to get a temporary license, without making a trip to the DMV, allowing drivers and residents to be able to prove a new license is on the way.
“This administration remains committed to streamlining the processes of government, and one of our focuses has been making DMV wait times shorter and services more convenient,” Cuomo said. “We are bringing the DMV of New York into the 21st century and improving the way it serves millions of customers.”
The printable documents are similar to, and as valid as, one from the DMV office or DMV kiosk, but with the added convenience of printing from home. The temporary license, permit or non-driver identification card is valid for 60 days. Each temporary document appears on an eight-and-a-half-by-eleven-inch page and carries a background image of the New York State coat of arms.
Customers can access this service on the DMV’s website or with a MyDMV account. (Click here for more infromation.) When using the DMV website, a download link on their confirmation page will appear to download the temporary document. Customers renewing or replacing a license through their MyDMV account can log into their account and re-download their document for up to five days after completing their transaction.
The ability to download a temporary document is also offered to customers renewing or replacing their registrations. Additionally, the DMV website allows customers who are renewing late, or who have lost their documents, to obtain a temporary document immediately and avoid a trip to a DMV office.
The DMV is continuing to expand its online service capabilities. More than 1.2 million New Yorkers now receive email and text reminders from the DMV to renew their driver licenses, non-driver identification cards, and registrations, and to inspect their vehicles.
The DMV began offering this service to New Yorkers in February 2014 as part of its Customer Service Initiative. Customers can sign up for the electronic reminder service online, by mail, at a DMV office, or at a kiosk in a state-run DMV office and can choose to receive the reminders by email, text message, or both. Once enrolled, it is easy to change contact information in the future or unsubscribe from the service at any time.
The DMV sends enrollees license, non-driver identification card, and registration e-reminders approximately 90, 60, and 30 days prior to expiration and again at expiration. Customers receive e-reminders to have their vehicle inspected on the first of the month of expiration, the 15th of the month, and again at expiration. A MyDMV account is not required for this service.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 30 July 2015
KNOWLESVILLE – Camryn Eick, 9, of Albion holds two alpaccas – Stella, left, and Bella. She was getting ready to take them for a walk on Wednesday at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.
Ruthie Kuipers, 5, of Byron competes in the small fry pedal tractor pull. She finished second in the 45 pounds and under division.
Nick Sacco, 13, of Albion competes in the dairy showmanship competition on Wednesday. Nick works part-time at the Neal family dairy farm and is showing one of their cows.
Ken Strickland, an investigator with the Orleans County Sheriff's Department, competes in a new doughnut-eating contest at the fair. Every contestant ate more doughnuts than Strickland. Deputy Jeff Cole also competed in one of the doughnut-eating heats.
Kylie Poynter, right, and her sister Tiffany sing "Just A Kiss" by Lady Antebellum during karaoke at the fair.
Jeremy Neal gives the instructions for the grease pole competition to the BB Queens, a team with eight women and one man. They were successful in getting to the top of the pole on Wednesday night.
Blue, a horse owned by Michela Hanlon of Kendall, relaxes in its stall after a busy Wednesday of competitions.
Daily Feature: Orleans County Flower Show, sponsored by Orleans County Master Gardeners. Display located in the Lartz Exhibit Building with daily presentations at 6 p.m.
Special Event: 3 - 8 p.m. Red Cross Blood Drive in the Buzz Hill Education
Center. Enter using back door.
Daily Feature Meet Michael Keene, author of five books on hidden history in New York, in the Lartz Building. 3-9 p.m.
8 a.m. Senior Council Stand Opens
8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Youth Camp Day - Sponsored by the Orleans County 4-H
9 a.m. Western Horse Show - Carlos Marcello Arena
10 a.m. $5 admission per car starts
10 a.m. All Buildings Open
10 a.m. Wildlife I.D. Contest. Log Cabin
10:30 a.m. Little Britches Cattle Show (open to public) - Show Arena
12 p.m. Leader’s Pie Stand Opens
12 to 1 p.m. Dog Agility Demonstration with Della’s Agility Dream Dogs
and Guests - Show Arena
1 p.m. Story Time by Hoag Library of Albion - Trolley Building
1 to 3 p.m. P.Raising Kids Children’s Activity Center with face painting,
crafts and art projects - Trolley Building
1:15 p.m. Pork Chop Review - Performing pigs and family fun sponsored by Tompkins Bank of Castile - Lawn South of the Knights Building
2 to 4 p.m. Family and Consumer Science Knowledge Bowl - Center Stage
2 p.m. The Magic of Lee Germain and Judi - West end of Lartz Building
3 p.m. Story Time by Hoag Library of Albion - Trolley Building
3 p.m. Llama/Alpaca Costume, Leaping Llama/Alpaca, Llama/
Alpaca Limbo - Show Arena
3 p.m. Little Britches Llama/Alpaca – Open to Public - Show Arena
3 to 10 p.m. Midway of Utica $20 unlimited ride wristband - Midway
4 p.m. Chainsaw Chix sponsored by HealthE Links - Log Cabin
4:30 p.m. Chicken BBQ Sponsored by Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension – No Presale. Curtis Pavilion
4:30 p.m. Pork Chop Review- Performing pigs and family fun sponsored by Tompkins Bank of Castile - Lawn South of the Knights Building
4:30 p.m. “Madhouse!: A Hidden History of Insane Asylums in the 19th Century.” Presentation by author Michael Keene - OrleansHub.com stage
5 to 7 p.m. Dog Agility Demonstration with Della’s Agility Dream Dogs
and Guests - Show Arena
5:30 p.m. The Magic of Lee Germain and Judi - West end of Lartz Building
6 p.m. Sheep Show (Costume class at end) - Knight’s Building
6 p.m. Small Animal Grand Master Information Session - Wachob Pavilion
6 p.m. Registration for Small Fry Pedal Tractor Pull Ends - Fair Office
6 p.m. Chainsaw Chix sponsored by HealthE Links - Log Cabin
6 p.m. Master Gardener Presentation: Edible Flowers - Lartz Building
6 to 8 p.m. P.Raising Kids Children’s Activity Center with face painting, crafts and art projects - Trolley Building
6:30 p.m. Small Fry Pedal Tractor Pull. Pedal Tractor Course - Fair Office
6:30 p.m. Pork Chop Review- Performing pigs and family fun sponsored by Tompkins Bank of Castile - Lawn South of the Knights Building
7 p.m. Spanish/English Story Time by Agribusiness Child Development - Trolley Building
7 to 8:30 p.m. Local Entertainment Variety Acts - Orleanshub.com Stage
7:30 p.m. The Magic of Lee Germain and Judi - West end of Lartz Building
8 p.m. Orleans County 4-H Fair $1,000 Karaoke Challenge Finals - Orleanshub.com Stage
8 p.m. Chainsaw Chix sponsored by HealthE Links - Log Cabin
8:30 p.m. Pork Chop Review- Performing pigs and family fun sponsored by Tompkins Bank of Castile - Lawn South of the Knights Building
9 p.m. The Magic of Lee Germainand Judi - West end of Lartz Building
10 p.m. Buildings Close
10 p.m. Greased Pole Climbing Competition (teams must pre-register at fair office). At Greased Pole
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 30 July 2015
KNOWLESVILLE – Andrew Jones of the Troll Diggers makes it to the top of the grease-slathered pole on Wednesday night at the Orleans County 4-H Fair.
The Troll Diggers completed the climb in 26.2 seconds, the fastest of two teams on Wednesday. That qualified the Troll Diggers for Saturday's championship, which will feature the fastest teams from qualifying rounds on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The grease pole caps off the fair at 10 p.m. each night from Wednesday through Saturday, and draws crowds of several hundred people.
The Troll Diggers were runner-ups in 2014. The team includes members mostly from Hamlin and Brockport.
"It's a hoot," said Sam Pak, one of the team members.
The Troll Diggers pose for a photo after conquering the grease pole. The team includes, front row, from left: Andrew Agent and Sam Pak. Back row: Nate Jenks, Andrew Jones, Neal Kruger, Jeff Ebel, Isaiah Jenks and Jonah Pak.
Taylor Soule (in white) makes her way up the grease pole. Cady Messmer is the second person up from the base. They are members of the BB Queens, a team of eight women and one man. The BB Queens debuted last year and advanced to the finals. This time they finished in 1:04 for second place.
Ricky Messmer makes it to the top of the grease pole. Taylor Soule, who recently got home from boot camp in the Air Force, was the third person up for the BB Queens.
Soule of Albion said she wanted to compete again because of the tight friendships on the team.
Messmer, 23, said he has played many sports and nothing compares to the thrill and sense of camraderie of climbing the grease pole.
The BB Queens include, front row: Brianna Dixon, Cady Messmer and Taylor Soule. Back row: Eboni Taylor, Hannah Hapeman, Ricky Messmer, Brooke Bensley, Halle Jurs, and Jessica Grimes.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 July 2015
MEDINA – A national ranking by Consumer Reports of infections at hospitals puts Medina Memorial Hospital far below average in preventing five infections.
Medina fared the worst of 13 Western New York hospitals in the report. The data is based on hospital-acquired infections from October 2013 to September 2014.
The data doesn’t give a true picture of the hospital and doesn’t reflect improvements at Medina Memorial, said Wendy Jacobson, president/CEO of the hospital.
“We are concerned by the methodology used and the age of the data,” Jacobson said in a statement. “Medina Memorial Hospital has a robust Infection Prevention program and reviewed the data in real time (October 2013- September 2014). As with any good Performance Improvement program, changes were made to policies and procedures. The current data shows a significant decline in MRSA infections in 2015.”
In addition to MRSA, the Consumer Reports study looked at hospitals' ability to avoid problems with C. difficile, central lines, urinary tract catheters, and surgical sites.
To see an article about the issue from The Buffalo News, click here.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 July 2015
ALBION – Kaylee M. Loiacono, 27, of Brockport was arrested on drug charges on Tuesday, bringing the number of people arrested in a recent drug bust to 19.
Loiacono of 87 Willow Brook Apartments was arraigned in Orleans County Court this afternoon. Judge James Punch set bail at $5,000.
She was charged with three counts of Criminal Sale of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd degree and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 3rd degree, which are both Class B felonies.
The Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force worked with law enforcement agencies in four counties in a 7-month investigation into the sale and distribution of heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription pills and marijuana in Orleans County.
The Task Force announced 17 arrests on Friday, with another person being arraigned on Monday.
Report that ranks Albion, Medina as among worst places to live doesn’t tell whole picture
Editorial by Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 July 2015
Albion and Medina are among the worst places to live in New York, according to a report that ranks 500 communities with at least 5,000 people. Albion was deemed the second worst and Medina came in 14th.
The report (click here) cites high unemployment, a very depressed real estate market, high crime rates, and low household incomes, as well as less-than-average education spending per pupil.
Orleans Hub highlighted the report on Tuesday from RoadSnacks, which has a state by state report on the worst places to live. We have reported on other dismal rankings before that look at the economic health of the community. Some people tell me they wish Orleans Hub wouldn’t include these studies, and to try to keep the news positive.
These reports take raw data and often miss the bigger picture. We’re far from among the worst places. I’ve seen far worse.
Some places feel dead. Their downtowns are empty, or in some cases, burned down. (Take a look at Dunkirk.) The only sign of economic life in some places are dollar stores.
Drive in some places in the Southern Tier and in rural Western New York and you'll discover hospitals that are closed, parks are in sad shape with few kids, and a short list of volunteers. I see that when I drive home to visit family in Chautauqua County. (Even the local diner has closed in Cassadaga.)
Albion was declared the second worst place to live. I live here and want to stay here. A worst community doesn’t raise $1.3 million in donations for a new library, or $2 million towards a residence for the terminally ill. Albion alumni also have given generously to scholarship funds, resulting in $40,000 a year in support for graduates as they pursue higher education.
We still have a strong and active fire department, and many service organizations. We have the best cemetery of any small town that I’ve ever seen, which shows a respect for the dead and community.
There are vacancies in the downtown, but in recent years many of the buildings have been painted and upgraded. There are more merchants than people realize in the downtown and they work hard at their businesses and also putting on community events, including a second annual wine-tasting on Aug. 15.
A “worst place” has given up, and Albion hasn’t. We have a new generation of people stepping forward trying to improve the community. The Rock the Park music festival on Saturday is a good example. Nine bands played at the park on Saturday, and 50 vendors were there selling merchandise.
The village has been denied state grants for playground equipment in recent years, but community members are finding ways to address the needs at Bullard.
A “worst place” wouldn’t have people that care, people volunteering endless hours putting on events, preparing grant applications and brainstorming improvements.
In Medina, the downtown is nearly full. The merchants put on many activities, and the Parade of Lights the Saturday after Thanksgiving has become a big draw. Medina in many ways feels magical, a place out of a Norman Rockwell painting. That’s what a lot of people say.
A worst place doesn’t have a vision, and in Medina volunteers are working to bring back the former Bent’s Opera House as a performing arts venue, restaurant and office space. It would be a big restorative effort, but it isn’t a longshot. Several other rehab projects have occurred in the Medina downtown in the past decade, and each success leads to another.
Medina has also planted nearly 1,000 trees in the past decade. A worst place doesn't make that kind of effort in improving the neighborhoods.
I’ve heard a lot of testimonials recently from visitors to Albion and Medina, who exclaim about the look of the communities with the historic downtowns and churches.
Even more so, the visitors are impressed by small-town America that is alive and well in these communities.
I heard it at Memorial Day in Medina when the family of John Butts came to Medina for a reunion and also to hand over Butts’ dog tags and his diary to the Historical Society. Butts was killed in World War II and awarded the Medal of Honor.
The family was part of the Memorial Day observance in Medina, when residents turned out in droves for a parade and then a ceremony at the local park. John Butts, nephew of the war hero, lives in Portland, Maine. He said he was stunned by the big turnout of flag-waving residents. He told me the scene wasn’t the norm in the U.S. anymore. He also was pleased to see a vibrant historic business district in Medina.
It’s always fun when the 500 to 600 cyclists pass through town on the Cycling the Erie Canal adventure, a 500-mile trek from Buffalo through Albany. These cyclists bring their cameras and Smart Phones and can’t get enough of the buildings, tugboats and the rural landscapes with lots of wildlife in Orleans County.
We aren’t dead. We aren’t the worst. But we are challenged.
Orleans Hub has written about the struggles in the villages, especially the bigger ones with more than 5,000 people. These places have many challenges of cities with aging infrastructure and housing stock. There is crime, poverty, and a shrinking Middle Class. There is a lot of work to do with policing, street maintenance, community development and other issues.
Unlike cities, there is little per capita aid from the state government to help the villages pay for fire trucks, police officers, water and sewer lines, park improvements, and other amenities and quality of life services.
It is a shocking disparity. A village gets about $7 per person in state aid while cities typically get anywhere from $100 to $600 a person with bigger cities getting the most. Click here to see a chart showing the disparity.
If Medina and Albion received even the low end of city aid, at $100 a person, the villages (each with about 6,000 people) would have about $550,000 to $600,000 more annually in their budgets to reduce taxes and boost services.
Without that aid, the villages lack “curb appeal” and struggle to address a myriad of needs. Things don’t get done. And residents in villages pay exorbinant taxes, far more than those in cities where big portions of the budgets are covered by the state.
Keep in mind the villages have much poorer residents – $30,000 median household income in Village of Albion compared to $48,000 in Orleans County. The poorest people are paying the biggest tax bills.
There is a structural problem here. We see it driving down the tax assessments almost every year in the villages while the assessments go up outside the villages. People are leaving the villages for country living, where the taxes are cheaper.
The state needs to give the villages a fair share of the per capita aid. Our local officials, including our state legislators who are silent on this issue, need to fight for this money. They need to model Rosa Parks and refuse to get up and move to back of the bus when it comes to state revenue. We need to be treated fairly.
The county needs a fair system for sharing sales tax. Right now the county keeps 92 percent of the money and shares less than 3 percent with the villages. The village sales tax money has been going down recent years because the local formula is tied to assessments. As the town assessments go up and villages decline, the villages get less of the sales tax, putting more pressure on the already overburdened village taxpayers.
We need to get these formulas and revenue-sharing worked out in a fair way or else the villages will remain fiscally challenged and their residents suffocated by high property taxes.
We could use some more boosterism, too. I’d like to see Albion promote itself as a bit of a historic Williamsburg. We’re the only small town I know of that has five nationally recognized historic districts: the Courthouse Square, downtown Albion, Mount Albion Cemetery, Cobblestone Museum and the Erie Canal with its lift bridges, guard gates and other features from the canal widening in the early 1900s.
We have several grand residences on the National Register, and residents who left a mark in American history. (George Pullman became a titan in the railroad industry. Grace Bedell is the girl who wrote Lincoln and convinced him to grow a beard. Terry Anderson survived nearly seven years as a hostage in the Middle East. And don’t forget Charles Howard, a famed Macy’s Santa Claus who developed a school for training Santas, a school that still bears his name.)
I’d like to see the community rally for a bronze statue by the new library of Santa, as well as a bronze statue of a quarryman in the downtown. The quarrymen immigrants built this grand town, and their work – the soaring spires in churches, the ornamental downtown structures, the tower at Mount Albion – remain strong and sturdy today.
Albion and Medina both have “a sense of place.” Many small towns have lost that with an invasion of chain stores and sprawling business districts and residential areas.
You won’t see an Albion or Medina go up today with the cookie-cutter homes and commercial buildings that dominate the suburban landscape. We definitely have something special here.
The grim reports should be a rallying cry for our local officials and concerned residents. Let's address the shortcomings and highlight our strengths. Let's get a plan together. We're far from the worst, but there is much work to be done.
Press Release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley Posted 29 July 2015
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) is criticizing Gov. Cuomo’s intention to overhaul La Guardia Airport in Queens.
The project, announced Monday in New York City by Gov. Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden, is estimated to cost roughly $4 billion and no details have been released on how New York will finance the major project.
“Infrastructure spending of this magnitude should better serve New York State as a whole, not just downstate and New York City residents,” Hawley said. “My district alone contains fifty-six percent of the Erie Canal system’s lift bridges and any discussion of infrastructure spending should include repair of upstate roads, bridges and highways.
"Many of my constituents rarely use La Guardia Airport, but they are being asked to help foot the bill so downstate residents can have more convenience when they travel. This is an exclusive and alienating way of governing, further opens the divide between upstate and downstate, and breeds resentment among upstate residents who continue to see their infrastructure crumble. I am calling on Gov. Cuomo to release a financial plan detailing this project and its financial burden on taxpayers.”
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 July 2015
ALBION – Amy Sidari has been performing dance and occasionally singing for the community for more than four decades.
Two years ago she opened a cabaret at her dance studio and has welcomed many singers, musicians, comedians and other performers to the venue at 28 West Bank St.
This Friday the site will feature a familiar face in a new role. Sidari is doing a one-person comedy show. She said the show is a bit of a family roast, with some teasing of her parents, husband and five children. She is pictured above on Monday during a rehearsal for the show.
She said her family has provided her with lots of material for her show, “Did I Say That Out Loud?”
She directs plenty of her material at her mother and father, Sandy and Ace Caldwell, and some of their struggles as they get older and wrestle with forgetfulness and have a hard time hearing.
"Aging can be fun," Sidari said.
Sidari may poke fun, but she said she wants to let her family know how much she loves them, and appreciates some of their quirks. She wants to share some of those family follies with the community.
“God has given me so many moments of laughter I have to share it,” Sidari said.
She has been dancing since she was a toddler, first taking classes at Christ Church and learning ballet, tap, jazz, point and other styles.
Sidari opened her own studio, Gotta Dance by Miss Amy, in 1997 and she and her staff teach dance and creative arts.
For more information on her show Friday, click here.
Report says depressed real estate, low household income and high crime rate drive standing
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 July 2015
A lot of people in Albion have been linking and commenting through social media today on a report from RoadSnacks.com that ranks Albion as the second worst place to live in New York in communities with 5,000 or more people. (Medina is ranked the 14th worst and the Town of Ridgeway comes in at 35th from the bottom.)
The Town of Richland in Oswego County was ranked the worst place to live.
A community rated low if it had high unemployment rates, low property values or depressed real estate, high housing vacancy rates, low spending per pupil and high student teacher ratios in education, high crime rates and low household incomes.
“This list is based on data, and is entirely unbiased,” writes Nick James of RoadSnacks.
However, he also says in the beginning of the article that the report is meant to be “infotainment.” He said people can be fiercely protective of where they live. He urges readers, “Don’t freak out.”
Albion is listed with a population of 5,621. Albion barely beats Richland is overall economic outlook. RoadSnacks summarizes some of the challenges in Albion: unemployment rate of 7.4 percent, average household incomes under $40,000, housing values at only $72,000 and crime rates among the worst 10 percent in New York.
“In terms of the overall ‘enjoyment’ factor, it’s a pretty rural place tucked halfway between Niagara Falls and Rochester,” James writes in the article. “For a lot of the year, unless you build snowmen or race sled dogs, you’d have a pretty long drive for something fun on a Friday night that’s outside of the norm.”
RoadSnacks has similar rankings of the worst places to live in other states. The on-line site says this about itself: “Our goal is to show you the real side of places that not everyone wants to hear. We use data to create bite-sized snacks of shareable information about places and cities across the country. We call it the ‘other’ side of regional infotainment.”
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