Voters elect 2 to Hoag Library trustees

Kevin Doherty and Holly Canham
Photo by Tom Rivers
Residents in the Hoag Library service area on Monday elected Holly Canham and Kevin Doherty to four-year terms as library trustees.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2016
ALBION – Residents elected Kevin Doherty, the Hoag Library president, to another four-year term on the library board of trustees on Monday.

Doherty has served on the board for seven years and has been president for six years, leading the library through a capital campaign and construction of a new facility that opened in 2012.

Voters also elected Holly Canham to a four-year term on the board. Canham is a frequent library user, utilizing the local history resources. She is founding president of the Orleans County Genealogical Society, and remains the group’s president after 16 years.

Canham is retired from working at Chase in Albion. She leads “Family Tree Fridays,” classes on genealogy on the first and third Fridays of the month at Hoag.

“I felt it was my turn to help out,” she said about running for the library board.

She wants to promote the local history resources and help people use those materials in researching their family histories.

Doherty has been an active community member for many years with the Strawberry Festival, 4-H Fair and Albion school district. He owns Doherty Communications.

The new library and a push for programs at Hoag that best serve the community are important as a quality of life issue for the Albion area, Doherty said.

A vibrant library with technology and other resources is part of making the community viable long-term for many young families and other residents when they consider moving or staying in the Albion area, Doherty said.

He is thankful the library has completed the new site, which opened in 2012. Now the focus is on providing the best services to the community, he said.

“The job isn’t done yet,” he said about why he sought another four years on the board.

The nine member board has three vacancies. Two will be filled by the board and Mayor Dean London also can appoint a representative.

Residents in the Albion school district will vote on May 17 whether the district can collect $687,211 for Hoag Library. That is up 1 percent from the $680,411 for 2015-16.

Voting for the library funds is part of the May 17 school vote from noon to 8 p.m. at elementary school.

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Legislature asked not to leave historic Albion building

moon over Orleans County Courthouse
File photo by Peggy Barringer
Peggy Barringer took this photo in January 2014 of a full moon over the Orleans County Courthouse and the County Clerks Building. County officials may shift some of the government offices from the Clerks Building to a possible addition to the County Administration Building on Route 31.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2016
ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature was asked to not leave the current legislative chambers for a possible new site on Route 31.

The county is exploring putting an addition on to the County Administration Building. It might put the Board of Elections, Public Health Department, and Legislature staff and offices in the new addition.

The county voted last week to hire the Wendel firm in Williamsville to examine the feasibility of the project. Wendel will be paid up to $30,000 for the work.

Bruce Schmidt, a local attorney and the Gaines town justice, said the Legislature shouldn’t move from its current chambers, where the body has met since soon after its inception in 1980. The Legislature replaced the former Board of Supervisors, which met in the first floor of the county courthouse in space now used by Family Court.

The county judge used to have Family Court in the Clerks Building, which was known as the Surrogate’s Building. The building was built in 1888 in the Eastlake Style and is part of the Courthouse Square historic district, which is named to the National Register of Historic Places.

“This building is of a historic nature,” Schmidt told county legislators last week. “This body is of a historic nature.”

Schmidt said the Legislature should stay in the Courthouse Square and not leave for a site that is outside the village, the county seat.

“Creative thinking could keep us here,” Schmidt said.

Legislature Chairman David Callard responded to Schmidt that the historic building wouldn’t disappear if the Legislature left for the new space on the possible addition.


That site might also include conference and training rooms. Schmidt said the Legislature could use existing conference and training rooms at local schools or the library.

Callard said nothing has been determined with the Legislature’s future location. The study is just exploratory, he said.

“How we utilize the building hasn’t been determined,” he said.

The Legislature used to meet the second and fourth Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. in the upper floor of the Clerks Building. However, last year the Legislature changed to having only one meeting a month on the fourth Wednesday.

The walls of the legislative chambers include many photos of the former Board of Supervisors and members of the County Legislature.

“It is significant to this building and for this Square for the Legislature to stay here,” Schmidt said.

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County will study feasibility of solar project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2016
ALBION – Orleans County has hired a firm to examine the feasibility of a solar energy project on county-owned property.

The Orleans County Legislature last week agreed to pay $10,500 to the Wendel firm in Williamsville to study if a solar array would benefit the county.

Orleans officials see potential in a project because of current incentives for utilizing renewable energy.

The county could lock in its electricity rates for 30 years with a large-scale project and also sell back electricity through the solar effort.

“Right now the incentives are at a maximum and the technology continues to improve,” Legislature Chairman David Callard said. “The time may be right.”

Wendel would look at publicly owned land, including sites owned by the Orleans Economic Development Agency, for a possible project, Callard said.

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County approves bids to replace bridges in Kendall, Ridgeway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2016
ALBION – Orleans County officials have approved bids to replace deteriorated bridges on Carton Road in Kendall and over Fish Creek on East Scott Road in Ridgeway.

The County Legislature last week approved the low bid from Union Concrete and Construction Corporation in West Seneca to replace the East Scott Road Bridge for $724,346. The new bridge will replace one from 1936.

The Legislature also accepted the low bid from Crane-Hogan Structural Systems in Spencerport to replace the Carton Road Bridge for $793,729. It will replace a bridge from 1959.

The work will be paid for as part of an $8 million bond the county took out in 2014 for a series of infrastructure projects over three years.

Construction on the two bridges is scheduled to start at the end of this month.

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Mother and son plead guilty to attempting to smuggle painkillers into prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 May 2016
ALBION – A mother and son admitted in Orleans County Court to attempting to bring painkillers into the Orleans Correctional Facility.

Scott Briggs, 31, of Broome County is an inmate at the Orleans Correctional Facility serving a 6- to 7-year sentence for burglary and possession of stolen property. Lori Briggs, 54, of Endicott allegedly mailed her son a painkiller on three occasions and also had it during a prison visitation.

She admitted in Orleans County Court on Monday to mailing Suboxone to her son, who admitted that he requested his mother mail it to him.

Correctional Facility staff intercepted the Suboxone, District Attorney Joe Cardone said.

The mother and son pleaded guilty to attempted promoting of prison contraband in the first degree, a charge that normally carries a maximum of 2 to 4 years in state prison. As part of a plea deal, Mr. Briggs would face no more than 1 ½ to 3 years when he is sentenced July 11 as a second felony offender.

His mother has a past criminal history with misdemeanors, Cardone said. She will face a maximum sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison as part of a plea deal when she is sentenced on July 25.

In another case involving prison contraband, Judge Punch set July 27 for the start of a trial against Ashley J. Sizemore, 31, an inmate in the Albion Correctional Facility.

Sizemore has refused to leave the prison and attend her court appearances. Punch set June 29 at 2 p.m. for a mandatory conference with Sizemore to determine why she is refusing to go to court.

She has been charged with first degree promoting prison contraband which, as a second felony offender, carries a maximum of 3 ½ to 7 years in prison.

She was charged in August, along with Thomas Torpey, a Rochester man who was convicted of a mob-related murder in 1981.


Torpey, 68, was arrested on Aug. 23 by State Police. He is accused of bringing drugs to the prison for Sizemore, who is serving a 42-month sentence for an arson in February 2014 at the Spencerport residence of a former Irondequoit police officer.

The case against Torpey is pending in County Court.

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4 arraigned in county court for felonies

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 May 2016
ALBION – Four people were arraigned in Orleans County Court today, facing felony charges.

A Rochester man, Trevis Baker, was arraigned on five counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. Baker, 38, allegedly sold heroin and cocaine to an informant from Orleans County between March 15 to March 24.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said Baker has an extensive criminal history.

Judge James Punch set bail for Baker at $150,000.

Other arraignments include:
David M. Mitchell, 27, was arraigned on first-degree promoting prison contraband. Mitchell, an inmate in the Orleans Correctional Facility in Albion, allegedly sharpened two instruments to use as weapons in the prison. Those weapons were confiscated on Feb. 22. He has prior felony convictions. Judge Punch set bail at $75,000.

An Albion man was arraigned for fourth-degree grand larceny after he allegedly stole six chainsaws from a Waterport fruit farm, his employer at the time. Dustin Herzog, 27, was on probation when he allegedly stole the chain saws. Punch set bail for Herzog at $2,500.

Brandie Sumeriski, 21, of Albion was arraigned for violating her probation for second-degree criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor. She has been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle in January and again in April. In March she was charged with third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment. She faces other violations of her probation. The judge released her on her own recognizance today.


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OONA gets thanks for playground donation at Marine Park

Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 2 May 2016
ALBION - Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller, left, reads a "Special Recognition" Award that was presented last week to members of the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association, which donated $3,249 for a swing set at the County Marine Park.


The donation is part of an effort to relocate and upgrade the playground at the park. OONA members also put on a summer concert series at the park, and lead other efforts to promote the Point Breeze community.


The new playground equipment should be installed soon. "We're waiting for the ground to firm up," said Jim Bensley, the county's director of planning and development. He also oversees the Marine Park on Route 98.

Melissa Ierlan receives Special Recognition Award

Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard, left, and Legislator John DeFilipps congratulate Melissa Ierlan of Clarendon for receiving a "Special Recognition" Award for repainting 15 historical markers in the county. Ierlan started by redoing all four in Clarendon, and now has given a facelift to many others in Orleans County, including one outside Orleans in Elba.

First week in May declared Western New York Armed Forces Week

County legislators also issued a proclamation declaring May 1-7 as "Western New York Armed Forces Week." Pictured, from left: Former Legislator Frank Berger who is active in veterans' causes, Legislator Bill Eick, Legislator Fred Miller, and Earl Schmitt, director of the Orleans County Veterans Service Agency.


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Medina school budget lowers tax for 4th straight year


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 May 2016
MEDINA - The school district's budget for 2016-17 reduces taxes for the fourth straight year.

The Board of Education approved a $35,825,184 budget that goes before district voters on May 17. The budget is up about $1 million from the $34,802,870 in 2015-16.

The state has boosted aid by nearly $900,000 and Medina is tapping some of its reserve funds to lower taxes in 2016-17, Mark Kruzynski, the district's business administrator, said.

"We're in a great spot with our reserves and we're going to use some," he said this morning.

The new state budget boosts aid to Medina from $23,769,997 to $24,860,152. That increase is a big factor in Medina's ability to cut taxes by 1.3 percent, from $8,774,760 to $8,660,915.

The budget keeps all existing programs and also boosts the gifted and talented offerings.

Voting will be from noon to 8 p.m. on May 17 at the District Office.

The vote includes the Board of Education election. There are six people running for three three-year terms, including incumbents Lori Draper and Wendi Pencille.


Retired Medina school administrator Alberta Suozzi also is running for the board along with Timothy Dunham, Virginia Nicholson and Brenda Lindsay. (Draper and Pencille are seeking re-election and John McCarthy opted against seeking another term.)

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Holley library raises funds for reading with wine-tasting event

Raise a Glass for Reading in Holley

Photos by Kristina Gabalski
Those attending the Raise a Glass for Reading fundraiser Friday evening at the Community Free Library in Holley enjoyed sampling local wines and sweet and savory finger foods.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 2 May 2016
HOLLEY – The Community Free Library in Holley was a popular destination Friday evening as the fifth annual "Raise a Glass for Reading" was held from 7-9 p.m.

The event raises funds to support the library's Summer Reading Program and features wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries, a farmer’s market and products from local entrepreneurs.

“Some people were here ten minutes early,” Library Director Sandra Shaw said. “All are happy.” She said the event gets people together, and for some groups of friends, the annual event has become a “ladies night out.”

The theme for the upcoming Summer Reading Program is, "On your mark, get," and focuses on the Summer Olympics, fitness and nutrition.

Shaw said the Raise a Glass event has raised $1,500 a year for the program. “That’s great for a small community,” she said.
Adam and Aimee Mesiti
Adam and Aimee Mesiti of Five Sons Winery and RG Brewery in Brockport attended the Raise a Glass event for the first time.

Wineries, farms and businesses featured change a bit from year to year, she explained, so that a larger number of vendors can take part.

“Orleans County has got wonderful farms,” she observed.

Library Board President Barb Kerns said vendors appreciate taking part as much as patrons enjoy the tasting. “We got notes from the Niagara Wine Trail thanking us for featuring them,” she said of last year’s tasting.

Even New York State has also expressed its gratitude after the library submits its paperwork for holding the farmer's market. Kerns says they appreciate that the library provides an opportunity to showcase local agricultural products.
Raise a Glass for Reading in Holley
Rows of wine glasses await attendees at the Raise a Glass for Reading fundraising event at the Community Free Library in Holley.

This year's wine vendors included A Gust of Sun Winery and Vineyard in Spencerport and Five Sons Winery and RG Brewery in Brockport, with returning favorites Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina and Schulze Vineyard and Winery in Burt. The Farmers' Market featured maple products from Nice Family Farms in Albion and jellies, jams, annual bedding plants and vegetable plants, and crafts from Brightly's Farm Market in Hamlin.

Jenn Fraiser of Brightly’s said the business opened last August. “We're glad to be here,” she said of the Raise a Glass event.

Also featured Friday evening were entrepreneurs, Mrs. C's Apothecary with lotions and herbal products, and Sue Johnson's Susi's Hot Sauce.
Sound Foundations
Live music - jazz, classical and Broadway - was provided by Sean and Wendy Williams of Sound Foundations.


A festive banner welcoming attendees to the 5th Annual Raise a Glass event at the Community Free Library in Holley.


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Holley school district will use new course in construction to make a difference

Tim Rogers and Susan Cory

Photo by Kristina Gabalski
Holley Technology teacher Tim Rogers was presented with the Soaring to New Heights Award during last week’s Board of Education meeting. He is pictured with Susan Cory, principal of the Middle School/High School.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 2 May 2016
HOLLEY – Geometry and construction, a course that will be offered at Holley High School in the 2016-2017 school year, could provide some exciting challenges for students as they learn geometry through hands on projects.

Holley Middle School/High School Principal Susan Cory reported to Board of Education members during last week's meeting that 15 students have registered for the class so far.

She showed a video about Second Wind Cottages, which constructs housing for the homeless in Ithaca, and announced that work is underway to see if students in the class can construct one of the cottages. The cottages help homeless men regain their health, create stability in their lives, and build relationships, the video explained.

“It’s an exciting prospect,” Cory told school board members. She noted the class will be instructional (students will take the Geometry Regents at the end of the year) and also provide an opportunity for community service by “doing something for someone else.”

Some supplies could be donated by Home Depot, Cory explained, but the cottages cost about $12,000 to construct and she is not yet sure what part of the expense Second Wind would cover.

Holley Technology teacher Tim Rogers will be one of the instructors for the class. He was presented with the Soaring to New Heights Award during Tuesday evening's meeting. Rogers was recognized, in particular, for his work with the Holley Tech Wars team which competed recently at GCC. Rogers said the annual event is “great fun.”

School Board President Brenda Swanger said Rogers is an asset to the district. “The parents are so proud of their children, thank you,” she said.

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Motorcyclists remind public they’re back on the road

Chuck Persons

Photos by Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 May 2016

ALBION – Motorcyclists held a rally on Sunday in front of the Orleans County Courthouse to remind the public to be careful and look out for motorcycles. Chuck Persons, president of the Orleans County chapter of ABATE, addresses the group that gathered in the rain in front of the courthouse.

There are about 100 members of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education in Orleans County. The group promotes driver safety among its members, and tries to educate other motorists to be extra vigilant in sharing the road with motorcyclists.
Senator Robert Ortt
State Sen. Robert Ortt thanked motorcyclists for many of the causes they support, including the Patriot Guard, where they provide an escort and presence for a member of the military killed in the line of duty. Motorcyclists also raise funds for many important causes, including Camp Rainbow in Orleans County.

“I want to thank all of you who are big supporters of our veterans,” Ortt said. “That’s what separates many of you from the general public.”

Ed Morgan and Chuck Persons

Ed Morgan, right, represents State Assemblyman Steve Hawley at the rally. Morgan and Ortt both said the new state budget includes a big state investment in roads and bridges that should improve safety of motorcyclists and other drivers.
motorcycles at Orleans courthouse rally
After the rally outside the courthouse, motorcycle riders took off on a ride to the Vets Club in Medina. The awareness ride is usually 50 miles throughout the county, but was shortened to 10 miles on Sunday due to the rain.

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Civil War vet in Albion gets headstone 101 years after death

Albion students lead effort to honor John Frost

John Frost grave marker

Photos by Tom Rivers
A new headstone was unveiled on Saturday for John Frost, a principal musician (chief bugler) for the 33rd New York Infantry and also the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division of 6th Corps. Frost was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Brown Road in 1915.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 May 2016
ALBION – A Civil War veteran who raised five children in Orleans County and sold coal for a living was buried in the older St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Brown Road in 1915, more than a century ago.

Last year, the Holy Family Parish was going through records at the cemetery and realized that John Frost never had a headstone. County Historian Matt Ballard, a member of the parish and also the Knights of Columbus, shared the story with Tim Archer, a service learning teacher at Albion Central School. Archer looks for community projects where 140 seventh graders can learn local history and also address a need.

The students wanted Frost to have a headstone. They worked with the Veterans Service Agency in Orleans and Niagara counties to secure a headstone for Frost. The marble stone was unveiled on Saturday during a service at the cemetery.

Archer said the government officials in the Washington, D.C. Monuments Office moved quickly to process and approve the request before the school year ended. He thanked Tony Navarra from the Holy Family Parish for setting the stone in the historic cemetery.
Leeanna Montanarella
Seventh-grader Leeanna Montanarella shares John Frost’s biography. Frost was born in England on June 22, 1836. At age 13 he left for the United States with his father John and brother Edward on the Northumberland. They arrived in New York City on April 18, 1850 and moved to South Barre. In 1860, Frost was working as a farmer. He enlisted in the Union Army in his mid-20s and served three years.

Frost had the rank of musician, which was just below corporal and just above private. In the Civil War, musicians were relied upon to entertain troops, position troops in battle and stir them on to victory.

Frost, according to the 1880 Census, was married to Margaret Cusack and had five children, ages 14, 11, 9, 6 and 4.

Bryne Dysard
Bryne Dysard, an Albion seventh grader, reads Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address – “With malice towards none, with charity for all” – from March 4, 1865.

John Frost grave marker unveiling
Students Kyle Lonnen and Noah Rowlett unveil the headstone while teacher Tim Archer watches at St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Bob Ballard and Casimer Pruski
Knights of Columbus members Bob Ballard, left, and Casimer Pruski, both past grand knights, present a grave marker, noting that Frost served in the Civil War for the Union, at his grave during Saturday’s ceremony.


Union Veteran grave marker
This grave marker was given by the K of C to recognize Frost’s service for the Union.

Matt Ballard
Matt Ballard, a member of the Knights of Columbus and the county historian, thanked Albion students for working to recognize John Frost. “It is a great honor and privilege to congratulate Mr. Archer and his students on a job well done, their noble task is appreciated by all who cherish the liberties provided by the sacrifices of those who passed before us.”

Ballard said Frost had “quietly passed into the annals of history, forgotten for decades” until Albion students pushed to have him recognized.

“The commitment of our youth to the cause of historic preservation fuels the fire and the desire to share that history with the greater community,” Ballard said.
Seventh graders playing taps for John Frost
Three seventh graders play Taps, including, from left: Kailey Merrill, Lauren Wehling and Ashley Ames.

Tim Archer and seventh graders with John Frost grave marker

Tim Archer and the seventh graders are pictured with the new headstone for John Frost.


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Some of most powerful horses in country show strength at Fairgrounds

Brian Armison

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 1 May 2016


KNOWLSEVILLE – Brian Armison of Centerville in Allegany County competes with his team of powerful horses in Saturday’s “Pull of Champions” at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds.

This was the third year the Fairgrounds hosted the horse pull for the New York State Horse Pullers Association. About 25 teams of horses, including many of the top teams from the U.S. and Canada, competed in the event, which kicks off the horse-pulling season.

Armison is on the board of directors for the NYS Horse Pullers Association. The association used to hold the “Pull of Champions” at the state fairgrounds in Syracuse. It was moved to Knowlesville in 2014 through the efforts of horse pull competitor Nick Nesbitt of Waterport as well as the support of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County.

Armison said the Fairgrounds in Knowlesville has proven a good fit providing a more central location for horse pulling teams, as well as a supportive host. He praised 4-Hers for selling food and the Extension staff for maintaining a nice dirt track.
“They’re super accommodating,” Armison said. “They even send us a thank you note.”
Dennis Weinberger's group
A team owned by Dennis Weinberger from Reading, Michigan, captured first place in the lightweight division. Weinbegrer, in black hat, also won the title in 2015 at “The Pull of Champions.” He said the horses need strength and stamina to compete at such a high level. His team won by pulling a dynamometer, 16 feet, 7 inches when the dynamometer was weighed down with an additional 4,400 pounds. The dynamometer, in the final pulls, can simulate 160,000 pounds.
Danny Smith
Danny Smith from Cummington, Massachusetts, gets a horse ready for competition. This horse was part of a team of two that combined weighed less than 3,425 pounds. There were 25 teams competing in either the lightweight division (3,425 pounds or less), or the heavyweights for teams that exceed 3,425 pounds.
Charles Blanchard
Charlie Blanchard of Winchester, New Hampshire, puts the harnessing equipment on his horse. He is partners with Danny Smith of Massachusetts.
Josh Wickum
Josh Wickum of Menomonie, Wisc., leads his team in the finals of the lightweight division. Wickum’s team finished second overall in the division.
4-H kids
4-H kids and volunteers sold food and other concessions at the pull. This photo shows Gail Ebbs and 4-Her Jordan Boccacci selling cotton candy.
The Armison brothers
The Armison Brothers from Centerville – Caleb, left, and Chris, right – get their team ready for the pull. The brothers, who are Brian Armison’s nephews, just jogged the horses as a warmup for the pull.
People at the horse pulls in Knowlesville
About 800 people attended the horse pulls on Saturday. The crowd size and numbers of teams continues to grow with the event since it was moved to the 4-H fairgrounds in Knowlesville.


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Albion board gives blessing for Santa statue on Main Street

Charles W. Howard

Photos by Tom Rivers

Charles Howard, founder of Santa Claus School in Albion, died 50 years ago today
This image shows Charles W. Howard on the cover on a report from January 1961 about the previous season at Christmas Park.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 May 2016
ALBION – Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Charles Howard, one of Albion’s most prominent residents. Howard was a farmer and toymaker who started a Santa Claus School in 1937 on Phipps Road in Albion.

He played Santa in the Macy’s televised parades for about 20 years. He established standards for how Santas should look and act with children, principles that are still taught today to Santas around the world.

Howard expanded his school into Christmas Park, a destination for the community that remains a cherished memory for many local residents. After Howard’s death in 1966, the school was moved to Michigan. Today it is in Midland, Mich., and still bears Howard’s name.

A committee in Albion has been working for more than a year on a memorial for Howard. The Village Board last week agreed to make Waterman Park, a half block south of the Erie Canal, available for a bronze statue of Howard as Santa Claus. The park will likely include interpretative panels, murals and other displays about Howard and Santa Claus.
Waterman Park
Waterman Park has room for a statue of Charles Howard and other displays about the founder of a Santa Claus School.

The committee will now work on designs of the statue and park, hoping to have them ready for the community at the Strawberry Festival in June.

“I’m excited about it,” Mayor Dean London said on Wednesday when the board voted to back the effort.

The Albion Betterment Committee is taking the lead in a fund-raising campaign that could be about $100,000.

The group was determined to have a site for Howard on Main Street, seeing a statue as a boost for other downtown businesses.

Santa suit
Photo by Tom Rivers
Howard made Santa Claus suits and other Christmas items from Christmas Park in Albion. This picture shows the tag inside a Santa suit.


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5 are honored for efforts to preserve and promote local heritage

Five People named Heritage Heroes

Photos by Tom Rivers

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


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

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

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

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

Derek Maxfield speaks at Heritage Heroes reception

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

The Heritage Heroes recognized for 2016 include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Bill Lattin gives Heritage Hero award to Melissa Ierlan

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Albion was focus of big moonshine raid in 1927

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 30 April 2016

Volume 2, Issue 18


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Planners support gun shop in Clarendon


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Medina celebrates Arbor Day by planting 71 trees

Students join in tree planting at State Street Park

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


The mayor also read a proclamation about Arbor Day.

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

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

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


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