Astorino will address Orleans Republicans on Friday

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 October 2014
HOLLEY – Rob Astorino, the Republican Party candidate for governor, will be in Orleans County on Friday for the Fall Republican Rally at Hickory Ridge Country Club.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, trails Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the polls, but Ed Morgan, the Orleans County GOP leader, believes Astorino could still pull off the upset victory. George Pataki was a little known state legislator when he defeated Cuomo’s father, Mario, in 1994.

“He’s ahead in the polls compared to where George Pataki was,” Morgan said this morning.

Morgan sees Republicans making a strong push for Astorino, and also sees Cuomo losing votes to Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and Michael McDermott of the Libertarian Party.

“The secondary line candidates will pull votes from Cuomo and that will help Rob,” Morgan said.

The GOP candidate for comptroller, Robert E. Antonacci, will also be at the Republican Rally, which begins with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Antonacci is the Onondaga County comptroller. He faces incumbent Tom DiNapoli.


Candidates for State Legislature also are expected to speak at the rally, including Rob Ortt for State Senate and Steve Hawley for State Assembly.

The Republican Party also plans to recognize State Sen. George Maziarz, who is retiring after 19 years in the State Legislature.

For information about tickets to the rally, call Morgan at 732-7270.


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Holley, Kendall have a say in $29M BOCES project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 October 2014
SPENCERPORT – The BOCES that serves the Holley and Kendall school districts, as well as seven districts in western Monroe County, is proposing a $29.2 million capitol project.

Residents in the nine-member Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES can vote on the proposal on Dec. 16 at the WEMOCO Educational Services Center. Voting will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 3599 Big Ridge Rd.

This would be the first capitol project in 40 years and would include an addition and renovations so the center mirror’s a modern workplace for students in the career and technology program, BOCES leaders said.

The project calls for a 15,200-square-foot addition to the campus. That addition would cost an estimated $9.8 million. The addition will include space for classrooms, a career skills center, and early childhood and preschool programs.

The project also includes $12.3 million in work to the center’s north building, renovating classrooms, replacing rooftop units and exhaust systems, improving plumbing and electrical systems. The south building at the center would also get $6.2 million in upgrades.

There also is $968,500 slated for parking lot reconstruction, with improved bus and traffic flow, upgraded lighting and utilities, drainage and a relocated playground.

The BOCES served an average of 1,067 students each of the past five years with 44 from Kendall and 58 from Holley.

State aid would cover 63.2 percent of the project with member districts covering the remaining 36.8 percent. That share for Holley would be $400,451, while Kendall would pay $320,078.

For more on the project, click here.


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Albion, Medina businesses will hand out treats for Beggar's Night

File photo by Tom Rivers
Linda Smith and her son Ryan serve up treats and cider from Krantz Furniture in Albion during last year’s Beggar’s Night.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 October 2014
Main Street in Albion and Medina will have several hundred children dressed as super heroes, goblins and other characters on Friday evening.

The business organizations in both communities are putting on their annual Beggar’s Night event, when businesses hand out candy to children dressed in costumes.

In Albion, children 12 and under are invited to meet at the fire hall on Platt Street at 6 p.m. and then tour downtown for treats.

In Medina, Beggar’s Night starts at 5:30 p.m. Children are urged to line up in the East Center Street parking lot between the Medicine Shoppe and The Print Shop. Most of the business owners will participate and many will be wearing costumes, said Cindy Robinson, Medina Business Association president.

“It’s a ‘thank you’ to the people for shopping local,” she said about Beggar’s Night.

Last year, more than 700 children participated and received candy in Medina.

“It’s fun to watch all of the kids in their costumes,” Robinson said. “They’re adorable.”


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Orleans unemployment rate falls to 6.0%

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 October 2014
Orleans County’s unemployment dropped from 7.5 percent in September 2013 to 6.0 percent last month, according to the State Labor Department.

The 6.0 percent was down from 6.9 percent in August. The county’s rate is still slightly higher than the state average of 5.6 percent. (The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in September, the lowest level since October 2008, according to the Department of Labor.)

In Orleans County, there were 1,100 unemployed people looking for work in September, compared to 17,000 in the workforce. A year earlier, there were 400 more people working in Orleans County – 17,400. There were also 1,400 unemployed looking for jobs, according to the DOL.

Fifteen of the 62 counties in the state have unemployment rates at 6.0 or higher. Bronx has the highest unemployment rate in the state at 8.5 percent.

Orleans, even with its improvement from a year ago, still has the highest rate in Western New York. Genesee County, at 4.8 percent, has the lowest rate in WNY. Hamilton County, at 3.8 percent, has the lowest rate in the state.


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Barge Canal gets national historic status

Photo by Tom Rivers
The Presbyterian Road bridge in Albion, built in 1909 over the canal when it was widened, is one of the many features of the canal that remain from the widening about a century ago.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2014

The New York State Barge Canal was given lofty status today when the National Park Service announced the Barge Canal is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Erie Canal opened in 1825. The Barge Canal represents the widening of the canal between 1905 and 1918. Many of the bridges, guard gates, waste weir systems and other canal infrastructure remain in use today.

“This recognition from the highest levels of our nation reminds us once again of the essential role New York State and its waterways have played in our country’s development and prominence,” said Mike Caldwell, regional director for the National Park Service’s Northeast Region. “On behalf of the National Park Service, I am honored to recognize the New York State Barge Canal’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a nationally significant, historic transportation icon.”

The New York State Barge Canal National Register Historic District spans 450 miles and includes the four branches of the state’s canal system: the Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca canals.

The nomination evaluated 791 features and included 552 contributing structures and buildings.

Photo by Chris Busch

The lift bridge in Medina was built in 1914. It's one of seven lift bridges in Orleans County, the most of any county on the canal.

“The Barge Canal includes some of the nation’s most recognized waterways and is a New York gem,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement. “Spanning the Erie Canal, Oswego Canal, Champlain Canal and Cayuga-Seneca Canal, the Barge Canal is a true historic destination. I am pleased the National Park Service has granted this designation, which will help preserve the Barge Canal and expand opportunities for local developments in the area.”

Congress in 2000 declared the canal as a National Heritage Corridor, one of 49 such areas in the country. When the 363-mile-long waterway opened in 1825, it transformed Upstate New York into an economic powerhouse, raising the fortunes of canal towns such as Medina, Albion and Holley.

When railroads started to threaten the canal in the mid- to late-1800s, state officials moved to widen and deepen the canal. In 1918, after 13 years of construction, the Barge Canal was born, and many of the structures from that upgrade remain along the system today.

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor prepared the application for the National Register designation. The Canalway Corridor’s application was 267 pages long and identified 566 contributing structures along the canal that add to the historic significance of the barge system.

In Orleans County, the contributing structures include:

• MURRAY – Bennetts Corners Road bridge from 1911; Holley Waste Weir built in 1914; Holley Embankment (the tallest on the system, rising 76 feet above the valley of the East Branch of Sandy Creek); East Avenue Lift Bridge constructed in 1911; Holley Terminal, constructed in 1915 as a 16-foot by 30-foot wood frame freight house;

Guard Gate that is west of North Main Street and constructed 1914; Telegraph Road Bridge built in 1911; Groth Road Bridge built in 1911; Hulberton Road Lift Bridge constructed 1913; Brockville Waste Weir east of Fancher Road Bridge, constructed 1911; Hindsburg Road Bridge constructed 1911; and Transit Road Bridge constructed 1911.

This photo contributed by Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin shows the canal being widened a century ago in Medina.

• ALBION – Densmore Road Bridge constructed in 1911; Keitel Road Bridge built in 1912; Butts Road Bridge constructed 1912; Brown Street Bridge from 1912 (includes a sidewalk); Albion Waste Weir off State Street behind Community Action, constructed in 1910; Ingersoll Street Lift Bridge from 1911; Main Street Lift Bridge from 1914;

Albion terminal and shops for Canal Corporation, built in 1917; Lattins Farm Road bridge from 1911; Guard Gates from 1913; Gaines Basin Road bridge from 1912; Eagle Harbor Waste Weir that includes three drain gates, built in 1912; Eagle Harbor Lift Bridge, built in 1910 with a wood frame tower; Allens Bridge Road Bridge built in 1909; and Presbyterian Road Bridge from 1909.

• RIDGEWAY – Knowlesville Lift Bridge from 1910 (During a 1975 rehabilitation, the tower was replaced by one-story brick control building on east side at south end of bridge.); Knowlesville Terminal, west of Knowlesville lift bridge, and built in 1910; Culvert Road (This is the only place where a road passes under a branch of the New York State Canal System. There has been a road culvert under the canal here 1823. Stone portals at either end of the enlarged Erie Canal culvert were dismantled and re-erected when it was extended to its current 200-foot length as part of Barge Canal construction, according to the Barge Canal application to the state.);

Beals Road Bridge from 1909; Bates Road Bridge constructed in 1914; Guard Gate, west of Bates Road bridge, and constructed in 1914; Pleasant Street/Horan Avenue Bridge built in 1914; Oak Orchard Creek Aqueduct, constructed in 1914. (The Oak Orchard Creek span is the only true aqueduct on the Barge Canal system. The structure consists of a concrete arch over Oak Orchard Creek at the head of Medina Falls with concrete walls on either side of the channel.)

Medina Terminal, a 24- by 70-foot frame freight house constructed in 1916; Eagle Street/Glenwood Avenue Bridge, constructed 1914; Prospect Avenue/ Route 63 Lift Bridge, built in 1914; Marshall Road Bridge from 1909; and a Guard Gate near Middleport, from 1913.

Bob Radliff, director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, said the new recognition for the Barge Canal will boost the efforts to promote the Canal Corridor as a world-class destination and foster “vibrant communities connected by our waterways.”


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Orleans Career and Tech Ed students attend Construction Days

Building Trades: Brett Jepson (Medina), Alex Gomez (Medina), Nick Burke(Lockport), Sean Ogden (Lockport), Josh Taylor (Newfane), Josh Bedford (Roy Hart), Jon Eggert (Roy Hart), Brandon Fuller (Lockport), Jason Criswell (Lockport), Collin Wissinger (Roy Hart). Mr. Matt Anastasi, teacher.
Electricity: Anthony Annalora (Lockport), Matt Chutko (Roy Hart), Jordan Deuel (Roy Hart), Josh Ellsworth (Lockport), Daniel Gardner (Barker), Andy Gelyon (Newfane), Kyle Graham (Albion), Mike Hinkley (Medina), Jacob Nizialek (Newfane), Zach Pisarski (Barker), Charles Ricci (Medina), Josh Scroger (Medina) and Aaron Wysochanski (Lockport). Mr. Bill Leggett, teacher.

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES Posted 22 October 2014

Students in Matt Anastasi’s Building Trades program and Bill Leggett’s Electricity and Electronics recently spent a day at the Western New York Construction Days. The event is hosted by the Buffalo Building and Construction Trades Council and its union affiliates.


“It is a great experience for our students,” says Mr. Anastasi. “It is a perfect opportunity for them to talk to union representatives in the various trades and get a look at the apprenticeship programs they offer.”

Although many of the students get hands-on experience in class, there is a wide variety of booths set up by the unions that allow the students to do everything from drive a small Bobcat bulldozer, try their hand at welding or repel down scaffold.


“There is a greater need than ever for workers in these fields,” says Mr. Leggett. “There are a lot of baby boomers retiring and the unions are looking for qualified workers to take their place. It gives our students a chance to make connections for possible careers when they graduate. They all received hard hats and safety glasses for attending which was great.”


Each of the teachers said their students had a great time and helped to reinforce to many that they have chosen the best career path for themselves.


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Waterport bridge reopens for all motorists

Staff Reports Posted 22 October 2014
WATERPORT – The bridge over Lake Alice and Oak Orchard Road is reopened today after about five months of work.

The bridge, originally reported as only open to emergency vehicles, is open to all motorists.

Keeler Construction in Barre is the contractor for the $1.5 million project on the longest county-owned bridge. It stretches 700 feet across Lake Alice and the Oak Orchard Creek.


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Thrift store opens in former Legion building on Main Street in Albion

Photos by Tom Rivers
Community Action of Orleans & Genesee celebrated the opening of the Main Street Thrift Store this morning at the former American Legion at 131 South Main St. Pictured, cutting the ribbon, include from left: Brooke Pontillo, president of the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce; Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action; State Assemblyman Steve Hawley; and Bill Privett, chairman of the board for Community Action.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2014
ALBION – Two years ago Community Action began looking for a new site for its thrift store and job training site. The agency used two downtown storefronts, but they were crowded with merchandise.

Today the agency celebrated the new home for its store. Local officials and many agency leaders in the community turned out for the ribbon-cutting at the former American Legion site at 131 South Main St.

The site boosts the available retail space by 1 ½ times. There is much more parking and improved accessibility for customers.

Community Action worked hard in recent months on the former Legion building, turning the site into a thrift store and donation center.

The site feels more professional, offering a better training ground for residents to learn skills that can transfer to other employers, Community Action officials said.

“Our very mission is to assist low-income people to achieve their potential,” said Bill Privett, chairman of the board for Community Action.

Ed Fancher, agency executive director, said about 50 people complete job training programs annually through the program and find employment.

“The program has been working so let’s do more of it and expand on our success,” Privett said.

Christy Lopez is the cashier at the new Main Street Thrift Store, and Phyllis Conn is the customer.

Proceeds from the sales of the clothing, furniture and other items in the store go back into the program, benefitting residents who are learning job skills, Fancher said.


“People come here to seize the opportunity to change the direction in their lives,” he said about the people running the cash register, cleaning and organizing the merchandise and doing other tasks.

Community Action used 20 gallons of paint to give the interior a fresh new look. The lighting is all new as well.

The Legion will continue to have use of the back bar for another 16 months. After the Legion finds a new location, the bar area may be used by Community Action for receiving and processing donations, Fancher said.

The store has clothing, collectibles, furniture and other items for sale.

Phyllis Conn is a frequent customer at the thrift store. She said the agency puts out good merchandise.

“The other site was lovely, but this is marvelous,” she said in the remodeled location. “This is a class act. It’s more of what you’d find in a city area.”

Conn donates items to the store. She is happy to see the store move to a bigger site.

“This is a great organization and they do so much for the community,” she said.

The store will have later hours at the new location. It will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Saturday, and from 10:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

Community Action worked on the building, improving a prominent site in Albion. The photo shows people gathered for a ribbon cutting this morning.


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Low-key local races in Albion, Kendall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2014

The races for governor and State Senate are getting lots of attention before the Nov. 4 election. There are also positions on the ballot in two local towns.

Albion will elect two justices on Nov. 4, and two candidates are unopposed.


Incumbent Gary Moore, a retired police officer, is seeking re-election to a four-year term. Kevin Howard has opted against re-election. Joe Fuller, a recently retired Albion police officer, has been cross-endorsed by the Democrats and Republicans for justice. Fuller is also a county coroner. Moore also has the Democratic and Republican Party endorsement.

In Kendall, two candidates are running unopposed. David Gaudioso has the Republican endorsement for town justice. Incumbent Stephen Cliff chose not to run for re-election.

Wayne M. Martin, Jr. also has the GOP endorsement for the Town Board. Martin is running to fill the remainder of a term from Patrick Snook, who resigned last January.


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Waterport bridge reopens to emergency vehicles today

Staff Reports Posted 22 October 2014
WATERPORT – A bridge that has been closed the past five months for $1.5 million in repairs will reopen today to emergency vehicles.

Fire trucks and ambulances can get through, but other motorists will have to wait until a final inspection on the bridge on Route 279. This is the longest county-owned bridge. It stretches 700 feet across Lake Alice and the Oak Orchard Creek.

Keeler Construction in Barre was hired to make repairs to the bridge. Many of the concrete box beams that support the bridge were badly deteriorated and needed to be replaced. The bridge also has a new surface with concrete, rubber membrane and blacktop.


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Data collection nearly done for Carlton assessments

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 October 2014
CARLTON – A consultant hired by the town to collect data on 2,400 properties is nearly done with the effort.

GAR Associates Inc. is being paid $68,000 to visit every property in the town and make note of swimming pools, additions, sheds, garages and exterior property improvements. GAR has been working on the project since March and should wrap up its work this month, Town Councilman Robin Lake said.

The firm has been working with Town Assessor Gene Massey. He will use the data from GAR for assessments on all the properties. Those assessments should be out in March.

“I think it will put everyone on an even keel,” Lake said.

The town has been working to update its assessment records so accurate and fair values can be designated for the properties. Carlton was engulfed in controversy in 2013 when new values for properties were assigned. Residents packed the Town Hall to complain about some of the big increases.

Residents also complained some properties were under-assessed. The town's records didn't show all the structures and improvements at some properties with low assessments, town officials said.

The Town Board chose not to re-appoint its assessor and worked out an arrangement with Kendall to share its assessor, Gene Massey.

“Gene will be very approachable,” Lake said. “If you have an issue, come on in and he’ll address it.”

The board has voted to freeze the assessments at 2012 levels, rather than allow the big increases to take effect. The board voted again to keep the 2014 data at the 2012 numbers, unless there was a building project at a property.


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Bills QB reads to Albion native’s preschool class in Orchard Park

Photo by Kathleen Barleben Posted 22 October 2014
Two days after leading the Buffalo Bills to a dramatic last-second victory over the Minnesota Vikings, Bills quarterback Kyle Orton faced a different crowd: a class of preschoolers.

Orton visited the Doodle Bugs class in Orchard Park on Tuesday and read the book, “Bunny Cakes” by Rosemary Wells. Albion native Kathleen Barleben teaches at Doodle Bugs, where Orton’s daughter is a student. She said Orton’s visit was “very cool!”

He appeared at the school as part of Read for the Record, a nationwide literacy event. Barleben is the former Kathleen Adducci. She married Justin Barleben this past summer.


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Carlton Town Board agrees to increase funding for Fire Department

Carlton pays less for fire protection than most other towns in Orleans County

Photo by Tom Rivers
Jim Tabor, president of the Carlton Fire Company, is pictured on top of a Carlton pumper, using a master stream to direct more intense water at hay bales that caught on fire on Oct. 11.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2014
CARLTON – The Carlton Fire Company can expect $20,000 more from town taxpayers in 2015, an increase that the fire company president says is sorely needed to help keep up with equipment, fuel, insurance, utilities and other expenses.

The Town Board said it would approve the increase when the town budget is approved next month. Carlton currently contributes $132,800 in town funds towards the fire company.

The $20,000 represents a 15 percent increase. Carlton can set aside that money, plus about $3,000 for contingency, and still remain under the 1.67 percent tax cap. The town isn’t giving raises to town employees.

David Krull, the town highway and water superintendent, told the board he supported the tight budget for other departments to better fund the fire department.

“The whole story here is they are underpaid compared to the other towns,” Krull told the Town Board during a meeting this evening.

Even with the $20,000 increase, Carlton is still on the low end of what towns give for fire protection.

Carlton taxpayers paid a 65 cent tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property for fire protection in 2014. That would increase by 10 cents with the additional $20,000, boosting the total town contribution to $152,800.

For comparison sake, here is how much other towns without contracts with village fire departments paid for fire protection in 2014: Barre, $164,000 at a $1.45 rate; Clarendon, $165,774 at $1.00 rate; Kendall, $160,900 at $1.38 rate to Kendall Fire Department and $66,386 at a $1.55 rate to the Morton Fire Department;

Murray, $190,000 at a $1.61 rate to the Holley Fire Department and $104,500 at a $1.59 rate to Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Fire Company; Ridgeway, $178,798 at a $1.26 rate to the Ridgeway Fire Company; and Shelby, $232,555 at a $1.44 rate to the Shelby and East Shelby fire companies.

“Our numbers were drastically low,” Jim Tabor, the Carlton Fire Company president, told the Town Board after presenting the data. “We’re still drastically low compared to other departments in the county.”

Carlton used to generate $40,000 a year in bingo profits. But that money is no longer there after an indoor smoking ban was enacted and legalized gambling, including video gaming centers, was expanded, Tabor said.

The fire company pressed for a $40,000 increase from the town last year and received about $20,000. It will get another $20,000 hike next year, and then Town Board members said they will only approve modest increases, likely about 2 percent a year, in the future.

Tabor said the bigger increases have been needed because the fire company used up some its reserves and put off needed equipment upgrades.

“We can’t keep digging because there’s nothing left to dig,” said Todd Ferris, a past chief.

Fire company leaders are projecting $173,200 in expenses in 2015. With the town’s contribution at $152,800, plus another $12,000 in fund-raising revenue, Tabor said the department is still short by more than $8,000.

He said 35 air pack bottles need to be replaced by 2017 at a maximum cost of $1,200 each. A new fire truck will soon be needed and that could top $350,000. The fire company has $190,000 saved in a fire truck reserve account.

The fire company is pursuing grants to help with the equipment upgrades, and volunteers continue to raise funds at the recreation hall. But Tabor said the town may need to bolster its support for the department to safely serve the community.

“It’s very difficult to get blood out of a stone,” Tabor told the Town Board. “I don’t know what our options are.”


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Collins honored by American Farm Bureau

Staff Reports Posted 21 October 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Farm Bureau Federation has named Congressman Chris Collins a “Friend of Farm Bureau.”

The award is given to individuals who have supported Farm Bureau issues, as demonstrated by their voting records, and who were nominated by their respective state's Farm Bureau.

“The Friend of Farm Bureau honor recognizes Rep. Chris Collins’ voting record on American Farm Bureau Federation's priority issues in Congress,” said Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president. “His support for the Farm Bill and his outstanding efforts to protect family farms from the overregulation of the Clean Water Act are much appreciated. New York Farm Bureau would like to congratulate Rep. Collins for receiving this award and thank him for his hard work on behalf of the state’s family farms.”


Collins led a fight against an Environmental Protection Agency proposal for waterway rule changes that would have increased the costs of business for farmers.

“I recognize the struggles farmers face,” Collins said. “The last thing they need is unnecessary and excessive government regulations, which is why I will continue to provide farmers the necessary support and protection needed to grow their businesses.”


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Libraries will press county for more money

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 October 2014
ALBION – The four public libraries in Orleans County will ask the County Legislature to up the county contribution to libraries in 2015.

The four libraries currently share $10,000. They would like to see the county give $1 per resident or $42,883. That money would be shared by Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina, Hoag Library in Albion, Community Free Library in Holley and Yates Community Library in Lyndonville.

Representatives from the libraries as well as the Nioga Library System will address county legislators on Wednesday.

“We’d love to see it increased,” said Catherine Cooper, Lee-Whedon director.

Two of the libraries – Lee-Whedon and Yates Community – both completed recent remodeling projects to make the sites more appealing for the public. Hoag is in a new building that opened in July 2012 while the Holley library expanded next door in the Public Square.

The libraries all run community events, from children’s programming to initiatives for adults. Lee-Whedon runs a winter concert series that brings people out into the community.


The libraries have shelves of new books, while offering e-readers and other gadgets.

“We all do our darnedest to keep up with new technology and to make it accessible to the public,” Cooper said.

Matthew Ballard, co-director of the Cobblestone Museum, also is scheduled to address the Legislature on Wednesday afternoon. The museum doesn’t receive any regular county support, although legislators gave the museum $1,000 in county aid last December when the county tapped its contingency account to assist five organizations.


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Highway Department clears ditch in Barre

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 21 October 2014
BARRE – The Orleans County Highway Department is out clearing a ditch long East Barre Road today. Highway employee Mike Deskins operates the Volvo excavator.

Deskins directs clumps of dirt and grass to a dump truck. The Barre water tower appears in the back in this photo.


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Buffalo celebrates start of $69M redevelopment of Richardson site

Site is one of great Medina sandstone structures

Photos by Tom Rivers
The twin copper-roofed towers of Medina sandstone rise high above Forest Avenue in Buffalo. The Richardson Olmsted Complex has been a massive Buffalo landmark since 1872.

Staff Reports Posted 21 October 2014
BUFFALO – Medina sandstone is back in the news again. One of the greatest Medina sandstone structures, the former Buffalo Psychiatric Center, is the focus of a $69 million redevelopment in Buffalo.

A site that had been largely abandoned will be reborn as a boutique hotel, conference center and architecture center.

State and city officials, as well as project developers, celebrated the start of construction on the project on Oct. 10. Over the next two years contractors will turn the Richardson Olmsted Complex into an 88-room hotel, a 300-plus seat conference and event center, an architecture center for Buffalo in the three main buildings, and the re-greening of the site through a new landscape and roadway.

“The reimagined Richardson Olmsted Complex will create a new venue for business events and a new place in Western New York for visitors to explore,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We’re proud to have helped with the redevelopment of this complex, which is another great example of Buffalo’s continued momentum.”

The Richardson Olmsted Complex, the former Buffalo Psychiatric Center, is being renovated into a hotel and architecture center. The complex is made of Medina sandstone and was designed by Henry H. Richardson, the first American architect to attain international acclaim.

This National Historic Landmark is a masterpiece of the great American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, along with his partner Calvert Vaux. The 42 acres and collection of buildings known as the Richardson Olmsted Complex is nationally recognized as a great work of these two masters and locally admired for the monumental presence and iconic copper towers.


The not-for-profit Richardson Center Corporation has pursued a reuse plan for the complex since it was formed in 2006. For many years prior, committed preservationists, elected officials, and community members focused attention on the decades of neglect and deterioration.

The redevelopment will include opportunities for Western New York residents to enjoy the South Lawn, eat at the restaurant and visit the architecture center, which will celebrate excellence in architecture, landscape architecture and city planning as influenced by Buffalo’s outstanding architectural heritage. It will also include exhibits and programming that honors the mental health, architectural and landscape history of the site.

The Medina Sandstone Society named the Richardson Olmsted Complex as an inaugural member of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame last December.

The two-year construction period will begin with exterior work on the windows, roof, ready the north entry for replacement entry, and masonry. Next year, the site work and interior build out will begin. The hotel, conference and event spaces, as well as the Buffalo Architecture Center, are all expected to open in Fall 2016.

Considerable effort also has been made to be true to the original landscape design intent by world-renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Stabilization activities totaling $10 million have taken place to prevent further deterioration and vandalism of the nearly 500,000 square feet of buildings.


The Richardson Center Corporation is now undertaking the renovation as the developer of this first phase. The $69 million construction project is funded with $54 million in state support and will leverage $15 million in state and federal Historic Tax Credits. The Richardson Center Corporation’s investor for the historic tax credits is M&T Bank. In addition, Empire State Development provided grants for the preconstruction, stabilization and re-greening activities.

“The Richardson Olmsted Complex is the third jewel in the crown of Buffalo’s rich architecture, along with the Guaranty Building and the Darwin Martin House,” said Stanford Lipsey, chairman of the Richardson Center Corporation. “Its reuse will play a vital role in continuing the impressive growth of our region’s economic resurgence, and would not have been possible without the outstanding leadership of the board and the investment of New York State.”


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Hojack rumbles across the trestle over the Oak Orchard River

By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 21 October 2014
WATERPORT – This picture was taken on Sept. 17, 1950. It shows a National Railway Historical Society special touring train crossing over the Oak Orchard River trestle in Waterport.

This event was headed by the NRHS Rochester Chapter. The train was destined for Niagara Falls on the “Hojack.” Our photo was taken from a high cliff above the waterfalls looking in a northeast direction.

The cars are being pulled by two steam engines numbered 1286 and 1280.


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