Another group of firefighters from Orleans heading to Buffalo area

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 November 2014
ALBION – Orleans County is assembling teams of firefighters to head to the Buffalo area to check on residents and respond to other fire and emergency calls.

Firefighters will gather at the Civil Defense Center at 3:30 p.m. today to get their instructions. Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director, expects 24 to 30 firefighters to be sent to Erie County. They are expected to arrive around 5 p.m. and stay until 8 p.m. on Friday.

They will take three off-road vehicles and three fire engines. Firefighters are going from Albion, Barre, Clarendon, Holley, Shelby and Ridgeway.

Additional firefighters from the county may be sent Friday night and over the weekend, Banker said. The weekend duty could include pumping basements because temperatures are forecast to be well above freezing, leading to big snow melts.

Fourteen firefighters from the county have already been to Lackawanna. They checked on stranded motorists and transported them to a shelter. Three firefighters – Albion Fire Chief Rocky Sidari, Calrton Fire Chief Andrew Niederhofer and Albion firefighter Stan Farone – nearly delivered a baby in the Albion fire chief’s truck. They were able to get the mother to Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo just in time before the birth, Sidari said.

Some Erie County communities received 5 to 6 feet of snow on Tuesday, with another 2 feet falling today. Sidari said he was shocked to see the big walls of snow.

“The pictures don’t do it justice,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I’m just dumbfounded.”


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Truck backs into ditch on 98

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 20 November 2014

GAINES – A truck driver was attempting to turn around on Route 98 when the vehicle slipped into a ditch in the Town Gaines, just north of Watt Farms.


Albion firefighters, James Fisher (right) and David Nayman, were out directing traffic around the truck today at about 1:30 p.m. Firefighters were called to the scene at about 11:45 a.m. A tow truck was on scene to pull out the truck.


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Canal Culvert reopens after most huge icicles knocked down

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 20 November 2014
RIDGEWAY – The Canal Culvert was closed to motorists last night and early this morning while crews used sledgehammers to knock down most of the huge icicles inside the tunnel under the Erie Canal.

Highway workers also spread lots of salt inside the culvert overnight and it did its job, loosening up the ice and making the section of the road passable, Ridgeway Highway Superintendent Mark Goheen said.

The Culvert was reopened at about 9:30 a.m. Goheen said he has contacted the Canal Authority, which owns the Culvert, about removing the ice inside.

The canal closed for the season on Wednesday. It is currently full of water but the waterway will soon be drained. Once most of the water is out, Goheen said “the leaking should be down to a minimum.”


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Running Club wants to improve fitness in community

Group plans 3 races for 2015, including 10-mile “Metro” race pitting Rochester vs. Buffalo

Photo by Tom Rivers
Thom Jennings, left, and Brian Krieger, leaders of the Albion Running Club, are planning several races and programs to improve the fitness in the community. They are pictured at last month’s 5-kilometer race at Brown’s Berry Patch in Waterport.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 November 2014
ALBION – They have seen the statistics and cringed. Brian Krieger and Thom Jennings want to unleash a force to raise the county’s dismal health stats, among the worst of all 62 counties in the state.

The annual County Health Rankings ranks Orleans as the 52nd healthiest county out of 62. Orleans ranked 52nd in health outcomes, 57th in health factors, and 58th in health behaviors. In Orleans, 66 percent of adults are overweight, 41 percent in that group are obese, and 55 percent say they don’t engage in daily exercise.

Krieger and Jennings are both leaders of the Albion Running Club. They believe the non-profit organization can make an impact in the county by offering fitness programs and three races that provide goals to motivate walkers and runners.

“We want to use the sport of running to build a healthier community,” said Krieger, executive director for the Running Club.

Krieger has seen the community respond to a running program.

He teamed with Wayne Burlison and Jack Burris to spearhead a 5K “Run for God” program that took people from the couch to a 5K race in about three months. The Run for God drew nearly 100 participants in its first three years, with the runners and walkers completing the 5K Strawberry Festival course.

“There have been some unbelievable changes in people,” Krieger said.

File photo
Sheila Lemcke of Albion lost more than 100 pounds through exercise and better nutrition. She was the honorary “Strawberry” in last June’s Strawberry Festival race. She has participated in the Run for God programs.

The Albion Running Club is a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. It has organized the Strawberry Festival race recently, including the record crowd of nearly 300 runners last June.


It wants to add another race this March 28 as a memorial for Wayne Burlison, one of the founders of the Running Club. He was 36 when he died from colon cancer on March 26. Burlison was a music teacher at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School.

A 5K is 3.1 miles, but the “Run for Wayne” race will be different. That run/walk will be 3.17 miles. Burlison battled cancer for 3 months and 17 days. Proceeds from the race will be used for a scholarship in Burlison’s name.

Provided photo

Wayne Burlison started running in 2008 and completed a marathon and several half marathons. He was one of the founders of the Albion Running Club.

The Running Club will continue to organize the Strawberry Festival 5K/8K on the second Saturday in June. With nearly 300 runners, it’s one of the most successful small town races around. About $2,000 in profits from the race are distributed to local charities and agencies.

Krieger and Jennings, the Orleans County YMCA executive director, believe the race could grow to 500 participants. That would mean more money to share with local causes and more people working on their fitness goals. Jennings has experience promoting concerts and events. He is the communications director for the Running Club.

Krieger and Jennings connected in May after Krieger read an article on the Orleans Hub about Jennings running a marathon with his son. Jennings took up running about three years ago and lost more than 100 pounds.

Krieger and Burlison were running partners. They trained for a marathon together. Burlison lost more than 150 pounds through exercise and nutrition. Krieger saw similarities between Burlison and Jennings.

Krieger was also intrigued by a comment that Jennings made in the Orleans Hub article. Jennings saw Albion as an ideal host for a mega-race, a long distance run that would draw Buffalo and Rochester runners.

The two had coffee and together they brainstormed the “Metro 10,” a 10-mile race planned for Aug. 22. They expect at least 1,000 runners. Each runner will pick a side: either Rochester or Buffalo. Finishers will score points for either metro area and overall winner will be named with Buffalo or Rochester taking home a trophy.

The Running Club has a promotional video (click here) for the race and is working on more video vignettes to promote the event. (There will be one featuring chicken wings vs. Garbage Plates.)

Many races typically present medals to the top finisher or the top three in each age group. That leaves a lot of people unrecognized. With the Metro 10, every runner will have an impact on their community’s overall score.

“Even if you’re not an elite runner, you can feel part of the competition,” Jennings said. “Albion makes sense as the host for the race. We’re centrally located.”

File photo

Runners take off at the start of the Strawberry Festival Race last June, when about 300 people completed the course.

The Metro 10 course is tentatively laid out to showcase the historic Courthouse Square, the downtown, some of the fruit orchards, the canal towpath and the rural landscapes. The race will end at Bullard Park in a festival-like atmosphere with bands.

Jennings believes the Metro 10 will show off Albion’s assets to the running community. Some of them may like what they see and move to the Albion area, Jennings said.

“These marathons and events can turn a community around,” Jennings said. “They will see our great real estate that is low-priced. They will see people in a friendly environment. It’s an opportunity in my mind for Albion to be a host community. We can be ambassadors of the county.”

Krieger and Jennings know a 10-mile race can be a big draw, and be the foundation to build other fitness programs. Krieger has met the leader of the Crim Fitness Foundation, which organizes a festival of races every August in Flint, Mich. The races started in 1977 to promote fitness in the community. (Click here for more on the Crim Foundation.)

The event draws 50,000 people to Flint, and has led to several year-round programs. Krieger sees the Crim Fitness Foundation as the ultimate model for Albion and Orleans County.

The Running Club plans to offer a “Fit in 50” program throughout the year. The Running Club has applied for grants to help pay for some of the fitness initiatives. It already has secured some sponsors for the Metro 10.

Krieger works in regional sales for the hydraulic fluid industry. He wants to engage more community partners to promote health and wellness in the community.

“if you want to change the community, which is in desperate need, then people must step up and do something,” he said.

For more information about sponsoring, volunteering or teaming with the Albion Running Club, contact Krieger at585-590-0955 or email

For more on the Albion Running Club, click here.

(Editor’s Note: Tom Rivers is on the board of directors for the Running Club.)


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Medina teachers collect lots of food for pantry

Provided photos
Medina High School teachers are pictured with food collected at the school for a local food pantry. The group includes, from left: Julie Webber, Kim Zakes, Jon Sherman, Gianna Sargent and Tom Robinson.


Press Release, Medina Central School Posted 20 November 2014
MEDINA – The Medina Teachers’ Association at the High School, Clifford Wise Intermediate/Middle School and Oak Orchard Elementary pulled together to help out the Calvary Tabernacle Assembly’s Food Pantry for the upcoming holidays.

Medina High School French teacher Julie Webber says this is the fourth year the staff has rallied together for the church’s “Helpful Harvest.”

Oak Orchard Elementary teachers collected many bags of food for Calvary Tabernacle’s food pantry.

“We asked everyone over the course of two weeks to bring in nonperishable food items,” Webber said. “The church does so much for our community and everyone was happy to lend a hand. We even had teachers volunteer to go shopping for their colleagues who didn’t have time to go to the store.”

Mrs. Webber says they are very grateful to Tops for donating the brown bags for the staff where they attached their wish list: cereal, boxed potatoes, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, kid friendly snacks, can fruit and vegetables, stuffing, jelly and can pasta and ravioli.

“We ended up with about 30 to 40 bags at each of our schools and it was a great feeling to be able to pull up to their building and help them carry it inside,” Webber said. “They were very grateful.”

Clifford Wise Intermediate/Middle School teachers are pictured with food to be donated.


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‘Thundersnow’ headed to Orleans

Staff Reports Posted 19 November 2014
The next lake effect snowstorm won’t entirely spare Orleans County. The National Weather Service says a new band of “thundersnow” will move across the Niagara River and into Niagara and Orleans counties between 9 and 10 tonight.


“This band will then quickly move into northern Erie County and Genesee County,” the Weather Service advised. "Conditions will rapidly deteriorate with this band. Snow rates are forecast to be around 1 to 2 inches per hour.”


The thundersnow isn’t expected to last long in Niagara and Orleans. The band will cross the northtowns before midnight and settle roughly over the same area that was hit hard with snow earlier this week, according to the Weather Service.

The band could drop 3 inches of snow per hour in the morning commute.


“Please heed all existing driving bans and if you must travel, carry a survival kit,” the Weather Service stated.


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No injuries in Barre accident on 31A

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 19 November 2014
BARRE – Barre firefighter Cordell Woodward uses a crowbar to try to get out the battery in a vehicle damaged in a collision at the Route 31A and Mix Road intersection at about 3:15 p.m.

There were no apparent injuries in the accident. Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies were on scene with the Barre Fire Company. No additional information is available.


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Readers saw glimpses of storm near Orleans

Staff Reports Posted 19 November 2014
Ken Heye of Medina took this picture on Tuesday at about 4 p.m. in the Town of Alabama, looking south towards the massive snow storm.

Rick Baase of Point Breeze lives along the Lake Ontario shoreline. He took this photo Tuesday of a Canadian freighter close to the shoreline, trying to escape the biggest waves. Baase said it appeared the freighter was only about a half-mile from shore.

“It's very windy here,” Baase said Tuesday. “It's one of those days where it sounds like Niagara Falls outside from just the wind noise.”

Orleans County could get 1 to 2 inches of snow tonight with a chance for more snow on Thursday night and Friday.


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Baby Red-tailed Hawk lands outside Barre front porch

Photos by Katlyn Moore Posted 19 November 2014
BARRE – Katlyn Moore was astonished this morning in Barre when a baby Red-tailed Hawk landed on her front porch only about 3 feet away. She snapped these photos at about 10:20 a.m.

“It only stuck around for a few seconds and left,” she said. “One of the most amazing things I have seen.”


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Kendall asked to clean up houses, push for water lines

School leader worries about declining enrollment

Photo by Tom Rivers
Kendall Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata says the town is working to extend public waterlines in Kendall.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 November 2014
KENDALL – Town officials were asked on Tuesday to push to extend public water in the town and also to target abandoned and distressed houses.

The lack of public water and the unkempt houses is a deterrent to growing the community, said Nadine Hanlon, president of the Kendall Board of Education. She offered to write letters to state officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, if it would improve the town’s chances for a public water project.

The school district keeps shrinking. It had 762 students last school year and is now down to 729, a 4.3 percent drop. In 2001, Kendall had a student enrollment of 1,132. It is down by 403 students or 35.6 percent over 13 years.

“To me that’s very concerning,” Hanlon told the Town Board.

She sees some of the distressed properties as potential housing for young families if the sites could be improved. Public water lines could also draw more families to Kendall, she said.

“Anything you can do to get more water in the community and clean up the houses,” she told the Town Board.

She noted the school district is about to upgrade its facilities and the district also has been recognized as a leader for student achievement.

“We strive to provide a great education, but we can’t do that without children in our schools,” Hanlon said.

The Town Board is working on a new Water District that would include Kendall Road, Norway Road and Creek Road in the northern part of town. Kendall’s chances for federal funding for the project increase if the majority of the households in the district are low to moderate income, with $56,000 considered the threshold, said Tony Cammarata, the town supervisor.

Kendall needs at least 80 percent of the property owners in the district to complete income surveys. By Monday, the town reached the 80 percent mark with 63 out of 78 turned in. Cammarata also said the majority are under the $56,000 threshold.

The town will take the next step in the process, which could be adding more homes to the district or forming the district with the three roads.

“I’m sitting here at a very high confidence level that we’re moving to the next level,” Cammarata said.

Two other residents said abandoned and unsightly properties are driving down property values and driving away potential residents. Carol D’Agostino, the high school principal and life-time Kendall resident, suggested the town and local service clubs could offer to haul away some junk and debris from properties. The items could be collected or dropped off at the town and then hauled away.

Cammarata said he would see if a committee could be formed to pursue the “Town Cleanup Day.”

Lynn Mael, a Kenmor Road resident, says a neighbor has moved out of a house and left it abandoned and in disarray. The site is owned by the Bank of America and attracts rodents, said Mael, a former code enforcement officer. He suggested the town look into condemning the property.

Paul Hennekey, the current codes officer, said he wants to avoid condemning sites because of the legal process involved. It’s also difficult to resell and rehabilitate condemned sites, he said.

Hennekey agreed there are many properties in distress in Kendall.

“The abandoned buildings are a problem,” he said. “My approach is to keep them sealed and mowed. But sometimes it is hard to find a contact for the owner.”


The Town Board on Tuesday welcomed Wayne Martin to his first meeting as town councilman. He won an election on Nov. 4. Rather than wait until Jan. 1 for Martin to take office, Cammarata and the Town Board appointed Martin to a vacant position on the board caused by the resignation of Patrick Snook.


Martin served 30 years in the Navy, including 20 years of active duty. He works part-time for a pool company in Spencerport and also part-time for the Public Safety Training Facility in Rochester, maintaining equipment. He's also a CPR instructor.


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Orleans and Genesee honored for shared health efforts

Staff Reports Posted 19 November 2014
A partnership between Orleans and Genesee counties, where they share a Public Health director and other staff, has been recognized as with the “Outstanding Rural Health Program Award” by the NY State Association for Rural Health.

Paul Pettit of Albion serves as public health director for the two counties. He is pictured at left with Donald Rowe (center), director of the Office of Public Health Practice at the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions; and Kenneth Oakley, CEO of the Lake Plains Community Care Network.

The NY State Association for Rural Health recognizes individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to rural health. Recognized state-wide for the high quality of service that they represent in rural health, the NYSARH annual awards are selected by NYSARH’s Board of Directors, who are composed of representatives of all facets of the rural health care industry.

The Orleans and Genesee departments have been sharing a director and other staff since Jan. 1, 2013. The initiative is a collaborative effort of the Lake Plains Community Care Network, Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, and the University of Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions.

The agencies have been studying and assessing the merits of sharing public health services over a two-year period. Coinciding with this pilot project, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in partnership with the Kansas Health Institute, began a cross jurisdictional services study on shared public health services nation-wide. The Genesee and Orleans Counties Cross Jurisdictional Sharing Program is one of 16 sites selected by RWJF to be a part of this study.


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Kendall town budget includes tiny tax increase

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 November 2014
KENDALL – The Town Board approved a $1,646,378 budget on Tuesday that calls for a tiny tax increase of 0.12 percent, well below the 2 percent tax cap.

The budget will increase the tax levy, what the town collects in taxes, from $672,660 to $673,364. The tax rate will increase from $4.430 to $4.435, which is another half penny per $1,000 of assessed property.

The budget includes $1,229,418 in town funds outside of special districts. The districts – water, lighting, fire protection and library – accounted for $416,960.

“We looked at where we can provide services and maintain services and still stay under the tax cap,” said Tony Cammarata, the town supervisor.


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Firefighters help stranded motorists in Lackawanna

Photos courtesy of Rocky Sidari Posted 19 November 2014
Firefighters from Orleans County have used all-terrain four-wheelers to check on stranded motorists in Lackawanna. Firefighters have been transporting some of the motorists, who were stranded in their cars for more than 16 hours.

They took the motorists to a fire hall in Lackawanna. One person, a diabetic, was transported by firefighters and would later have to be taken by ambulance for medical treatment, said Albion Fire Chief Rocky Sidari.

It took firefighters from Orleans County 1 ½ hours to drive 9 miles from Cheektowaga to Lackawanna last night. Erie County has been in a state of emergency due a monstrous storm that dropped about 5 feet of snow.

Firefighters aren’t sure how long they will be assisting in Erie County.

“Thankfully it has stopped snowing,” Albion Fire Chief Rocky Sidari said this morning at about 7.

But another storm is due to hit the Buffalo area tonight and Thursday.

Firefighters from four fire companies in Orleans County are assisting in the snow-battered Buffalo area. They brought along a snowmobile and three off-road four-wheelers.

The Albion Fire Department is providing the snowmobile, an off-road vehicle and seven firefighters. Two Carlton firefighters have volunteered, as well as two from Clarendon and three from Lyndonville. Clarendon and Lyndonville also brought off-road four-wheelers.

Carlton Fire Chief Andrew Niederhofer is among the local firefighters in Lackawanna, checking on stranded motorists. He is pictured inside a vehicle with a wall of snow outside.


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Local firefighters arrive to help in storm-battered Buffalo

Albion, Carlton, Clarendon and Lyndonville all send help
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2014 10:08 p.m.
Firefighters from four fire companies in Orleans County have arrived in Cheektowaga to help residents and motorists that have been inundated with snow.

There are 14 firefighters from Orleans County that will spend the next 24 to 48 hours in the Buffalo area, said Rocky Sidari, Albion fire chief. They brought along a snowmobile and three off-road four-wheelers.

The Albion Fire Department is providing the snowmobile, an off-road vehicle and seven firefighters. Two Carlton firefighters have volunteered, as well as two from Clarendon and three from Lyndonville. Clarendon and Lyndonville also are bringing off-road four-wheelers.

The National Guard also has been activated to help with the storm response. The National Guard will send 150 soldiers and airmen, seven Bobcats, 10 dump trucks, and five Humvees, according to Channel 4 in Buffalo.


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Albion firefighters prepare to help in Buffalo

Photos by Tom Rivers

A snowmobile owned by the Albion Fire Department could be used to check on residents stranded in a storm in the Buffalo area.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2014  5:57 p.m.
ALBION – The Albion Fire Department is preparing to be deployed to Buffalo, to assist crews in checking on residents and motorists who are stranded in a colossal snow storm. Firefighters could deliver food and medication. The exact assignment isn't yet known.

Fire Chief Rocky Sidari expects official confirmation soon that a local team will be sent to the Buffalo area, where about 5 feet of snow has been dumped. The Albion Fire Department has an off-road four-wheeler with a track system. That vehicle can maneuver in the huge snowfall. The Fire Department also plans to take a snowmobile and a rescue trailer.

Dusty DeCarlo moves a four-wheeler out of a trailer at the Albion Firehall. DeCarlo would check the vehicle for use in a major snowstorm in the Buffalo area.

Sidari was sending text messages to firefighters, trying to round up a crew. Sidari received six confirmations by 5 p.m. The group is expected to leave at 8 p.m. If they are deployed as expected Sidari said firefighters would be committing to a 24-hour shift.

Past Fire Chief Harry Papponetti has seen it before in the Blizzard of ’77. He told firefighters at the fire hall they need to careful and never be alone in these harsh elements.

“It’s blizzard-like conditions,” he told them. “It’s not going to be an enjoyable thing.”

Papponetti’s son Steven is a student at Hilbert College in Hamburg. He told his father the storm was unbelievable with the rapid pace of accumulations.

“He can’t even find his vehicle,” Papponetti said. “It’s buried.”

Albion Fire Chief Rocky Sidari, left, Harry Papponetti and Greg Marston check a rescue trailer for possible deployment later tonight and tomorrow. Firefighters also readied the trailer with gas cans, generators and other equipment.

Ron Armstrong, another past fire chief in Albion, talked with his granddaughter in Lancaster, where Armsrorng said 5 feet of snow has fallen.

“There is so much snow they can’t even get their doors open,” he said.


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3,600 houses in Orleans lack Internet access

Companies are due to submit proposals by Dec. 19

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2014
Government officials in Orleans County have talked for years about a lack of Internet access in parts of the county. It hurts students, farms and other businesses, putting them at a competitive disadvantage in an increasingly wired world.

Industry leaders would say 97 percent of the county was covered, but town and county officials sensed it was lower. Now there is data that identifies 3,600 households without access to the Internet. Out of about 20,000 households in the county that represents 18 percent of homes without Internet.

The four villages – Albion, Holley Lyndonville and Medina – have 100 percent access. But out in the country it’s a different story.

“There are entire segments of roads with no access,” said Evhen Tupis from BPGreene.

His firm is working with Orleans and seven towns in Niagara County on a Broadband Internet initiative.

The communities completed a study to determine how many houses do not have access, and also compiled a vertical asset inventory, which includes water towers, barns, buildings and other structures that could serve as transmission points.

The counties put out a request for proposals to Internet providers to serve the unserved areas, and those proposals are due Dec. 19. Tupis said it will take time to analyze the proposals.

The project is being spearheaded through the Orleans Land Restoration Corporation, which operates under the Orleans Economic Development Agency umbrella.

The data and proposals could be used as part of grant or other funding application.
Tupis said some of the $2 billion approved for schools in a recent ballot proposition could be used. He has sent letters to the five districts in Orleans County, urging them to set aside some of the technology funds through the state program to boost “connectivity” at the school districts.

He is hopeful there will be lots of interest from Internet service providers to boost the service in underserved areas of the two counties.

“The RFPs should determine how much money is needed,” he said.


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Business gives turkeys for families served by Community Action

Photo by Tom Rivers
Jeff Colonna, left, and his father Rich gave 25 turkeys to Community Action to share at Thanksgiving with local families. Anni Skowneski, case manager for Community Action, is pictured with the father and son.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 November 2014
ALBION – Community Action is trying to put together Thanksgiving dinners for 160 local families. The agency usually doesn’t have turkeys to give away, but one local business has given Community Action a good start on providing turkeys.

Rich Colonna and his son Jeff have donated 25 turkeys to Community Action. The agency typically has Thanksgiving meals without any meat.

“We give away food baskets based on the food donations,” said Anni Skowneski, case manager for Community Action. “We usually don’t get turkeys.”

With the Colonna gift and other turkey donations, Skowneski said the agency has enough turkeys for 40 families on Thanksgiving. She welcomed more donations from the community for Thanksgiving. She can be reached at 585-589-5605.

Rich Colonna said he has long been connected to Community Action through his electric and plumbing business. The agency also is a liaison for some of his tenants in an apartment rental business.

“If a client gets behind on their water and rent, we can negotiate to keep the tenants in their apartment,” Colonna said. “Community Action has been good to us. They help a lot of needy families.”


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