Fish arrive in pens to grow bigger, and imprint on Oak Orchard

106K Chinook, 21K steelhead delivered by DEC

Photos by Tom Rivers

Department of Environmental Conservation officials deliver Steelhead from the Altmar Hatchery this afternoon at the Oak Orchard River. The fish will spend the next month in pens by Ernst's Lake Breeze Marina.

The Steelhead are six months old and about 3 or 4 inches long. They will nearly double in size in the next month in the pens.

 

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 15 April 2014

POINT BREEZE – Charter boat captains and other Point Breeze stakeholders welcomed more than 100,000 fish today that will be nurtured in pens for the next month or so.

 

The tiny Chinook salmon and steelhead will be released about twice their current size. That will increase their chances of surviving in Lake Ontario and its tributaries. The fish, while they grow in the pens, also will imprint on the river.

 

When they are mature and ready to spawn, they are more likely to return to the Oak Orchard to lay their eggs.

Mike Waterhouse, the Orleans County sportsfishing promotion coordinator, helps with the fish stocking in one of the pens.

 

The Point Breeze community started the pen-rearing project in 1998. Bob Songin, charter boat captain with Reel Excitement, has been leader of the project each year.

Volunteers are up at 5 a.m. each morning to feed the fish, which are fed five times a day.

 

Songin said the project has resulted in more mature fish that return to the Oak Orchard and also in Lake Ontario near Point Breeze.

 

“We have double the survival rate, which means we have more fish to catch,” he said.

Bob Songin, in red, leads the pen-rearing project. About 20 volunteers assist with the effort each year.

 

The Department of Environmental Conservation brought truckloads of fish from the Altmar Hatchery. The agency stocked 106,000 Chinook in the pens, and 14,000 Steelhead or Rainbow Trout for the pens. The DEC also stocked 7,000 Steelhead in the Oak Orchard River by the Twin Bridges near Narby’s.

 

Volunteers are welcome to sign up at Ernst’s Lake Breeze Marina for a chance to feed the fish. The DEC provides the food for the fish.

The pens will keep the fish safe from predators while the Steelhead and Chinook grow in the next month.

 

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Rochester man arrested for possessing, selling crack cocaine in Albion

Laquan Simmons

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 15 April 2014

ALBION – A Rochester man currently on parole was arrested with 6.7 grams of crack cocaine in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Monday, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force reported.

 

Laquan J. Simmons, 22, of 259 Arborwood Lane was charged with two counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree (a Class B felony) for alleged previous sales to an undercover officer, said Joseph Sacco, the Task Force supervising officer.

 

Simmons arrest follows an investigation into the possession, sale and distribution of crack cocaine from the city of Rochester to the town of Albion.

 

Simmons also was charged with one count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree (a Class A felony).

 

Police seized 22 bags of crack cocaine packaged for sale and a larger bag of crack cocaine. They have a street value of more than $1,500, the Task Force reported.

 

Simmons was arraigned in Albion Town Court by Justice Kevin Howard, who remanded Simmons to county jail on $25,000 cash or bond bail. He is to appear in Town Court on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

 

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Decorated mannequin taken in Shelby

Orleans Hub file photo by Peggy Barringer Posted 15 April 2014

SHELBY – Doug Bracey gets a lot of comments about a mannequin he decorates for different holidays at the corner of Route 63 and Fletcher Chapel Road. Orleans Hub featured the mannequin in St. Patrick’s Day garb last month.

 

Bracey most recently has the mannequin decorated as the Easter Bunny. He’s disappointed someone took the mannequin on Monday, sometime between noon and 3 p.m.

 

He would like the mannequin returned so he can continue his tradition.

 

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Mayor says dissolution plan positions Medina area for future

Press release, Medina Mayor Andrew Meier Posted 15 April 2014

(Editor’s note: Medina Mayor Andrew Meier sent this response to a press release issued by the towns of Ridgeway and Shelby about a dissolution plan. Click here to see that press release, “Ridgeway and Shelby say village dissolution process has been flawed.”)

 

MEDINA – The taxpayers of Medina, Ridgeway and Shelby deserve honest solutions that have been thoughtfully considered, discussed, researched and arrived at with transparency. 

 

The Dissolution Committee has done that by proposing solutions that eliminate costly layers of government, improve quality of life for residents, and create the conditions for economic opportunity in a competitive environment. 

 

The Committee is comprised of a diverse group of independent, honorable, and unbiased citizens who have invested great effort in this plan, and I thank them for their continuing contributions.  

 

Our community’s motto is “Roots in the past, eyes on the future.”  We all find inspiration in the work of those who built our village with bold determination. But we can’t live in the past, doing the same old things we’ve done for years. Challenging and changing times demand that we think and act anew. 

 

I remain confident that our local elected officials are capable of fair-minded and unfiltered dialogue about our future, and I welcome idea-sharing with residents at all times. 

 

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‘Citizens’ will meet Thursday about proposed quarry in Shelby

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 15 April 2014

SHELBY – A group of Shelby residents will have a pubic meeting on Thursday to discuss a proposal for a new quarry on Fletcher Chapel Road.

 

The Citizens for Shelby Preservation welcome the public for the 7 p.m. meeting at the East Shelby Firehall, 5021 East Shelby Rd. The group formed in 2006 when the plan for a new quarry was first pitched.

 

David J. Mahar, president of Frontier Stone LLC, submitted a 4,000-page document – the draft environmental impact statement – that has been accepted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The DEC will have a hearing on the DEIS at 6 p.m. on April 30 at the Shelby Town Hall.

 

Wendi Pencille is president of the Citizens for Shelby Preservation. During the meeting on Thursday she will highlight pieces of the DEIS.

 

She opposes the quarry mainly because it is so close to the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

 

“There shouldn’t be a mining permit by a sensitive habitat,” she said today. “We’re not against quarrying, but not in an environmentally sensitive area.”

 

Pencille urged concerned residents to attend the meeting Thursday and also the public hearing on April 30. If Frontier secures a DEC permit, it still needs town approval for the project. Pencille urged residents to attend Town Board meetings and make them feelings known to town officials.

 

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Snow and cold return to WNY

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 15 April 2014

After breaking 70s degrees on Sunday and Monday, the temperatures are in the 30s today. And it’s snowing.

 

An inch of snow could fall today. By 10:30 a.m., there was already a coating of snow on the ground. There will be a high of 35 degrees followed by a high of 38 on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

 

It will get back to normal on Thursday with a high of 59.

 

Here are some photos around the Courthouse Square in Albion.

 

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Heritage Hero: Matthew Ballard

Albion man creates website for Polish community and leads Cobblestone Museum

Photos by Tom Rivers

Matt Ballard serves as co-director of the Cobblestone Society Museum. He is pictured in front of a church built in 1834.

 

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 15 April 2014

ALBION – Matt Ballard has fond remembrances growing up on Brown Street and being a part of the St. Mary’s community. Ballard was an altar server and his family was very active in the Catholic parish.

 

The Catholic Diocese closed the church in 2007. Our Light of Victory has since acquired the church property and has Sunday services there. But it is no longer St. Mary’s. The big mural of Mary was painted over.

 

Ballard didn’t want to see the history of the parish lost. He created a web site in 2010, www.albionpolonia.com, that first catalogued the art inside the building – the stained-glass windows and murals.

 

The site has expanded to include baptismal records, marriage licenses, and funerals of the Polish community. Ballard has photos of many of the weddings. He has a searchable database that helps people on a genealogical quest. He is up to 379 marriages and 736 funerals from the St. Mary's community.

Courtesy of www.Albionpolonia.com

Albion Polonia started as an effort to catalog the art work inside St. Mary's Catholic Church in Albion, including this mural of Mary.

 

In recognition of his efforts, Ballard will receive a “Heritage Hero” award on April 25 during the Civil War Encampment at GCC in Medina. He is one of five winners. At 26, he is also the youngest.

 

“It’s a labor of love,” Ballard said about Albion Polonia. “It’s a way to give back to a community that has given so much to me.”

 

Ballard said the parish was close-knit and loving. His father Bob Ballard was a long-time trustee at St. Mary’s. The Ballard family was connected with many other families in the parish. The younger Ballard felt that love growing up.

 

“It’s that saying, ‘It takes a community to raise a child,’” Ballard said.

 

The Polish immigrants settled on the east side of the village on Brown and Caroline streets. They built a church in the early 1890s at the corner of Brown and Moore streets. Ballard thinks the Polish community has been underappreciated.

 

Many of those immigrants worked in the local sandstone quarries and helped shape the stone in prominent buildings in the region and state, Ballard said.

Courtesy of www.Albionpolonia.com

This historical photo shows St. Mary's Catholic Church and a school next door.

 

He receives feedback about the sent from people in the community and around the country. They have shared photos and some details from the Polish community, helping to enrich the site. Ballard welcomes more contributions.

 

Ballard has been involved in other historical initiatives. He is a board member of the Orleans County Genealogical Society. He served on the Albion Historic Preservation Commission and also on the board of directors for the Cobblestone Society Museum.

 

In February he was named co-director of the Cobblestone Society Museum. The eight buildings near the intersection of routes 98 and 104 are a National Historic Landmark, the only site in the county with that designation from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

 

Ballard praised the community that rallied to start the museum a half century ago, and their devotion in preserving the buildings and the artifacts inside.

 

“It’s amazing that we have something like that in our county that is so unique,” he said.

Matt Ballard said it is an honor to be a part of the Cobblestone Society Museum. He is co-director with Rachel Karas.

 

He commended Bill Lattin, in particular, for being such a devoted caretaker and champion of the historic site. Lattin served as museum director for 40 years.

 

Ballard works part-time as a library supervisor for Hilbert College in Hamburg. He shares the museum director duties with Sarah Karas.

 

The museum opens on Mother’s Day. Ballard said it’s an privilege to help promote a museum that includes structures dating back to the 1830s.

 

“It’s a continuation of the people who came before me,” he said. “A lot of well-respected people in the community spearheaded the museum and a lot of well-respected people in the community continue to believe it’s very important.”

 

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Editorial

Ridgeway, Shelby push ‘Dissolution Innuendo,’ not facts

Editorial by Tom Rivers Posted 15 April 2014

MEDINA – They say they are the source for facts on proposed dissolution of the Village of Medina because Medina Mayor Andrew Meier and his hand-picked committee have skewered the details in a Dissolution Plan.

 

The Town Boards of Ridgeway and Shelby say the offer the “facts” on the dissolution, yet they don’t say how the details are being “skewered.” They allege impropriety from Meier and a Dissolution Committee, but don’t offer any “facts” to back up the claims.

 

The two Towns Boards have stepped up their efforts to undermine Meier, accusing him of mismanaging the finances of the village. There is nothing to back up this claim. No report from the comptroller’s office. No audit. They have nothing specific, but the two Town Boards have started a smear campaign, questioning Meier’s integrity and competence.

 

I don’t think anyone expected officials from the two towns to readily embrace the dissolution of the village. For nearly 200 years the village has paid the lion’s share of the bills and provided the bulk of the services in the Medina community. Village residents have a much bigger tax bill than their neighbors outside the village boundaries. Many of the village services – fire, ambulance and police – often go outside village boundaries for services on the village’s dime.

 

The village tax base has shrunk in recent years. The houses are falling in value while the assessments grow outside the village in the two towns. Moving outside the village can save a homeowner about $1,000 in taxes each year. That is quite an incentive to leave.

 

Meier is 34 years old. He doesn’t see how the village can prosper long-term with such a disparity between the village tax rate and the rate for those outside the village, especially when the latter enjoy many of the village services without paying towards them.

 

Village residents not only pay village taxes but they also get taxed by the town. It’s a tough deal for the village residents. A fair-minded person would question the disparity in taxes and should want to do something about it.

 

Meier has pushed the issue. Other communities have done consolidation and shared services studies, but they seldom go anywhere. It’s a lot of work coming up with a plan. You’re going to anger constituencies. You, unfortunately, will pay a price. That, sadly, is a fact and the two Town Boards are making sure of that in Medina.

 

They have hired a PR consultant and a press release that went out Sunday felt like an attack on Meier. He was the only one singled out by name despite several people working on the dissolution plan.

 

None of Town Board members will speak to the media, including the two town supervisors, Skip Draper in Shelby and Brian Napoli of Ridgeway.

 

You can submit them questions through a hotline or Facebook page. Those questions won’t be seen by the public and the “Towns” will respond on Facebook or they will issue a press release to selected media members. I was told Orleans Hub is on the list, but our repeated requests for a press release went nowhere. Another reporter forwarded it to me on Monday.

 

I had no idea the Orleans County press corps struck such fear in the hearts of the two Town Boards. Jim Krencik from The Daily News in Batavia, Howie Balaban from The Journal-Register in Medina, and I have the two Town Boards taking what may be an unprecedented step in the history of our democracy. They will not talk to reporters.

Everything must be funneled through a PR consultant. They will take residents’ questions through a Facebook message or you can leave a message on a hotline.

 

I have been a reporter in Orleans County for 18 years. Not everyone likes me, but I think everyone tolerates me, even when they don’t like questions. Draper and Napoli are both veterans in their positions and they should know answering an occasional phone call from a reporter is part of the territory.

 

President Barack Obama will take reporters’ questions, and he’ll do it live in front of the cameras. Even Vladimir Putin talks to reporters in Russia.

 

But the Town Boards in Shelby and Ridgeway desperately want to control the message, even if it means spreading innuendo.

 

The two towns have a “Dissolution Facts” Facebook page that is run by an anonymous “Towns.” No name of a town official is credited with any of the comments that have pointed criticism of the dissolution plan approved by a committee last Thursday.

 

I have covered some scandals and everyone who had a fall from grace at least stood before the cameras and public and answered some painful and embarrassing questions. They didn’t shrink and hide. I give them credit for “facing the music” in a difficult situation.

 

I really don’t understand the Ridgeway and Shelby stance. Why hide behind an anonymous Facebook page or a PR consultant?

 

These are hardly embarrassing questions: What do you think of the dissolution plan? How might it be improved? The village residents are also town residents – how will you serve them?

 

The increase in taxes for outside-village residents can likely be offset if the two towns merge. Will you work towards a merger or cost savings with Ridgeway/Shelby? If no, then why not?

 

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Fresh coat of paint for 98

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 14 April 2014

ALBION – The state roads in the village of Albion got a fresh coat of paint for center lines and other road markings today.

 

The top photo shows Accent Stripe Inc. of Orchard Park working on the cross walk at the intersection of Beaver Street and Route 98.

 

Earlier in the day they were in front of Rite Aid on the south side of the routes 98 and 31 intersection. The rain in late afternoon sent the crews home early.

 

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Botello gets maximum of 9 years in prison

Botello

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 14 April 2014

ALBION – A Kendall resident who faced attempted murder charges of a state trooper was sentenced to 9 years in state prison today.

 

Carlos Botello, 42, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder on Feb. 3. He admitted in court that he backed a car towards state trooper Dan Metz and smashed into the trooper’s patrol car on Sept. 3. But Botello said he wasn’t trying to injure Metz, who jumped out of the way and wasn’t hit by the car.

 

Botello said he was intoxicated at the time. He said he was trying to smash into the police car, but he insisted he didn’t want to hurt Metz.

 

“He was overcome with fear of going back to jail,” Botello’s attorney Nathan Pace told County Court Judge James Punch during sentencing this afternoon.

 

Botello through his attorney apologized to the police officer and said he was grateful no one was hurt. Botello declined to speak during the sentencing.

 

Punch said Botello has “a long serious criminal history.” The judge noted Botello has often been polite during his court appearances.

 

“I don’t understand what goes on in your mind,” the judge said, noting Botello’s contrasting behavior.

 

Although Botello said he didn’t mean to hurt the state trooper, Trooper Metz testified in a hearing in late January that he and Botello made eye contact when Metz was standing behind Botello’s vehicle. Botello then accelerated, nearly pinning Metz between the two vehicles, Punch said.

 

Besides second-degree attempted murder, Botello also was charged with driving while intoxicated. His BAC was 0.11 percent, which is above the 0.8 BAC threshold for DWI. He was sentenced to a year in prison for DWI and that will run with the nine-year sentence.

 

Assistant District Attorney Susan Howard asked Punch to sentence Botello to the maximum 9 years as part of a plea deal. She noted Botello “has a history of aggression towards law enforcement and police officers.”

 

When Botello was 23 in 1994, he fired six rounds into the home of Deputy Herb McClellan in Kendall. Botello was convicted of first-degree reckless endangerment and served four years and three months in state prison.

 

As part of sentencing today, Botello was ordered to pay $1,000 in restitution for damaging a farmer’s corn crop and putting ruts in his field.

 

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Ridgeway and Shelby say village dissolution process has been flawed

Press release, Towns of Ridgeway and Shelby Posted 14 April 2014

(Editor’s note: This is the full press release put out by the towns and their PR consultant, Mindful Media Group, in response to the dissolution plan for the village of Medina.)

 

MEDINA – More than eight weeks have passed since the towns of Ridgeway and Shelby joined together in a combined effort to provide their residents with clarity on the topic of the proposed dissolution of the Village of Medina.

 

Accurate data and detailed information on the potential tax impact to residents and efficient delivery of municipal services has not been forthcoming from Medina Mayor Andrew Meier’s office. Town officials believe the dissolution process is flawed. It is their position, and that of the respective board members, that the mayor of Medina should first address his own lack of fiscal management in relation to the Village of Medina, before attempting to dissolve it.

 

The mayor has publicly criticized the towns for not cooperating. Neither town has been invited to participate in the Dissolution Committee.  They were not invited to the most recent press conferences announced by the mayor, nor were they provided any documentation on the proceedings by the mayor's office.

 

A Ridgeway board member volunteered to serve on the Dissolution Committee and was rejected by the mayor, who solely handpicked each member of the committee.  It is a travesty that Ridgeway and Shelby town board members were not included in a dissolution plan or public announcements that might greatly impact both towns.

 

While it is accurate that officials from the towns of Ridgeway and Shelby were in shared services talks with the Village of Medina (2012-2013), it is untrue that the towns refused to collaborate with the mayor. Talks broke down by September 2013, after June’s Shared Services meeting, when it became apparent that Mayor Meier was only interested in having the towns share in the tax burden, rather than mapping out an efficient shared services merger.

 

Town board members and residents of Shelby and Ridgeway have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of information available to the public and the manner in which the mayor chooses to conduct meetings. Dissolution Committee meetings are held at 8 a.m. in City Hall (600 Main Street) in the upper level of the old court room, which is not handicapped accessible. There are no questions allowed. Both town supervisors are of the opinion the mayor’s choice of time, location and format was strategic, so as to limit the number of residents able to observe the proceedings and gather information.

 

Both towns have been proactive on the matter. In December '13 and March '14, letters were sent to area residents about the proposed dissolution plan. In March, a 24-hour Cares & Concerns line (716-507-8533), website (www.2Towns4ThePeople.com) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DissolutionFacts) were launched. The goal of both towns is to present additional data and factual information obtained, bringing to the forefront the true nature of the issues that will impact the community.

 

The Towns of Ridgeway and Shelby have done what they set out to do eight weeks ago; effect a change in the way the mayor manages the information and communicates on the topic of dissolution. Ridgeway and Shelby's commitment to their residents will not stop there.

 

Only after both towns launched public campaigns to better inform residents did the mayor call a press conference (April 10). While the mayor’s newly-established OneMedina.com website is devoid of content, Ridgeway and Shelby's website www.2Towns4ThePeople.com has been operational for months and full of data, links and comprehensive information on the proposed dissolution plan.  

 

The towns were also successful in obtaining and posting the Dissolution Committee's Approved Minutes from 2013, which were not made available to the public prior to their efforts.

 

The 24-hour Cares & Concerns line, Facebook page and website have been utilized by over 1,909 residents to date. Both towns wish to encourage everyone to learn more about the issues.

 

Both supervisors and all town board members of Ridgeway and Shelby will remain steadfast in their efforts to communicate the facts about dissolution to the community and serve residents in a manner worthy of their trust and confidence.

 

Visit the website (www.2Towns4ThePeople.com) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DissolutionFacts) for daily contributions from the towns of Ridgeway and Shelby on the topic of dissolution.

 

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Ridgeway, Shelby hire PR firm

Town officials decline to speak directly to the media

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 14 April 2014

MEDINA – The towns of Shelby and Ridgeway have hired a public relations professional to connect with the media and release information from the towns’ perspective about a possible dissolution of the village of Medina.

 

Shelby and Ridgeway hired Andina Barone, owner of Mindful Medina Group. She also works with the Orleans Economic Development Agency to write press releases and contact members of the media.

 

She said officials from the two towns won’t be taking interview requests from the media right now, but will be releasing information in the upcoming weeks.

 

The Town Boards from Ridgeway and Shelby issued a joint statement, questioning why no one from one of their boards was on the Dissolution Committee. They also alleged poor fiscal management from village officials have led to the push to dissolve.

 

“Accurate data and detailed information on the potential tax impact to residents and efficient delivery of municipal services has not been forthcoming from Medina Mayor Andrew Meier’s office,” according to the press release. “Town officials believe the dissolution process is flawed. It is their position, and that of the respective board members, that the Mayor of Medina should first address his own lack of fiscal management in relation to the Village of Medina, before attempting to dissolve it.”

 

Meier and the Dissolution Committee see dissolving the village as a way to bring down a tax rate for village property owners that is the highest in the Finger Lakes region. That tax rate includes the village, town, county and school.

 

Dissolution would shave about $5 to $7 off the overall village rate that is about $54 per $1,000 of assessed property. The town leaders previously told the media they weren’t inclined to follow the dissolution plan. They haven’t said how they would provide services to village residents if the village dissolved. Village residents also live in either the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway and pay taxes to those municipalities.

 

The Dissolution Committee includes Meier, Village Trustee Mark Irwin, retired Arc of Orleans Director Don Colquhoun, Medina Business Association President and downtown business owner Cindy Robinson, Charlie Slack of Slack Insurance and Thurston Dale, a retired veterinarian.

 

“It is a travesty that Ridgeway and Shelby town board members were not included in a dissolution plan or public announcements that might greatly impact both towns,” according to the press release from the two Town Boards.

 

“Town board members and residents of Shelby and Ridgeway have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of information available to the public and the manner in which the mayor chooses to conduct meetings.

 

“Dissolution Committee meetings are held at 8 a.m. in City Hall (600 Main Street) in the upper level of the old court room, which is not handicapped accessible. There are no questions allowed. Both town supervisors are of the opinion the mayor’s choice of time, location and format was strategic, so as to limit the number of residents able to observe the proceedings and gather information.

 

“Both supervisors and all town board members of Ridgeway and Shelby will remain steadfast in their efforts to communicate the facts about dissolution to the community and serve residents in a manner worthy of their trust and confidence.”

 

The two towns have a Facebook page about “Dissolution Facts” and also have launched a web site: 2towns4ThePeople.com.

 

Meier and local attorney Nathan Pace on Thursday announced a push for “One Medina” that would dissolve the village and merge the two towns into one municipality: The Town of Medina.

 

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Editorial

State budget provides too little for villages

Communities need to push for more money

Photo by Tom Rivers

A smashed sign in the village of Albion on Washington Street is symbolic of the rough roads villages are charting due to miniscule aid from the state. Cities get far more in per capita funding than villages.

 

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 14 April 2014

The new state budget showered businesses with tax-free zones if they affiliate with SUNY campuses, gave a $40 million boost for pothole repairs, and sent schools about $1.1 billion more in aid.

 

However, some of the state’s most tax oppressive communities – villages – received a pittance in aid. The state increased designated funds for villages from $1.5 million to $2 million. That is to be shared by more than 500 villages. The money breaks out to $1.06 in aid per person.

 

That is on top of the Aid and Incentives to Municipalities (AIM) funding. That is about $700 million a year for cities, villages and towns outside of New York City. Very little of that money goes to village residents. They get about $6 to $10 in aid per person while cities, including small ones with fewer people than Albion or Medina, get about $150 per head.

 

Orleans Hub wrote about this disparity in January. Click here to see “State shortchanges villages with aid, leading to their demise.”

 

I hoped the article on Jan. 27 would ignite a firestorm with the leaders from the villages, towns, the county and our state representatives demanding far more for our villages, especially the bigger ones with police departments. Our villages function like bigger cities.

 

We have “urban problems” with crime, dilapidated housing, shrinking tax bases and aging infrastructure. The state funnels a lot of money to the cities to help them with problems that could easily overwhelm them. If they had to pay for everything themselves, you could add a high tax rate to their troubles, which would further chase people out of the city leading to more decline.

 

I’ve heard from a lot of local officials about that article in January. Many voiced outrage. But there have been no formal resolutions from any local municipality seeking a fair funding AIM formula.

 

The county passes “symbolic” resolutions almost every meeting chiding the state for some policy. The county has passed many resolutions opposing and calling for the repeal of the SAFE Act, for example. Orleans legislators also officially weighed in against college programs for inmates and there have been numerous calls for relief from unfunded mandates.

 

But there has been nothing from any elected board about a funding formula that so clearly discriminates against village property owners. Why should the state give the villages more money when they don’t ask for it, and their town and county counterparts won’t push for it, either?

 

The Village of Albion has 6,056 residents and will receive $45,249 in state aid, or $7.47 per person. The city of Salamanca in Cattaraugus County has 5,815 people and receives $928,131 in AIM funding or $159.61 per person.

 

The Village of Medina has 6,065 people and gets $51,971 in state support or $8.57 a person. The city of Norwich in Chenango County gets $1,089,279 in state dollars for its 7,142 residents or $151.50 per person.

 

This disparity is the main reason our villages are plagued with such high tax rates, and some needed upgrades have languished.

 

The villages should all pass resolutions asking for the state to put villages near the funding support for cities, and the town and county governments should stand with the villages and pass similar resolutions.

 

A fair formula could bring another $1 million into both Albion and Medina. Those communities would no longer have among the highest tax rates in the region and they could tackle delayed community projects, making the places more inviting for investment.

 

The state budget in 2013-14 for the first time included the line item for villages. It totaled $1.5 million state-wide and was increased to $2 million in the new state budget. Although a pittance, the state acknowledged a need to direct some money to villages.

 

That fund gives the state a mechanism to devote even more money in the future to communities that desperately need the funding. If the state made a significant investment in the fund for villages, it would direct money to communities where services are concentrated, where household incomes are lower than their “country” counterparts, and where civic structures, schools and businesses tend to be located.

 

The money would go to help pay for critical services that are currently on the backs on some of the poorest residents of the community.

 

But the villages need to formal make a demand for the money, and the towns and county governments should back them up.

 

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Former President Taft paid Albion a visit in 1920

By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 14 April 2014

ALBION – Former U.S. President William H. Taft paid a visit to Albion on March 8, 1920. Here, third from the left in the front row, is Taft pictured in front of the Orleans Hotel with members of the Albion Chamber of Commerce. (The Orleans Hotel was located at the corner of Platt and East Bank streets.)

 

Others in the photo include: Herbert Reed, Spencer Tanner, Wm Karns, Bernard Ryan, Thomas A. Kirby and County Judge Gerald Fluhrer at a far right.

 

Taft was given a reception at the Elks Club and later gave a forceful address in the High School Auditorium on why the U.S. should join the League of Nations.

 

Taft and Teddy Roosevelt are the only two former presidents who have visited Albion.

 

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Rockets fly at the Home Show

Evan Maedl, 10, steps back to watch his rocket shoot off into the sky. The rockets took off so quickly that many were only found once they released their yellow streamer during their fall back to earth.

 

By Sue Cook, staff reporter Posted 13 April 2014

KNOWLESVILLE – Doug Pratt had a booth at the Orleans County Home & Garden Show this weekend to promote the hobby of rocketry and bring awareness to his company, Pratt Hobbies, Inc.

 

He allowed children to press the button for launch on Sunday afternoon.

The rockets are slid onto the upright metal post which guides them upon launch into an upward trajectory. The cord at the base is attached to the rocket base and ignition switch.

 

Pratt Hobbies will be at the Warbird Museum for the NYPOWER 18 event in Geneseo over Memorial Day weekend from May 24-26. Pratt said that during the NYPOWER model planes and rockets are given a chance to show off. Everyone from professionals to Boy Scout troops are given the chance to make their creations fly.

Damian Chadsey, 4, presses the button with his father's help. His brother, Jason Farrington, 6, watches as the rocket takes to the air.

 

Pratt will also have a booth during the week of the 4-H fair with more opportunities for kids to build and launch their own rockets.

Owen Maedl, 4, presses the button for the launch of a small cardboard rocket.

 

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3 Albion sisters released from hospital after crash

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 13 April 2014

ALBION – Three sisters who were in a car accident Saturday morning have all been released from the hospital, and their mother is thankful they weren’t seriously injured.

 

Kayla Strickland, 18, of Albion suffered a broken neck but she could have been paralyzed if her neck had twisted, her mother Linda said this afternoon. Kayla will have to wear a neck brace for about 12 weeks.

 

“It could have been much worse,” Mrs. Strickland said. “I’m thankful to God and the guys who worked on her.”

 

Medina and Ridgeway firefighters responded to the scene. Kayla was taken by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital. She was released today.

 

Her 16-year-old twin sisters, Laura and Lilly, were taken by ambulance to Medina Memorial Hospital. They had bumps and bruises, but no injuries, their mother said.

 

“I am praising God in every way possible that they are all home today,” Mrs. Strickland said.

 

Kayla, a student at Genesee Community College, was driving her twin sisters home after the three attended a all-nighter at Calvary Tabernacle Church in Medina. Kayla fell asleep at about 7:40 a.m. while driving a 2005 Ford sedan on Knowlesville Rd. The vehicle went off the east side of the road into a field and overturned, coming to rest on its side, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department reported.

 

Kayla attended the Orleans County Christian School at Calvary Tabernacle, where her mother is the school administrator. Kayla's twin sisters are both juniors at the school.

 

The church hosted an all-night youth event that included a praise worship team, preaching, games and fun activities, their mother said.

 

She and her husband Curt thanked the community for their prayers after the accident.

 

“I’ve heard from a lot of people and it’s very comforting,” she said.

 

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Heritage Hero: Bob Waters

Former newspaper publisher has spearheaded many heritage projects

File photo by Tom Rivers

Bob Waters, president of the Medina Sandstone Society, gives a rousing speech during the first Hall of Fame program on Dec. 12 at Medina City Hall. Six inaugural inductees were named to the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame that day.

 

 

(Editor’s Note: Genesee Community College is honoring its first class of five Heritage Heroes during the Civil War Encampment on April 25 in Medina. Orleans Hub will profile the honorees. Tom Rivers, the Orleans Hub editor, served on the committee that helped pick the winners.)

 

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 13 April 2014

MEDINA – He made a living telling the stories of Medina and the Orleans County community. Bob Waters served as publisher of The Journal-Register in Medina.

 

Since leaving the business more than three decades ago, Waters has made telling – and preserving – the community’s heritage a priority.

 

He has written publications – he won’t call them books – about Medina’s sandstone past, the community’s boom years from 1900 to 1930, and a publication of penny post cards about Medina in 2012: “Greetings from Medina, New York.”

 

Waters loves the written word, but he has also provided leadership and some of the heavy lifting for community projects, perhaps most notably the reuse of the former Armory on Pearl Street.

Waters served on the Armory Action Committee that helped find a new purpose for the building after it was shut down by the state in 1977.

 

That 90,000-square-foot building was built in 1901. It was closed in 1977 by state officials. Waters and the Armory Action Committee met weekly and negotiated with the state to keep the utilities on, make needed repairs and eventually transfer the site to the community so it could be used as a YMCA. That organization now has more than a 1,000 members and it is investing about $400,000 in a capital improvement project.

 

“When the National Guard left, the property could have gone down hill in a hurry,” Waters said. “Now the Y is just running with it.”

 

The building is one of the most iconic structures in the county. It resembles a fortress. In December it was part of the inaugural class of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame.

 

Waters is president of the group. He praised Sandstone Society members Jim Hancock, Dave Miller and John Slack for working to get the Hall of Fame established. The six inductees and other historical photos of quarrymen are displayed inside the meeting room at City Hall.

Photos courtesy of Dave Miller

Medina Savings and Loan celebrated its 125th anniversary in June. As part of the celebration, the Medina Sandstone Society unveiled a sandstone plaque by the bank’s front door. Pictured, from left: Medina S & L President Tim Moriarty, Sandstone Society President Bob Waters, and Charles Slack, chairman of the board for the bank.

The Sandstone Society has given many sandstone signs to recent projects or institutions that have invested in the community.

 

The Society has established a community foundation that helps fund community projects, which could be restoration of stained glass windows or putting old newspapers and photos in microfiche or digital files, among the many preservation efforts.

 

Waters also speaks with students about local history and also leads tours of historical buildings and sites in the Medina area.

 

He sees an interest in local history – from high schoolers and young adults. He thinks Facebook has helped fuel a love for local heritage.

File photo by Tom Rivers

Bob Waters signs a copy of the organization’s latest publication, “Medina, My Home Town – Fond Memories,” during the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce’s Home and Garden Show last April.

 

The Sandstone Society’s latest publication, “Medina, My Home Town – Fond Memories,”  includes reminisces from writers about Medina. Many of the anecdotes came from the Memories of Medina Facebook page, which has nearly 3,500 members.

 

“There has been a resurgence of interest in hometown history,” Waters said.

 

And he thinks that has helped spark a new wave of entrepreneurs who are investing in the downtown and the community.

 

“It used to be young people couldn’t wait to get out of here,” he said. “I’ve always been a small-towner. Maybe the small town is coming back.”

 

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