Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 20 December 2014
HOLLEY – A two-car accident on Route 237 resulted in two people going to the hospital for minor injuries, Holley fire officials said at the scene.
The accident happened at about 3:30 p.m. One motorist appears to have driven through the stop sign at Telegraph Road, crossing into North Main Street, where the car was struck. The Orleans County Sheriff’s Department is expected to issue a news release on the accident later.
A driver in one of the vehicles was trapped inside after her vehicle was T-boned. Holley firefighters were able to extricate her from the vehicle.
The Holley Fire Department and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Fire Company were both at the scene. Monroe Ambulance transported one of the drivers with the Brockport Fire Department taking the other.
Past Holley Fire Chief Dave Knapp said the intersection has been the scene for many accidents over the years, including a fatal crash in March 2008.
Holley firefighter John Totter surveys the scene on North Main Street.
World Life Institute runs program serving 400-plus
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 December 2014
MEDINA – Medina area residents, many of them senior citizens on fixed incomes, started lining up at 8:30 this morning outside the Old Mill Run Restaurant on Route 63. Some of them would stand for more than 2 hours, waiting for the food from Foodlink to be set up on tables by volunteers and given away.
Many of the people walked from nearby Ricky Place, pushing small carts. Others carried bags and boxes.
For more than a year, the World Life Institute has worked with Foodlink on the food giveaway. About 200 people come for the food the first and third Saturdays of the month. A Foodlink truck arrives with the food, and about 15 to 20 volunteers then break the boxes of food into smaller containers.
Another 200 to 400 people who aren’t in the line also usually receive some of the food. Family and friends in line will take it to them, or some of the WLI volunteers will deliver it.
The effort started in November 2013. Bilal Huzair, owner of the Old Mill Run and a WLI member, was willing to use his restaurant and parking lot as a distribution point.
“We didn’t have an expectation,” Huzair said this morning. “We just knew there was a need.”
Some of the people in line were younger adults, struggling to get a job. Others had jobs that didn’t pay enough to cover all of their bills. The first people in line were senior citizens.
Several said they are on fixed incomes and have seen their medical costs rise with healthcare and prescriptions. One woman has a husband with cancer. She sought assistance through social services but was denied.
“They said I make $2 too much,” she said.
One man stood in the parking lot for more than two hours, with the outside temperature in the mid 20s.
“When you’re a senior and on Social Security, you either eat or take your medicine,” he said. “I’m here because every little bit helps.”
An anonymous donor has been paying Foodlink for the food that is given out with help from the World Life Institute.
“These are people who genuinely need things,” Huzair said.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 20 December 2014
MEDINA – Firefighters delivered boxes of toys, food and clothes to about 100 Medina families and senior citizens this morning. The delivery was the last step in annual toy and gift effort coordinated by the Medina Area Association of Churches.
In the top photo, Medina firefighters, including Guy Scribner (center), load a truck with boxes that would then be distributed in the community.
Don Marchner, lower left, has been helping deliver the boxes of toys the past 45 years. Marchner, a member of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company, said firefighters look forward to the delivery each year.
“We’re helping people that need it,” he said. “It’s just giving back to the community.”
Mike Kelly (with box in center) is president of the Ridgeway Fire Company. Firefighters from Ridgeway, Shelby, East Shelby and Medina all helped deliver the boxes to families and senior citizens this morning.
“For us, we’re usually going to house fires or EMS calls,” Kelly said. “Today we get to bring joy to the families.”
Paul Wengrzycki, a Medina firefighter, carries a box with toys and food to a truck this morning. He has helped deliver the holiday boxes the past 11 years. He works as a school bus driver and he said he sees the need in the community.
“It’s tough for a lot of families,” Wengrzycki said. “They don’t have money to go out and buy stuff for Christmas.”
The MAAC includes 16 local churches. They put out 29 barrels and residents filled them with toys, food, clothing and other donations. Volunteers spent much of the week sorting the donations and putting them in boxes for the families and senior citizens.
Ridgeway firefighter Rick Tuohey, in back, follows a line of fireifghters in loading up a truck with holiday boxes. The Medina United Methodist Church at the former Apple Grove Inn served as the staging area for the MAAC holiday initiative.
Sandra Baxter returned to college after Worthington Cylinders left Medina
BATAVIA – In an effort to encourage students to enroll for Spring 2015 semester, Genesee Community College offered those who registered by Dec. 12 a chance to win an iPad mini.
Sandra Baxter of Albion needed no incentive. She had registered back in October, the first chance she could. In a case of “the early bird gets the worm,” Sandra won the drawing. She came to the Batavia campus on Thursday to collect her prize.
“I felt like Santa Claus calling her,” said Dr. Virginia Taylor, vice president for Student and Enrollment Services. Sandra was surprised to have won. “I couldn’t believe it. I usually don’t win things.”
She’s thrilled to try the mini, as are her children. She is the mother of 7 and 11 year olds and stepmother to one, age 21, who graduated from GCC last spring.
That’s the same semester Sandra returned to college at age 40. When her job in distribution at Worthington Cylinders (BernzOmatic) was relocated to Wisconsin, she decided it was time.
“I said that’s my sign that I need to go back to school full time and start a new career.”
She is studying to be a medical administrative assistant and hopes to graduate in 2016. Sandra has taken classes at the Batavia campus and online.
“I figured it would be hard,” she acknowledged since she hadn’t taken a class since her first foray into college after high school. “But I haven't had any real trouble. I really like it. Everybody’s been great. Even the other students have been really helpful with the technology.”
She was most nervous about taking the online class, but managed with minimal trouble.
“It’s a lot of asking questions, but I’m getting the hang of it,” she said.
Sandra was chosen from 14,857 class registrations submitted between the time enrollment opened in October and Dec. 12, 2014. Assistant Dean for Records and Advisement Terry Reding put all the names in a database randomly and assigned them a number. He then asked members of the Enrollment Management committee to select a digit from a specified range, which, when compiled into one number produced the winner – 3,843.
“Our contest may be over, but there are still opportunities to register for spring classes,” said Dr. Taylor. “Many fill quickly, that's why we encourage students to enroll early. But there are some classes available. We encourage people to check out all the opportunities. A new year is a great time to make a fresh start!”
Orleans, at 29 percent, nearly twice state average
Staff Reports Posted 19 December 2014
Upstate NY adults more likely to smoke than adults in rest of the state and nation, according to a report from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
The upstate adult smoking rate of 20.9 percent tops the state-wide rate of 16.2 percent and the national average of 18.1 percent. Orleans County, at 29 percent, tops the upstate average.
The Excellus report shows that over the past decade, the rate of adult smokers in upstate New York has declined 5.4 points, while the rate of adult smokers in New York state declined 4.9 points. The rate of adult smokers in the U.S. declined 3.7 points. (Click here to see the report.)
“We’ve issued this report now with the hope that people who are considering a New Year's resolution to quit smoking will find in it another strong incentive to walk away from this life-shortening habit,” said Jamie Kerr, M.D., Excellus vice president and chief medical officer for utilization management. “There are also a variety of tools available to help smokers who have resolved to quit.”
A provision of the Affordable Care Act provides greater access to resources that can help smokers quit. For many Americans who have private health insurance plans, tobacco use screenings for adults, cessation interventions for tobacco users and expanded counseling for pregnant women who smoke are now covered at no out-of-pocket cost. For people who have Medicare coverage, stop smoking counseling also is covered.
“A significant amount of money has been spent over the past five decades to educate the public about the dangers of smoking, New York state passed legislation restricting where people can smoke, and the state’s taxes on cigarettes are among the highest in the country,” Kerr said. “Despite all that, about 24,000 New Yorkers die each year from diseases caused by smoking cigarettes, and another 3,000 lives are claimed by exposure to secondhand smoke.”
The Excellus report finds that smoking costs New York state more than $15.6 billion in 2014 dollars each year in direct medical costs and economic productivity losses.
“Imagine the initiatives that could be funded in our state by re-directing $15.6 billion to purposes other than those related to tobacco use,” Kerr said.
Smoking among New York state adults varies by socio-economic demographic:
• One in five adults age 25 to 34 (21.0 percent) smoke.
• Adults who haven't earned a high school diploma or GED are more than three times as likely to smoke (24.0 percent) than college graduates (7.3 percent).
• Adults with incomes below $15,000 are more than twice as likely to smoke (25.2 percent) than those with incomes of $50,000 or more (11.7 percent).
"Our intent in writing this report was to document 50 years of progress in reducing the impact of cigarette smoking on public health and health care spending, but instead we found a 50-year mix of success and failure," Kerr said.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2014
KENDALL – Matt Kludt and Kludt Farms have won the New York crown for biggest corn yield.
Kludt’s per-acre yield of 281.5 bushels won the non-irrigated, no-till/strip-till category. Two nearby farms finished second and third with R.L. Jeffres & Sons, Inc. in Wyoming at a 269.2 yield and RY Properties in Pavilion at 264.9.
The National Corn Growers Association announced the state and national awards today. One farm – Randy Dowdy of growbigcorn.com in Valdosta, GA – topped 500 bushels for the first time in the contest’s 50-year history. Seven farms topped 400 bushels in the national contest, all with entries from irrigated fields.
“While this contest provides individual growers a chance for good-natured competition with their peers, it also advances farming as a whole,” said Don Glenn, chairman of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team. “The techniques and practices contest winners develop provide the basis for widely used advances that help farmers across the country excel in a variety of situations, including drought. This contest highlights how innovation, from both growers and technology providers, allows us to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fuel and fiber.”
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2014
MEDINA – Sgt. Todd Draper and K-9 Kye today are moving from a Crown Victoria police car with 181,000 miles to a Ford Expedition with less than half that mileage.
The dog will have more room in the Ford Expedition, a donation made possible by George Bidleman, owner of Orleans Ford. Bidleman spent about $15,000 buying the vehicle, having it repainted from white to black and white, decaled and upgraded with new tires and brakes.
It may be the biggest donation in the police department’s history. Bidleman has worked in Medina for 27 years. He said police have always been responsive for his business. Orleans Ford has little vandalism or other problems, and Bidleman credited the police presence for helping the car dealership.
“They do a great job and they’re somewhat underappreciated in Orleans County,” Bidleman said about the Medina Police Department.
The police department has had a K-9 team since the fall of 2012 when Kye, a Belgian Malinois, joined the department, working with handler Sgt. Todd Draper. The Medina Business Association paid for the dog, and Tops and Tractor Supply pay for the dog’s food.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the Business Association,” Medina Police Chief Jose Avila said.
He praised Bidleman for the generous donation.
“He realizes money is tight and he wants to help us provide a valuable tool like Kye,” Avila said.
The dog has proven valuable to the department for narcotics detection, tracking and patrol, Draper said.
Kye is very social and easily connects with children and others in the community. Draper brings the dog to preschools, basketball games, senior centers, churches and other community events.
“The dog helps us bridge the gap, especially with children,” Avila said. “We’re not just here to arrest people, but to help people.”
Draper brings the dog home with him and spends a lot of hours off the clock working with the dog, Avila said.
Draper sees how the dog draws in people while he’s out in the community. Kye also calms down situations where there could be fighting or other tension.
Draper hands out cards with Kye’s photo and some information about the dog’s background and skills. He jokes that he is “just the guy on the end of the leash.”
Press Release, National Grid Posted 19 December 2014
BASOM – National Grid has apporoved a $500,000 grant to help develop and market the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) site in the town of Alabama, just south of the Orleans County line.
National Grid has now given $1.5 million since 2007 to advance the project. The Genesee County Economic Development Center is developing the site and marketing it to corporate site selectors as well as nanotechnology and advanced manufacturing companies throughout the United States and the world.
“We are extremely excited to have such strong support from National Gird to help us bring the next generation of advanced manufacturing to Western New York,” said Steve Hyde, president and CEO of the GCEDC. “STAMP has received significant support from business, education and economic development groups and organizations from Buffalo and Rochester, so it is truly a collaborative effort to bring this transformative economic development project to our region.”
STAMP is a 1,250-acre site and is aligned to attract the next generation of nanotechnology companies, including semiconductor chip fabs, flat panel displays, solar, bio-manufacturing, and advanced manufacturing companies to New York State.
Most recently, STAMP was appropriated $33 million in the 2014-15 state budget to bring the site to a shovel-ready status. This funding will be used for pre-construction engineering, sewer and water lines and other utility hook-ups and other infrastructure enhancements.
“We have seen a number of major gains in the bringing new and advanced technologies to the region, and we’re confident that STAMP will continue the significant economic development momentum in the region in the science, technology and advanced manufacturing areas,” said Dennis Elsenbeck, regional executive for National Grid in Western New York.
STAMP is located in the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) low cost hydropower zone. The site is within a 60-minute commute of 2.1 million residents from the Rochester and Buffalo metro regions as well as six university centers with over 17,000 enrolled engineering students. According to GCEDC officials, STAMP has the potential to generate $30 to $50 billion in investment and employ up to 10,000 workers on-site. The supply chain impact could add another 50,000 jobs.
The grants to the GCEDC are from a number of National Grid programs, including the Strategic Economic Development Program designed to increase effective marketing and sales initiatives aimed at “strategic targets.”
This program provides expertise and incremental resources to leverage more and better macro-level business attraction research, marketing and sales efforts. Other grants have helped support hard infrastructure improvements to the site. Information about National Grid’s suite of economic programs is available at www.shovelready.com.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2014
Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson is featured in a Q & A for the American City & County, a national magazine that has been the voice of state and local government since 1909.
Her interview was posted to the magazine’s web site on Wednesday. She talks about the Niagara Orleans Regional Alliance. She is co-chair of the two-county alliance with Niagara County. That group has fought a plan for regulating Lake Ontario and has pushed for expanding broadband Internet access in rural spots of the two counties.
Johnson said her most rewarding time as legislator is attending the Top 10 graduate dinner in Orleans County. The most challenging time has been the three times she has witnessed the return of a local soldier killed in either a training accident or in combat.
“All three times the streets have been lined with residents paying their respects,” she tells American City & County. “The volunteer fire departments draped the American flag using ladder trucks, high over the main intersection. These soldiers were proud to serve the country they loved. Even those who didn’t know these soldiers say their deaths are a reminder of what all American soldiers do and the sacrifices they make.”
She offers these tips to be an effective elected official: “Be a good listener, attend all meetings, and do your homework.”
To see the full interview, click here.
Press Release, Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni Posted 19 December 2014
ALBION – The Albion Police Department is currently investigating numerous larcenies and burglaries from vehicles and buildings. These crimes are occurring from late evening to the early morning hours.
Vehicles and buildings are being entered and a wide variety of items have been stolen. The crimes have been limited to unlocked vehicles and buildings.
Residents are strongly encouraged to lock vehicles, garages, sheds and other outbuildings. Residents are also asked to call 911 immediately when they see or hear something suspicious.
The Albion Police Department has developed persons of interest in the cases and has collected evidence. The Albion Police Department has been assisted in the investigation by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine.
The Office of Air and Marine has provided the Albion Police Department with personnel utilizing extremely expensive and technologically advanced equipment to aid in the investigation.
Anyone with information regarding the crimes is asked to call the Albion Police Department at 585-589-5627.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 December 2014
ALBION – Fran Nayman had an annual holiday tradition: He would buy baskets full of jams, jellies, apple butter, salad dressings and other goodies from Watt Farms Country Market.
He did it again this year, paying for 27 of the baskets. They are at Watt Farms, paid for and waiting to be picked up at 3121 Oak Orchard Rd.
Nayman died in a fire on Friday at his small engine repair shop. He was 76.
Watt Farms doesn’t know where the gift baskets were destined. Karen Watt said Nayman would typically buy 25 to 30 gift baskets each holiday season for friends.
She would like people who normally received the baskets from Nayman to stop by the farm market on Route 98. The farm market will close for the season after Monday. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until then. For more information, call Watt Farms at (585) 589-8000.
By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 December 2014
WATERPORT – This snapshot was taken in September 1963 at the dedication of the water treatment plant on the Wilson Road in the Town of Carlton.
Using the old Albion bandstand for a stage, we see Mayor John D. Robinson giving a speech. A number of dignitaries are seated behind him including Assemblyman Alonzo Waters of Medina in the light-colored coat.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 December 2014
MEDINA – The Medina community is getting a lot of love today on a travel website – www.Vagabondish.com – for Medina’s historic and lively business district, nearby wineries, and other attractions.
Mike Richard, founding editor of Vagabondish, wrote up a feature on Medina, giving readers 7 reasons to visit the community. Vagabondish has nearly 200,000 followers on Twitter.
Medina’s downtown core is “packed with history, beautiful architecture, friendly people, and a smattering of small town shops. It’s easy to wile away half a day exploring Main Street alone,” Richard writes.
As small cities, such as Buffalo, make a resurgence in drawing visitors, Richard sees potential in small towns like Medina that have a wealth of historical assets and small-town charm.
He highlighted the downtown business district, Mayor Andrew Meier and his many roles (lawyer, entrepreneur, church organist, hotelier and historian), the Civil War-era Bent’s Opera House, the fast-growing Niagara Wine Trail and nearby wineries (including Leonard Oakes Estate Winery and 810 Meadworks), and the upscale restaurant Zambistro.
Kathleen Rooney, a public relations professional, helped arrange Richard’s visit. Rooney lives in Buffalo and has owned a downtown building in Medina the past two years.
She said Richard’s article is “a real valentine to the village.” She noted Medina has been drawing more attention as a destination with publicity in Western New York media outlets. The report on Vagabondish should draw more attention to the community.
“Medina is a gem,” Rooney said. “There are so few places that have been left intact.”
She grew up in Lockport and large chunks of the city’s business district were demolished during Urban Renewal. Medina rejected the wrecking ball in the 1960s and 1970s.
The community also has appeal as a culinary and agri-tourism destination, she said. The Niagara Wine Trail runs through Medina and some of fruit and vegetables by top restaurants in the region are grown in the area.
"After only one day, we were sad to leave Medina," Richard said in concluding his report. "It’s a rare destination that’s managed to embrace its historical roots and small town charm, while still looking to the future. All while staying largely off the tourist radar. Which is to say: get there before everyone else does."
Staff Reports Posted 18 December 2014
A winter weather advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. today when the area is expected to be hit with freezing drizzle, the National Weather Service in Buffalo reports.
The weather advisory includes Orleans County and parts of western, central and northern New York.
The freezing drizzle and light snow could create some slick spots on untreated surfaces, the Weather Service said.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 December 2014
MEDINA – Dissolution opponents are stepping up their efforts to sway village residents not to support a dissolution vote on Jan. 20, saying the village will lose critical services and won’t see promised tax savings.
About 20 people, many of them village employees, met to distribute yard signs and talk strategy on Tuesday night at the Knights of Columbus. The group said they expect to soon have 250 signs out against dissolution.
They will be going door to door, and may put out a mass mailer.
Cindy Troy, president of the CSEA union for Orleans County employees, was at the meeting in Medina. She wants to see the village government stay intact.
“You can lose the things that make you identifiable as a community,” she said. “The Village of Medina could lose control over things they hold dear. They have a density of population. They have needs the people in the country do not.”
She worries if the dissolution goes through, other local villages will follow.
“We as a whole community need to be concerned about this,” she said about the dissolution vote. “Medina won’t be the last to look at it.”
A dissolution plan put together by a committee with help of a consultant suggested many of the village services be taken over the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway. The committee also proposed a new debt district, two lighting districts, a water/sewer local development corporation, and a new fire district. Ridgeway would take over a town police force that would be contracted to include Shelby, according to the committee’s report.
Mike Maak, a Medina firefighter, said there is no guarantee the town officials would put that plan in place. He is among the dissolution opponents.
The dissolution plan sees $277,000 in cost savings and $541,000 in additional state aid for $818,000 in overall benefit. But with combined budgets of more than $10 million, the $277,000 is seen as a small amount in operational savings.
Village Trustees Mike Sidari and Marguerite Sherman both oppose the dissolution. Sidari is running a Facebook page – “Medina, This Village Matters.” Sidari also is helping to get anti-dissolution signs to residents. He said some of the signs have been stolen or damaged.
Sidari and Maak both would like to see the village push for other revenue without disrupting the village government and services. They want to see Medina press for more state aid and county sales tax dollars. Maak said the village should work to become a city, which would significantly boost its state aid and also spare village residents from paying town taxes.
The state hasn’t allowed a new city since the 1950s. Medina Mayor Andrew Meier sees little chance in the state approving Medina as a city, and the county has shown no openness to giving more local sales tax to villages.
Dissolution is one way to secure more state aid, and also run a more efficient local government, said Meier, who is part of the “One Medina” group that would ultimately like to see the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway merge into one town – “Medina.”
“One Medina” has had many signs out for months. The group also has a Facebook page with Dean Bellack and Meier fielding questions from the community, and trying to provide them with answers.
Meier sees dissolution as a way for village residents to shape their destination, without pleading for aid from the county and state, assistance that Meier thinks is unlikely to materialize if the village government remains. The state is providing incentives for dissolution, but gives very little to villages for “Aid and Incentives to Municipalities.” Most villages get less than $10 per person in AIM funding, while the state gives most cities at least $100 per person.
Maak thinks the county and state could be swayed to share revenue with the village.
“We haven’t tried,” he said about that effort. “With dissolution, we’re cutting our nose off to spite our face.”
Owen Toale, a former village trustee, believes the village and towns of Shelby and Ridgeway could reach sizable tax savings by sharing services and consolidating services. He faulted the village for setting a dissolution vote while there was still the prospect of shared services for the trio of municipalities.
“One Medina pushed for the vote while they were still in the middle of the (shared services) process,” Toale said. “That to me is poor.”
He is helping to get out the anti-dissolution signs.
“I’m interested in helping my village,” said Toale, a retired newspaper publisher.
Many village residents have been called in the past two weeks by PAF Opinion Research in Albany. The firm asks a series of questions about dissolution, seeking residents’ opinions.
Meier and “One Medina” say PAF makes many misleading statements. The firm, in a taped phone call to a local resident, says it was hired by “one of the larger unions in the state.” CSEA has denied hiring the firm. Orleans Hub hasn’t been able to verify who hired the firm.
In phone calls to village residents, PAF tells villagers that they will lose their local police. The service might be picked up by the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, but response times will more than double. PAF attributes that claim to Meier.
The mayor said he never said that. He was on the Dissolution Committee that recommends a town-wide police force.
PAF makes a number of claims about the future of the village in a dissolution goes forward. The firm tells villagers there won’t be any tax savings if the village government dissolves.
“In villages that voted to dissolve themselves, the promised property tax savings never happened,” a survey worker told a village resident in a phone call. “Does hearing this make you lean against dissolving Medina or for dissolving Medina?”
A CSEA representative said the union didn’t put out the phone messages. However, the union said it knows about the phone calls and sees them as a way to gauge public opinion, and not influence village residents with their vote.
Meier has decried the calls as "push polling," an attempt to intimidate and confuse residents into voting against dissolution.
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