Waterport woman seriously injured in accident on 279

Press release, Orleans County Undersheriff Steve Smith Posted 13 July 2014
GAINES – A Waterport woman is in serious condition at a Buffalo hospital after crashing her vehicle early this morning in the Town of Gaines.

The incident occurred at about 2 a.m. in the 2200 block of Gaines-Waterport Road (State Route 279). Felicia A. Gaddis, 45, was the sole occupant of the 2000 Buick sedan she was driving southbound. She apparently lost control of the vehicle, crossed the center line and ran off the east side of the roadway before striking a utility pole.

Gaddis was ejected from the car as it overturned, coming to rest on its side. She was flown to Erie County Medical Center by Mercy Flight helicopter.

The collision resulted in downed power lines when the utility pole was snapped in half, which brought a response from National Grid.

While the incident remains under investigation, it appears that both alcohol & excessive speed were contributing factors. Charges against Gaddis are pending her recovery and blood test results.

The incident was investigated by Deputy T.C. Marano, assisted by Deputy J.W. Halstead and Investigators K.M. Strickland Jr., and D.E. Foeller Jr.

Albion and Carlton firefighters and Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance personnel were also at the scene.


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Planners back Intergrow expansion

Photo by Tom Rivers
Intergrow Greenhouses has the Orleans County Planning Board’s approval for an expansion on the western side of its property, a 7.3-acre addition to its greenhouses.


By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 27 June 2014
ALBION – A company planning a major expansion to its greenhouses has the Orleans County Planning Board’s support for the project.

Intergrow Greenhouses is planning a 7.3-acre expansion that would be 632 feet by 504 feet. The new building would be on the western side of its property that already includes 48 acres of greenhouses.

County planners on Thursday recommended the Town of Gaines approve a special use permit and the site plan for the project in a residential/agriculture district. The property is located at 2428 Oak Orchard Rd.

Dirk Biemans, co-owner of Intergrow, presented the project to the County Planning Board on Thursday. Biemans said Intergrow, which first built a greenhouse in Gaines in 2003, is seeing increased demand for its hydroponic tomatoes.

He would like to break ground on the addition this summer and have the new greenhouse ready for its first planting in November.

The greenhouse addition will be 318,214 square feet. The project also includes an 11,546 square foot addition for storage and a 3,947 square foot addition for a generator room.

Intergrow employs 100 people in Gaines and expects to hire 10 to 15 more with the expansion.


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Intergrow plans another expansion in Gaines

Greenhouse will add 7.5 acres, 10-15 jobs

Photos by Tom Rivers
Dirk Biemans is co-owner of Intergrow Greenhouses, which built its first 15-acre greenhouse in the town of Gaines in 2003. The company is planning another 7.5-acre greenhouse, bringing the total space to 55.5 acres.

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 26 June 2014
GAINES – Intergrow Greenhouses is planning another expansion that will give the company 55.5 acres of greenhouses along Route 98 in Gaines. The new project, planned to start this summer and be ready for a November planting, will add 10 to 15 jobs to the site that already has 100 employees.

“We’ve been expanding,” said Dirk Biemans, co-owner of Intergrow. “Word has got out about Intergrow and it’s been a snowball effect.”

Intergrow first opened a greenhouse in Fillmore in Allegany County in 1998. The site continues to grow beefsteak tomatoes.

In 2003, Intergrow picked a flat piece of property at 2428 Oak Orchard Rd. for a new 15-acre greenhouse. The level land was ideal for the greenhouse, and the location within a 10-hour striking distance of major markets in New York, New England, and heading south and west.

“We tell our customers we pick it today and you’ll have it tonight,” Biemans said.

Intergrow currently has 100 employees, and expects to add 10 to 15 more with the expansion.

The tomatoes have proven popular, especially with a push for locally grown produce, sustainable agriculture and a quality product. Intergrow has expanded twice since the initial site in 2003 and now is planning on another 7.5-acre greenhouse this summer.

The company supplies Hannaford, Aldi, Wegmans, Whole Foods and other customers. Intergrow is seeing more demand for its tomatoes in Connecticut, Maryland, and the Carolinas, and that is fueling the need for the expansion, Beimans said.

“We’re gaining ground because of a consistent product and availability,” he said.

Intergrow grows tomatoes on the vine in near uniform shape and size. The tomatoes are grown hydroponically without soil in the ground.

Intergrow has tomatoes available nine months of the year. That compares to field grown tomatoes that tend to be available in the summer and early fall. The field crops are vulnerable to weather and pests.

Intergrow has a closed system. It captures rainwater that is used for irrigation. The company brings in hives of bees for pollination and will introduce some pests to control insects.

The vines are thick and workers will prune the plants to clusters of five. That produces five tomatoes that weigh about 28 ounces. Intergrow strives for consistent weight and appearance in the tomatoes.

Beimans said the weather can affect the crop when there are long stretches of overcast days. The tomatoes need sunlight to grow and ripen.

Biemans holds a cluster of five tomatoes that were picked this morning.


Intergrow has been hosting international students since 2001. They have come from every continent and many return to poor countries with a goal of helping their communities be more dependent in producing food.


"Most of them come from undeveloped countries," Biemans said about the interns. "We feel it's our obligation to teach and share our knowledge."

The company won’t be expanding again in Gaines after the latest project because there won’t be any more open space on the company property. The newest expansion will be on the west end of the greenhouse complex.

Biemans hopes to plant the first tomatoes in the new greenhouses in November.

The expansion plan will go before the Orleans County Planning Board today at 7 p.m.

The greenhouses are located at 2428 Oak Orchard Rd. (Route 98)


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Black bear wanders to Gaines

Photo courtesy of Cody Weese Posted 23 June 2014

GAINES – A black bear was spotted along Route 279, north of Route 104 today around 6 p.m. Cody Weese took this picture of the bear near an airfield. It then went into the hay field to the west.


Bear spottings seem to be on the rise in Western New York. One bear was killed in Springville earlier this month after it was struck by an SUV.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation reports there are about 8,000 black bears in the state, with nearly all in the Southern Tier. However, 10 to 15 percent live in Central and Western New York, according to The Buffalo News.


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2 new roofs for historic buildings at Cobblestone Museum

Provided photos
JBF Construction recently put a new roof on the Cobblestone Universalist Church and then put one on the neighboring brick house.

Staff reports Posted 21 June 2014
GAINES – Two buildings constructed in the 1830s both have new roofs. JBF Construction in Albion worked on the projects last month and in early June.

The Cobblestone Society Museum raised the money for the new roof for the Cobblestone Universalist Church, a building from 1834 on Route 104, just east of Route 98. The project was paid for with donations, including a corporate gift from Christopher-Mitchell Funeral Homes and grants from the Daughters of the American Revolution, The Elizabeth Dye Curtis Foundation & The Orleans County Foundation, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites program.

While contractors were working on the church, two museum board members, Gary and Grace Kent, decided to pay for the new roof on the next-door brick house, which was built in circa 1836.


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Gaines loses millions of gallons of water annually

Town will try to better track water, find leaks

Photo by Tom Rivers
Gaines Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said the town needs to better account for its water, particularly with its record keeping.

By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 19 June 2014
GAINES – The town of Gaines had 60 million gallons of unaccounted water go through its water lines in the past 4 ½ years, about $170,000 worth of water that it paid the village of Albion.

Town officials want to reduce that number, which represents about 19 percent of the total public water usage in Gaines.

“We’re going to take a more proactive approach and see if we can get to the bottom of it,” Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said after a meeting Tuesday when an audit of the water system was presented. “For a little town like this that is a lot of money.”

The town contracted with Wendel Energy for a review of the water system. Gerald Summe and Brian Sibiga from Wendel presented the study on Tuesday.

They said the town needs more master water meters in each of its 10 water districts, better record keeping and a plan for regularly replacing residential water meters. The town also needs to make sure no one is getting water without being properly billed, Sibiga said.

The town should also purchase leak detection equipment and establish a program for better tracking and repairing leaks.

The audit showed a loss in water from 8.3 million gallons annually (at $35,600 in revenue) to 15.4 million gallons ($65,400). The American Water Works Association suggests a 10 percent loss as a benchmark. Gaines is nearly double that rate.

“You need to put forward that effort and be good stewards so you know where the water is going,” Sibiga told town officials.


Wendel determined the water loss percentages by taking the number of gallons Gaines is billed for by the village and subtracting what the town then bills its users. Gaines buys water from the village for $2.94 per 1,000 gallons. Town residents are billed $4.25 per 1,000.

Gaines has 27 miles of water lines in 10 water districts with 754 customers. The infrastructure is relatively new and in good shape overall, Summe said. That’s good news because Gaines doesn’t need major capital investments to fix leaking old pipes.

It also leads Wendel officials to suspect that the record keeping needs to be tightened to better account for all of the water.

The company suggested the town look at consolidating all 10 water districts into one town-wide district. That would make billing and management easier. Gaines may also want to consider tiered water rates with larger volume users getting a discount.

The firm said Gaines should consider more master meters on roads and water districts so it can better pinpoint any leaks and problem areas, and should work to replace more residential and large-volume user meters. Those meters lose their effectiveness with each passing year, accounting for some the discrepancy in what Gaines buys from the Albion and what the town then bills its customers.

Without more meters and leak detection equipment, Sibiga said the town will struggle to find that lost water.

“You’re looking for a needle in the haystack when you’re looking for a water leak,” he said. “A lot of this is a ‘Where’s Waldo’ with where the water is going.”

Gaines has built most of its new water districts within the past 20 years. But even relatively new infrastructure can have holes, letting out water.

“You’re not going to stop the system from getting leaks,” Sibiga said. “Every system has leaks. The question is how quickly can you find them and repair them.”

New meters would provide more accurate data for billing records, and Sibiga said the town should meter some problem areas monthly rather than quarterly to better track water consumption and potential losses.

The town should also be diligent in making sure every water consumer is being billed. Culhane wants to see the town go after its record keeping first and see if that narrows the gap in lost water.


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Creek naming honors female pioneer in Gaines

Photos by Tom Rivers

Dan Capurso unveils the sign for Gilbert Creek by Ridge Road in the town of Gaines.

The creek runs about 6.5 miles from near Brown Road northeast to Marsh Creek in Carlton.


By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 24 May 2014

GAINES – A painted wooden sign was unveiled at about noon today. “Gilbert Creek” is on the sign by Ridge Road, next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church.


The sign and the name of the creek honors a woman from more than 200 years ago, the first settler on Ridge Road in Orleans County. Elizabeth Gilbert and her husband built their cabin in 1807. Mr. Gilbert died soon after they settled, and his wife was lef to raise a family and make a life in the wilderness of the Niagara frontier.

State Sen. George Maziarz, right, addresses a group on the lawn next to the Gaines Carlton Community Church near the spot where the Gilbert family built a cabin more than 200 years ago.


She stayed for two years with her children, and helped other settlers. She let them stay in her cabin while she helped build a cabin for at least one pioneer family. She used her oxen to haul wagon loads of timber for the cabin.


Al Capurso admires the grit of the pioneer settlers in Orleans County. In early 2013 he and his son Kenny noticed a creek along Brown Road in Gaines. They followed its path across Ridge Road and to Carlton. It flows 6.5 miles northeast and connects with Marsh Creek about 2.4 miles south of Lake Ontario.


Capurso did some research and realized the stream that starts by Brown Road didn’t have a name. He wanted the waterway to honor Elizabeth Gilbert. It took a year of lining up local support, and gaining permission from the federal Bureau of Geographic Names. The agency on April 10 formally approved the naming request.

Al Capurso and his son Dan performed four songs today in honor of Elizabeth Gilbert and the pioneer settlers of Orleans County.


“Today, we dedicate this creek to the pioneering efforts and spirit of Elizabeth Gilbert, the Gilbert family and the town of Gaines,” Capurso said at a ceremony on the church lawn next to the creek.


Capurso not only did the research and pressed the government officials for the creek naming, he also made the sign. He thinks it blends in with the historic corridor on Ridge Road. The Cobblestone Society Museum is down the road to the west.


Capurso and his family were praised by town, county and state officials for their efforts.


“There is no better title than a citizen who loves his community, who respects his community,” said State Sen. George Maziarz.


The state senator admitted he had never heard of the federal Bureau of Geographic Names until Capurso launched his effort. Maziarz commended him for working through the bureaucracy to get the creek named for one of the county’s pioneers.


Town Historian Delia Robinson said pioneers often don’t get much appreciation from today's residents, with women even getting less attention from historians. She noted the settlers looked for land that was “high and dry” and near water so they had the resource readily available for cooking and cleaning.


“When the settlers came it was just wilderness,” Robinson said. “There were no neighbors, there was no village, there were no stores.”


Town Supervisor Carol Culhane, Cobblestone Museum Co-Director Matt Ballard and County Legislator Fred Miller all spoke at the dedication.


“It’s wonderful to have someone from the community do this kind of effort,” Miller said. “It adds another attribute that people can look at when they come see the Cobblestone Museum.”


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