By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2015
ALBION – David Albanese was the mayor of Albion in 1995 when the village struck a 20-year deal with the Town of Gaines to offer the town a deep discount on fire protection.
Some current village officials have viewed the deal as unfavorable for the village. Gaines residents outside the village have only been paying about 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property for fire protection, by far the lowest rate in Orleans County. (Most residents outside the villages pay at least $1 per $1,000 of assessed property.)
The village agreed to the discount with Gaines in exchange for having the sewer plant fully annexed into the village, Albanese said. That saved the village from paying school taxes on the sewer plant, a tax bill that Albanese said was far greater than the savings offered to Gaines for fire protection.
“It really worked out to the village’s benefit,” Albanese said today after seeing an article on Orleans Hub about the issue. “We saved the taxpayers tons and tons of money over 20 years.”
The 20-year deal with Gaines ends after this year and village officials have put Gaines on notice the town will be paying much more in fire protection in the future.
The village’s water plant is outside the village in Wilson Road by Lake Ontario in the Town of Carlton. The village has to pay school taxes to Lyndonville for that plant. Albanese said Albion was able to avoid paying school taxes on the sewer plant by annexing it into the village. That was possible because a portion of the sewer plant was in the village before the annexation.
“This has been a win-win for the town and village,” Albanese said about the 20-year agreement.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2015
ALBION – A deal over 20 years that gave Gaines property owners drastically low fire protection rates will end after 2015. Village of Albion officials said Gaines should expect a much bigger bill for fire protection in the future.
Gaines residents outside the village pay 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property for fire protection in 2015. That is by far the lowest rate in Orleans County. Most residents in the towns pay fire protection rates over $1 per $1,000 of assessed property.
“It’s going to be a significant increase over what they are paying now,” village attorney John Gavenda said during a joint meeting Monday evening among officials from the village and town of Albion.
Albion town residents pay a $1.23-rate for fire protection from the village’s fire department.
The issue was raised during the town and village meeting because the village would like to continue the fire protection contract with the town of Albion, a contract that has included small increases in recent years.
Gavenda said the contract with Gaines will need to be negotiated this year. Gaines could either contract with Albion or Carlton, or start its own fire department. Whatever the town decides, Gavenda said the town won’t be getting such a bargain price for fire protection.
The village agreed to a 20-year deeply discounted rate in 1995 in exchange for Gaines making the sewer plant on Densmore Street tax exempt. Current village officials don't think it was a fair deal.
Village Trustee Peter Sidari said the village shouldn’t have had to pay taxes to Gaines for the sewer plant. The town should have made that exempt without pushing for such a low fire protection rate 20 years ago, Sidari said.
The village has many tax exempt sites within its borders from other governments, including the school district, state and county. Sidari said the village doesn’t bill them, and the town should have done the same for the village.
“There’s no secret that they have to pay more,” Gavenda said about Gaines. “They are on a very favorable contract.”
Gavenda said the village expects to soon sit down with Gaines officials to discuss the future fire protection contract.
Here are the fire protection rates for towns for 2015:
Albion, $1.23; Barre, $1.45; Carlton, 75 cents; Clarendon, $1.01; Gaines, 35 cents; Kendall – $1.40 to Kendall and $1.61 to Morton; Murray – $1.57 to Holley and $1.59 to Fancher-Hulberton-Murray; Ridgeway, $1.17; Shelby, $1.49; and Yates, 52 cents to Lyndonville.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 4 December 2014
GAINES - The call went out from dispatch at 12:15 p.m. about an accident on Crandall Road in the Town of Gaines.
Firefighters, a state trooper and an ambulance saw a trail of debris, including a demolished mailbox, along Ridge Road, just east of Crandall Road. But they couldn't find the car in the accident - until they checked down Crandall Road where a car had been driven off the road into the brush.
There weren't any injuries in the incidents. No additional information has been released.
Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 20 November 2014
GAINES – There is a noticeable increase in truck traffic on routes 31 and 104 in Orleans County today. With the NY Thruway closed from Rochester to the Pennsylvania line, many of the trucks are using the state roads in Orleans County to head east or west.
In the photo above, a caravan of truckers head down Route 104 at about 1:30 today. I was at The Village Inn for lunch today and it seemed for every car on 104 there was a tractor trailer.
Town will apply excess to reducing debt for districts
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 September 2014
GAINES – The Town of Gaines overcharged residents in water districts by about $175,000, the Town Board announced on Wednesday after audits by two accounting firms.
The Town Board decided it will take money from the water district reserves to pay down debt in the districts. That will shorten the life of the loans and also reduce the annual payments to residents in eight water districts.
One district, No. 8, actually wasn’t paying enough and residents in that district will need to pay “a little more” to cover the district’s full expenses for debt and maintenance, said Town Supervisor Carol Culhane.
Water District No. 4 overpaid by $52,000 and that will be enough to wipe out the remaining principal, eliminating debt payments in the future for that district.
Other districts overpaid by the following amounts, according to the town:
Water District 2: $29,567
Water District 3: $29,633
Water District 5: $20,269
Water District 6: $2,617
Water District 7: $39,522
Water District 9: $2,788
Water District 10: $2,014
Culhane said she has been working with auditors for about 18 months, trying to determine if there was an overcharge and how to best solve the problem. The town also consulted the State Comptroller’s Office and reviewed New York Finance Law, she said.
She couldn’t say why the town overcharged residents. She said it goes back to at least 2006.
A resident complained about a high tax bill for water and that got Culhane, the town supervisor for about three years, to look into the issue.
The changing numbers in the districts makes it difficult to craft a solution for the excess charges. Some residents who overpaid their water district bills have sold their homes and moved out of the district.
The water districts often add users as new houses are constructed. Sometimes lots are split up, changing the numbers of users from when the districts were first formed and started collecting annual debt payments to pay off the loan for the construction.
Using the excess funds from the water district reserves will provide relief to water users in 2015 with smaller debt service charges, except for District No. 8.
“The most important thing is we came up with a fair fix,” Culhane said. “I don’t see another viable plan.”
Culhane said the Town Board is united in wanting to address the problem.
“It’s the board decision to go forward and straighten this out,” she said.
By Sue Cook, staff reporter Posted 10 August 2014
GAINES – The Olde Dogge Inn held a Pet Festival on Saturday and welcomed more than 100 visitors in the first hour. People were welcome to bring their pets for sales, demonstrations, services, portraits and psychic readings.
“People are really excited about this and having a lot of fun,” said Olde Dogge Inn owner Jennifer Stilwell. “All the animals are happy, all the people are happy. It’s just a great event and it’s getting a lot of positive response. This only reinforces our decision to bring the festival back because it definitely is drawing a lot of attention.”
Eveline Burdick attended the festival with her dog Sasha in tow.
“It's a good way for the dogs to socialize with people and I've never been here and I wanted to see what they had to offer," she said. "We always do all the pet festivals and I saw this one online."
Lieutenant Christopher Bourke with the Orleans County Sheriff's Department was there to do a demonstration with Cim, a dog that works for the department. He was contacted by Stilwell to do a demonstration.
Cim was trained in Germany and imported by the department. Bourke gives Cim her commands in German. Because the dog and trainer are so close, Cim works the same hours as Bourke and returns home with him each night.
“We're going to talk about the dog and how we use the dog and the training the dog has," Bourke said. "We'll demonstrate some obedience, some drug-detection work and let the dog apprehend a pretend bad guy.”
Bourke plays with Cim for a moment because she found the drugs that were hidden.
Drug detection is turned into a game for training to make it more exciting for the dog.
Bourke demonstrated how Cim follows commands by having her sit and heel on command.
He also had her break into a full run and then had her drop into a laying position instantly. He explained that having her obey commands so quickly from a distance could potentially save her life. It could prevent her from being in harm's way in a variety of dangerous situations.
The Orleans County Dog Heelers 4-H club also did a demonstration at the event. The group showed off their dogs' agility and obedience. They also performed tricks and played flyball. The club is led by Jackie Gingerich and Lindsay Moore.
Club member Abby Allen brought her chocolate lab Cody to show off his abilities.
“He's really well trained,” she said. “He's really good at obedience. If you tell him to sit and stay, he'll stay there forever.”
P.A.W.S. Animal Shelter also brought some pets and information about adoptions. Olde Dogge Inn helps the shelter with adoptions by having kittens in the store.
“We're just spreading the word that we're open. We're in a pretty slow spot. We're on Gaines Basin Road and there's not a lot of traffic through there. We're also a no-kill shelter,” said volunteer Morgan Tinkous. “We've had birds, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs. We've taken small animals. We don't take in anything we're not comfortable with.”
Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 5 August 2014
GAINES – Fairhaven Treasures recently installed three new flag poles and started work on what will be an International Peace Garden. The poles hold flags for the United States, Canada and also a yellow flag that says, “Don’t Tread On Me.”
Ray Burke and his wife Linda own the property at the southeast corner of routes 98 and 104. They celebrated the grand opening for Fairhaven Treasures on May 3-4.
They will have the second International Peace Garden in Orleans County, following Brown’s Berry Patch. The new garden by the flag poles should be in place by the end of the summer, Mr. Burke said.
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.
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.
Greenhouse will add 7.5 acres, 10-15 jobs
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Copyright 2013-2014 Albion-Holley Pennysaver, Inc.