Courthouse dome will go purple and pink to highlight causes this month

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 6 October 2015
ALBION – The dome of the Orleans County Courthouse is shining purple the first half of this month for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


The county’s domestic violence unit responds to about 400 referrals each year.
The dome is pictured on Monday night on the courthouse.

The second half of the month the courthouse dome will shine pink at night for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. About 70 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Orleans County.

Watt Farms is again hosting the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk this month. The 11th annual event has been moved to a Saturday. It will be an open course from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event has raised $325,000 in its first 10 years. Click here for more information.


return to top of page


3 plead guilty in County Court and could be sentenced to jail/prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 October 2015
ALBION – Three people pleaded guilty to crime in Orleans County during court on Monday and could be sentenced to either county jail or state prison.

Philip A. Riley, 32, of West Bank Street in Albion faces the longest possible sentence – up to 5 years in state prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 21.

Riley admitted in court on Monday that he had heroin and sold it for a profit on April 7.
He pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a charge that carries a maximum of 8 years in state prison. As part of a plea deal, his sentence will not exceed 5 years, plus 1 ½ to 2 years of post-release supervision.

Riley was charged in July along with 16 other people in a big drug bust in Orleans. Riley has been in the county jail on $100,000 bail since his arrest.

• Jennifer McCarthy-Conklin, 39, of 1 Thomas St., Holley, was part of the drug arrests in July. She pleaded guilty in court on Monday. She admitted she had cocaine and sold it from the Holley Hotel on Feb. 27.

She pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 2 ½ years in state prison, plus one year of post-release supervision. She will be sentenced on Dec. 21.


• Matthew Ritzel, 26, of Hamlin pleaded guilty to entering a house on Kendall Road in Murray and taking items from the dwelling on June 3.

He pleaded guilty to attempted burglary in the second degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 2 to 7 years in state prison.

As part of a plea deal, Ritzel, who has no prior criminal history, won’t be sentenced to be more than a year in county jail. If the judge gives him more than a year, Ritzel can withdraw the plea and go to trial.

He will be sentenced on Jan. 11.


return to top of page


Former public defender from Medina pleads guilty to gun charge

Press Release, U.S. Attorney William Hochul Posted 5 October 2015

BUFFALO – U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Adam Rissew, 39, a former Monroe County Public Defender currently of Rochester and formerly of Medina, pleaded guilty to possession of firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking before U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.


The charge carries a mandatory prison term of 5 years and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce, who is handling the case, stated that on July 20, 2012, Medina police officers and members of the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force searched Rissew’s then-residence at 305 Catherine St. in the Village of Medina.


Officers found and seized in excess of 50 marijuana plants, paraphernalia related to the grow operation, numerous firearms and 684 rounds of various types of ammunition. Among the firearms found and seized was a loaded Glock 9mm semi automatic pistol that was kept between Rissew’s mattress and box springs. During his plea Rissew admitted he used the pistol to protect his marijuana growing operation.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Medina Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jose Avila, officers of the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force, under the direction of Chief Investigator Joseph Sacco, and Orleans County District Attorney Joseph Cardone.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2016 at 3 p.m. before Judge Skretny.


return to top of page


3 sentenced to state prison for crimes in Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2015

ALBION – Three people were sentenced to state prison today by Orleans County Court Judge James Punch.

Two people, a Medina woman and Rochester man, were sentenced for drug crimes, while an Albion man was sentenced for felony driving while intoxicated.

Jeremy Smith, 30, of Lydun Drive in Albion received the longest sentence at 1 to 3 years in state prison for driving under the influence of alcohol and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. He pleaded guilty on July 13 to felony DWI.

He admitted in court to DWI and driving without a license on Jan. 19, 2015, when he was in an accident while driving. He said he had been drinking beer before the accident. Smith has a prior felony DWI in 2006 and a prior misdemeanor DWI in 2002.

He could have faced up to 4 years in state prison, but received a reduced sentence as part of a plea deal.

His attorney, Dominic Saraceno, said Smith has struggled with alcohol since he was 13.

“He’s had a problem with alcohol since he was 13,” Saraceno said during sentencing. “It has pretty much destroyed his life.”

Punch said Smith not only was driving drunk, but was in an accident, refused a Breathalyzer test and marijuana was at the scene.

“Alcohol hasn’t destroyed your life but it has pretty much screwed it up at this point,” Punch said. “You’re a young man. You have a lot of years ahead of you.”

The judge revoked Smith’s driver’s license for a year and ordered that he pay a $520 court surcharge and $50 DNA fee.

“I hope you can figure out a way to stop drinking,” Punch told Smith at the sentencing.


In other sentencings in County Court today:

• A Medina woman was sentenced to 1 ½ years in state prison. Judge Punch recommended that Erika Poole, 34, of Church Street serve her time at the Willard Drug Treatment Center, a specialized state prison in Romulus, Seneca County.

Poole pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of controlled substance in the fifth degree, which has a maximum sentence of 2 years. Judge Punch gave her less than the maximum today.

Her attorney, Christopher Rodeman, said Poole has struggled with drug use.

“It’s very apparent she has engaged in this type of lifestyle due to her substance abuse problems and she is in dire need of treatment,” Rodeman said at sentencing.

Punch said he would recommend the State Department of Corrections give Poole the treatment program at Willard.

He told Poole she has a history of committing serious crimes, and she has handled herself with some arrogance during court proceedings.

“Arrogance is the enemy of change,” the judge told her. “If you want to change you need a touch of humility.”


• A Rochester man was sentence to 1 ½ years in state prison for attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth, a crime with a maximum of 2 years in prison.

Kenneth Thompson, 49, of Dale Street was charged with criminal sale and possession of drugs in Orleans County in early 2014.

Thompson said in court he has lost a family member to drugs.

“I decided not to touch drugs again,” he told the judge during sentencing.

Punch said Thompson has a “bad record” with prior crimes. The judge said he believed Thompson was sincere in wanting to avoid future drug activity.

“Think of the thousands of people who have died from drugs,” Punch said. “Maybe it will save your life.”


return to top of page


First class of Medina football stars will be inducted in Wall of Fame on Friday

Contributed Photos

Coach John "Pinky" Loughlin


By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 5 October 2015

The memory and achievements of the late long time Medina High football coach John "Pinky" Loughlin is being honored with the formation of a football memorial wall of fame named in his honor.

The inaugural class of the John "Pinky" Loughlin Memorial Wall of Fame will be inducted in ceremonies just prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff of Medina's game against Depew at Vets Park Friday.

Loughlin, who also served as Athletic Director for many years, guided the Medina football team for 24 years from 1955-1978 during which time his Mustangs captured 13 Niagara-Orleans League championships and won a total of 135 games. His Mustangs won the N-O title outright eight times (1955, '58, '64. '70, '72, '73, '74, '77) and earned co-championships five more times (1957, '59, '61. '62, '63) compiling a career league record of 119-30-6. Overall his teams went 135-50-7.

The initial class of inductees has five former Mustang players including Ernie Clark (Class of 1956), Norm Goheen (Class of 1963), Carlton "Duke" Little (Class of 1974), David Fluellen (Class of 1983) and Jim Snyder (Class of 1989).

Large banners with the picture of each inductee will be on display along the east end zone during football season.

"There has been a push for a long time to honor Pinky in some way at Vets Park and after years of thinking about what we could do, I came up with the concept of a Wall of Fame to honor the longtime coach along with some of the great football players that played at Vet's Park," said Medina varsity football Coach Eric Valley. "I have been in contact with Pinky's family and they are very excited about the wall of fame. After looking through many deserving candidates the first five were overwhelmingly agreed upon to be the initial group to be inducted Friday."

Ernie Clark

Clark, a two-year, two-way starter at end and linebacker, helped lead Medina to the N-O championship in 1955 in what was both the Mustangs first year in the league and Loughlin's first year at the MHS helm. Clark went on to star at Michigan State University and then to play for the Detroit Lions becoming the only Mustang alum to play in the National Football League.

Norm Goheen

Goheen, who played from 1960-62, helped lead Medina to N-O titles in both 1961 and 1962. He scored a total of 35 touchdowns in his career including 13 in 1961 and 12 in 1962.

Carlton "Duke" Little

Little, who played from 1971-73, helped the Mustangs capture division titles in both 1972 and 1973. He rushed for 1,516 yards and scored 24 touchdowns during his career. He had 7 touchdowns in 1972 and 17 in 1973.

David Fluellen

Fluellen, who played from 1980-82, helped lead Medina to division and Section VI championships in both 1980 and 1982. He had a total of 1,687 yards rushing, 691 receiving and 37 touchdowns in his career. In 1980 as a sophomore he had a game saving pass interception in the final seconds near the goal line to preserve Medna's 20-14 sectional championship win over Silver Creek. He had 21 touchdowns and 1,103 yards rushing in 1982 when he capped off his career with a 4 touchdown effort in the Mustangs 26-7 sectional title win over Cassadaga Valley including runs of 74 and 59 yards.

Jim Snyder

Snyder, who played from 1986-88 keyed Medina to both division and sectional championships in 1988. He scored 23 touchdowns and had 1,730 yards rushing in 1988 as he earned Western New York and New York State Class B Player of the Year awards. He capped off his career by scoring both touchdowns in Medina's 14-7 victory over rival Albion in the Section VI championship game which completed the Mustangs only 10-0 season. He had 38 touchdowns and 2,927 yards rushing for his career.

Friday will also be Family Night as Mustang players and their families will be introduced at 7 p.m.


return to top of page


Shelby town justice picked to serve on NYS Magistrates Association

Dawn Keppler says she wants association to reach out to rural judges

Photo by Tom Rivers
Dawn Keppler, the Shelby town justice since 1999, is one of 12 justices from around the state serving on the board of directors for the New York State Magistrates Association. She was elected to serve on the board on Sept. 28.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2015
SHELBY – Dawn Keppler, a town justice in Shelby since 1999, was elected by her peers to serve on the board of directors for the NYS Magistrates Association, the first judge from Orleans County to serve on the organization’s board.


Keppler was picked for the board on Sept. 28 during the Magistrates annual conference in Niagara Falls. The association provides training and resources for town and village justices throughout the state.


Keppler said she will push for rural judges to better use the training programs offered through the Magistrates Association. All judges need to complete certification and training each year. They can take courses on-line or in person at conferences. (Ridgeway Town Justice Joseph Kujawa and Kendall Town Justice Debbie Drennan attended the four-day conference in Niagara Falls.)

Keppler was backed by a nominating committee to serve on the State Board. She has been the judge since Shelby and Ridgeway voted to share services in the court system, with the Shelby Town Hall used for both courts, and the Shelby and Ridgeway judges having jurisdiction in both towns.

The Village of Medina also dissolved its court in 2011, with those cases shifted to Ridgeway and Shelby.


Keppler said more towns and villages are looking to share services with their court systems.

“I’m one of the unique judges who has dealt with consolidation,” she said. “Many are now talking about it.”

The Town of Yates also has joined Shelby and Ridgeway in having multi-town jurisdiction for the judges. The three towns have gone from two judges each to one each. Yates keeps its court system at the Yates Town Hall.

Keppler said the shared system has been beneficial in the Medina community, where people going to court were often confused whether they went to the Ridgeway or Shelby town hall, or the Medina Village Hall. Now, they just go to the Shelby Town Hall.

Keppler works with her husband Phil and family in a cattle business, SK Herefords. Keppler manages the office and books, and helps when needed in the barn.

She also is the office manager for Webster, Schubel and Meier, a law office on West Center Street in downtown Medina.

She enjoys her job as the local town justice.

“It’s interesting – no case is ever the same,” she said. “Your job is to apply the law as it is written and uphold fairness in the courtroom.”


return to top of page


Tugboat Urger is floating museum, sharing canal history

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 5 October 2015
ALBION – Tugboat Urger, built in 1901, has spent the past week in Orleans County, first docking in Medina on Sept. 30 before coming to Albion on Friday. The vessel is heading to Holley today and will welcome Holley fourth-graders for a tour and educational program on Tuesday morning before departing for Brockport.

The tugboat was originally used as a fishing boat and commercial shipping vessel for its first two decades. In the early 1920s, the Urger was sold to New York and was used to haul machinery, dredges and scows on the canal system for 60 years until the boat was retired from services in the 1980s.

The tugboat, one of the oldest working vessels in the country, is pictured in Albion this morning with the Ingersoll Street lift bridge in back.

In 1991, the Urger got new life as a “Teaching Tug.” It visits canal communities from early May until late October, educating children and adults about the canal system, which opened in 1825.

For more on Urger, click here.


return to top of page


Farmers have good weather next few days for apple harvest

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 5 October 2015
GAINES – These bins are filled with apples on Route 279, just south of Route 104. The farm is owned by Jim Kirby and his son Adam.


After some chilly days last week, the high temperatures will be in the 60s this week. Today is forecast to be mostly cloudy with a high of 65, followed by mostly cloudy with a high of 64 on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.


On Wednesday, it will be sunny with a high of 65, followed by mostly sunny with a high of 61 on Thursday.


return to top of page


Holley ‘ghosts’ share grief and grandeur from community’s past

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 5 October 2015
HOLLEY – There was suffering and grief, lots of it in the 1800s and early 1900s. During a Ghost Walk on Saturday, when eight people at the cemetery were portrayed, many of the stories were heart-breaking, such as the life of Mary Youngs Buddery.

The Hulberton woman lost her husband John W. Buddery and four of their children to diphtheria in early 1888. Abby Blendowski, pictured in top photo, shared Buddery’s story.

Gina Buda, a GCC student from Bergen, portrayed Lillian Bentham, who survived the sinking of The Titanic in April 1912. Bentham was one of 710 to survive, while 1,514 died, including her godfather William Douton and another companion from Holley.

Provided photo

Provided photo

Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers portrayed William Douton, one of two Holley men who perished on The Titanic. Douton and Peter MacKain were both British quarrymen who returned to the Isle of Guernsey for the winter of 1911-1912.

They were coming back to the Holley area in April 1912. A marker in the cemetery notes their deaths. It is a memorial for the two men, paid for by the Order of the Oddfellows.

Dan Hamner, a GCC history professor, portrays Joseph Hess, who was a boxer and bar owner before turning temperance evangelist.


He would write an autobiography called “Out of Darkness, Into Light” in 1890, detailing his early life, his subsequent religious conversion and the importance of a life dedicated to temperance. He died at his home in Clarendon in 1893.

Hamner passed out temperance challenge cards with Joseph Hess’s picture. The cards sought people’s pledge and signature to abstain “from the use of all intoxicating liquors.”

Hamner handed out nearly 100 cards on Saturday night, but no one was willing to take the temperance oath.

Alex Farley, a GCC student from Corfu, portrays John Berry, who helped establish Hillside Cemetery in 1866 and served as its long-time president until his death in 1892. The cemetery’s older section has a park-like setting and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Berry was also a politician who represented Orleans County in the State Legislature.


Another ghost included Lydia Wright Butterfield, who spoke about her husband Orson, who developed “Gold Fever” and headed to California, leaving his family for 16 years. Mr. Butterfield had a cobblestone house built in Clarendon in 1849. (The house was recently restored.)

Butterfield's wife listed him as a widow in one census. He would come home and lived another 20 years with his wife. The family endured the loss of three young children.


The Ghost Walk tour included a visit with the “ghost” portraying Herbert Charles Taylor, who is believed to be the only Orleans County resident to die during the battle at Gettysburg.

Phoebe Sprague also was featured. She worked as a doctor in Holley, one of the first women in that role locally. A historic marker notes her distinction on Geddes Street.


return to top of page


Ghost Walk celebrates Albion’s ancestors

Photos by Kim Pritt
Kyle Thaine portrays his great-uncle, Eugene Barnum, who was killed during World War II after shooting down two German planes.


By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 4 October 2015
ALBION – Gray skies and a strong wind in the trees helped set the ghostly atmosphere for the seventh annual Mount Albion Ghost Walk on Saturday night. Rain threatened earlier in the day, but moved on just in time for approximately 425 people to enjoy the popular annual event.


The Ghost Walk is a Service Learning project of the Albion High School Drama and Music Departments. A total of 55 students work to put the program together by researching a variety of residents of Mt. Albion Cemetery, writing their own scripts, and performing roles as ghosts, tour guides, singers, and tech crew. This year, 13 ghosts were featured, including war heroes, prominent citizens, two nationally publicized murders, and even Santa Claus.

Alyce Miller served as one of the speaking tour guides who lead each group through the walk offering historic references.


"I am very interested in all the people and what they've done for the community – all the great inventions, suggestions, and impact they have made," said Miller during rehearsal earlier in the day.


Several war heroes were highlighted along the tour, including Eugene Barnum, 1917-1944. Barnum was killed in action during World War II after shooting down two German planes. He died just months after his brother, William, was also killed in action.


Kyle Thaine proudly portrayed Barnum and was understandably knowledgeable about his subject – Barnum is Kyle's great uncle.


"It was an honor playing my Great Uncle Gene," Thaine said. "I didn't know him, but I've heard many stories about him from the time I was a little kid from my grandmother. I love history and I love my family and it was so cool to put them both together in one place."

Zach Shaffer portrays John G. Rice, the Orleans County sheriff in 1894 who organized a posse to find murderer William Lake.

Other notable ghosts were James Sheret, war hero that Albion's American Legion Sheret Post is named for; Orleans County District Attorney and County Judge, Isaac S. Signor; and Emma Ingersoll, daughter-in-law of Nehemiah Ingersoll, one of Albion's founding fathers, among others.

Riley Seielstad portrays Emma Ingersoll, who upon her death bequeathed the monument pictured here, as well as the beautiful Ingersoll Fountain and bench located near the entrance of Mount Albion Cemetery.

The tour ended at the grave site of Charles W. Howard, 1896-1966. Howard was world renowned as Santa Claus. Howard opened his Santa Claus School in 1937 on Phipps Road in Albion, where he trained people from all over the world how to be a proper Santa. Howard also ran his Christmas Park and toy shop.


He was also the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Santa and a consultant on the movie Miracle on 34th Street. Howard's legacy lives on with his Santa Claus School now located in Michigan.


On Oct. 1, an interpretive panel was placed near his grave site commemorating his life. The panel was designed by last year's Ghost Walk students and paid for with proceeds from that event.

Nate Trembley portrays Charles Howard as Santa with Valerie Rush as Mrs. Claus.


return to top of page


New Golden Hill playground resembles lighthouse at state park

Photos by Cheryl Wertman Posted 4 October 2015
BARKER – Golden Hill State Park is in the process of constructing a new playground at the campground on Lower Lake Road, just east of the Orleans County line in the Town of Yates.

While adding new swings, the centerpiece of the playground is the replica of the lighthouse for the main structure. It has the date the lighthouse was built – 1875 – on the side, Golden Hill plaques on the smaller towers and the signature lighthouse on the center tower.

The playground is to be completed in time for this coming Sunday’s Christmas at the Lighthouse Celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


return to top of page


Medina FD open house gives plenty of tips for fire prevention

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 4 October 2015

MEDINA – The Medina Fire Department treated the community to fun and many tips for preventing fires during an open house today, which is the start of National Fire Safety Week.


The top photo shows Shalin Mack, 5, of Medina aiming water at targets with help from Medina firefighter Jeff Tuohey.

Dale Heiser from the NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control brought a trailer to Medina to show some common household fire hazards. Some lighters are made to look like toys, which can be an attraction for children and lead to accidental fires, Heiser said.


He had a hair dryer in a sink (with no water). He warns people, especially college students, to keep hair dryers and curling irons away from sinks.


He also showed extension cords that are intended to be temporary, but are used 24-7 in some households. Those cords can cause fires.


The stove also has a pot with the handle within reach of children. Heiser urges people to turn the pots so the handles can't be easily grabbed by kids.

Dale Heiser also simulated smoke in the trailer, and showed people how smoke rises. That's why they should get low – "Stay Low and Go!" – during a fire.

Chad Kenward, a Medina police officer and member of the Orleans County Multi-Agency SWAT Team, took questions from the public about the SWAT team and its vehicle.


The open house included New York State Police “seat belt convincer,” an interactive ride allows people to experience a simulated vehicle crash and gain an appreciation for why seat belts matter.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office “Safe Child” program, where children can be finger printed, and have their child safety seats checked for proper installation, also was available.

Mark Watts and his wife Denise are pictured in a 1933 fire truck that was used by the Medina Fire Department until 1972, when it was taken out of service. The truck was purchased by Joe Conley and he owned it until Watts bought it in 2007.


The truck had been out of the public eye since the 1970s, until Watts had it in the 2009 Memorial Day parade. The truck has been a regular in that parade, plus the Lyndonville Fourth of July parade, in recent years.

Caleb Fisher, 2, gets behind the wheel of the 1933 fire truck with his mother Audra next to him. Caleb's father Adam Fisher is an EMT with COVA and a firefighter with the Barre Volunteer Fire Company.


return to top of page