Former county jail was fine Medina sandstone structure

By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 1 September 2014
ALBION – In this post card from around 1905 we see the Orleans County Jail and Sheriff’s residence. Taken from Platt Street, the County Courthouse appears in the righthand background.

Built in 1903, it was a fine example of Medina sandstone construction. In 1971 it was demolished to make way for the present county jail.


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Holley man, 38, rescued in Lake Ontario

Press release, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess Posted 1 September 2014
CARLTON – A Holley man had to be rescued this afternoon while swimming in Lake Ontario.

Sean M. Bemont, 38, was boating with his wife Elena, 35, about 1 mile north of Wilson Road in the Town of Carlton. Bemont decided to take a swim and at some point he and the boat began drifting apart.

He was attempting to swim back to the boat when he experienced a medical problem. Elena Bemont, who is not savvy to the operation of the vessel, called 9-1-1 as the boat was drifting farther away from her husband.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Marine Unit responded to the area. Deputies Erin Fuller and Jim Burke rescued Bemont from the water. He was not wearing a PFD.

Deputy Fuller transported Bemont to the State Boat Launch on Oak Orchard River, where he was treated by personnel from Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance and released. Deputy Burke drove Bemont’s boat back to its dock at Wiley’s Marina, also on Oak Orchard River.


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Resurrected carriage step was a labor of love

Step bears name of Danolds, who were friends with George Pullman and influential Universalists

Photos by Tom Rivers

David Heminway is pictured with his grandson Nathaniel Metzler, 8, on a carriage step that Heminway dug up and reset last year. He also repositioned the hitching posts and sandstone sidewalk panels.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 September 2014
EAGLE HARBOR – Most of the carriage step had disappeared into the soil. David Heminway saw the tops of letters on the step but wasn’t sure what it said because the majority of the stone was buried.

Last year Heminway set about unearthing the step. It was in his front yard in Eagle Harbor. Heminway and his wife Joanne bought a house in 2006 at 3209 Eagle Harbor-Waterport Rd. It took about two years of work before they could move in. The house wasn’t original at the site. The first house burned down more than a century ago. That original house was owned by the Danolds family.

When Heminway dug down to see what was on the carriage step, he recognized the Danolds name. Heminway, a machinist for the state Canal Corp., also has been an active volunteer the past 20 years for the Cobblestone Society and Museum. In the Cobblestone Church there is a Danolds Room, dedicated to Charles and Mary Jane Danolds.

Mrs. Danolds suggested the Cobblestone Universalist Church name its building “The Church of the Good Shepherd.”

Her husband was friends with George Pullman. In the 1850s, when the canal was enlarged, Danolds had a contract to expand the canal and he hired Pullman to move some of the houses that were in the way of the expansion.

Pullman was also a local furniture maker. He would move to Chicago and become a titan of industry with railroad sleeping cars.

Danolds kept up a friendship with Pullman and while the two were vacationing in the Thousand Islands in 1890, Danolds made a pitch for Pullman to help build a new Universalist Church in Albion. Pullman agreed as long as the locals would commit some of their own funds to the project.

The new church opened in 1895 as a memorial to Pullman’s parents, James Lewis Pullman and Emily Caroline Pullman.

Pullman was one of the great industrialists of the 19th Century, but Danolds was no slouch. He ran a mill in Eagle Harbor, where he ground wheat into flour, said Bill Lattin, Orleans County historian.

These portraits of Mary Jane and Charles Danolds hang in the Cobblestone Church in Childs.

Danolds also owned the Cobblestone Inn, sold horses to the Union during the Civil War, worked to enlarge the canal and was a key leader of the local Universalist Church.

“He was a real entrepreneur in his own time,” Lattin said.

The Danolds carriage step, once prominent in front of the Danolds homestead, gradually sank to the point only the top was visible.

Heminway decided to reset a sandstone sidewalk and two hitching posts last year. He also brought up the carriage step and hired Mike Jessmer to fix the sandstone steps by the house.

Heminway worked on the project for about six months. It was a lot of work. The carriage step weighs about 1,500 pounds. The sidewalk panels are also very heavy. He used a tractor with a fork lift to move them. He set the carriage step on about 2 feet of crusher run stone. That should prevent the step from sinking in the future.

David Heminway and his grandson Nathaniel Metzler pose the carriage step in front of Heminway's house on Eagle Harbor-Waterport Road.

He considered move the hitching posts, carriage step and sidewalk panels closer to the house. He didn’t want to have to mow around a bunch of obstacles, but decided they wouldn’t look right back by the house.

“I think they belong out front where they are,” he said.

Heminway made the sure the hitching posts and carriage step were set far back enough out of the right of way by the the road. He didn’t want to be told he would have to move them again someday.

He is happy to have the step fully visible, and is pleased to have an artifact from a prominent community member from generations ago.

The step shows the talent of the stone carvers from that era with the inscription of “DANOLDS” and detailing on the front. The stone also has two steps where many of the carriage blocks were one-step stones.

Heminway is pleased to have the artifacts from the horse-and-buggy era in his front lawn.

“They’re not making any more carriage steps,” he said.

Lattin praised the Heminways for bringing a historical asset back to the local landscape.

“I thought it was great that they resurrected it,” Lattin said.


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Farmworker killed in accident at Kirby Farms

Press release, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess Posted 1 September 2014
ALBION – A migrant worker is dead following a farm accident late Friday afternoon in the Town of Albion, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess said today.

The incident occurred at Kirby Farms in the 3400 block of Densmore Road. It was reported to 9-1-1 shortly before 6 p.m. A work crew employed by Root Brothers Farms of Albion was “on loan” to Kirby’s and was irrigating a field of tomato plants.

The victim, tentatively identified as Luis D. Larios-Hernandez (age unknown), was standing next to a parked farm truck when a second truck (also parked and un-occupied) rolled down a slight incline and struck the victim, pinning him between the two vehicles.


Larios-Hernandez was transported by Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance to Strong West Emergency in Brockport, where he was pronounced dead at 7:24 p.m.

He was a seasonal worker residing at Root Brothers Farms in the Town of Barre.

The incident investigation was conducted by Deputy T.C. Marano and Lieutenant C.M. Bourke. The follow-up investigation includes the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, the United States Border Patrol, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).


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Medina says goodbye to Vince Cardone

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 1 Septembert 2014
MEDINA – The marquee at Medina Theatre says, “Farewell Vince,” in honor of the prominent local attorney and entrepreneur Vince Cardone. He bought the theater in 1975. The site reopened last year following renovations and continues to operated by his family as a bar, restaurant and entertainment venue.

Mr. Cardone died on Aug. 23 at age 93. He was a life-long Medina resident and World War II veteran. He worked five decades as a lawyer and owned many local properties.


He and his wife, Rose, raised six children, including Joe Cardone, the Orleans County district attorney; the Honorable Kathleen Cardone, a U.S. district judge in El Paso; and Rosalind Lind, Renee Cardone, Dominic Cardone and Michael Cardone.

A mass in celebration of Vince Cardone’s life was held on Friday at St. Mary's Catholic Church.


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Summer going out with blaze of glory

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 31 August 2014

It was another gorgeous sunset this evening as summer winds down with school only a few days from opening for a new year. The top photo shows the sun setting over Lake Ontario near the Golden Hill State Park in Barker.

The 30 Mile Point Lighthouse, built in 1875, is a focal point of the state park just across the Orleans County line in Niagara County.

This photo shows Atwater Farms, a dairy farm in Barker near the Golden Hill State Park.


The weather looks good for most of Labor Day. The National Weather Service in Buffalo is forecasting a chance of thunderstorms with a high of 82 degrees.


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Italian culture embraced at St. Rocco's Festival

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 31 August 2014
HULBERTON – Jeff Gifaldi of Holley throws the bocce ball during today’s tournament in Hulberton. Gifaldi, 35, formed a team for the tournament for the first time and they won their first three games.

“It’s a blast,” Gifaldi said. “It’s a good bunch of people here.”


The Holley community embraced its Italian heritage with the annual St. Rocco’s Festival today. The festival features lots of Italian food, a bocce tournament, produce sales and other events to raise money for the St. Mary’s and St. Mark’s Parish for Holley and Kendall.

Rosemary Bower gets some Italian sausage ready for a customer. Popular Italian foods such as eggplant parmesan, meatball sandwiches, pasta fagioli, pizza and shells were served.

Dan Mawn works on some fried waffles that would then be covered in confectionary sugar.

Emilio Monti of Rochester reacts after rolling the bocce ball during a game today. Monti’s team won its first four matches. The team won the tournament last year. They practice twice a week at the Italian American Community Center in Rochester.

The festival included several games for children. Joey Camacho, 5, of Brockport tosses a ping pong ball towards a table of jars. His mother, Dana Swanger, cheers him on. If the ball made it in a jar, the child would win a goldfish.


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Outrageous feats, costumes at Steampunk Fest

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 31 August 2014
MEDINA – Pyromancy Fire Performance Troupe members Fuego Vicki and Potter Dee blow fire in one of the group’s daring pyrotechnic displays on Saturday at the Steampunk Festival at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.

Pyromancy of Buffalo performed before a big crowd. Nearly 1,000 people attended the fourth annual festival.


“It continues to gain steam,” said Jerod Thurber, event coordinator for Leonard Oakes. “It’s a nice laid-back funky festival.”

Jacob Verghese plays the banjo and sings for the band, Pine Fever from Buffalo, at the pavilion at Leonard Oakes.

The five-member band plays American rag-time music. Besides Jacob Verghese, other members include Patrick “Thor” Johnson on upright bass, Andrew Pother on drums, Levi Van Cleve on guitar and Alex Cleve on trumpet.

Many of the festival-goers wore costumes that combined the Victorian era with the future. This group includes, from left: brothers Adam and Mike Florczyk of Hamburg, Chase from Buffalo, and Dave Lelito of Orchard Park.

The vendors sold items related to the Steampunk culture, included Victorian hats, dresses and other clothing.

George Lama of Medina takes a picture of a group of belly dancers from Batavia, the Troupe Nissa. They performed during the Steampunk Festival on Saturday at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.

Several food trucks attended the festival, and the Steampunk logo was projected onto the cold storage building at Leonard Oakes.

Jonathan Oakes, the wine maker at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery, serves up some Steampunk Cider from the tasting room. Oakes dressed up for the festival.

Asha from Pyromancy performs with fire for the crowd.


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Dog days of summer return

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 31 August 2014
ALBION – Kyle Townley of Rochester shows his dog “Pembroke” during Saturday's dog show in Albion. About 600 dogs entered the Tonawanda Valley Kennel Club show at Bullard Park. Another TVKC show will be today at the park from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 4 p.m.

Kyle Townley competes in the novice showmanship competition.

Lorinda Vasuta preps her Pomeranian, “Animation’s Marina,” for the dog show Saturday in Albion at Bullard Park. Her dog is currently in the top 20 of all Pomeranians in the country.

Vasuta is from Medina, Ohio, and has been showing dogs for 40 years.

“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “Producing something that aspires to her level does the heart good,” she said. “This is a sport. There aren’t many sports where old people can compete with the youngsters. Old people actually have an advantage because of our experience.”

Tim Terella of Edinboro, Pa. leads a Siberian Husky named “Gus” during the dog show on Saturday. Gus won best in breed.

Two handlers show these Siberian Huskies during the dog show on Saturday.

Trophies for the top dogs at the Tonawanda Valley Kennel Club dog show are lined up. The club has had its annual dog shows over Labor Day weekend in Albion for the past two decades.

Bullard Park has been taking over by the dogs this weekend with large tents and several show areas set up at the along the site on Route 31.


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2 dozen Model T’s converge in Orleans for weekend

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 30 August 2014
A caravan of Model T Fords head down South Main Street in Medina this morning in route from Albion to Orleans Ford in Medina. These two cars are driven by Tom Eagles (1914 Model T Ford four-door convertible), front, of Hamilton, Ontario, and Brad Glover (red 1911 Model T) from Scarborough, Ontario.

About two dozen of the Model T cars are in Orleans County for the weekend, touring local sites. The owners are members of the Model T Ford Club, Ontario Region. Many of the drivers are Canadians.

Glover, the Ontario resident, said he welcomes the get-a-ways with his car.

“It’s for the camaraderie,” he said. “That’s the whole the point of doing it. I don’t see the point of just looking at it.”

Most of the Model T cars are painted black. That’s how they were made from 1914 to 1925. Glover’s car was made in 1911 and was painted red.

“The early cars had colors,” he said. “They also had more brass.”

George Bidleman (left), owner of Orleans Fords in Medina, poses with Doug Lockwood of Albion and Lockwood’s 1926 Ford Model T. Lockwood has owned the car since the 1960s and driven it in many states.

“It’s been a good car,” Lockwood said.

Bidleman served the Model T drivers and riders breakfast at the dealership.

“It’s awesome,” Bidleman said, looking at the lineup of old cars.

The “Easy Ride Tour” heads to Lockport and Olcott today. On Sunday the cars head to Pine Hill Airport in Barre for breakfast, then they go to Brockport and swing back to Schwenk’s Winery in Kent.


Monday they are going to Mount Albion Cemetery before heading out to see the Shoe Tree in Lyndonville, and nearby Amish and Mennonite businesses.


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High school gridders tune up on "Scrimmage Saturday"

Photo by Cheryl Wertman
Medina's Brett Pecoraro returns a pass interception against Wilson during the Mustangs scrimmage this morning at Vets Park.


By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 30 August 2014

The preparation of area high school football teams for the upcoming season shifted into high gear this morning on "Scrimmage Saturday" as Albion and Medina both hosted multi team sessions.

Albion hosted a four-way scrimmage which also included Batavia, LeRoy and Elba/Byron-Bergen.

"It's very valuable" said Albion head Coach Gary Parisi of the scrimmage session. "You want to scrimmage teams that are very good. That helps you to see what you need to work on. It also helps to look for anything you may have missed in practice."

Medina hosted a three-way scrimmage involving Wilson and East High of Buffalo.

"It's a great opportunity for the kids to start to jell and to work on our execution," said Medina head Coach Eric Valley.

Holley took part in a multi team scrimmage at East Rochester and Barker/Roy-Hart scrimmaged at Pembroke which is being coached this season by former long-time Albion mentor Dick Diminuco.

The scrimmages help to get the teams ready for next weekend's season openers which will have Barker/Roy-Hart hosting Lew-Port on Friday and Albion at Burgard, Medina at Newfane and Holley hosting Attica on Saturday afternoon.


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Remediating 2 sites in downtown Medina would cost $177K

Photo by Tom Rivers
The former Starlite Dry Cleaners has been vacant on Main Street in Medina since a fire damaged the building a decade ago. Environmental concerns have a holdup in the site’s redevelopment.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 August 2014
MEDINA – An environmental audit of two vacant side-by-side sites on Main Street puts the costs of a cleanup at $177,000.

The former Starlite Dry Cleaners at 331 North Main St. has been empty since a fire in the building a decade ago. Its neighbor at 333 North Main also is vacant.

Great Lakes Environmental in Buffalo said remediating the sites, with a partial takedown, would cost $177,000.

Addressing the environmental issues is critical for the two sites to be contributing locations to Medina’s Main Street and community, said Mayor Andrew Meier.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation pledged $50,000 to $60,000 to the cleanup in 2008. The village is trying to make sure that funding is still committed for the cleanup. Medina could also pursue state funding through the Consolidated Funding Application. Meier expects the state would welcome the project because the two buildings are in a historic business district by the Erie Canal.

“It’s a very important project in that neighborhood,” he said. “It’s precluding other projects from happening.”

A previous study showed some dry-cleaning solvents were in the soil at Starlite. The site has been in limbo for years. A previous owner stopped paying taxes on the site. Normally the property would then be owned by Orleans County, but the county hasn’t accepted the property due to the potential environmental liabilities.


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Power and peace at Robin Hill

Lyndonville site is full of natural splendor

Photos by Tom Rivers
A tree is pictured next to Smith’s Pond near Platten Road in Lynonville, part of the Robin Hill Nature Preserve.

Robin Hill has about 400 varieties of trees. They create a natural sanctuary.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
LYNDONVILLE – If you’re looking for serenity and a sense of awe, Robin Hill Nature Preserve should provide your needs.

The site off Platten Road is a nature paradise with about 400 types of trees. Many tower high in the sky. Others are short and the branches shoot outward, creating a canopy of leaves you have to stoop to miss.

It’s a great place. I was fortunate to stop by this evening with my family to see Doug Pratt. His late grandfather, William Smith, developed the 45-acre site, and also built the accompanying house of Medina sandstone.

The site is popular with photographers and nature lovers. Pratt enjoys sharing the space. He created the Robin Hill Foundation with an educational mission for the property. Click here for more information.

Smith owned of a canning factory in Lyndonville and built a nature preserve. In 1948, he and his wife Mary began work on the sandstone home, doing much of the work themselves with some help from family and employees at the canning factory. It took several years to build the house.

Smith and his wife Mary kept swans, and many Lyndonville youths from two generations ago grew up feeding the majestic creatures.

William and Mary Smith created the site after their daughter Lucille died from Scarlet Fever at age 19. They named it Robin Hill. Many of the trees and plants are rare and exotic, and they attract numerous varieties of birds.


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Before helmets, football players wore nose masks to fight head injuries

Photo courtesy of Cobblestone Museum
Homer C. Brown used this bat-wing Football Nose Guard, pat. 1891. Brown played football for Albion and his nose guard was donated to the Cobblestone Museum.

By Matt Ballard, Co-director of Cobblestone Museum Posted 29 August 2014
CHILDS – Well before “League of Denial” was released, before the NFL acknowledged the severity of concussions and beyond the widespread use of plastic helmets and facemasks, football players relied on leather helmets and homemade equipment for protection.

American football has changed a great deal over the last century and this “Victor Special” bat-wing style nose guard manufactured under Arthur Cumnock’s patent for the “Morrill Nose Mask” (1891) depicts the frightening history of football protection.

Arthur Cumnock cited in his patent that although blows to the face were not permitted in the game, players were allowed to push off of their opponents with considerable force. Injuries to the nose and mouth were unavoidable during game, which could render a player unusable for a considerable amount of time.

The rubber nose mask was fitted with a strap that went around the head to keep the top portion of the piece in place. A rubber ledge was fitted on the backside for the player to place in his mouth. The “bat-wing” style mask added extra coverage for the player’s cheeks and chin to prevent any severe injuries to those portions of the face. Holes were drilled into the front to allow for breathing.

The 1898 Albion Football Team pictured with their mascot “Rover.” Several players are depicted with nose masks hanging around their necks, including Billy Rose (center with football) who is wearing a nose mask similar to Cumnock's 1891 bat-wing model. Pictured, from left, front row: Murray Hardenbook, “Rover” and Guyler Leslie. Second row: Fred Hillspaugh, Pete Galarneau, Billy Rose, Bert Squire, George Sullivan and Bob Clark. Third row: John Wilson, Frank Mason, Eugene Barnum, Clayton Blood and George Wall.

Spaulding featured this protective equipment in their catalogs for a period of time at the cost of 70 cents. It would take another 60 years for head and face protection to become a serious concern for officials in the NFL. This piece was not required for football players at any age and the bulky nature of the device caused it to fall to the wayside.

Today, these nose masks are highly sought-after artifacts that open the window into a bygone era. Created to prevent serious injuries to athletes, it represents the first step towards player safety in a highly physical sport.

The nose mask pictured above was used by Homer Culver Brown while he was a student athlete on the Albion Football Team. It will be displayed beginning this weekend at the Cobblestone Museum.

For more on the museum, click here.


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Brunner named ‘Business of the Year’ in Orleans County

File photo by Tom Rivers
Brunner International is working on a 48,000-square-foot addition to its complex at the corner of Route 31 and Bates Road in Medina.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
MEDINA – A company that is investing $15 million on an expansion in Medina and adding 35 employees has been named “Business of the Year” by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce.

Brunner International is working to have the expansion ready by Jan. 1 at the corner of Route 31 and Bates Road. The 48,000-square-foot expansion will create 35 new positions and also retain 363 local jobs.

Brunner is based in Canada. The company is expanding the production of machined axle forgings that are sold to large, heavy-duty truck and trailer suppliers. It will utilize automation and add jobs as part of the expansion.

Brunner will be recognized during a Sept. 20 awards banquet at Tillman’s Historic Village Inn in Childs.


Other award winners, announced today by the Chamber, include:

• New Business of the Year: BAD-AsH-BBQ

• Entrepreneurial Excellence: Precision Packaging Products, Inc.

• Phoenix Award: Fair Haven Treasures

• Community Service: Anni Skowneski and Kenneth DeRoller

• Lifetime Achievement: Bruce Krenning and Marcia Tuohey

• Agricultural Business of the Year: Lake Ontario Fruit.

For more information about the awards banquet, call the Chamber at 589-7727.


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County increases security for Legislative offices

Visitors now have to use elevator and be ‘buzzed’ in

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – Residents who wanted to see the County Legislature typically would ascend the stairs at the County Clerks’ Building at 3 South Main St.

But visitors now have to use an elevator from the bottom floor and be “buzzed” in.

The county took out old tall wooden doors and replaced it with smaller doors with a steel frame. The old doors are being stored. (This picture was taken in late July while the old doors were still in place. A new door is in the back.)

Most of the Legislature's visitors won't be using the new door. They are directed to a door just outside the elevator on the top floor. Legislature David Callard said legislative staff were often caught off guard with two entrances leading to their work area.

The upgraded security is part of an effort to make the county buildings safer for employees, Callard said.

“We’re looking at other departments,” he said. “This is concern for all municipalities across the nation.”

The finished product includes a secure entrance leading into the top floor of the County Clerks' Building.


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Correctional Facility staff raise $7K for American Heart Association
Press release, New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – Officers from the Orleans Correctional Facility held their second annual charity golf tournament on Aug. 18 and raised $7,000 for the American Heart Association in honor of an officer who recently passed away from a heart-related condition.

The charity event, which had more than 150 participants at the Batavia Country Club, raised $7,000 in the name of Officer Duane Catanesi, who passed away suddenly in January.

Fellow officers and civilian staff from Orleans organized the tournament and had assistance from officers from Attica and Gowanda Correctional Facilities. The tournament was also supported from local businesses in the area that donated raffle items and sponsored tee signs.

Last year the tournament benefited the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in honor of an officer who could no longer work after he was diagnosed with MS. The 2013 tournament raised $6,500 for the MS Society.

“I would like to thank each and every officer who volunteered their time in organizing and participating in this important charity event,” said Western Region Vice President Mike Dildine. “For the past two years this tournament has supported two important organizations that are very close to our members’ hearts. They not only raised money to support these two organizations, but they did it in honor of two fellow officers and their families. NYSCOPBA members raise money for a wide variety of charities and local community organizations throughout the year and our members should be proud of the impact they have on those organizations.”


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All 10 towns, 4 villages join county in seeking more state funds for roads and bridges

Photo by Tom Rivers
The Allens Bridge Road canal bridge in Albion has a weight limit of 7 tons. It is one of several canal bridges that can not carry heavy trucks.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
It doesn’t happen very often but the elected town, village and county boards are united on an issue. They have all passed formal resolutions for more state funding for roads and bridges.

The money is already there, said Legislatore Ken DeRoller, R-Kendall, but the state diverts funding for roads and bridges to other purposes.

The County Legislature, 10 Town Boards and four Village Boards in the county have all formally approved resolutions “Urging Structural Reform of the State Dedicated Highway and Bridge Trust Fund.” Carlton was the most recent to approve the resolution, making it unanimous among the elected municipal boards.

Taxpayers pay billions into the Highway and Bridge Trust Fund through taxes and fees but 75 percent of the money is then “siphoned off to pay for borrowing and operating costs of state agencies, leaving fewer dollars for improving our infrastructure,” according to the resolution.

The local government leaders are urging the governor and State Legislature to develop a multi-year plan for the fund to meet the infrastructure needs for bridges and roads in the state.

This is only the second time all municipal boards in the county have passed the same resolution. The boards did it for the first time last year in opposing the SAFE Act, a gun control law approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature in January 2013.

The county, towns and villages also have been pressing the state to better maintain bridges in the county. The canal bridges are particularly worrisome, officials said. There are 26 canal bridges in the county, including seven lift bridges.

Twelve of the 26 bridges have been declared “functionally obsolete.” Another six are considered “structurally deficient” by the state Department of Transportation. Two are closed – Brown Street in Albion and Hindsburg Road in Murray. The Knowlesville lift bridge is limited to one lane and 6 tons.

Other bridges have reduced weight limits below 10 tons, including Transit Road in Albion at 9 tons, Allens Bridge Road in Albion at 7 tons, Presbyterian Road in Albion at 5 tons, and Groth Road at 9 tons in Murray. Most of the bridges are about 100 years old. They were installed when the canal was widened in 1909 to 1914.

The closed and weight-reduced bridges forces longer trips for school buses, fire trucks, tractor trailers and big farm equipment, hindering public safety and commerce in the county, legislators said.

With less state funding for bridges, the county is considering using more local dollars for infrastructure projects so more bridges aren’t closed in the near future. That will put the burden of the projects on local taxpayers.


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Sportsmen give thanks to County Legislature

Photo by Tom Rivers
Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard, center, accepts a plaque from of the Orleans County Sportsmen Federation, including Mike Elam, at left, and Mike Donahue, the group’s president.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 August 2014
ALBION – When the log cabin at the Orleans County 4-H Fairgrounds needed repairs beginning about three years ago, the County Legislature directed $5,000 to replacing three of the walls at the site.

Volunteers, including Legislature Chairman David Callard, have worked steadily at removing the old rotted walls and replacing them with new wood.

The refurbished log cabin, including a new front fence, was done in time for last month’s fair, providing a safer and better showcase for local conservation and sportsmen’s clubs.

Leaders of the Orleans County Sportsmen Federation stopped by the Legislature’s meeting on Wednesday to thank the group for their support. The Sportsmen presented a plaque to Legislature Chairman David Callard, who spent a couple days working with volunteers on the project, removing old mortar and tearing out the rotted wood.

The cabin was first completed in 1976 and is used for many hunter safety classes, and conservation programs.

File photo by Tom Rivers
Volunteers work on removing a wall at a log cabin at the 4-H Fairgrounds in this photo from June. A new wooden wall was built in time for the fair.


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Harness maker was a presence on Main Street a century ago

By Bill Lattin, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 August 2014
ALBION – Sam Watt stands by an open door to his downtown Albion harness shop around 1905. Windows in the second and third floor are filled with advertising.

In 1923, The Citizens National Bank building was enlarged, thus taking over the space. Watt’s building was demolished for this expansion.

A corner of the bank shows along the left side of our photo. Sam Watt later conducted his harness repair work out of a barn behind his home on East Park Street.

Naturally, the automobile put harness makers pretty much out of business. Yet at the time this picture was taken they were still in great demand.


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New landmark – 153-foot-high turbine – goes up in Albion

Schmitt family expects turbine will pay for itself in 7 years

Photos by Tom Rivers
United Wind installs a 10-kilowatt wind turbine today at the West County House Road home of Kurt and Cathy Schmitt. This is the first residential wind turbine in the Albion area.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2014
ALBION – The town has a new landmark, the first residential wind turbine in the Albion community. It was erected today by United Wind.

Kurt and Cathy Schmitt have the 153-foot-high structure in their back yard on West County House Road. They have been researching wind energy for several years and committed to the project, expecting their $26,000 investment to be paid back within seven years.

“If you’re committed long-term to your house, I don’t see a downside,” Mr. Schmitt said this morning when contractors used a crane to set on the turbine.

Kurt Schmitt stands by the turbine and one of its 7-foot-long blades.

The Schmitts used a home improvement loan to pay their share of the project. United Wind also offers the option of 0 percent down and monthly financing in a lease.

The company owns the turbine and leases it to the property owner. United expects it will access about $30,000 in incentives from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for the project.

Many of the smaller 10-kilowatt turbines, such as the one at the Schmitts’, have been popular in recent years for farms. There are three in Gaines for fruit farmers: Watt Farms, Kast Farms and Jim Kirby Farms.

But more residential users are trying the projects as electric rates rise, said Stuart Adler, head of projects for United Wind.

“We anticipate more price escalations in electricity so this will become more attractive,” Adler said. “Wind is a fixed cost. It won’t go up.”

The turbine has three blades and stands atop a 140-foot-high lattice tower. With the motor and blades, the system peaks at 153 feet high.

Mr. Schmitt, a lieutenant with the state police, expects a payback through electric savings within seven years. His National Grid bills are forecast to fall to $35 a month. He will remain connected to National Grid with a net metering system, drawing on that company’s power when the wind isn’t strong enough to turn the turbine motor. His excess power will be sold to National Grid.

Schmitt thought his property up on hill would prove a good site.

“It’s always windy here,” he said.

This afternoon, shortly after the turbine was up, the 7-foot-long blades were spinning fast.

The wind turbine has been a popular topic among his neighbors and friends.

“A lot of people are interested,” he said. “They’re asking about it.”


For more information about United Wind, click here.

The turbine stands in the backyard of the Schmitt residence, just west of Route 98 in Albion.


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