Orleans County, every village and town see dip in population

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 May 2015

Orleans County and all of its villages and towns have seen their populations dip since the 2010 Census, according to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The county as a whole is down from 42,883 in 2010 to 41,984 in 2014, a 2.1 percent decrease.

The villages all lost people with Medina seeing the greatest loss, a drop of 201 people or 3.3 percent of its population from 2010. Holley dropped by 3.0 percent, Lyndonville by 1.2 percent and Albion by 0.8 percent, according to the Census Bureau.


Municipality 2010 2014
Albion (village) 6,056 6,007
Holley (village) 1,811 1,756
Lyndonville (village)


Medina (village) 6,065 5,864
Albion (town) 8,468 8,431
Barre 2,025 1,954
Carlton 2,994 2,945
Clarendon 3,648 3,586
Gaines 3,378 3,288
Kendall 2,724 2,672
Murray 4,988 4,839
Ridgeway 6,780 6,596
Shelby 5,319 5,181
Yates 2,559 2,492
Orleans County 42,883 41,984

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau. The 2014 numbers are estimates.)

The 10 towns, including the portions outside the villages, all went down with Barre seeing the biggest loss, a drop of 3.5 percent.

Murray is down 3.0 percent, Ridgeway and Gaines by 2.7 percent, and Shelby and Yates both by 2.6 percent. Ridgeway saw the biggest drop in people with 184 fewer residents since 2010.

Kendall shrunk by 1.9 percent, Clarendon by 1.7 percent, and Carlton at 1.6 percent. Albion saw the smallest decline at 0.4 percent.


The much-maligned villages aren’t solely responsible for dragging down the town populations. The towns with villages all saw losses outside the villages as well.


Albion, outside the village, was down from 3,808 to 3,777. In Gaines, the outside-village population declined 1,982 to 1,935.


Murray saw its population outside the village drop from 3,177 to 3,083, and Ridgeway decreased from 3,337 to 3,269 outside the village.

Shelby, outside the village, dropped from 2,697 to 2,644 and Yates outside-village is down 1,721 to 1,680.

The eight counties in Western New York all saw population declines in the four years except Erie County, which grew 0.4 percent from 919,040 to 922,835.

Here are how the other WNY counties fared:

• Cattaraugus: 80,317 to 78,600, down 2.1 percent;
• Chautauqua: 134,905 to 132,053, down 2.1 percent;
• Genesee: 60,079 to 59,162, down 1.5 percent;
• Livingston: 65,393 to 64,586, down 1.2 percent;
• Niagara: 216,469 to 213,525, down 1.4 percent;
• Wyoming: 42,155 to 41,188, down 2.3 percent.


For more information on the latest population estimates from the Census, click here.


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Community Action joins Red Nose Day to highlight child poverty

Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 21 May 2015
ALBION – Staff and volunteers at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee are wearing red noses today as part of an effort to raise awareness for child poverty.

“We wanted to support the cause,” said Anni Skowneski, case manager at Community Action. “We wanted to raise awareness for child poverty, which is something we work with every day.”


The people pictured include, front: Kim Miller. Second row, from left: Wendy Hinkley, Andrea Severson, Anni Skonewski and Heidi Wyant. Back row: Barb Kiefer, Pam Wadhams, Carol Berray, Bonnie Malakie, Amy Lester, Freddie Stewart, Mary Guzik and Cathy Brien.

People throughout the world are participating in “Red Nose Day.” For more information, click here.

Orleans County is seeing an increase in the number of people in poverty. Orleans went from 4,731 or 11.6 percent of its population in 2000 to 5,194 or 13.0 percent in 2013, according to the Census.


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Deputy DeFilipps honored by company that made bulletproof vest

Officer is ‘Save 1,912’ for Safariland Group

Photos by Tom Rivers
Deputy James DeFilipps is pictured with his wife Marie and their infant son Jake at the Orleans County Public Safety Building on Tuesday.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 May 2015
ALBION – About two months after he was shot twice while on duty, Deputy James DeFilipps held his son Jake before many in the law enforcement community and his family on Tuesday. Jake will be 1 in a few days.


“I’m very grateful he’s still here,” the deputy's wife Marie said on Tuesday.

DeFilipps and his family are thankful that a bulletproof vest protected the deputy when he was shot twice at close range on March 21 at about 3 a.m. A bullet to the chest was blocked by the vest and left no bruise. A shot in abdomen was also stopped, but DeFilipps has a deep bruise that gunshot.

He expects he will be able to return to work in early June, working the night shift in eastern Orleans County.

DeFilipps started his career with the Holley Police Department. He has worked the night shift for the Sheriff’s Department for about a decade. Mrs. DeFilipps said her husband is eager to return to work.

“This is what he was born to do,” she said.

The family has received numerous cards from well-wishers, Mrs. DeFilipps said.

When her husband spent a few hours in Strong Memorial Hospital after being shot twice on March 21, police officers visited from the State Police, Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, as well as officers from Orleans County.

Friends have dropped off food and many other kind gestures have been extended to the family. DeFilipps and his immediate family all live in Holley. His mother, Marsha, is the Holley historian.

The big community response has been humbling, said Anne Schutz, DeFilipps’s sister.

“It’s really made me believe in Holley again,” Schutz said.

A representative from the Safariland Group holds the plaque given to Deputy James DeFilipps on Tuesday.

Schutz remembers a few hours after her brother was shot, and asking him if he would return to road patrols.

“He said, ‘Definitely,’” Schutz said.

DeFilipps was shot twice by James Ellis, 44, of Wyoming County. Ellis allegedly pulled a handgun on an ex-girlfriend in Shelby on March 21. Ellis was then chased by police before crashing his vehicle into a telephone pole on Route 31A in Clarendon.


DeFilipps was working the east end of the county and responded to the scene in Clarendon. Police say Ellis open fired on responding officers, including DeFilipps. After DeFilipps was shot twice, he fired at Ellis, killing him.

DeFilipps was only about 10 feet away from Ellis during the shootout.

A grand jury reviewed the evidence and found DeFilipps was justified in using lethal force.

Representatives from the Safariland Group, manufacturers of the bullet proof vest, presented DeFilipps and Sheriff Scott Hess with plaques noting that DeFIlipps is “Save No. 1,912” for the company. He was wearing an American Body Armor Extreme Series vest when he was shot.

DePuty James DeFilipps is presented a plaque and other gifts from Stacey Petyak, a manufacturers representative for Safariland Group. Sheriff Scott Hess, left, also received a plaque to be displayed in the department.


Stacey Petyak, a manufacturers representative for the company, presented the plaques during the ceremony.

“It is not just about us and our armor,” she said. “It is about your heroic actions and your action of valor that you are here today and the other officers.”

The company wanted the Sheriff’s Office to have a plaque as well, noting that DeFilipps survived the gun shots.

“When you look at this you realize what you’re dealing with everyday, the good, the bad and the in between,” she said to a group of law enforcement officers.


DeFilipps also received several gifts – an embroidered hat, travel mug, gear bag and a challenge coin – noting he is “Save No. 1,912.”

Whenever there is a save due to the company’s products, the Safariland Group will shut down production at its three plants to recognize the save and read the story behind the incident with the officer, Petyak said.


She said the “Save Officers” have developed their own network, often reaching out to one another.


“These are officers who took what would be fatal blows,” Petyak said.


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New recruits complete intense basic firefighting course

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 16 May 2015
ALBION – Justin Behrend-Jones, a member of the Kendall Fire Department, races to get his turnout gear on today during the final exam for the basic firefighting course.


Behrend-Jones and 12 other recruits spent the past three months of meeting for classes, typically two to three times a week. The volunteer firefighters took their final exams today to become basic firefighters.

The recruits went through a series of drills under the watchful eye of three state fire instructors. In this photo the new firefighters are checking their self-contained breathing apparatuses, verifying the gauges, making sure the straps are intact and the units are clean and working properly.

Ben Diltz, 22, from the Calrton Fire Department puts on the turnout gear, a multi-step task that needed to be done properly in less than 2 minutes.


Today's final exam was at the Orleans County Fire Training Center on West Countyhouse Road. The fire training tower at the site was filled with smoke and firefighters had to show search and rescue skills as part of the final test.

Joe Robb is a member of the Kendall Fire Department. He waits for the signal to start getting on his turnout gear.

The recruits were from fire departments in Orleans and Monroe counties. Besides being tested on cleaning and assessing the condition of their equipment and putting their turnout gear on within 2 minutes, they also needed to pass tests for hydrant connections, setting up and using ladders, and primary search and rescue skills.

Tim Adams (left) from the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Volunteer Fire Company and Tiffany Petry from the Shelby Volunteer Fire Company work with their turnout gear.

“It’s been kind of a dream since I was a kid,” Adams said about being a firefighter. “It’s community service. Somebody has to help everyone else who needs help.”

Adams joined FHM in September. He looks forward to more training with his department.

“I plan on going farther after this,” he said about advancing his skills. “I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter.”

Jerry Lewis, the lead fire instructor, announces the closing seconds of the turnout gear drill as Tim Adams signals he has completed the task.


Adams and the new recruits put in 100-plus hours in the training. Adams said the practice is critical for firefighters when they are on emergency calls.


“You need the repetition and you need to keep building your skills,” he said.


State fire instructor Jim Weber checks to see how well Andrew Faskell did in putting on the turnout gear. Faskell is a member of the Barre Volunteer Fire Company.


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Agency leaders look to fight poverty, boost opportunities in community

Photos by Tom Rivers

Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, addresses about 40 human service professionals about challenges for low-income residents in the community. He is joined at a table of panelists by Nathan Varland (left) of Community Action and Paul Pettit, public health director in Genesee and Orleans counties.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 May 2015
ALBION – About 40 leaders of local agencies met this week to discuss poverty and other challenges in Orleans and Genesee counties.

These are problems that are decades in the making, and will take a long-term commitment to improve.

“This is a marathon,” said Paul Pettit, the public health director for the two counties. “We didn’t create these issues overnight. We’re looking for incremental steps. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort.”

Pettit was one of the panelists during the annual joint meeting of the Genesee County Interagency Council and the Orleans County Human Services Council. The 40 human service professionals met at the Care Net Pregnancy and Family Center in Albion, in a meeting led by Marsha Rivers, executive director of the United Way of Orleans County. She is also past president of the Orleans County Human Services Council.

Nathan Varland, director of Housing and Support Services for Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, shared highlights of the agency’s community needs assessment, a 200-plus page document.

Some highlights from the report:

• The two counties have shrinking youth populations but a growing number of senior citizens.

In Orleans, the number of people under age 5 dropped 16.7 percent from 2,747 in 2000 to 2,286 in 2010. The 5-19 age group shrank 15.1 percent, from 10,039 in 2000 to 8,522 in 2010. The 20-64 age group held steady, while the numbers of senior citizens (ages 65 and older) increased by 12.9 percent from 5,472 to 6,178.

• Every school district in the two counties saw enrollment decline from 2004 to 2010.

• Orleans and Genesee both saw their overall populations decrease from 2000 to 2010. However, both saw an increase in people in poverty. Orleans went from 4,731 in 2000 to 5,194 in 2010. Genesee was up from 5,038 in 2000 to 6,952 in 2010.

Nathan Varland from Community Action shares statistics from a recent community needs assessment that shows a growing number of people in poverty in the two counties. Other panelists include, from left: Erik Fix, director of United Way of Genesee County; Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian; and Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action.

• The poverty rate is far greater for people who are black – 40.4 percent in Genesee and 32.0 percent in Orleans. That compares to 11.2 percent of the white population in Genesee and 12.7 percent in Orleans.

• In the two counties, nearly every school district saw an increase in students eligible for free and reduced lunch, Varland said.

• There is more pressure on children to know more when they enter prekindergarten and kindergarten. Low-income children are more likely to be behind and have challenging behaviors, he said.

• The number of child abuse/maltreatment cases has increased in both counties with Genesee going from 184 cases in 2006 to 223 in 2010. The cases in Orleans increased from 164 to 197 during those four years.

• In regards to housing, 18 percent of housing units – 7,879 – in the two counties are considered substandard by the Housing and Urban Development. There is a significant need for home rehabilitation, especially with roofs.

• Low-income residents and senior citizens have unmet transportation needs as well, especially after hours on weekdays an on weekends. Many poor residents who own a vehicle lack the money to repair it, according to the Community Action report.

• The economy in Orleans County is stagnant compared to the rest of the state, while it is fairly healthy in Genesee County.

Marsha Rivers, executive director of the United Way of Orleans County, addresses the human service leaders during the meeting at the Care Net Pregnancy and Family Center in Albion. This space is the former cafeteria at Liptons in Albion.

• There is growing demand in Orleans County for public assistance, help with utility payments, and requests for medical and prescription cost assistance.

• The Batavia, Albion and Medina zip codes have large populations of low-income households.

• Orleans County ranks 61st out of 62 counties in the state for worst health factors, which measure smoking rates, diet and exercise, alcohol use, risky sexual behavior and access to health care and other economic factors.


Pettit, the health department director in the two counties, said the agencies are working hard to meet many of the needs in the community.

“You guys are the answers to a lot of these problems,” he said.

Jim Moody, executive director for the Orleans Community Health Foundation, would like to see more funding for senior programs with that segment of the population rising.

“If you know where the dollars are, we’re looking for them,” Pettit said.

Genesee County is fortunate to have the Muriel Marshall Fund, a bequest that pays for many services for seniors, helping them to stay in their homes and have access to many services, Genesee County officials said.

Howard Owens, owner of The Batavian (an on-line news site in Genesee County), was one of the panelists. He said promoting entrepreneurship can be an effective way to lift people out of poverty and build a stronger community.

Some emerging entrepreneurs could use earned income tax credits to buy vendor carts and start their own businesses, he said.

I was also one of the panelists and I shared how the state gives so little in aid to villages, compared to cities. It is my opinion that this is a prime factor in the high taxes in the villages, which are chasing away residents and investment, resulting in declining housing stock, vacant homes and a struggling climate for small businesses.

I’ve written about the state aid disparity before (click here) and some of the villages, towns and the County Legislature have passed formal resolutions, asking the state for a fair formula for Aid and Incentives to Municipalities.

Marsha Rivers, the United Way executive director, is the former director at Care Net. She shared how every contribution, even pennies, can accumulate to benefit the community.

Care Net has an annual baby bottle drive, where supportors fill baby bottles with loose change. Some people tuck bigger contributions – $100 bills and checks – in the bottles. But most of the funds come from the donated coins. This year’s baby bottle fundraiser netted about $20,000.

“That shows that every little bit adds up,” Rivers said.


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County, CSEA union reach 5-year labor accord

Employees get no raises in 2015, 2 percent for each of following 4 years

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2015 Updated 10:05 p.m.
ALBION – The County Legislature and about 200 county employees have reached a new 5-year labor deal where employees won’t get a raise in 2015, but will get 2 percent raises each year from 2016 to 2019.

The CSEA membership approved the pact on Friday with the Legislature giving it an OK on Wednesday.

“I am very proud of our negotiating team for putting together a creative, fair and very practical deal,” said David Callard, Legislature chairman. “I am very appreciative of the CSEA team for being open minded and being respectful to the needs of the taxpayer. We worked together and came up with what I believe is a win-win contract.”


The agreement calls for all employees to pay towards their healthcare costs. Some employees had been excluded, but starting in 2017 all will pay towards health insurance costs.


All employees will also begin migrating to a high deductible healthcare plan with a health savings account. Deductibles will be $1,500 for singles and $3,000 for family plans, with the county continuing to pay 50 percent of the annual deductible.

The deal should save the county about $75,000, “conservatively,” in overall costs when the healthcare savings are factored in with the pay raises over the five years, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.


“This has been another successful step in a long-term strategic plan to work closely with our bargaining units to make cost-effective benefit changes to employee healthcare,” Nesbitt said.


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Randy Bower stays in race to be next sheriff

Chris Bourke, long-time lieutenant at Sheriff’s Department, would be Bower’s undersheriff

Photo by Tom Rivers
Randy Bower, right, and Chris Bourke want to lead the Sheriff’s Department. Bower is running for Orleans County sheriff.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 May 2015
HOLLEY – Randy Bower is staying in the race to be Orleans County’s next sheriff. Bower has the Conservative Party endorsement and will appear on the November ballot.

Last Thursday, the Orleans County Republican Party Committee endorsed Tom Drennan, the current chief deputy, to be sheriff. Drennan secured just over 60 percent of the GOP Committee’s support, getting 6,151 votes to 3,951 for Bower, a long-time dispatcher for the county. The committee has 75 voting members and uses a weighted voting system.

Bower said on Tuesday he hasn’t decided if he will force a Republican Primary. But he said he isn’t withdrawing from the race.

He will be campaigning with Chris Bourke, a lieutenant in the Sheriff’s Department. Bourke started his 31-year career as a corrections officer in the county jail and has worked as a deputy on road patrol. He has been a lieutenant the past 18 years and is the department’s K-9 handler.

Burke and the Deputy Sheriff’s Association support Bower for sheriff.

“Randy is an organizer,” Bourke said. “I have no doubt he can do the job.”

Bower, 50, has worked with Bourke for nearly three decades. Bower has been a dispatcher, relaying information to Bourke and other officers in the field. Bower has been active in the community in numerous other ways, running a custom apparel company with John Cole, coaching youth soccer, basketball and baseball.

He was also the Holley girls varsity basketball coach for four years. That team lost every game its first two years with Bower, but it became a playoff team his third season. Bower was Genesee-Region coach of the year that year in 2010.

He also has been chairman of a bocce tournament the past 15 years in Hulberton, part of the St. Rocco’s Festival the Sunday before Labor Day. That tournament draws teams from throughout Western New York and Ontario, Canada.

Bower is in a wheelchair. He has been paralyzed from the waist down since a car accident when he was 18.

“I’m challenge-driven,” he said. “I love a challenge. I’m self-motivated and I have the ability to motivate others.”

Bower said very supportive friends and family helped him recover quickly from his accident 32 years ago. He said he lives a blessed life with his wife Robin and their children: Jessica, 23; and Jacob, 20.

The accident hasn’t prevented him from an active and athletic life. He said he loves his job as dispatcher. (He also was a member of the Sheriff’s Department’s Off-Road Patrol from 1992-1998, riding all-terrain vehicles to help locate missing persons, stolen property and respond to other situations.)

Bower wants to be sheriff because he said he has the leadership skills, vision and communication skills to run the department and serve the public.

“I’m seeking the endorsement of the people of Orleans County,” Bower said at his home on Route 31 in Holley. “I know how to treat people.”

Randy Bower

Bower was 18 when he worked for the Group W Cable company in Brockport, a company that was precursor to Time Warner. He installed cables on the telephone poles.

After his car accident in October 1983, Bower was hospitalized for three months. He returned to work at Group W, this time as a dispatcher.

He was hired as an Orleans County dispatcher in 1986 by former sheriff David Green.

Bower has worked 29 years as a county dispatcher, teaming with law enforcement and other emergency responders, including firefighters and ambulance staff. The dispatcher position has evolved over the years with more technology and training, working with members of the public in crisis situations.

It’s a job that Bower says requires “strict composure” and the ability extract vital information while remaining diplomatic and compassionate with the callers.

Before a big upgrade in 1998, when dispatch moved from the jail to the Public Safety Building, Bower and the dispatchers also ran the jail control room, a key part of the facility’s security.

Bower’s campaign for sheriff has picked up support from many Republican Committee members, the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the Conservative Party leaders. He presented to them a plan for the five divisions of the Sheriff’s Department, a plan that he said would make for a more efficient department, better service to the community and more revenue for the county.

The jail is the largest division of the Sheriff’s Department with 33 corrections officers, two cooks, a superintendent and eight other part-time COs.

The jail has a capacity for about 80 inmates. Bower said many of the inmates are “chemically dependent,” suffering from heroin, opiate and other addictions. He would like to see more services in the jail for those inmates to help them break the cycle of addiction.

“There is a revolving door right now,” he said.

He said he would pursue state funding to finance the drug addiction programs.

“There would be 0 tax increase to the county,” he said.

He would also push to have the county’s K-9 team regularly visit the jail to ensure no drugs are being brought in.

The county currently has two welfare fraud investigators through the Department of Social Services. Bower would like to add a fraud investigator to the Sheriff’s Department, a position that could ultimately save taxpayers’ money.

Bower and Bouke want to see more community policing with more police visibility, especially in the Lyndonville and Kendall communities.

The Sheriff’s Department Civil Division handles papers for evictions, orders of protection, summons and executions, and income and property executions. Those duties are currently handled by deputies while on patrol. But emergency calls often prevent deputies from delivering the paperwork in a timely manner.

Bower would like to have an officer assigned to that function to ensure the papers are delivered without delays. It would also free up deputies to focus on their other work. The civil work can generate revenue. Some attorneys have hired private contractors to do the work because the Sheriff’s Department often didn’t deliver the papers on time, Bower said.

The dispatchers also work with Kathy Smith, the county’s animal control officer. Bower said she handles about 2,000 calls a year, and also cleans the animal shelter and feeds the animals. It’s a big job. Bower would like to see a deputy on staff who would assist with the animal control calls and also be deployed for other police calls.

With dispatch, the county about six months ago started handling calls for the State Police. However, Bower said the state police cars aren’t tracked by the dispatch center, meaning dispatchers don’t know where the closest car is for a call. He would push to have the state troopers be full participants in the county dispatch system, and he also said the state should pay the county some money for the dispatching work.

Bower also wants dispatchers to have the capability of getting video links to the five school districts in case there was an incident in the schools needing a police or emergency response. If the schools allowed dispatch the video links, Bower said school officials would be notified if dispatch was in the school system’s video system.

“We want the public school video links,” Bower said. “We could see if there was an active shooter or other problems.”

Bourke said he supports Bower’s goals. He also has worked closely with Bower for 29 years, and witnessed his impact on others on a daily basis.

“It’s a leadership thing and Randy is the person,” Bourke said.


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Company that made bullet-proof vest will honor Orleans deputy

Photo by Tom Rivers
Deputy James DeFilipps (right) was recognized during an Orleans County Legislature meeting on April 22, along with deputies Brian Larkin, left, Kevin Colonna, and other law enforcement officers in the county. DeFilipps was wounded in a March 21 shoot-out in Clarendon.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 May 2015

When Deputy James DeFilipps was shot on March 21, a bullet-proof vest likely saved his life. It was the 1,912 “save” for the Safariland Group, a company that makes bullet-proof vests, armor and other gear.


Safariland representatives will be in Albion at the Public Safety Building on May 19 for a ceremony to recognize DeFilipps. The company will present him with a plaque and will induct him into the “Safariland Group Saves Club.” The company will also give a plaque to the Sheriff’s Department in the ceremony at 3 p.m.

Members of the “Safariland Group Saves Club” often become advocates for the law enforcement community, sharing the importance of wearing body armor, as well as providing other safety tips derived from their own experiences, the company said.


DeFilipps was shot twice in the vest during a shootout on March 21 in Clarendon with a James Ellis, 44, of Wyoming County.

Ellis crashed his vehicle into a telephone pole on Route 31A in Clarendon at about 3 a.m. on March 21. Police discovered the wreck in a neighbor's front yard while looking for Ellis. When DeFilipps left his patrol car to search for Ellis, the suspect opened fire from a wooded area near the vehicle, Sheriff Scott Hess said during a news conference later that day.


Deputy DeFilipps was shot twice in the abdomen, and then managed to fatally shoot Ellis.


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Strong rating from Moody’s helps county secure low borrowing rate

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2015
ALBION – Orleans County was assigned an A1 rating by Moody’s Investors Service, and that positive rating helped the county secure a 20-year bond for $8.03 million at a 2.81 percent rate.

The county is borrowing the money to replace bridges, culverts, roofs and other infrastructure work. Depository Trust submitted the lowest borrowing rate of five bidders. Depository has bought other county bonds before, said County Treasurer Susan Heard.

She said the county has held a high rating by Moody’s in recent decades, which has resulted in low-financing rates for county projects.

Moody’s said the county has a stable $1.7 billion tax base, showing modest growth of about 1.0 percent annually the past five years.

“The county’s financial position should remain satisfactory given conservative budgeting and the recent sale of the nursing home,” according to the Moody’s report.

Moody’s also said the recent sale of the county-owned nursing home for $7.8 million will allow the county to pay off $7.1 million owed for that facility’s debt. Selling the nursing home also eliminates the potential for county subsidies for the facility. The county had to take $900,000 from the general fund to cover budget shortfalls at the nursing home in 2013, Moody’s said.

The county has a “manageable debt level” and average resrve levels, Moody’s said. The county’s rate could go down if reserves are depleted. The rate could be improved with bigger reserves and significant tax base growth.

Moody’s said the county is challenged by “below average wealth indicators” in the community.

The $8.03 million bond will provide $4,963,000 to replace six bridges from 2015 to 2017. Those bridges include two in 2015: a bridge from 1934 over Beardsley Creek on Waterport-Carlton Road in Carlton, and a bridge from 1968 in Barre over Manning Muckland Creek on Oak Orchard Road.

Other bridges to follow include one from 1959 in Kendall on Carton Road over Sandy Creek, a bridge from 1936 in Ridgeway over Fish Creek on East Scott Road, one from 1928 in Ridgeway over Fish Creek on Culvert Road, and a bridge from 1956 in Kendall over Sandy Creek on Norway Road.

The county also plans to replace six culverts for $1,500,000. Those culverts are identified as two on Knowlesville Road in Ridgeway, two on Platten Road in Yates, and two on South Holley Road in Clarendon.

The infrastructure investment plan also includes $1,540,000 in work at county buildings, including two new pole barns for $460,000. Those 60-by-150 foot barns are estimated to cost $230,000 each. One would be used by the highway department and the other by emergency management.

The county also wants to replace the roofs on the County Administration Building and the Public Safety Building, with each at an estimated $510,000.


The remaining project includes a generator for the mental health building for $60,000. That generator will service a new hub for county information technology infrastructure.


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GCC seeks community input for Albion, Medina centers

Press Release, Genesee Community College Posted 8 May 2015
Genesee Community College campus centers in Albion and Medina want to know what you think about how the centers are serving the higher education needs of the community.

The staff has created a survey using the Survey Monkey online utility seeking input from community members. The survey is available by clicking here. It should take 3 to 5 minutes to complete. Those who answer the ten questions are entered to win a prize package that includes a Kindle Fire HD. The survey closes June 12.

“In our efforts to continuously improve our services to the community, we hope to garner the public’s interest and input on what they would like to see at the Albion and Medina Campus Centers,” Jim Simon, associate dean of GCC’s of the 2 campus centers in Orleans County. “From new courses to the hours our doors are open to innovative new career programs – we really want to hear what we can do better.”

The survey points out that GCC currently offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs at seven different locations as well as online. These include the main campus in Batavia and six campus centers. Besides Albion and Medina, there are campus centers in Arcade, Dansville, Lima and Warsaw.


Among the survey questions:

• If you could invent a new class or program at the Albion or Medina Campus Center, what would it be?

• If you were to enroll at GCC’s Albion or Medina Campus, what class times would you choose?

“We exist to meet the needs of the communities we serve,” said Michele Bokman, director of operations at the Albion and Medina campus centers. “The more honest respondents are, the better. We want a true picture of how we’re doing and how we can improve.”

The Albion Campus Center was GCC’s first, opening in 1990. More than 50 courses are typically offered each semester with an enrollment of more than 450 students.

Albion’s facilities include six high-tech classrooms, two computer labs, an art room, a quiet study lab, student lounge and outdoor patio. The center has served as a satellite art gallery for GO Art! (Genesee Orleans Regional Arts Council) with a variety of art exhibited throughout the year.


GCC Medina opened in 2007 and includes five classrooms, one with video link capabilities, a science lab and a computer lab. The Medina center has historically served more than 300 students each semester with more than 40 courses, and has also hosted the Civil War Encampment for the past three years.

“We’re grateful to those who participate in our survey and help us continue to provide quality education in Orleans County,” Simon said.


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Drennan gets Republican endorsement for sheriff

Photo by Tom Rivers
Tom Drennan, left, and Randy Bower shake hands after the Orleans County Republican Party Committee made its endorsement tonight.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 May 2015
GAINES – Tom Drennan has the Orleans County Republican Party endorsement to be the county’s next sheriff.

Drennan, the chief deputy the past nine years, has worked for the Sheriff’s Department for 23 years, starting as a deputy. The Kendall resident secured just over 60 percent of the GOP Committee’s vote this evening, getting 6,151 votes to 3,951 for Randy Bower, a long-time dispatcher for the county.

There were weighted votes for the 75 committee members who cast ballots this evening. (Two committee members abstained.)

Ed Morgan, the GOP chairman, praised both Drennan and Bower for working hard the past three months, meeting with Republican committee members throughout the county.

“They’re both good people,” Morgan said after the committee meeting at Tillman’s Village Inn. “They’ve both been above-board.”

Bower already has the Conservative Party line for the November election. He said he wanted to take a few days before deciding whether or not he would force a Republican Primary.

He thanked the committee members for their support.

Bower has the endorsement from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. Drennan had many letters submitted on his behalf, from the current sheriff, Scott Hess, to former sheriffs, undersheriffs and the current District Attorney Joe Cardone. (Hess is retiring after Dec. 31.)

Drennan said he stressed his experience as a law enforcement officer. He also has worked nearly a decade as a supervisor.

“Experience is a big factor,” he said. “I’m not a politician. I’m a cop.”

Bower won over many committee members with his long-term plan for the department. He also is an impassioned speaker.

“He is dynamic with a great personality,” Drennan said about Bower.

Morgan said it was one of the most contested races for a GOP endorsement in a long time. The committee met for more than two hours, picking candidates for county offices.

“Never in the 10 years that I’ve been doing this have we done a secret ballot like this,” Morgan said. “You didn’t know the outcome coming in.”


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Republicans don’t endorse candidate to run against Fred Miller

Fred Miller

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 May 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Republican Party Committee didn’t endorse a candidate to run against Fred Miller, the lone Democrat on the seven-member County Legislature.

Miller won an upset election in November 2013, defeating incumbent Henry Smith for a district that includes the towns of Albion and Gaines.

No candidates were nominated this evening to run against Miller, owner of Family Hardware in downtown Albion since 1986.

“I hear nothing bad about him from the other legislators,” said Ed Morgan, the Republican Party chairman. “He asks the right questions.”

Morgan said it isn’t unprecedented for the Republican Party not to run a candidate against an incumbent Democrat. For many years, Richard Bennett of Barre was unopposed as a Democrat on the Legislature.

Prior to being elected to the County Legislature, Miller served five years on the Village Board. Miller is the first resident from the village of Albion to serve on the Legislature in 30 years, despite Albion being the county seat.

Miller was endorsed by the Conservative Party in the 2013 election, but that party isn’t endorsing any of the incumbents this time. It has backed Paul Lauricella to run for legislator against Lynne Johnson.

The other six Republican legislators were all backed by the Republican Party for new two-terms. That team includes Legislature Chairman David Callard of Medina, John DeFilipps of Clarendon and Don Allport of Gaines for county-wide legislator positions; Ken DeRoller of Kendall for a district that includes the towns of Carlton, Murray and Kendall; Bill Eick of Shelby for a district that includes Clarendon, Barre and most of Shelby; and Lynne Johnson of Lyndonville for a district that includes Yates, Ridgeway and a small portion of Shelby.

The Republican Committee also endorsed Rocky Sidari, a former Albion fire chief, to serve as county coroner. He was appointed to the position in January, filling a vacancy created by Joe Fuller when he was elected Albion town justice.


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Study says hard for poor children to rise above poverty in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 May 2015
Orleans County is a tough place for children to break out of the cycle of poverty, according to a study that looks at upward mobility of kids in counties throughout the United States.


“Orleans County is pretty bad for income mobility for children in poor families,” states a May 4 article in the New York Times. (Click here to see “The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares.”


Orleans County is in the 35th percentile, 871 out of 2,478, for best places to grow up for income mobility for poor children. About 65 percent of other counties have higher income mobility for the poor.


Orleans and several other Western New York counties are difficult places for poor children to change that economic outcome when they are adults.


The study says poor children in Orleans County can expect to earn $120 less at age 26, compared to working in the average county. Wyoming County offers the best economic prospects for poor kids in Western New York. In that county, poor children will make $3,320 more annually at age 26, compared to being in the average county.


(Monroe County fares the worst of 11 WNY counties. Poor children who grow up in Monroe earn $2,380 less annually at age 26 compared to the average county.)


The study reported in The New York Times was compiled by Harvard economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren.

The say location is a big factor in a child’s economic prospects. Chetty, Hendren and other researchers identify five factors with strong upward mobility: less segregation by income and race, lower levels of income inequality, better schools, lower rates of violent crime, and a larger share of two-parent households, according to The New York Times.

“The broader lesson of our analysis,” Chetty and Hendren say in their report, “is that social mobility should be tackled at a local level.”


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Hawley says raising minimum wage will kill jobs

Staff Reports Posted 7 May 2015
ALBANY — The state Assembly on Monday passed a bill that would allow for a higher state minimum wage in New York City and nearby counties.

The legislation, which faces opposition in the Senate, seeks to phase in a minimum wage that would reach $15 an hour by the end of 2018 in the city and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) said the legislation is misguided and does not improve the already suffocating business climate that New York has perpetuated in past years. The 2015-16 State Budget provides no tax or regulatory relief for small businesses or the middle class.

Hawley issued this statement:

“As the owner of small businesses for over four decades, I know the struggles of operating in New York’s tax and fine environment,” Hawley said. “I voted against a minimum wage increase because when businesses are legally obligated to pay their employees more, they are therefore able to hire less employees and therefore create less jobs. A more viable option to help taxpayers would be a widespread middle class tax cut, something the Assembly Majority again failed to include in this year’s budget. My district is heavily agriculturally based and a minimum wage hike would jeopardize the ability of farming operations to hire additional employees, especially on an hourly basis. I will continue to support my district’s business interests and alternatives exist that would address the root problem of high taxes and regulations that is hindering our middle class and business community.

“Furthermore, this bill raises the minimum wage to a much higher rate in New York, Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties than the rest of New York State. This is another piece of evidence highlighting the growing disparity between upstate and downstate and why we should allow the public to decide if they would support a division of New York into two separate states by passing my legislation, Assembly Bill 4167. New Yorkers deserve this choice now more than ever considering downstate interests dominate our legislature while the social and economic concerns of millions of upstate New Yorkers are ignored.”

Hawley is the owner of an insurance agency based in Batavia and the former owner/operator of Hawley Farms.


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Ortt supports stripping Skelos of power as Senate leader

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 May 2015
State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, says Dean Skelos should step down as leader of the State Senate.

Skelos faces federal extortion charges that he used his political influence to direct business deals for his son, Adam Skelos.

Skelos, a Republican from Long Island, leads the State Senate, where Republicans have a narrow majority. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara brought the corruption charges against Skelos.


Ortt issued this statement this evening:

“When the Senate returns to session, I will be supporting, with a heavy heart, a motion, or submitting one of my own if required, to replace Senator Skelos as Majority Leader.

“Senator Skelos has done a lot of good work for New York State. But, one thing I learned fighting in Afghanistan is that being a leader means doing what's best for the people you serve, not yourself, even if it’s painful or unpopular.

“The Senate Conference is bigger than one individual. We have critical issues facing us in New York, and we need a leader who can effectively advocate for Upstate New York without the cloud surrounding the current Senate leadership.”


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