By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 February 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature again gave a unanimous vote for the repeal of the SAFE Act on Wednesday. The Legislature opposed the gun control measure soon after it was passed by the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January 2013.
County legislators say the legislation makes criminals out of law-abiding gun owners, and also has imposed financial burdens on counties and gun owners. The SAFE also “does not increase the safety of the public,” according to the resolution approved on Wednesday.
Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to local state legislators, Gov. Cuomo, local towns and villages, and InterCounty of Western New York.
The Legislature was praised by Mattie Zarpentine of Holley, regional director for New York Revolution, a group that formed after the SAFE Act was passed.
Zarpentine said 52 out of 62 counties have gone on the record to oppose the SAFE Act, which she said is unconstitutional and an infringement on Second Amendment rights. Orleans County is the only county to have the Legislature and all of the town and village boards formally oppose the SAFE Act.
“Orleans County residents should be extremely proud of our strong stance in support of our Constitutional rights,” Zarpentine said during Wednesday’s Legislature meeting. “Those resolutions sent a very clear message.”
She was joined by about a dozen New York Revolution supporters at the Legislature meeting.
“Here we are, nearly two years after the passage of that resolution, unwavering in our resolve to fight tyranny,” Zarpentine said in an address to the Legislature. “What we understood about the SAFE Act back then has proven true: It has done nothing to make us any safer. It has only managed to infringe upon the freedom of the law-abiding citizens of New York.”
County Legislator Don Allport, R-Gaines, echoed those comments, saying the state government has been “overbearing” in the SAFE Act, limiting residents’ right to bear arms.
Legislature chairman wants push for heritage tourism
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2015
ALBION – Orleans County’s new historian is only 26. But Matthew Ballard already has shown a commitment to historical initiatives.
Ballard has served as interim director at the Cobblestone Museum for more than a year, and organized an exhibit and lecture series at the museum on medical history in Orleans County and Western New York.
He created a web site in 2010, www.albionpolonia.com, that highlights the history and art of the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Albion. Ballard grew up on Brown Street and was part of the St. Mary’s community while growing up. He was an altar server.
The Albion Polonia site includes baptismal records, marriage licenses, and funerals of the Polish community. Ballard has photos of many of the weddings. He has a searchable database that helps people on a genealogical quest.
Genesee Community College and Orleans Hub named Ballard one of the inaugural “Heritage Heroes” during a ceremony last April during the Civil War Encampment in Medina.
Ballard wants to build an on-line resource of many of the artifacts in the historian’s office. He praised the work done by Bill Lattin, the county historian for over 35 years. Lattin retired on Dec. 31.
“Bill has done a great job getting the history of the county out to the community and to all of Western New York,” Ballard said.
He intends to write a regular historical column for local publications, and wants to take stock of the photos and artifacts in the historian’s office. He said the county may want to pursue grants for archiving the materials and safeguarding them for the future.
Lattin has been pushing for Ballard to be historian for many months. Lattin said he observed Ballard give a tour of St. Mary’s several years ago, and Lattin saw Ballard’s knowledge of the church and community, and his ability to captivate a crowd with stories.
Lattin also was the Cobblestone Museum director before retiring. He said Ballard has proven himself in that role, bringing a high level of professionalism, especially with his organization of the medical exhibit. Ballard is now putting together an exhibit on World War I, and some of the local ties to that war from a century ago.
“I’ve really been impressed by what Matt has done,” Lattin said after Ballard was appointed historian by the County Legislature this afternoon. The part-time position pays $8,000 a year.
Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard wants to see Ballard work with local historical groups to help develop a heritage trail that would be county-wide. Callard said a “Sandstone Trail” could be one possibility.
He noted the state is providing funding for such endeavors that promote community pride, link attractions and draw visitors.
Ballard said the county is fortunate to have many dedicated historical enthusiasts. He mentioned the Clarendon Historical Society, Medina Sandstone Society, Orleans County Genealogical Society (where he is treasurer), Cobblestone Society, and several other local historical societies.
“There are a lot of people really interested and dedicated to local history,” Ballard said. “We need to draw them together to see what we can do as a group.”
Press Release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley Posted 25 February 2015
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) today criticized Gov. Cuomo’s budget negotiation tactic of tying funding for New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to passage of the DREAM Act. Hawley said we shouldn’t play politics with college students’ education and it is wrong to link such a vital higher education program to the passage of a politically tumultuous initiative.
“It would be wrong to jeopardize TAP funding, which hundreds of thousands of college students rely on every year because the governor wants to pass a politically controversial initiative,” Hawley said. “With the cost of college and university tuition continuing to rise and student loan debt at an all time high, it is insulting to hold this funding hostage in exchange for providing illegal aliens access to taxpayer-funded tuition assistance. The average TAP award per student is upwards of $2,500 which, if not available next year, could lead to hundreds of thousands of students being unable to attend a New York college or university.”
Hawley’s comments come after Gov. Cuomo released his 30-day amendments, which link passage of TAP funding to several education initiatives, including the DREAM Act. The 2015-16 Executive Budget proposal includes an additional $27 million in TAP funding for the DREAM Act.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 February 2015
GAINES – Orleans County needs more firefighters, especially for the calls during the morning and early afternoon, when many of the firefighters are working their full-time jobs, said Dale Banker, the county’s emergency management director.
“There is a serious shortage of firefighters in the county,” Banker told town and county officials this evening during the Orleans County Supervisors and Legislators Association. “It’s not critical at this point.”
But he worries there won’t be enough firefighters for speedy responses for some calls. There are 12 fire departments in the county and Banker said they all could use more volunteers, and not just for fighting fires and assisting at car accidents.
The departments need people to direct traffic, serve as bookkeepers and help in other roles.
“There’s a job for everyone to do,” Banker said. “We really do need help countywide.”
Banker said the training requirements have become more onerous for the volunteers. It’s now a 104-hour training commitment to become a basic firefighter. And the training books are $70 each.
Banker has served in the local fire service for 40 years, beginning as an explorer at age 15 with the Albion Fire Department. He started as EMO director in July, replacing Paul Wagner who retired after 14 years.
Banker said the firefighters and other emergency responders received a big boost last year with a new radio system.
He also is pleased with the success of a youth group for Holley students, where they learn firefighting skills under guidance of the Clarendon, Holley and Fancher-Hulberton-Murray fire companies. The program has about a dozen teens on track to become firefighters.
Banker said Albion, Carlton and Barre would like to start a similar program, mentoring Albion students. Banker said those type of programs can help develop a new generation of firefighters.
He asked the town and county leaders to spread the word about the need, and how the local fire departments can find spots for willing community members.
County Legislator Lynne Johnson praised Banker for his work since becoming EMO director.
“He’s come into the job and he’s dove into it,” she said.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature has gone on the record several times the past two years, stating its opposition to the SAFE Act, a controversial gun control measure approved by the State Legislature and Gov. Cuomo in January 2013.
With a new legislative season beginning in the state capital, and with Gov. Cuomo starting his second term, county legislators plan on again stating their support for repeal of the “Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement” Act. Two state senators, Michael Nozzolio and Katherine Marchione, have already introduced legislation in the State Senate to repeal all of the legislation or parts of it.
The County Legislature will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday in the County Clerks Building at 3 South Main St. An agenda for the meeting includes a resolution that supports repeal of the SAFE Act.
The resolution states the County Legislature supports the Second Amendment and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Other reasons the Legislature cites for supporting the repeal of the SAFE Act include:
• The lawful ownership of firearms is a recreational benefit to residents through hunting and target shooting, along with an economic and environmental benefit for the region with several locally owned and operated gun/sporting businesses.
• SAFE Act legislation was “rushed” into passage in January 2013 and the legislation will have a detrimental effect on hunters, sportsmen and legal gun owners, creating a hostile environment both for them and for the sale and manufacture of legal firearms.
• The legislation prohibits the sale of firearm magazines with a capacity larger than seven rounds and few or no low-capacity magazines currently exist for many firearms commonly used by law-abiding citizens.
• “The legislation fails to offer little meaningful solutions to gun violence and places undue burdens where they don’t belong, squarely on the backs of law-abiding citizens.”
• Many parts of the SAFE Act place an unfunded mandate on the local Sheriff Departments, County Clerk’s Office and County Judges.
• There will be significant financial impact on the county due to the approximately 4,850 Orleans County pistol permits that will have to be renewed requiring additional manpower and computer systems.
• Requiring gun owners to verify ownership of certain types of firearms every five years, in addition to registering them on permits that also must be renewed every five years, is “unnecessarily burdensome” to the residents.
• “This legislation effectively treats countless New York State law abiding gun owners as criminals.”
Press Release, Congressman Chris Collins Posted 19 February 2015
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Chris Collins, R-Clarence, today released the following statement regarding his opposition to President Obama’s request for fast track trade promotion authority.
“I am a firm believer in free trade, but it must also be fair trade,” said Congressman Collins. “The secret executive branch negotiations on massive trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will hurt American workers and businesses by excluding important provisions to combat currency manipulation.
"It is because of the hardworking Western New Yorkers struggling for a fair chance at the American Dream that I will oppose granting the president fast track authority to negotiate free trade agreements.”
Cuomo’s agenda includes ethics reform in state capitol
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2015
ALBION – Andrew Cuomo has led the state in a remarkable turnaround in his first term as governor, with unemployment falling from 8.9 percent state-wide in 2010 to the current 5.8 percent, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in Albion on Wednesday.
However, the governor sees far more potential in its economy, and for its citizens. And he wants to move quickly to expand economic opportunity, Hochul told a crowd of about 50 people who attended her presentation at the Hoag Library on the governor’s proposed budget and his “Opportunity Agenda” for 2015.
The governor wants to raise the minimum to $10.50 per hour, make tax cap legislation permanent, launch anti-poverty programs, enact stricter teacher evaluations, boost funding for economic development and offer tax relief, among his many initiatives. (Click here to see the governor’s “Opportunity Agenda.”)
“This agenda represents dramatic change, but that is what I admire so much about the governor,” Hochul said. “He is impatient to improve this state, to make this a better place and make sure we have economic opportunity for all of our citizens, and make sure places like Orleans County and Upstate New York are no longer neglected and left behind, which has happened for generations.”
The governor wants to invest $500 million in state funds to make high-speed Internet access available throughout the state. He also wants to make $1.5 billion available in upstate to be awarded to three regions that submit the best plans for economic development.
Cuomo also is proposing a big cut in the corporate tax for small businesses from 6.5 to 2.5 percent. Hochul said 85 percent of all new jobs come from small businesses.
Residents that pay 6 percent or more of their income on property taxes would also get a tax credit on their income taxes. The governor’s office says this could provide an average of $781 for 543,300 upstate homeowners and renters.
The governor has draw criticism for not releasing state aid projections for each school district in his budget proposal. He has offered a 4.8 percent increase or $1.1 billion more if the State Legislature approves educational reforms that include strengthening teacher evaluations, rewarding high-performing teachers with performance bonuses of $20,000, expanding charter schools, expediting removal of ineffective teachers, and initiating a Pre-K program for 3-year-olds.
The governor has also proposed the state pay full tuition to SUNY colleges for high-achieving students that commit to teaching in New York for at least five years.
If the reforms are not passed by the Legislature, Cuomo has proposed a 1.7 percent aid increase or $377 million more for school districts across the state.
“He does not want to keep throwing good money after bad,” Hochul said.
Cuomo and the State Legislature have a streak of four straight years of passing on-time budgets, but that could end this year if the Legislature does not approve his proposals for ethics reforms, Hochul said.
Her PowerPoint presentation included headlines of state legislators charged with crimes, including former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who was arrested last month on corruption charges. He allegedly accepted $4 million in kickbacks and bribes.
“Anybody think we can use ethics reform in Albany?” Hochul said. “I think this is the year it will happen.”
Cuomo is proposing the strongest campaign finance disclosure rules in the nation, Hochul said. He wants pension forfeiture for legislators who commit felonies, to reduce legislators’ per diems to actual and necessary costs, and to stop the use of campaign funds for personal uses.
The governor is also pushing for “ultimate disclosure,” where legislators must disclose all outside income.
Hochul said the “Clean Up Albany” plan would root out corruption and restore public confidence in the state capital.
“People look at the misdeeds of a few and it’s a sweeping indictment of everybody,” she said.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 February 2015
ALBION – David Callard said it was “historic” day for Orleans County today when Kathy Hochul, the state’s lieutenant governor, visited the county. Hochul didn’t just make a quick stop and deliver a speech.
She sat down in the conference room at the legislative chambers in the County Clerks Building before giving her speech. She wanted to hear from county officials and other local leaders about issues in the community.
Callard is the Legislature chairman. He has been on the County Legislature for more than 20 years. Seldom does a lieutenant governor stop in the county. Hochul's successor, Robert Duffy, didn't make any official stops in Orleans the previous four years. Duffy lived close by. He is the former Rochester mayor.
After giving a half-hour speech at the library, highlighting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal, Hochul also stopped for a tour of CRFS, a site with 600 employees in Albion. (Hochul also stopped at the Village House for about 20 minutes with the Orleans Hub editor to discuss issues in the community.)
Callard appreciated that Hochul wanted to hear from many in the community.
“This is probably a first when the lieutenant governor has visited the county and also visited with the Legislature,” Callard said. “We have a very good rapport with the lieutenant governor.”
Hochul represented the county as part of a seven-county Congressional District. Hochul, a Democrat, lost a close election to Chris Collins in a Republican-dominated district in November 2012. She said she is thankful to Gov. Cuomo for giving her the opportunity to return to public service.
She noted that she was in Orleans County 52 times during her 18 months in Congress. She said she sees “tremendous opportunity” in Orleans with the Erie Canal, “charming downtowns” and a historic flavor that could draw more tourists and small businesses.
During her visit with the local officials, Callard said the group pushed for Broadband funding for the county, better maintenance of canal bridges and state roads, more regulation for “zombie houses,” where properties are foreclosed by banks but left in limbo. Those houses, often left to rot with no contact person, have devalued nearby properties as well, Callard said.
Callard and Eileen Banker, a trustee for the Village of Albion, also asked Hochul to look into the disparity of state aid between villages and similar-size small cities.
The villages only get about $7 per capita in state aid while small cities typically get $100 to $150 in aid per capita.
“It’s disproportionate,” Callard said.
The county officials would like to see the state assume more of the Medicaid cost, easing that burden from county governments, which would result in lower county property taxes, Callard said.
Orleans and Niagara counties have been working together to bring high-speed Internet access to underserved rural pockets of the counties. Internet providers have submitted proposals for the work.
The cooperative effort between the two counties over the past few years comes at an opportune time when the governor wants $500 million of the $5 billion in bank settlement funds devoted to Broadband.
Cuomo wants Internet download speeds available at 100 megabits per second. Nowhere in Orleans County does that speed currently exist. According to state data, all but 6 percent or 2,383 of the county’s 42,883 people have access to Internet service with at least 6 megabits per second.
The governor wants the faster Internet service in place state-wide by Jan. 1, 2019, which will be a “major undertaking” especially in the mountainous rural areas, Hochul said.
“The governor is committed to give our businesses, our schools and our people a competitive advantage,” Hochul said.
She visited the county today after being invited by Callard during a recent Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council meeting in Rochester. Callard was pleased to see Hochul seize the chance to connect with local officials and present the governor's policy initiatives.
"She has been and is a friend of Orleans County," Callard said.
Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 18 February 2015
ALBION – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was given a tour of CRFS this afternoon by Sean Snook, the company’s chief operating officer.
CRFS moved into the former Chase site over a year ago and now has about 600 employees workers out of the site on East Avenue. The company also has about 50 employees that work out of San Antonio, Texas.
“For a county this size to have all of these employees is just awesome,” Hochul said on the tour. “This is a great success story for this county.”
CRFS was started by company founder Jodi Gaines with two employees in 2002. Gaines had been working in the claims department for Dime Bank, which was acquired by Washington Mutual. WaMu phased out the claims department.
Gaines wanted to stay in claims and started her own company. She and her staff learned the regulations in all 50 states and rapidly took on more clients. CRFS employees work with attorneys, county clerks, utility companies and investors from all over the country. CRFS works to recover past-due interest, unpaid principal, unpaid taxes and unpaid insurance on houses.
The company’s latest expansion came when Chase closed its Albion site, eliminating 413 jobs from the community in June 2013, leaving a 60,000-square-foot building empty.
Gaines and CRFS in September 2013 committed to moving into the site, putting its Orleans County sites under one roof and giving the company room to grow. (Gaines was driving back from Buffalo to meet with Hochul today but was delayed due to traffic and the bad weather.)
“I remember when Chase was leaving,” said Hochul, a former congresswoman. “It was a scary time.”
Kathy Hochul, the lieutenant governor, listens to CRFS human resources director Dan Zatkos, center, and Sean Snook, the company’s chief operating officer.
Zatkos said 80 percent of the workforce at the site is within a 15-minute drive of Albion.
The company continues to look for opportunities to grow the business, Zatkos told Hochul.
Photo by Tom Rivers Posted 18 February 2015
ALBION – There were a few protestors on Main Street in front of Hoag Library in Albion today when Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visited and discussed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal.
These protestors from New York Revolution stated their opposition to New York’s gun control law known as the SAFE Act. Shawn Lembke, leader of New York Revolution in Niagara County, holds the sign saying Cuomo should go to prison.
New York Revolution members today were protesting the SAFE Act and also the governor’s plan to provide $25 million in college assistance to undocumented immigrants.
Orleans Hub will have more on Hochul’s visit to Albion.
Staff Reports Posted 17 February 2015
ALBION – Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul will be in Albion on Wednesday to discuss the “Opportunity Agenda” proposed last month by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Hochul is familiar with Orleans County and Albion. She represented the county in Congress before losing a close election to Chris Collins in November 2012.
Hochul is scheduled to speak 3:30 p.m. at the Hoag Library, 134 South Main St. The visit is being coordinated by the Finger Lakes region of Empire State Development in Rochester.
For more on the Opportunity Agenda, click here.
Staff Reports Posted 16 February 2015
KNOWLESVILLE – The Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension recently picked its officers for 2015.
The slate includes Ed Neal, President; Erin Anheier, Vice President; Laura Bentley, Secretary; and Mike Zelazny, Treasurer. Also serving on the board are Gary Blackburn, Gary Davy, Chris Flansburg, Vince Flow III, Kathy Harling, Tim Kirby, Don O’Keefe, Charlie Pettit, and Pete Toenniessen along with County Legislature representatives Don Allport and E. John DeFilipps. Peter Landre, Cornell Cooperative Extension State Extension Specialist, serves as a liaison between the board and Cornell University.
The CCE Board of Directors set its meeting schedule for 2015 to be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 15, March 19, May 21, Aug. 20 and Oct. 15 in the Education Center at the 4-H Fairgrounds at 12690 State Route 31, Albion.
Election of board members takes place each year at the annual meeting. The 2015 OCCCE Annual Meeting is scheduled for Dec. 1 in the Trolley Building at the Fairgrounds. All meetings are open to community members in adherence with the Open Meetings Law.
Please contact the OCCCE Program Director, Jennifer Wagester, at 585-798-4265 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an item for consideration at an upcoming board meeting. Information about OCCCE, including board and committee minutes, newsletters, and educational opportunities, can be found online by clicking here.
By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 February 2015
The New York Daily News has called State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, an “Enemy of Reform.” Hawley is among a small minority of state legislators, 16 out of the 213 in Albany, who earn $100,000 annually or more in outside income, on top of the $79,500 in base salary as a state legislator.
The Daily News say those legislators are not reporting the sources of that outside income.
“It is long past time for the 197 members of the Assembly and Senate who do not make more than $100,000 in outside income to tell the 16 Enemies of Reform to go to hell,” according to a Daily News editorial on Feb. 9. (Click here to see “Enemies of Reform in the State Legislature.”)
Most of the 16 legislator with outside income at $100,000 or more are attorneys, including Michael Ranzenhofer, whose district includes Genesee County, and pieces of Erie and Monroe counties.
Hawley owns an insurance company in Batavia. He said he was one of only two legislators subpoenaed as part of the Moreland Commission on public corruption to provide a full list of clients and his source of outside income. He was found by the commission to not be using his public office for personal gain.
“I have and always will be an unwavering proponent of stringent ethics reform,” Hawley said in a statement. “I sponsor legislation that would strip corrupt politicians of their pensions and retirement benefits. I also support the Public Officers Accountability Act, which would institute term limits for legislative leaders, restrict the use of campaign money, and ban corrupt officials from running for future office.
"I am an honest representative of the people of New York and work 80 hours a week between growing and operating my small business and representing my district in Albany. The chance to give back to my constituents and represent the families and businesses of Western New York is a distinct honor and means more to me than any monetary compensation I receive.
“I grew up working on our family farm and have grown my insurance business over the years from one employee to eight, while paying off the previous owner over a 10-year period. Additionally, I was one of only two officials to comply with the Moreland Commission’s investigations into outside income, and my office was found to have no financial, ethical or other conflicts of interest or infractions in December of 2013. Furthermore, I would comply with any other income disclosure requirements that may become law as part of this year’s budget.”
Press Release, Orleans County Sheriff Scott Hess Posted 13 February 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office would like to caution residents and snow plow contractors that it is against the law to plow snow into public streets or roadways.
Section 1219 of the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law specifically prohibits placing glass or other injurious substances on streets or roadways. Subdivision (a) of that same section includes SNOW as an “injurious substance.”
If you are pushing snow out of a driveway and across the public street or roadway – Subdivision (b) of that same section requires you to remove ALL the snow from the street or roadway IMMEDIATELY.
The Orleans County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with all local fire departments, would like to encourage all residents to adopt a fire hydrant. Each time you’re removing snow from your driveway and/or sidewalk, take a few moments to also clear the snow away from the nearest fire hydrant.
When fire strikes, time is precious! By shoveling out that hydrant, you provide a valuable and necessary service to your fire department, your community, your neighborhood and yourself.
Copyright 2013-2014 Albion-Holley Pennysaver, Inc.