Orleans approved for $134K grant for dispatching system

Cuomo announces $10 million in 9-1-1 grants statewide
Staff Reports Posted 19 October 2014
Orleans County will receive a $134,050 state grant, part of $10 million the state is giving to support emergency response operations at counties state-wide and New York City.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the grants for 57 counties as well as NYC, which all operate 9-1-1 response and emergency service dispatch operations.

“First responders provide a critical service to New Yorkers in every corner of this state, and this funding will help ensure they can respond quickly when an emergency strikes,” Cuomo said. “From extreme weather to roadway accidents and beyond, it is absolutely vital that our emergency personnel receive accurate and timely information when responding to any situation.”

The funding is being administered by the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services through the Public Safety Awareness Points Operations Grant. PSAPs are public facilities where incoming calls for help are received and the dispatching of emergency services is initiated.

Throughout New York State, counties provide the majority of 9-1-1 answering and dispatching operations, and coordinate the services among municipal, county and state responders.

Through the benefit of these sustaining resources, counties can also make greater investments in Next Generation 9-1-1 (or NG-911) technology, which will enable text messaging, data services and improved geo-location for emergency response.


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Purple ribbons by courthouse highlight domestic violence

Photos by Peggy Barringer Posted 16 October 2014
ALBION – Some of the trees by the Orleans County Courthouse have purple ribbons tied around them, symbolic of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The county also has the courthouse dome lighted up in purple at night to show its support for the cause. On Wednesday, many community members also wore purple to promote domestic violence awareness.


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County directs nearly $40K to EDA for business sites

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 October 2014
MEDINA – The Orleans Economic Development Agency has nearly $40,000 to spend for signs, wetlands work and other site improvements for business parks.

The County Legislature last week authorized shifting $38,625 from contingency to the Orleans EDA. That’s on top of the $150,000 the county approved for the agency in 2014.

The money will go towards new signs for the Holley Business Park, the Medina Business Park on Bates Road and the Keppler site, which includes 280 acres of “shovel ready” land on Route 31A in the Town of Shelby.

The signs will make the sites more marketable and appealing to potential developers, EDA officials said Friday. The agency also do some wetlands work and site clean up at the Medina Business Park, which starts on Bates Road and heads west, covering about 120 acres. The agency will also do some wetlands work at the Albion Business Park at Butts Road and Route 31.

“The county has really stepped up for us this year,” said Jim Whipple, EDA chief executive officer.

The EDA has submitted its budget request for 2015 to the county, and asked for $166,500. Paul Hendel, the EDA board chairman, said he and other EDA officials will try to build support for more county aid, as well as support from the towns and villages.

That support could be through in-kind contributions. Hendel noted the Town of Shelby Highway Department recently mowed the Medina Business Park, making the site look more desirable for potential developers.

Hendel said economic development in the community needs to be a total team effort from all of the local municipalities.


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United Way sets $325,000 funding goal for local agencies

Photo by Tom Rivers
Charlie Nesbitt, the honorary chairman for the United Way fund drive, announces a $325,000 goal with Marsha Rivers, executive director for the United Way. Penny Nice, president of Orleans County Adult Learning Services, is pictured at right. OCALS receives funding through United Way.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 October 2014
MEDINA – At a downtown center in Holley, Community Action runs an after-school program that wouldn’t happen without support from the United Way.

Community Action also uses United Way dollars to help run the Main Street Store in Albion, which provides job training and skills to many local residents.

The United Way funding is steady each year, bringing stability to an agency that also relies on grants and other government funding that often varies each year, said Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action of Orleans & Genesee.

“The grants are hit or miss,” Fancher said. “If we don’t have them we flex the size of the program to meet the resources we have.”

Community Action is one of about 20 agencies that receive funding through the United Way of Orleans County. The United Way kicked off its annual fund-raising campaign this evening and set a goal of $325,000.

The Boy Scouts (Iroquois Trail Council) is one of the funded agencies through United Way. Jim McMullen, the Scout executive, said the United Way dollars help keep down the costs of the Scouting program.

“Unlike other sources, it’s consistent,” he said about the United Way dollars. “We can rely on it every year. It provides programs for families in need. Without it, everything would be higher.”

File photo by Tom Rivers
Boy Scouts and their families are on a fishing expedition at a former quarry on Keitel Road, now owned by the Albion Sportsmen’s Association.

The Iroquois Trail Council serves Scouts in five counties. McMullen said each of those counties contribute funding through the United Way.

He would welcome more money so the Council could expand Scouting programs and push to attract more youths into the program.

“With even another $1,000 you’d have more opportunities to recruit kids in the community,” McMullen said.

Several agency leaders attended the kickoff celebration at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina. Marsha Rivers started as United Way executive director last month. She said the campaign “is all about building stronger communities.”

Before joining the United Way, she worked for Hospice of Orleans, which provides palliative care for people with advanced illness. Prior to that she worked with younger families through the Care Net Center of Greater Orleans, which offers ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and other resources for families.

She thanked a dedicated United Way board of directors for giving its time to support the United Way mission, and the many residents and businesses for contributing money to the campaign. Those funds will help the agencies provides services to residents.

“Everybody here is a giver, whether you’re giving money or time,” said Charlie Nesbitt, the honorary campaign chairman and former state assemblyman. “It’s about individuals and their needs. That’s why we will make a meaningful commitment to those that need us.”

Jodi Gaines, president and CEO of Claims Recovery Financial Services in Albion, serves on the United Way board. She has been pushing the United Way campaign for more than 20 years.

“It’s about helping the community,” Gaines said. “I know these agencies are top notch and well run.”


Some of the funded United Way agencies include 4-H and Cornell Cooperative Extension, Camp Rainbow through the Arc of Orleans, Meals on Wheels, Boy Scouts, Community Action’s Main Street store and after-school program, Community Kitchen at Christ Episcopal Church in Albion, GCASA and Students United for Positive Action, Girl Scouts and Hospice of Orleans.

Other funded agencies include Just Friends, Medina Youth Commission, Ministry of Concern, Habitat for Humanity, Orleans County Adult Learning Service, PathStone Domestic Violence Shelter, Regional Action Phone, Senior Citizens of WNY, and the Orleans County YMCA.

For more information, click here.


(Editor's note: Tom Rivers is married to Marsha Rivers, the United Way executive director.)


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County expands tax exemption for low-income senior citizens

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 October 2014
ALBION – The County Legislature unanimously voted on Wednesday to expand the income threshold for senior citizens to qualify for a discount on their county taxes.

Residents 65 and older currently are eligible for a discount if they earn less than $19,200 a year. Beginning with the March 1, 2015 tax rolls, the threshold has been raised to $21,200.

Right now the county offers 50 percent off for seniors with household incomes up to $13,500. The sliding scale exemption drops to 20 percent off for seniors with annual incomes between $18,300 and $19,199. It's 0 percent for seniors with incomes at $19,200 or above.

The new schedule gives senior citizens 50 percent off if they earn less than $15,500 and then the discount drops 5 percent in a sliding scale to 20 percent before being capped at $21,200.

There are 313 seniors who currently receive the exemption. The county hasn’t changed the income levels in seven years. Seniors have been getting small increases in Social Security, putting some on the verge of losing the county tax discount, said Dawn Allen, director of the county’s Real Property Tax Services Department.

“We’re trying to maintain the current seniors in the program,” Allen told legislators.

Most of the towns in the county have a similar tax discount program for seniors, capping it at incomes above $21,200, Allen said.

The new proposed schedule includes the following percentage exemptions:

• 50 percent off for incomes up to $15,500;
• 45 percent off for incomes between $15,500 and $16,499;
• 40 percent between $16,500 and $17,499;
• 35 percent between $17,500 and $18,499;
• 30 percent between $18,500 and $19,399;
• 25 percent between $19,400 and $20,299;
• 20 percent between $20,300 and $21,199;
• 0 percent after $21,200.


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County will borrow $8M to tackle range of projects

6 new bridges tops the infrastructure list

Photo by Tom Rivers
Orleans County officials want to see fewer road closed signs in the county. This sign is out while the Village of Medina rebuilds a section of Horan Road.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 October 2014
ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature approved an $8 million bond today so the county can get to work on replacing bridges, culverts, roofs and other infrastructure work.

The bond will provide $4,963,000 to replace six bridges from 2015 to 2017. The county is moving forward with the projects after getting little state and federal dollars for bridges. Another state and federal funding cycle doesn’t come up until 2017.

If the county waits until they to again seek funding, some of the bridges may be closed. The bridge funds tend to go to projects with high-volume counts, making it unlikely the rural county could rely on state and federal money for its infrastructure needs.

“Failure to act on our part will result in further deterioration of our infrastructure assets and unnecessary closures of county-owned roads and bridges,” said Legislature Chairman David Callard.


The county has identified six bridges for replacement, starting with 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.


Callard said that plan could be altered if a different bridge is “red flagged” by the state and closed.


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. 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, Callard said.

The bond is expected to cost the county a little over $400,000 annually for the next 20 years. The borrowing terms will be worked out in the coming months. Interest rates have been at about 2 percent, noted Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

“That’s another factor: the money is so cheap right now,” he said.

The county doesn’t anticipate higher taxes because of the bond because it will be done paying off the debt for the Public Safety Building’s original construction next year, the final $160,000 payment. The county also is to receive $268,000 annually as part of a state gambling compact. The first partial payment arrived this year.

The gambling funds and the relief from the Public Safety Building debt should cover the new borrowing costs for the projects, making the work cost neutral on the county budget, Nesbitt said.


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Orleans United Way accepting applications from new agencies

Press Release, United Way of Orleans County Posted 6 October 2014

MEDINA — United Way of Orleans County is again accepting applications from new non-profit agencies.


“United Way has great momentum right now,” said Marsha Rivers, who started as executive director Sept. 22. “Since the merger of our eastern and western chapters, our organization is stronger than ever, which means more giving power to help more agency programs, which in turn improve and enrich the community in so many ways. It’s a wonderful time to be part of all this.”


Rivers spoke after her first United Way Board meeting Wednesday night. It was the final meeting for outgoing Executive Director Lisa Ireland, who accepted a position as an Advancement Officer at Rochester Institute of Technology.


United Way, which currently funds programs of 20 agencies in the county, has opened the allocations process to new agencies for the past two years.


Any 501(c)3 agency is welcome to apply for funding by contacting Rivers at 585-355-7373 or mrivers@orleansunitedway.org.


New agencies must be prepared to undergo an extensive review process of the last five years, including budgets and program outcomes. Grant applications are due to the United Way office, 534 Main St., Medina, no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 7.


This year’s United Way fundraising goal will be announced at a kick-off celebration on Thursday at Leonard Oakes Estate Winery on Route 104. About 60 attendees are expected, representing the agricultural, corporate, educational, health, non-profit and public sectors.


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Counties press NY to pay more for rising costs of indigent legal expenses

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 October 2014
ALBION – In Orleans County, the costs for providing attorneys for poor residents has increased from a budgeted $493,983 in 2011 to $586,713 projected for this year.

State-wide other counties are seeing increases in the costs for legal services for the poor. Altogether, 57 counties outside New York City will spend about $175 for indigent legal services, with the state paying $35 million, said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties.

In many other states, the cost is borne solely by the state. During its annual meeting last week, NYSAC leaders called on NY officials to have the state assume the full costs of indigent representation.

“Counties do the best they can to ensure that justice is carried out,” Acquario said. “The tax cap and other state mandated programs make it difficult for additional local resources to be added to this program from the local level. This is a state responsibility and the state should provide enhanced aid to ensure proper representation is afforded to all.”

The state and five counties have been sued in a class-action lawsuit, Hurrell-Harring et. al. v. State of New York, where plaintiffs accuse the state and five counties for inadequately representing the poor accused of crimes in the state.

The plaintiffs are seeking changes to the indigent defense system, Including a cap on caseloads for public defenders and uniform first arraignment counsel rights.

“The United States Supreme Court has made it clear that this is a state constitutional responsibility,” Acquario said.

He cited a Supreme Court decision in the 1960s, Gideon vs. Wainwright, that the right to counsel is fundamental in the United States, and that the states are responsible for providing lawyers for those who are unable to afford them.

However, in 1965 the state shifted the financial responsibility to counties, Acquario said, to the level where more than 80 percent of the costs is now on county taxpayers.


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Hawley plans 4 town hall meetings in Orleans on Saturday

Press release, State Assemblyman Steve Hawley Posted 1 October 2014
ALBION – State Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Batavia) is holding a series of four town hall meetings for Orleans County constituents this Saturday.

Hawley invites his constituents to ask questions about any state or local issue that concerns them. Hawley frequently holds town halls across his district to make sure that the people his represents have as much access to him as possible and to give them the opportunity to provide their input of the direction of the area.

“One of my responsibilities as an elected official is to keep my constituents informed on state and local issues that affect them,” Hawley said. “These town halls are one way to do that. I invite every one of my constituents to come out and discuss whatever is on their minds. I am here to listen and work with them to make Western New York a great place to live and work.”

The schedule for the town hall events includes:


• 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at Ridgeway Town Hall, 410 W. Ave., Medina;


• 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at Carlton Town Hall, 14341 Waterport-Carlton Rd.;


• 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Albion Town Hall,3665 Clarendon Rd.;


• 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. at Murray Town Hall, 3840 Fancher Rd., Holley.


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