EDA seeks $200K grant to help small businesses

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 July 2015
ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency is seeking a $200,000 grant that would provide business training for small business owners and also help pay their rent if they locate a new business in downtown Albion, Holley, Lyndonville or Medina.


The EDA would offer a 10-week business training program to small business owners, and a downtown rental subsidy as part of the Community Block Grant. The EDA is seeking the funding through the state.


The EDA has run a microenterprise assistance program for about 15 years. To date, 410 residents have completed the MAP training program which gives an overview on taxes, record keeping, marketing, organizational skills, accounting and insurance, leadership and developing a business plan.

 

Graduates in the program also are eligible to seek low-interest loans through the EDA’s revolving loan fund.


A new MAP class will be offered in the fall.


The spring graduates include Heather LaDue (esthetics and electrology business), Alicia Dingman (interested in a marina), Alex Fig (Orleans Radio), Jessica Reigle/Lorrie Reigle Gurslin (nail salon), Stephen Kruger (Superstruct Architect), Andrea Chilton (garden nursery), Doug Ashbery (Venison Specialty Meals) and Michael Donnelly (small vintage snowmobile engine repair).


In 2009, the EDA had the rental subsidy program and offered a maximum of $3,000 a year to help small business owners with their rent if they locate in the Albion, Medina, Holley or Lyndonville business districts.


The EDA gave $20,004 to help businesses with their rent, including seven in Medina, four in Albion and two in Holley. Businesses must be start-ups or doing expansions to be eligible for the program.

 

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Resident's criticism draws rebuke from legislator at meeting

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 July 2015
ALBION – For several years, Paul Lauricella has attended Orleans County Legislature meetings and often questioned legislators when they would vote to accept federal funds for Homeland Security, money for cameras by the shoreline, boats, and other equipment.


Last month Lauricella told legislators he thought Homeland Security was unconstitutional.


Bruce Schmidt attended that meeting. He was there with the Orleans County Historical Association, which is working to preserve a former cobblestone schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road.


Schmidt was surprised legislators didn’t refute Lauricella’s comments, offering him “the civility of silence.”


Schmidt and Lauricella were back at the Legislature’s meeting on Wednesday. Schmidt, a Gaines town justice, spoke about the Department of Homeland Security, and its formation soon after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The department, with Congress’s approval, combined many federal organizations. Schmidt said it wasn’t formed unconstitutionally. He called Lauricella’s comments, “flippant,” and “reckless.”


Schmidt noted that his son, Scott Schmidt, left Orleans County on Sept. 11 and responded to the terrorist attacks with the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. DMORT is a team of experts in the fields of victim identification and mortuary services. Schmidt spent 8 days at Ground Zero working to identify bodies.


Lauricella said the attacks, and the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, on that Sept. 11 weas “absolutely horrible.”


However, Lauricella said Homeland Security has grown far greater than its original purpose. He said children and senior citizens can’t go to the airport without being “fondled” by security personnel.


“I stand by my comments and I won’t retract it,” he said in response to Bruce Schmidt.


The Legislature on Wednesday voted to pursue another $50,000 federal grant through emergency management for “critical infrastructure.” Lauricella questioned if it was needed.


“With these types of grants it’s never enough,” he said. “How much security do we need?”


Lauricella was also critical of the Orleans Economic Development Agency on Wednesday, and asked the Legislature to “clean house” with staff and board members. Lauricella cited a state comptroller’s audit that said the agency needed more oversight with companies to make sure they were meeting employment and capital investment targets after receiving tax breaks.


The comptroller also said the EDA needed a recapture-of-benefits clause if companies left town without following through on their commitments to the community.


Lauricella said legislators need to “take a strap to them,” regarding the EDA board and staff.


Those comments prompted a rebuke from Legislator Lynne Johnson.


“I’m not going to allow you to disrespect us, these Chambers and our department heads,” Johnson told Lauricella.

 

Johnson also said Lauricella didn't have his facts straight with his criticism of the EDA..


Lauricella is running for legislator against Johnson for a district that includes Yates, Ridgeway and a portion of Shelby. She has the Republican line and Lauricella has been endorsed by the Conservative Party.


She told Lauricella, who was wearing a campaign T-shirt for Gaines Town Supervisor Carol Culhane, that he needed to dress appropriately at the Legislature meetings.
That prompted Lauricella to say Johnson doesn’t dress appropriately.


Scott Schmidt, the county’s chief coroner and the DMORT member, then stood. He thanked his father for his comments. Schmidt said he was humbled to be in New York City at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks and to work in profession when many people are grieving losses of loved ones.


Schmidt thanked his father for teaching him to be respectful.


Regarding Homeland Security, Schmidt urged the community to ask law enforcement officers, including wounded deputy James DeFilipps, where to draw the line in protecting the community.


“How much is too much for the safety of you and our county?” Schmidt said.

 

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Ortt, Hawley push state legislation to keep lift bridges open

Photos by Tom Rivers

State Sen. Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Steve Hawley, right, address local officials and members of the agricultural community today about legislation they are pushing to help keep lift bridges open. They are pictured at the Knowlesville lift bridge, which has a weight restriction of 6 tons and has been limited to one lane traffic.


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2015
KNOWLESVILLE – The century old lift bridges are iconic structures on the Erie Canal. They are also a challenge to maintain and keep in working order, especially for modern farm equipment and fire trucks.

 

The lift bridges are critical in Orleans County, because many of the nearby steel truss bridges are too narrow and can't handle heavier traffic.

 

One lift bridge has a weight restriction down to 6 tons. That bridge in Knowlesville is also limited to one-lane traffic.

 

The weight reduction has forced farm equipment, garbage trucks, fire engines, school buses and other heavier vehicles on detours that can add 40 minutes for drivers diverted to Medina or Eagle Harbor.

State Sen. Rob Ortt, left, and Assemblyman Steve Hawley discuss legislation that would require the state to maintain lift bridges on the canal system.

 

The extended trips cost farmers, emegrency responders, businesses and residents valuable time, and tear up other local roads because of the detours, State Sen. Robert Ortt said today in Knowlesville.

 

Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, was joined by State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, in highlighting legislation that would prevent the state from shutting down lift bridges.

 

There are 16 lift bridges on the Erie Canal and seven are in Orleans County. Ortt said the state uses loopholes in canal law to avoid keeping up maintainance on canal bridges. The state can choose to close a canal bridge, under current canal law, as long as there is an alternate route available.

 

Ortt and Hawley said the additional travel time and expense for motorists in using alternate routes is a burden the state could avoid for the canal communities.

A truck heads across the Knowlesville Lift Bridge this afternoon. The bridge is down to a 6 ton weight limit.

 

"Our infrastructure is in a sad, sad state of disrepair," Ortt said.

 

Ortt said the money is there for bridge maintenance, but it gets diverted downstate. Ortt noted the current construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge to New York City, a project that could top $4 billion.

 

That bridge has been hailed as being critical to commerce and transportation to and from New York City. Ortt said the lift bridges should be viewed with similar importance to the canal communities.

 

Farming is Orleans County's dominant industry, said Barry Flansburg, chairman of the Orleans County Farmland Protection Board. The 2012 Agriculture Census counted $150 million in direct sales from farms in the county.

Farm equipment is getting wider and heavier, too big for the Knowlesville bridge with the 6-ton weight restriction. Some farmers brought along equipment and parked it south of the bridge today during Ortt and Hawley's conference at the bridge.

 

Jeff Toussaint owns a fruit and vegetable farm based on Culvert Road in Ridgeway. The canal divides his acreage in half. Because of the downgraded Knowlesville bridge, Toussaint said he and other farmers have to take combines, and truck loads of crops through the village of Medina and the hamlet of Eagle Harbor to use those lift bridges.

 

Each trip is about a 40-minute detour, he said, and puts large equipment in business districts, especially in Medina with many pedestrians and motorists.

 

"Not only is the detour an inconvenience and an added cost, it's a safety feature," Toussaint said.

 

He worries if the weight restrictions are lowered in Medina and Eagle Harbor.

 

"You're getting dangerously close to a real problem," he said. "If the Medina bridge goes down, where would people go?"

Many local farmers showed up to listen to a proposal to keep the lift bridges open.

 

Toussaint said combines can weigh 15 to 16 tons. A truck hauling apples or corn could top 35 to 40 tons, he said.

 

The State Senate passed the legislation requiring maintenance of the lift bridges, and there should be a public hearing in case one is closed, according to the legislation. Hawley and Ortt said the State Assembly now needs to take up the issue. Hawley said he will push hard to get it passed in the Assembly.

 

He noted many of the canal bridges date from the canal's widening from 1905 to 1918 – "when my grandfather was in his 20s." Many of those bridges have deteriorated, Hawley said.

 

"It is unfair to residents, businesses and farmers in my district who must find longer and more costly travel routes because New York State has failed to make necessary infrastructure repairs," Hawley said.

 

To see the legislation, click here.

Barry Flansburg, chairman of the Orleans County Farmland Protection Board, said farmers face time-consuming detours due to narrow canal bridges with weight restrictions. Flansburg joins Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Calard, left, State Sen. Rob Ortt, and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

 

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Sales tax sluggish in Orleans, many upstate counties in first half 2015

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 July 2015
ALBION – Sales tax revenues are down the first half of 2015 in Orleans County, compared to the first six months of 2014, according to data from the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.


The sales tax revenues for the county fell from $7,741,593 to $7,626,595. That is a 1.47 percent or $113,998 drop.


Of the 57 counties outside New York City, 33 have collected less in sales tax so far in 2015, compared to the first half of 2014, according to the New York State Association of Counties.


The sales tax dollars give a snapshot of the local economy, and the sales tax also is a source of revenue for local governments. The more sales tax, the less reliance on property taxes to fund local services.

 

The latest numbers show that much of the state is struggling to break out of the prolonged economic recession that started in 2008, NYSAC said.


The data shows that many counties have a drop in sales tax revenue in both the first and second quarters this year.

 

“The explanation for the first quarter's numbers was pegged to bad winter weather, dropping fuel prices, a west coast port shutdown, negative US GDP for the first quarter and a strong dollar,” said Stephen J. Acquario, executive director for NYSAC. “There was no bounce back, but there was also no explanation for the continued lethargy.”

 

Orleans County officials budgeted for no increase in sales tax in 2015. The county has budgeted $13,785,000 in sales tax revenues this year. In addition, another $1,366,671 from the local share goes to towns and villages in the county.


The state sales tax collections are up 3.72 percent, from $5.94 billion to $6.16 billion, for the first half of 2015. New York City is seeing growth in sales tax, a 2.74 percent increase from $3.31 billion to $3.40 billion.

Steuben County has the biggest increase, 8.77 percent, while Schoharie is down the most at 6.11 percent.

 

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AmeriCorps workers available for sites in Orleans

Staff Reports Posted 17 July 2015
BATAVIA – Host sites are sought for AmeriCorps workers in a program based in Batavia but available to the four GLOW counties, including Orleans.

 

The Genesee County Youth Bureau’s AmeriCorps application has been approved for another year of funding by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

 

The Youth Bureau is planning for the 12th year of the program, which will begin Oct. 1. As part of this process, non-profit and government agencies are invited to attend an information session to receive details about AmeriCorps. There will be a presentation on the program at 2 p.m. on July 27 at Hoag Library in Albion.


Organizations have utilized AmeriCorps members for a variety of projects. Assignments include activities that fall under one or more of these focus areas: healthy futures, fitness and nutrition education for youth, environmental stewardship education and agency capacity building. Host sites complete a proposal that outlines the duties for each position. Members can create new programs or enhance existing services, and their work can benefit different parts of your agency.

 

Proposals requesting members to begin serving this fall are due by Aug. 10. Member recruitment and selection will begin after that date. Please contact Kathy Frank at 585-344-3960 or Kathy.Frank@co.genesee.ny.us for further details about the information sessions or to discuss options for your organization further.

 

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GO Art! workshops will help organizations pursue grants

Photo by Tom Rivers
Creek Band performs in Albion’s concert series by the canal last Thursday. The village used a grant from GO Art! to help pay for a concert series on Thursdays from June 18 to Aug. 13.

 

Press Release, GO Art! Posted 17 July 2015
BATAVIA – The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council is gearing up for the new grant season with a series of free workshops aimed at explaining the grant application process to local artists living in Genesee and Orleans counties.


These grants, provided through GO ART!, are through the New York State Council on the Arts. The grants provide funding to nonprofit organizations and individual artists for arts and cultural programming throughout Genesee and Orleans counties.


In the past two years, $86,000 has been given through GO ART! and regranted to artists and organizations.


At the upcoming grant workshops, each grant type is explained and questions are answered in detail. After the workshops, further aid is offered in grant proofreading and advice. This ensures that each applicant has the best chance of being awarded a grant. The grants covered at the workshops are the Reach, Ripple, and Spark grants.


Reach grants are awards given to individual artists, nonprofit organizations and local government entities for the purpose of supporting arts and cultural programs and projects in Genesee and Orleans counties. Past re-grant winners include the World Life Institute’s Voices from the Earth and the Le Roy Christian Community Project’s After-School Theatre Program.

Ripple Grants are available to individual artists residing in Genesee or Orleans counties who wish to create new artistic and cultural projects within a community context. One past recipient is Bill McDonald for his project, Traveling Towpath Troubadors/Concert Series along Erie Canal.

Spark grants are to support new arts education projects in K-12 public school settings. Last year’s recipient, Stacey Steward, sponsored by the Orleans County Adult Learning Services, received a grant to provide an arts education program at Holley Central School called "Seeing Like an Artist".

For the opportunity to learn how to apply for grants and potentially become a recipient, upcoming workshops by GO ART! include:


• July 21, 7 p.m., Hoag Library, 134 South Main St., Albion.


• July 22, 7 p.m., Byron-Bergen Public Library, 13 South Lake Ave., Bergen.


• July 23, 7 p.m., Yates Community Library, 15 North Main St., Lyndonville.


• July 28, 7 p.m., Corfu Free Library, 7 Maple Ave., Corfu.


• July 29, 7 p.m., Community Free Library, 86 Public Square, Holley.


• July 30, GO ART!, Seymour Place, 201 East Main St., Batavia.


Intent to Apply forms are due Sept. 4. Application forms, guidelines and instructions are available for download by clicking here.


New applicants are required to attend a grant workshop to learn more about the process of applying. Because the application process changes a little each year, repeat applicants are strongly encouraged to attend as well.

Once workshops have been attended and questions have been answered, it’s time to let GO ART! know you want to apply by filling out an Intent to Apply form and sending it to GO ART! by Sept. 4. After that, applicants must submit their grant proposals.

 

The Reach Grant deadline is Oct.13, with Ripple Grant applications due Oct. 20, and Spark Grant applications due Oct. 20.

 

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Chamber seeks award nominations for businesses, citizens

Staff Reports Posted 16 July 2015
ALBION – The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce invites its members to nominate businesses, organizations and individuals who have helped the local business community.


The honorees will be recognized on Sept. 18 at Tillman’s Historic Village Inn to celebrate business in Orleans County.

 

The Chamber is seeking nominations for awards in the following categories:

 

• Business of the Year: This award is presented to a business that has experienced significant overall achievements/success throughout the year.


• Businessperson of the Year: This award is presented to an individual with a long-term record of outstanding business achievements.

• Phoenix Award: This award is presented to an organization or business that has successfully adapted or re-used an existing facility.

• New Business of the Year: This award is presented to a business or organization that has opened in the past year.

• Community Service Award: This award is presented to a business, organization or individual that has provided meaningful contributions to the community in either professional or non-professional spheres.

• Agricultural Business of the Year: This award is presented to an agricultural business that has experienced significant overall achievements/success throughout the year.

Small Business of the Year: This award is presented to a small business (50 employees or less) that has experienced significant achievements/success throughout the year.

 

Last year’s winners include: Business of the Year, Brunner International; New Business of the Year, BAD-AsH-BBQ; Entrepreneurial Excellence, Precision Packaging Products; Phoenix Award, Fair Haven Treasures; Community Service, Anni Skowneski and Kenneth DeRoller; Lifetime Achievement, Bruce Krenning and Marcia Tuohey; and Agricultural Business of the Year: Lake Ontario Fruit.

 

For more information, call the Chamber at (585) 589-7727 or click here.

 

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County says no politics with Hatch Act on legislator candidate

James White was in program fully paid with federal funds

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2015
ALBION – James White, a candidate for Orleans County Legislature, believes the county pushed him out of a summer work program for youth based on his candidacy and some criticism of county officials.


White, 21, is running as a Democrat in a strongly Republican county. He says he was terminated from the summer youth program after officials told him he was in violation of the Hatch Act, which bars candidates who receive federal funds in their salaries from pursuing political office. The Act was revised in December 2012, to allow more candidates to run for office if they only receive a portion of their pay through federal funds.


County officials say White wasn’t targeted with the Hatch Act.


“This is not a political issue,” said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer. “This is a legal issue.”


White was receiving 100 percent of his pay through the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. That program allows youths from lower-income backgrounds to work at job sites with the federal government paying the salaries. Orleans County has youths working at 30 sites in the program. White was working at the Cobblestone Country Federal Credit Union in Albion.

James White speaks at Sunday's Democratic Party picnic in Albion.


When it became clear he was campaigning for Legislature, county officials told him last month he needed to either cease the campaign or give up the job in the federal program. The Hatch Act prevents “running for office in a partisan election” when the candidate is in a position 100 percent federally funded.


White spoke at Sunday’s Orleans County Democratic Party picnic at Bullard park in Albion. During an interview with Orleans Hub, he said he was terminated from the summer program because of the Hatch Act. White said he is seeking a legal opinion because he believes he was targeted by the county due to a letter to the editor critical of the sale of nursing home.


Nesbitt said White hasn’t been targeted. Nesbitt said the county would be exposed legally if White stayed in the program when he was in clear violation of the Hatch Act.

 

The county wants all candidates to be in compliance with the law and Hatch Act, Nesbitt said. Click here to see guidelines for candidates about the Hatch Act.


One county department head, Paul Fulcomer, is making a run for elected office. Fulcomer, director of Veterans Service Agency, is running for a spot on the Albion Town Board as a Republican.

 

Fulcomer’s office receives less than 10 percent of its funding from the federal government. County Attorney David Schubel and Nesbitt didn’t see Fulcomer’s candidacy in violation of the Hatch Act. Fulcomer also is planning to retire later this year.


Before the Hatch Act changes in December 2012, some county employees faced tough choices: whether to run for elected office or give up their jobs.


Chuck Kinsey is the former county computer services director. He wanted to run for Clarendon town justice, but his office received a small portion of its budget from the federal government. The county sought an opinion from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel about the Hatch Act, and that office said Kinsey would be violation of the act if he ran for judge and kept his county position, Nesbitt recalled this morning.


Kinsey ultimately opted against running for justice and kept his job. Kevin Sheehan faced a similar dilemma. He wanted to run for the Albion Village Board but he worked as a maintenance mechanic for the VA healthcare system in Batavia. He opted to keep his full-time job rather than run for the Village Board last year. His salary is 100 percent from the federal government.


White wasn’t terminated from the summer youth work program, Nesbitt said. White was given the option to either suspend the campaign or pull out of the program.


White chose to step put of the program. He has since been hired by Tim Hortons. He is entering his senior year at D’Youville College in Buffalo.

 

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Democrats say their candidates shouldn’t be counted out

Photos by Tom Rivers

James White, a candidate for Orleans County Legislature, speaks at a Democratic Party picnic on Sunday at Bullard Park in Albion.

 

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 July 2015
ALBION – Democrats in Orleans County may be outnumbered by Republicans by 2-to-1, and Republicans may fill nearly all elected positions at the town and county level. But the Democrats say they are determined to give residents a choice on Election Day.


With a new election looming, the Democratic Party has three candidates running for county positions and welcomes more for town elections.


Three candidates for county positions – Donald Organisciak for sheriff, and Fred Miller and James White for county legislator – both thanked the Democratic Party for their support. They spoke during the Democrats summer picnic on Sunday at Bullard Park.


James White is only 21, a college student at D’Youville in Buffalo, majoring in business management with a minor in pre-law. White graduated from Lyndonville in 2012. He expects to be done at D’Youville next year and then plans to attend grad school.


He said the county desperately needs Democrats in the local government. He said one-party rule is leading to privatization of critical services, from home health care nurses to the county nursing home.


“I see a local government that is failing the taxpayers,” White said at Sunday’s Democratic Party picnic. “The privatization of public services can be very dangerous.”


White, a Gaines resident, is challenging incumbent Don Allport for an at-large seat on the Legislature.


White said he would push for ways to keep younger adults and also cater to senior citizens in the community. Those age groups often have discretionary income to help support local businesses and preserve neighborhoods.


“My generation is fleeing the county at a high rate,” White said. “We need to do something to retain this generation.”


White was working in a summer program that directed federal funds for local businesses and agencies to hire disadvantaged youths ages 16 to 21. He was at Cobblestone Country Federal Credit Union until he said he was terminated from the program by county officials, claiming his participation in the program violated the Hatch Act, which aims to keep federal employees from certain political activities.


White has since been hired by Tim Hortons in Albion. He said he is challenging the county’s Hatch Act determination, believing he was unjustly removed from the program. He said his termination came after he wrote a letter to the editor critical of the county’s selling of the nursing home.


“I’m not a quitter,” he said about fighting the Hatch Act determination.


White said he hopes he can inspire a new generation of young adults to be active in the community at the political level.


“My generation needs to step up,” he said.

Fred Miller said the county would benefit from more political diversity on local municipal boards.


Fred Miller, owner of an Albion hardware store, is the only Democrat on the seven-member County Legislature. He was elected in November 2013. He urged the party to work to get Democratic candidates elected.


“I hope you support newcomers,” Miller said. “We really need new people.”


Miller said he is fiscally conservative and not afraid to speak up.


“I’m a little on the frugal side,” Miller said. “I try to spend your money like it’s my own money.”


The Republican Party didn’t run a candidate against Miller. He started in local politics about 10 years ago, serving on the Albion Village Board. Fran Nayman, a long-time Democratic Party leader, urged Miller to run.


Nayman died in a fire in December at his small engine repair shop. Jeanne Crane, the current party chairwoman, said Nayman was a mentor to many Democrats and a generous donor to many of their campaigns.


Organisciak is retired from the Medina Police Department after a 30-year career. He noted he has the most experience in law enforcement of any candidate in the race. Randy Bower and Tom Drennan, both long-time employees in the Sheriff’s Department, are both running.


Bower, a county dispatcher, has the Conservative line and is forcing a Republican primary against Tom Drennan, the chief deputy who also has the Independence Party line.

Don Organisciak is running for sheriff of Orleans County.


Organisciak worked 30 years in Medina, with 16 years as a patrolman, then a year as a sergeant and the final 13 years as the Medina Police Department’s first full-time criminal investigator. Organisciak retired in June 2008 and would work two more years as the school resource officer for Lyndonville Central School.


He is currently a part-time school bus driver.


“If I’m elected I will be a working sheriff,” he said. “I’m not going to limit myself to being in the office all day.”


Organisciak said when he has been out campaigning some people were surprised the Democratic Party still existed in the county.


“We’re here and we’re alive,” he said at Sunday’s picnic.


The Board of Elections reports today that there are 9,991 registered Republicans in the county, 5,246 Democrats, 1,048 members of the Independence Party, and 530 Conservatives, as well as other members of minor parties. In addition, there are 4,686 unaffiliated voters or “blanks.”

Jeanne Crane, leader of the Orleans County Democratic Party, said candidates are welcome for town offices in the county.


Jeanne Crane, the party chairwoman, wants to provide an alternative and choices for voters with Democratic candidates.


The Democratic Party committees at the town levels are soliciting candidates for those races. The town committees will soon have their caucuses with candidates to be picked by mid-September. For more information, contact Crane at 737-6903.

 

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Races for town and county offices take shape in Orleans County

Republicans force several primaries on Sept. 10

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 July 2015
ALBION – Candidates for town and county offices submitted petitions to be on the ballot this week, and the list shows several Republican Primaries for Sept. 10.


The Primary will be highlighted by a fight for the Republican line between Tom Drennan, who has been endorsed by the Republican Committee, and Randy Bower. Drennan is chief deputy for the Sheriff’s Department. Bower, a dispatcher for nearly 30 years, submitted enough petitions to force the GOP Primary.


Both candidates for the Republican line will be on the November ballot, regardless of the Primary results because Bower has the Conservative line and Drennan has the Independence Party line.

 

Another candidate for sheriff, retired Medina police officer Don Organisciak, Jr. has the Democratic Party line. Scott Hess, the incumbent, is retiring after Dec. 31.


Here is a rundown of the candidates at the town and county level:

 

Orleans County:


Two of the seven incumbent county legislators have opposition. Lynne Johnson (District 2) has the Republican and Indepedence lines against Paul Lauricella, who has the Conservative line for a district that includes Yates, Ridgeway and a portion of Shelby.

 

Don Allport (at-large) has the Republican line for a county-wide position. He is challenged by James White, a Democrat.

 

Democrats also endorsed Fred Miller for District 3 (Albion and Gaines). Republicans aren’t running a candidate against him.

 

The other Republican incumbents are all unopposed including: David Callard (at-large), John DeFilipps (at-large), William Eick (District 1 – Clarendon, Barre and most of Shelby), and Ken DeRoller (District 4 – Kendall, Murray and Carlton).

 

Rocco Sidari is unopposed for coroner. He is backed by the Conservative and Republican parties.

 

Albion:

 

There is a three-way race for highway superintendent with incumbent Jed Standish facing a Republican challenge from Michael Neidert and Chris Kinter.


Town Supervisor Matt Passarell is unopposed and will run under the Republican and Conservative lines.


Other candidates are also unopposed Republicans, including Sarah Basinait for town clerk, and Anthony “Jake” Olles and Paul Fulcomer for Town Council.

 

Barre:


There is a two-way race for highway superintendent with Bert Mathes, the endorsed Republican, facing a Primary challenge from Dale Brooks, the superintendent for the Village of Albion Department of Public Works. Incumbent Dale Ostroski is retiring.


Other candidates are unopposed including Mark Chamberlain for town supervisor, Maureen Beach for town clerk, and Sean Pogue and Larry Gaylard for Town Council.

 

Carlton:


There is a three-way race for two four-year positions on the Town Board with Frank Lauta, John Fitzak and Dana Woolston all vying for the Republican line. In addition, Marcus Coville is running for a two-year term on the Town Board.


Incumbent Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery and Town Justice Patricia Russell are both unopposed.

 

Clarendon:

 

There is a four-way Republican Primary for highway superintendent with incumbent Larry Swanger challenged by Tracy Bruce Chalker, Frederick Seeman III and Craig Nicosia. Swanger also has the Independence Party line and Chalker is endorsed by the Conservative Party.


The other Republican candidates are unopposed, including Richard Moy for town supervisor, William Campbell and Allen Robinson for Town Council, Susan Colby for town clerk, and Kevin Rombaut and Thomas DiFante for town justices.

 

Gaines:


Town Supervisor Carol Culhane is unopposed and secured the Republican and Conservative lines. Other town candidates are unopposed including Town Council candidates Richard DeCarlo as a Republican and Mary Neilans as Republican and Conservative, and Ronald Mannella for highway superintendent with Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines.

 

Kendall:


The Republican candidates are unopposed including Anthony Cammarata for town supervisor, Barbara Flow and Margaret Lynn Szozda for Town Council, and Warren Kruger for highway superintendent.

 

Murray:


The Republican incumbents are unopposed, including John Morriss for town supervisor, and Edwin Bower and Lloyd Christ for Town Council.

 

Ridgeway:


The Republican-endorsed candidates are unopposed including Brian Napoli for town supervisor, Sarah Fisher and Mary Woodruff for Town Council, and Joseph Kujawa for town justice. Kujawa also is endorsed by the Conservative Party.

 

Shelby:


There is a two-way race for highway superintendent with incumbent Mike Fuller challenged by Ed Houseknecht in a GOP Primary. Fuller also has the Independence Party line.

 

The other Republican candidates are unopposed, including Merle “Skip” for town supervisor, Kenneth Schaal, Jr. and Dale Stalker for Town Council, and Dawn Keppler for town justice.

 

Yates:


There are races in this town with James Simon forcing a Republican Primary for town supervisor against incumbent John Belson. Valerie Pratt also is on the ballot as a Republican in a three-way Primary against Wesley Bradley and John Riggi. In addition, Glenn Maid has been endorsed by the Conservative Party for Town Council.


The other Republican candidates are unopposed, including Michele Harling as town clerk and Roger Wolfe for highway superintendent.

 

The petitions were due at the County Board of Elections on Thursday. Any qualified voter can file an objection to the petitions by Monday, July 13.

 

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EDA approves $80K sales tax exemption for ethanol plant

Agency agrees to $150K loan to Dobbins for Yates project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 July 2015
ALBION – The Orleans Economic Development Agency approved a sales tax exemption today that will save Western New York Energy an estimated $80,000 as it adds a $2 million grain expansion this year.


The EDA board of directors this morning also agreed to loan $150,000 to H.H. Dobbins in Lyndonville, which is working on a $4 million expansion by adding a 26,240-square-foot controlled atmosphere storage building. The $150,000 is to be paid back by Empire Fruit LLC over 4 years at 75 percent of the prime rate (currently 2.4375 percent).


Empire Fruit, a limited liability corporation formed by the Dobbins family in 1999, will use the loan as “working capital” while it completes the expansion and adds equipment, said Jim Whipple, EDA chief executive officer.


“This is a really nice project for the Town of Yates,” Whipple told the EDA board, which unanimously backed the loan from a revolving loan fund managed by the EDA.


In the other agriculture-related project, Western New York Energy is working to expand the grain storage capacity for the ethanol plant in Medina at the corner of Bates Road and Route 31A. WNY Energy spent $89 million in developing the plant that opened in 2007.


WNY Energy will expand the capacity by 800,000 bushels. The company wants to have a new 105-foot wide by 142-foot high steel silo done by late October. A conveyor system at the top of the bin would increase the height to 155 feet.


The project includes about $1 million of taxable equipment and materials. The EDA this morning agreed to waive the sales tax, which will save the company $80,000. (The EDA will receive $4,000 in administrative costs, reducing the total savings to WNY Energy to $76,000.)

 

The added grain space will increase grain reserves from 17 days to 30 days, providing greater capacity when deliveries could be impeded by inclement winter weather.


The new grain bin will be on existing developed land that is south of the current corn silos that have 1 million bushels of storage space with two 500,000-bushel grain bins.

 

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Comptroller’s audit finds fault with Orleans EDA

File photo by Tom Rivers
JP Morgan Chase announced in June 2013 it would close its Albion site the following September, cutting about 400 jobs.

 

(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article should have stated CRFS has 600 employees, but due to a typo said 60.)


By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 July 2015
ALBION – The economic development agency for Orleans County needs clear policies for why some businesses are approved for tax benefits and assistance and others are not, according to an audit for the State Comptroller’s Office.


The comptroller also said some businesses, notably JP Morgan Chase, are approved for tax-saving benefits and leave town early, without a “recapture of benefits” clause from the Orleans Economic Development Agency.


In the case of Chase, the company received $605,000 in tax abatements in the first three years of the 10-year tax deal. The company paid $98,900 to local governments during that period.


However, the company announced in June 2013 it would close its Albion site the following September, and would eliminate 400 jobs in the village.


The comptroller said Chase was able to leave Albion without returning any of the tax breaks. The EDA needs a clause that requires companies to pay back the benefits if they don’t follow through with promised benefits to the community, according to the comptroller’s report. (Click here to see it.)

 

Jim Whipple, chief executive officer for the EDA, said the tax incentives gave the community more time with Chase as a major local employer.


“Those three to four years were very important,” Whipple said.


When Chase acquired the former Washington Mutual, Chase evaluated other sites in the country for the Albion operation. The tax incentives helped keep the company in Orleans County until “a further retrenchment in the banking industry,” EDA Board Chairman Paul Hendel said in a letter to the comptroller.

 

Claims Recovery Financial Services has since moved into the former Chase site and has about 600 employees in Albion.


The EDA in August 2013 also added a recapture-of-benefits clause to be used at the discretion of the agency, Hendel said.


In another case, the EDA under-billed a company for its payment of lieu of taxes by $246,000 over 12 years. The EDA billed the company for less than the PILOT plan approved by the seven-member board.


The comptroller said the payments should be corrected, or else the discrepancy will balloon to $635,000 over 20 years.


The EDA said the PILOT was amended, however the paperwork wasn’t available for that change. That paperwork issue is an isolated incident and has been resolved, Hendel said.

 

Comptroller staff reviewed Orleans EDA projects from Jan. 1, 2013 to Oct. 10, 2014, and analyzed documents from back to 1998. The EDA has 22 open projects with capital investment of about $134 million. (Western New York Energy in Medina accounts for $89 million of that total.)

 

The report cited some “deficiencies” in the EDA’s evaluation and approval of businesses seeking benefits, the EDA’s determination of agreement terms with businesses and the subsequent monitoring of the businesses for compliance.


Economic development agencies should follow a 1:10 minimum cost benefit ratio, or $1 granted for at least $10 in capital investment and other benefits to the community, the comptroller said.

 

The EDA has a document cost-benefit ratio for six of the 22 projects, but not for 16, the comptroller said.


“Lack of consistent computing of the CBA (cost-benefit analysis) for all projects can lead to selective inclusion and exclusion of these ratios by management, potentially creating an advantage or disadvantage for an applicant,” the report states.

 

The report further states the EDA board and management did not formally document and adopt procedures for calculating cost-benefit ratios and for determining the contractual time periods for businesses seeking financial assistance.

 

Because of that, evaluation criteria may not be consistently applied, and the basis for approving or rejecting businesses is not clear, according to the report.

 

Whipple said the EDA board will work to formalize its methodology for the cost-benefit analysis.

 

The EDA also approves some tax-saving plans for 10 years and others for as long as 30 years. The majority are for 10 years. The comptroller said the EDA needs to be clear in justifying the varying lengths for PILOT plans.

 

In a response to the comptroller, EDA officials said the standard PILOT is 10 years, but the agency can deviate from that schedule for some manufacturing facilities and vacant buildings.

 

The comptroller said the EDA should better monitor businesses to see if they are following through with capital investments and job creation (as well as employee salaries and benefits).

 

The comptroller reviewed employment numbers for the 22 EDA projects and found 14 companies met their employment targets, but eight did not. The 14 businesses exceeded their projections by 278 jobs. However, eight businesses did not meet their projections. Overall, the 22 businesses were projected to create or retain 2,118 jobs, but reported 1,348 jobs for a shortfall of 770.


Associated Brands in Medina had the biggest net increase in jobs with 282.

 

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