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Orleans County

December 6, 2013 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield, Orleans County.

Four men accused of burglaries in Albion, Medina and Lockport are also potential suspects in a series of burglaries in Oakfield in September and October.

The Orleans County District Attorney's Office announced the arrests today, according to Orleans Hub.

None of the suspects have been charged yet in Genesee County.

Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster congratulated the job done by law enforcement in Orleans County, but said the local cases are under review by Genesee County District Attorney's Office. Local charges may yet be filed.

From Orleans Hub:

Albion Police Chief Roland Nenni said the four were persons of interest in the crimes before their arrests. Police from Albion, Medina Lockport and the Genesee County Sheriff’s Department were in daily communication, sharing information and gathering evidence.

“Criminals don’t follow jurisdictional lines and neither do we,” Nenni said at a news conference at the Village Hall. “We became one big sheriff’s department or police department.”

The arrestees are:

  • Jonathan Banks, 21, of 4886 S. Townline Road, Medina, faces 10 counts of second-degree burglary, one count of attempted burglary and attempted robbery in the second degree, six counts of grand larceny, seven counts of petit larceny, three counts of attempted petit larceny, and four counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief. He is held in Niagara County Jail on $160,000 bail.
  • Isaiah Bonk, of 531 E. Center St., Medina, faces nine counts of second-degree burglary, one count of attempted burglary in the second-degree, six counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, seven counts of petit larceny, three counts of attempted petit larceny, and four counts of criminal mischief in the fourth degree. He is held in Orleans County Jail on $50,000 bail.
  • Jasper Lloyd, 20, of 107 E. Bank St., Albion, was charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of fourth-degree grand larceny, two counts of grand larceny and one count of criminal mischief in the fourth degree. He is in Orleans County Jail on $50,000 bail.
  • Thomas Shingleton, 36, of 177 Bates Road, Medina, has been charged with one count of attempted burglary in the second degree and one count of attempted petit larceny. He is in Orleans County Jail on $20,000 bail.
October 19, 2013 - 1:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Orleans County, Albion.

Town of Batavia's newest fire truck, Ladder 25, saw its first live firefighting Thursday at the large factory fire in Albion. Photo by John Spaulding, a Livingston County-based fire services photographer. For complete coverage of the fire and its aftermath, visit Orleans Hub and scroll down.

 

CORECTION: First structure fire. The truck was used in Ed Arnold Scrap fire. 

September 15, 2013 - 10:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Orleans County.

A Medina woman died and three Batavia residents were hospitalized following a two-car accident at Oak Orchard River Road and Waterport Road, Town of Carlton, yesterday evening.

Sun glare appears to be a leading contributing factor to the accident, according to the Orleans County Sheriff's Office.

Ashley D. Morehouse, 28, of Medina, was driving a 2000 Pontiac sedan west on Oak Orchard River Road when she failed to stop for a stop sign, according to the Sheriff's Office. Her car was struck by a northbound 2003 Pontiac SUV driven by Lorrie D. Kuhns, 52, of Batavia.

Morehouse was pronounced dead at the scene by Orleans County Coroner Scott M. Schmidt.

Her passenger, Gary L. Weese, 40, of Batavia, was flown by Mercy Flight to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Dominic Amrhein, Morehouse's 4-year-old son, was transported by Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance to Strong. Dominic was strapped into an approved child safety seat in the rear passenger seat, the Sheriff's Office said.

Thomas S. Kuhns, 61, of Batavia, and Lorrie Kuhns were taken by a Medina FD ambulance to ECMC.

The accident remains under investigation and is being conducted by Deputy M.J. Emens, Deputy J.J. Cole, Deputy K.J. Colonna, Lt. R.E. Perry, Investigator C.L. Black and Chief Deputy T.L. Drennan.

Carlton and Albion fire departments responded to the accident.

April 2, 2013 - 6:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in journalism, Orleans County, OrleansHub.

For 17 years, Tom Rivers soldiered on in small-town, print journalism, honing his craft writing about pinewood derbies, high-school graduations and new varieties of cucumbers.

All that changed over the past 30 days. After 15 years at the Batavia Daily News, he quit. He quit to become an online news journalist in Orleans County.  OrleansHub.com officially launched today.

Rivers did it, in part, because, "it seemed like the county would benefit from having a locally owned, locally run news site."

It's a big step and an unusual one, to go from a steady job at a daily newspaper to a locally owned, online-only news start-up. (There are nearly 100 successful locally owned online community news sites in the nation, and perhaps without exception, all founded by out-of-work journalists who started their ventures as much out of necessity as passion).

Rivers has the passion, but he also has the financial backing many locally owned start-ups lack.

Karen Sawicz, owner of the Lake County PennySaver, is providing the resources necessary to get OrleansHub off the ground.

While Rivers is the editor, reporter, photographer and public face of OrleansHub, the PennySaver is supplying technical, advertising and back-office support and Sawicz is paying his salary until online advertising revenue can carry the site on its own.

The 38-year-old journalist, who is married with four children, said he couldn't have carried out the vision for OrleansHub without Sawicz's support.

It's clear Rivers admires Sawicz. They're both Rotary Club members and have known each other for years. 

"One of the things I liked about her is she's in charge of the hot dog stand at the strawberry festival," Rivers said. "In terms of the thankless job that no one wants, she goes and deals with the health department, gets all the stuff, cleans it up, puts it away. I just thought that showed something. She's also willing to do the heavy lifting. When I first came out here, there were two chambers (of commerce), Albion and Medina, and she was willing to be kind of the leader to bring those two together."

Sawicz's parents purchased the PennySaver in 1960 and she bought it from them in 1989.

Rivers said locally owned businesses in Orleans County have never had a bigger cheerleader than Sawicz.

Sawicz chaffs at the idea of county governments giving out government contracts to non-local businesses and Rivers opposes tax subsidies for national retailers.

They have a mutual passion for Orleans County that brings them together as a publishing team.

They both think existing media outlets weren't giving Orleans County the coverage it deserved.

"There's more that happens in Orleans County than just the bad stuff," Sawicz said. "We want good stuff to be told, too."

Rivers thinks the Daily News does a better job than other news outlets of getting beyond the murders and the weird crimes, but there just wasn't enough news getting published about his home community, he said.

In a way, Rivers is now competing with his former employer, but he is not about to say anything negative about the Daily News. While he acknowledges the newspaper industry as a whole is struggling -- part the reason he wanted to give online-only news a try -- he also thinks small-town papers will survive.

For the Daily News, however, the launch of OrleansHub puts the Johnson family, owners of The Batavia Daily News, the Livingston County News and the Watertown Daily Times, in a unique position.

Where the vast majority of online-only news sites are in urban or suburban settings, the Johnson's rural newspapers are likely the only ones in the nation facing competition from multiple start-ups in rural communities.

Besides OrleansHub and The Batavian squaring off against the Batavia Daily News, there is the Genesee Sun in Livingston County and the aggregation site NewzJunky.com in Watertown.

Only time will tell how all that shakes out, but for Rivers, he's just focused on making his new venture a success, and he knows that will take hard work.

And he's OK with that.

"(Being a journalist) is actually a fun job and I wanted to do more, to work more than just 35 hours a week," Rivers said. (Daily News staffers are limited to 35-hour work weeks these days, according to Rivers.)

In his time with the Daily News, Rivers won several statewide writing and reporting awards. He also published a regionally successful book based on his series of articles about working in GLOW-area farm fields called "Farm Hands."

Rivers has a new book out, a collection of his columns written for the Daily News, called "All Ears." Rivers said the book is "a love letter to the Daily News." (For more on Tom's books, click here.)

It also served to close one chapter on the professional career of Tom Rivers and now he's excited about the unlimited possibilities of being online news site owner.

The efficiencies of online publishing means Rivers will be able to produce more news than a print news staff produces and he'll get it published quicker, with more real-time news reports than Orleans County readers will be able to get from any other source.

Rivers is also an avid photographer and is looking forward to publishing more photos with his stories than he could publish in print.

And he's passionate about Orleans County and plans to be an advocate for growth and community pride in the area.

He hopes OrleansHub will energize younger readers to get involved in their community.

"They're not newspaper readers," Rivers said. "They might realize they can get plugged into the community with the history society or youth baseball. As you show them more of the community, they will see more ways to get plugged in, and I think that's what we need to be a viable, vibrant community."

One of the things that gave Rivers the courage to make the leap from being a print employee to an online journalist was covering the ag beat for so many years.

He would see farmers, many in their 50s or 60s, hit hard times or a changing market place and they would totally reinvent their businesses.

He mentioned LynOaken Farms in Lyndonville, which had a thriving Empire apple business that was a century old when storms nearly destroyed the farm. The owners came back from those difficulties to move into heirloom apples and open a winery and become one of Orleans County's agricultural success stories.

"You have to be able to change," Rivers said. "Even though you might be growing the best Empire apples, if they're not paying the bills or if long term that's not the way to do it, you have to switch."

Rivers made the switch and Orleans County is likely to be better off because of it.

December 17, 2012 - 7:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, corfu, Orleans County.

For the second time in eight days, a motor vehicle accident has claimed the life of a Genesee County teen.

Kelsey Milks, 19, of Corfu, died Sunday night in a three-car accident on Alleghany Road, Town of Shelby, just north of the county line.

The cause of the accident has not been determined.

Milks was a passenger in a vehicle driven by 20-year-old Dana R. Cipra. Cipra is hospitalized at Erie County Medical Center.

Two Mercy Flight helicopters were called to the scene Sunday and Town of Alabama volunteer firefighters provided traffic control and set up a landing zone at a location in Genesee County.

According to WIVB, "a red minivan was traveling north on Route 63, near the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge Swamp, when it collided head-on with a southbound car. A third vehicle then collided with the car."

Walter C. Hawkins, 73, of Medina, was driving the minivan. He was treated and released at Medina Memorial Hospital.

The driver and passenger in the third vehicle were uninjured.

Milks was a senior at Pembroke High School when she participated in a GO ART! art show.

May 24, 2012 - 1:13pm

Area scouts showed their colors and displayed true Boy Scout pride last night for the "BoyPower Distinguished Citizens" dinner at Genesee Community College.

These young men and their leaders are members of Iroquois Council Trail, Inc., the Boy Scouts of America council serving Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming, Livingston and Niagara counties. Every year, they honor one outstanding community member from each county.

Betty Lapp was the 2012 Distinguished Citizen for Genesee County. Lapp is the former director of GCC's Nursing program. She retired in 2005, and has been a "professional volunteer" ever since.

Originally from Ohio, Lapp has an impressive track record as a Geneseean:

  • Board Chairperson of United Memorial Medical Center
  • Board Chairperson of Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (formerly BOCES)
  • Regional Action Phone
  • Family Counseling Services
  • Parent Teacher Association
  • Cub Scouts
  • Genesee County Department of Health
  • Genesee County Mental Health Services

Her service to the wider region includes membership in the following organizations:

  • Lake Plains Community Care Network
  • WNY Rural Area Health Education Center
  • Genesee Valley School Boards Association

Other recipients were:

James Culbertson, Livingston County

David Bellavia, Orleans County (Bellavia currently lives in Batavia, but is originally from Lyndonville)

MORE after the jump (click on the headline to read more):

November 27, 2011 - 9:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Orleans County.

A 29-year-old Batavia man is in the intensive care unit at Strong Memorial Hospital following a head-on collision in Orleans County on Saturday afternoon.

Paul J. Smith was southbound on Oak Orchard Road when his car crossed into oncoming traffic. According to the D&C, Smith told investigators that he fell asleep at the wheel.

The driver of the sedan Smith's car hit was Barbara J. Lamka, 44, of Albion. She was extricated from her vehicle and taken to Strong by Mercy Flight, where she's listed in satisfactory condition.

August 3, 2011 - 9:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Orleans County.

Fire units from Oakfield, Elba and Batavia are being sent to Orleans County for a mutual aid fire call.

There is a house fire at  5717 Burns Road, Barre.

A pumper and tanker from Oakfield are at the scene, Elba requested to fill in at Barre's fire hall and Batavia's Fast Team requested to the scene.

UPDATE 9:47 a.m.: Alabama pumper requested to fill in at the East Shelby fire hall.


View Larger Map

June 14, 2011 - 7:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, elba, Oakfield, fire, byron, Orleans County.

Genesee County volunteer firefighters were called to the scene early this morning of a tanker truck fire that claimed the life of the truck's driver in Barre, Orleans County.

The tanker was carrying ethanol and the fire reportedly spread quickly into the wooded area around the accident.

To fight an ethanol fire, fire fighters must use foam, so Genesee County units that have foam cabability were called to the scene.

Units responded from Town of Batavia, Elba, Byron and Oakfield, along with Genesee County Emergency Services Unit and the county's hazmat team.

The fire is now out and clean up work along is in progress.  

One Elba tanker along with the hazmat team and ESU remains on scene at this time. Emergency Coordinator Tim Yaeger said the remaining Genesee County personnel wlll be on scene yet for quite some time.

March 10, 2011 - 2:51pm
Event Date and Time: 
March 10, 2011 - 2:25pm to April 7, 2011 - 12:00pm

The Genesee-Orleans Cornell Club is pleased to announce a luncheon Thursday, April 7, 2011  with Dean Kathryn Boor'80 from Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Ms. Boor was named the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences  last July. 

October 23, 2010 - 4:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, alex's place, Orleans County.

The owners and staff of Alex's Place, Park Road, Batavia, are in mourning this weekend following the apparent death of head chef Russell Bugbee, 31.

While the Orleans County Sheriff's Office has not officially identified Bugbee as the driver of a car involved in a one-car accident at 11 p.m., Thursday, in Murray, Alex's was closed Friday after word of the accident reached owners Matt and Jennifer Gray.

The accident remains under investigation and official identification of Bugbee as the victim is awaiting a medical examiner's confirmation.

Matt Gray issued the following statement this afternoon:

On Thursday night, Alex’s Place lost our family member and friend Russell Bugbee. Russ was in a one-vehicle accident on Route 31 in the Town of Murray, New York and was pronounced dead at the scene. We were closed for business yesterday and we would like to thank the community for the support and understanding they have shown Alex’s and our staff. A native of Connecticut, Russ moved to Batavia in 2007 for what he thought was a six-month project to help an old friend out in a new business venture, the purchasing of Alex’s Place. He never left, growing to love the town and the people (and hating the snow). Over the last three years he made Alex’s his own with his creativity and dedication, becoming an integral part of our daily lives both at work and out. At just 31 years old and so talented he left us far too early. A memorial service is planned to be held on Monday, November 1st at Alex’s Place, time to be announced. A collection is being held for his family and donations can be sent care of Alex’s Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY 14020.

July 23, 2010 - 12:50pm

Pictured: two Boy Scout troupes from the Iroquois Trail Council (ITS), which covers Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston, Orleans and Niagara counties.

This band of 36 youths -- ages 13 to 17 -- are going to Fort A.P. Hill, Va., for the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree, which takes place from July 26 until Aug. 4. Fort (Ambrose Powell) Hill, named after a Confederate general, is an active-duty Army installation near the town of Bowling Green.

The Jamboree normally takes place every four years; this time, however, there was a five-year interim so it would coincide with the 100th anniversary celebration of Boy Scouts of America.

The boys will be accompanied by two adult Scoutmasters -- Guye Smith, of Lima, and Jim Yencer, of Avon, and two youth assistant Scoutmasters (one of whom is from Alexander), making a total of 40 area scouts attending this national event.

Planning for this trip started about two years ago, according to Smith. Since then, the boys have worked very hard to raise money in order to cover the cost.

"Some of them raised every penny (that they needed to pay their individual fares)," Smith said. "That's part of the scout way -- to pay your own way."

The ITS scouts raised money by doing two bike-a-thons, one in July 2009 and the other in October 2009.

The boys biked all the way from Lockport to Brockport -- with an overnight stay in Albion for the first one -- and then from Holley to Macedon all in one day for the second.

The troupes are leaving by bus today. Yencer said they will spend Saturday in Philadelphia, then take the U.S.S. New Jersey (a retired navy vessel) to Aberdeen, Md., to visit the U.S. Army Ordnance Museum on Sunday morning. From there, they proceed to Fort A.P. Hill.

While attending the Jamboree, the boys will be treated to a wide variety of activities such as air-rifle shooting, scuba diving, canoeing, archery and a 5K run; there will also be a musical group performing at the "arena show" (which will be broadcast online) on Saturday, July 31, and if tradition is kept, they may also get a visit from President Barack Obama.

Not only is this Jamboree historic because it is being held during the scouts' centennial, it is also the last one to be held in Fort A.P. Hill (where it has taken place since 1981).

For more information on the Jamboree, please visit www.bsajamboree.org.

For more information on the ITC, visit www.itcbsa.org/Joomla/index.php.

Photo courtesy of Jim Yencer

May 21, 2010 - 11:22pm

Tonight I attended the COVA "Central Orleans Volunteer Ambulance" Open House at their headquarters in Albion NY.  Over 150 people were on hand during this occational rainy event to give thanks to all EMT's, Mercy flight, Volunteers, etc. Much of the information is on the website at :www.covaems.com/

I interviewed EMT Patrick Lamka and asked the question, What is COVA?

Here is a quick video of Mercyflight taking off:

Many photos during this event:

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Lots of people on hand even though it poured at times but a great turnout !

2.JPG

Yummy popcorn and activities for kids.

3.JPG

Some staff members ...

4.JPG

One of the ambulances from the fleet.

5.JPG

The newest ambulance to the fleet, not yet lettered.  Just arrived.

6.JPG

Patrick Lamka and Tricia Warren

7.JPG

posing near the Mercyflight helicopter ...

8.JPG

The 2010 COVA staff

They thanked everyone who came to support, donate and attend tonight's open house.  Providng services to help others in emergency needs.

October 29, 2009 - 5:39pm
posted by bud prevost in Orleans County.

The following appeared in today's paper. I am asking anyone with faith and empathy to pray for the young man who passed, his father, and of particular interest to me, we need to pray for Reverend James Renfrew. Jim is a regular on here, and I can't imagine the inner turmoil this gentleman is feeling. While ideal wise, we are on opposite pages, I know Jim to be a good, kind and compassionate man. As a matter of fact, he married my wife and I 6 years ago. Please, let's keep all involved, and their respective families, in our prayers. Thank you.

From the Daily News:

A Holley man was killed when the car he was riding in was broadsided by another car on Route 31A Wednesday night, Orleans County Undersheriff Steven Smith said.

Austin J. Boyd, 19, was a front-seat passenger in a car driven by his father, Ronald Boyd, 50.

Smith said Boyd was driving east on 31A about 9:20 p.m. when a car driven by James R. Renfrew failed to stop at the stop sign on South Holley Road and slammed into the passenger side of his 2002 Saturn.

Austin Boyd was trapped in the car and had to be freed by Clarendon firefighters. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Scott Schmidt.

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Austin was a 2009 graduate of Holley High School. He and his father were returning from a Scouting event.

His father and Renfrew, 55, of Clarendon, were taken to Strong Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Smith said.

Smith said Renfrew was north on South Holley Road and failed to stop. It does not appear speed or alcohol were factors but an investigation is continuing, Smith sa

September 4, 2009 - 10:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, elba, Orleans County.

UPDATE, 10 a.m. Saturday.

An 8-year-old girl was killed in a one-vehicle rollover accident Friday night after the driver swerved to avoid a deer in the roadway.

Abagail Buzard, who was ejected from the vehicle, was pronounced dead at UMMC.

The SUV was driven by Courtney Buzard, 17, of Albion.

Initial reports:

Elba Rescue is responding to a rollover accident in Orleans County in which three people are reportedly injured and a baby is missing.

The single-vehicle accident is reportedly near Spoils Bank Road off Oak Orchard Road (Old Route 98).

UPDATE: There is more than one incident going on. I believe two ambulances initially responded and I believe Mercy 3 is enroute. (There's a concert at Darien Lake tonight which is also contributing to a lot of radio traffic.)

UPDATE: Three Genesee County ambulances responded, and possibly one from Orleans County. One ambulance took an 8-year-old to UMMC. Another ambulance took a 3-year-old and a father to Strong. A mother and another child were taken to Lakeside. No Mercy Flight transport reported.


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August 17, 2009 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Orleans County.

A former Batavia firefighter who operates a train museum in Medina is accused of sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman Friday at the museum and may have installed a videotaping system in the building.

Martin Phelps, 67, is accused assaulting the woman at 4:30 p.m.. Medina police have also removed an "extensive" videotaping system from the building.

Phelps bought the museum in 1991 and opened it in 1997 after spending six years remodeling the location.

He was remanded to Orleans County Jail on $5,000 bail.

(Source, the Batavia Daily News)

July 22, 2009 - 7:15am
posted by JIM NIGRO in events, Orleans County, Yesteryear.

DSCF2246.JPG

                                   "....America,

July 17, 2009 - 3:44pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in entertainment, Orleans County.

mules.jpg

West Jackson Corners is name-sake of the same geographical locale as it was once known – say back around the turn of the last century.  West Jackson Corners village is located directly across the road from East Shelby Community Bible Church, and this Sunday, July 19th – the Annual Old Tyme Days – the population of the village will once again flourish as visitors come to get a look at life in a bygone era. 

crowd.jpg

Old Tyme Days, an annual event sponsored by Community Bible Church, always draws a good crowd. And why not, given the opportunity to step back in time, to the days when hot dogs and home-made pie cost a penny? When ice cream and lemonade were home-made and so was the bread. I almost forgot to mention the home-made jam, goats-milk fudge and home-made cheese.  

menu.jpg

Not only can you eat for a penny – and eat well – there will be entertainment in the form of the West Jackson Players, the West Jackson Band of Renown and a barber shop quartet. Horse-drawn rides will be offered as well as weaving and spinning demonstrations, blacksmith and tinsmith shops and much more including old fashioned games and activities.

levi.jpg

The family-oriented event lasts all day, beginning with an old fashioned worship service at East  Shelby Community Bible Church at 10 a.m.  West Jackson Corners is located seven miles southeast of Medina on the East Shelby Road. 

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Photos courtesy of Jim Dolan.  You can see a full collection of Jim's photos at NewYorkStatePhoto.com 

June 15, 2009 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, jail, Orleans County.

Regardless of the report in Journal-Register in Medina says Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell, residents of Genesee and Orleans counties should expect a new regional jail to come out of discussion between the two counties.

The Journal-Register reported this morning:

Johnson and the Jail Committee have been working closely with Genesee County, talking about the possibility of opening a regional jail to accommodate prisoners in both Orleans and Genesee counties. The Center for Governmental Research has been hired to do a study to determine if a regional facility would be economically feasible.

“We have to look at what’s the best taxpayer solution,” Johnson said. “A study hasn’t been done since the early 1970s, and right now, the promising thing is the good working relationship we have with Genesee County.”

The relationship between the two counties is great, Gsell confirmed, and CGR -- the same consultants helping with the consolidation study in Batavia -- is conducting a study to help the counties deal with an increase in female inmates, decreasing bed space, aging facilities and the best options for dealing with prisoners in the 21st Century, but a new jail facility is pretty unlikely.

"We started looking at what are alternatives to incarceration," Gsell said. "We're looking at electronic monitoring, release under supervision and things of that nature ... and now what we're looking at is having CGR ...  --  would it be advisable to have us look at on a two-county basis, maybe even a three-county basis, along with either Livingston or Wyoming, at some other alternatives to just building brand new jail space."

Gsell said there are a couple of people in Orleans County who seem to really believe that the process will inevitably lead to building a new jail, but he doesn't see that as an option.  It would be difficult, he said, to co-locate one facility under current statutes.

 Full Audio of Jay Gsell Interview

June 4, 2009 - 2:27pm
posted by Steve Hawley in genesee county, business, Orleans County.

In recent years, the possibility of an economic resurgence in communities across Western New York has been enhanced by the efforts of the Empire Zone (EZ) Program.  Our local EZ boards, particularly in Genesee and Orleans counties, in conjunction with Economic Development Centers (EDCs) and Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), have made great strides in getting our Western New York economy back on track and their efforts should be applauded.  Our economic plight would have been greatly diminished without their hard work and dedication.

As a charter member of the Genesee County Empire Zone Board of Directors and as a former county legislative liaison to the Genesee County Economic Development Center, I have worked directly with these agencies even before I was elected to the State Assembly.  These agencies have continued to be among some of the most successful and helpful in the state, as evidenced by the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) recent announcement that all 53 companies within the Genesee and Orleans counties EZ programs have been recertified.

These companies provide essential job opportunities for our residents and have helped to bring back our Main Street and rural quality of life.  The ESDC announcement ensures that all 53 businesses will continue to receive the state tax incentives and services provided by our local EZ boards.  This was not the case with many businesses in many larger metropolitan areas across the state.

At the state Capitol, there is increasing political pressure from some “big city” legislators to end the Empire Zone Program, under-fund EDCs, or compromise the success of IDAs.  In more rural communities in Western New York, however, these programs have been the lifeblood of our economic renewal and we have done things the right way.  For these reasons, these organizations will have my continued support and ardent advocacy in Albany and at home.  And I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to be pro-jobs and to oppose any dramatic changes to these programs.

 

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