Friday, March 10, 2017 at 6:09 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, Perry, heroin, opioids, education, drugs.

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The pain in Avi Israel’s voice was evident as he described his son Michael’s spiraling decent into addiction and subsequent death. 

“Michael died at 20 years old. You see, my son suffered from Crohn’s disease. It was very painful for him. When he was 18, he was prescribed narcotics to deal with the pain, the Xanax was to help him cope with anxiety issues, as well as various other drugs for depression,” Israel said. “The medical community didn’t really know too much about addiction back then… Not a day that goes by…that I don’t miss my kid.”

Students from Perry Central School – seventh through 12th grade –  sat in rapt attention earlier this week as Israel spoke of his son and his struggle with addiction. The program was sponsored by Perry Rotary Club, with the support of the Perry Police Department, and the Wyoming County District Attorney’s Office. 

“We have a safety committee and the chief (Perry PD) gave us information about the statistics of opioid use,” said Middle/High School Principal Becky Belkota. “And we’ve seen the articles and the like, and it’s something we want to get ahead of…prevention as oppose to reaction. We wanted to give an insight to addiction, not just heroin.”

The question is asked: “How many of you know someone who died because of addiction?” 

The majority of students in attendance raised their hands.

“Addiction is how you get there (dead). If you’re aware of the pitfalls; maybe you’ll be a little more cautious.

“There has been a four-fold increase in addiction since 1999. When you think of an addict or a junkie, what do you think of?… You may think of the dirty strung-out man hanging out on a street corner… Does my son look like that to you?… Addiction doesn’t discriminate.”

Opioids are a prescription form of heroin, Israel says, and “said to be more intense than heroin.”

“It’s a selfish addiction. You may be doing it to yourself, but you are hurting everyone else. There are more than 100,000 tombstones related to opioid deaths in this country.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999…From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids.”

Today, nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths nationwide involve a prescription opioid. More than 15,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids in 2015, the most recent data available.

Between November and December Perry law enforcement has responded to four heroin/opioid overdoses. All were saved by using Narcan, which is the brand name for the generic drug naloxone, which is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdoses. (Intravaneously, it works in two minutes and when injected into muscle, it works within five minutes.)

However, in the last year, the village has one confirmed death due to overdose, Police Chief Mike Grover says. Just recently there were three overdoses in Perry. In all three of the incidents naloxone was administered. In two of the incidents, the victim was revived. In the third incident, the victim was unable to be saved. The irony of these three victims, two of the overdoses happened to the same person in the span of a week. During the second overdose, he succumbed to the drugs.

In Warsaw, Chief of Police Pete Hoffmeister says there have been 10 overdoses in the past year, with two ending up in deaths. While naloxone was used to save eight of those who overdosed, two were dead before law enforcement arrived. Of those 10, two were in September, two in October, and two in December – as of Dec. 30. The youngest person they encountered was 17 years old and the oldest 55.

Nationwide, every 17 minutes someone dies from an opioid overdose. About two years ago, there were 100 deaths in Erie County. In 2015, it more than doubled. In 2016, that number could reach over 500. That’s about 10 per week. February alone recorded 23 overdose deaths in just one week.

In Wyoming County, between 2010 and 2014 the number of opioid-related emergency department admissions increased 47.6 percent – 42 and 62. The number of opioid-related inpatient hospital admissions rose from 61 to 91 respectively – a 49.2-percent increase. 

During that same time period, those who were admitted for treatment for any opioid in Western New York was 7,679 in 2010. By 2014, the number of people seeking treatment rose by almost a third – 10,154 – a 32-percent increase.

Across the state, those in treatment for heroin use was 55,900 in 2010; in 2014, the number was 77,647. Deaths across the state due to heroin overdose increased 163 percent (215 in 2008, and 637 in 2013) and opioid overdoses increased 30 percent (763 to 952).

Six years ago, Wyoming County didn’t see a heroin issue in the county as much as today. Deputies say they’ve dealt with the drug 30 to 35 times in 2016. The county saw five deaths related to heroin overdoses and 26 overdose incidents law enforcement knows about that are from opioids.

“If this was the flu, we’d all be under quarantine,” Israel said. “Since it’s not the flu, people look at those who are addicts as…they did it to themselves.

“When you think of the word addict, what comes to mind? Someone sleeping in the street? A loser? Those who have lost someone…did they look like losers? They are not the picture of what addiction looks like today.”

Israel says roughly 10 percent of people have an addiction. A misnomer is that to be an addict, one had to use every day. An addict is when you do use, you have difficulty controlling it.

“You don’t have to have cravings to have an addiction,” Israel said. “Addiction isn’t about how easy it is to use. It’s how easy it is to stop.”

Michael suffered with a lot of pain because of Crohn's disease, which is commonly found at the end of the small intestine where it joins the beginning of the large intestine, is when the digestive or gastrointestinal tract is chronically inflamed.The first prescription he was given for pain relief was hydrocodone – an addictive narcotic, especially to a young person, Israel says.

“In 2010, Michael told me he was addicted to his pain pills. In January 2011, we went to the doctor and he told them he was an addict. They told him they had it under control… Michael died June 4, 2011. It took six months before Michael died. That’s how quick an addiction can grab you. He couldn’t kick his habit. He couldn’t let go. I kept asking him…'Michael, why don’t you just quit?’ "

Israel cautions the students, telling them an addiction at their age is “deadly and it’s your life.” 

“Your brain is still developing…It’s like combining peanut butter and jelly and stirring it all together then trying to separate it. It doesn’t happen.”

According to officials, you may be more prone to addiction if you have a family history of addiction. But family history and genetics do not negate the company you keep. 

“Addiction robbed me of my kid,” Israel said. “I blame myself… partly because I didn’t know enough about addiction. I knew everything about Crohn’s disease. But I didn’t know about addiction… It robs you of everything you hold dear; everything you love goes away. Your friends – when you start acting like a jerk – will go away. Your family starts not inviting you to get-togethers.

“Micheal came up to me one time; he needed a hug. I found it hard because I just thought he was destroying our family. It wasn't because I didn't love him. It's because I didn't understand his addiction.”

When your brain only focuses on one thing you become incapable of making even the simplest decisions, Israel says. Once you get into this kind of addiction it doesn't let go. The only escape is to use again, but you fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. And sometimes, you lose the fight.

“I can't stress how important it is to not start with anything. Don't give into peer pressure. I cannot impress upon you how painful it is to lose someone you love. It is one of the worst pains I have ever experienced. And still feel.

“I miss my son so bad it keeps me up at night. The pain just cuts me like a knife. Think of that pain you'd inflict to your parents if something happened to you. My three daughters miss their brother. They don't talk very much about it. At the holidays there is always an empty seat. He will never be there anymore. 

“You have the option of saying no to heavy painkillers. You can say you are OK with taking just a Tylenol. Once you start it grabs you and pulls you down so fast; you may think you have it under control, but you really don't unless you get help.”

Israel says the fear addicts have is the fear of withdrawal. It’s akin to having the flu…”only one hundred times worse.”

“What I wanted to impress on you is what addiction does to you and your family and how severe it is today and the pain it leaves behind,” Israel said. 

“I’m a little worried about upcoming surgery and medications after,” said Perry Sophomore Chelsea Pascoe. “It definitely impacted us to just stay clear.

“We are told a lot about what would happen (if you become addicted) but we saw, sort of firsthand on what it will do… And when he found his son, I don't know how you'd cope with something like that.”

“You don't see it very often… the story (of addiction),” said Freshman Russ Johnson. “You hear about it, but you never really get to see how it affects the families and see what happens… I want to be the one that just stays clean. It's who I am. I want it to mean something to me. It's important.”

“I’m not whole because I miss someone really bad. I hope you never have to go through it,” Israel said.

For more information on Michael story and addiction, visit savethemichaels.org.

For resources on addiction and recovery in Wyoming County visit Recovery.org or Spectrum Human Services or Smart Recovery of Warsaw.

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Friday, March 10, 2017 at 3:06 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, weather, announcements, Cowlesville, Varysburg.

The Cowlesville Fire Company, 361 Clinton St. (Route 354), Cowlesville, will have a warming center from 1 to 4 p.m. and again from 6 to 9 p.m..

Anyone in need of a warm place to go is welcome.

The Varysburg Fire Department is now open and is available for anyone who is in need of an overnight warming shelter.

UPDATE 4:31 p.m.: The Pavilion Fire Department,11302 Lake St., Pavilion, will be operating a warming center until 9 p.m..

For more information, call (585) 584-3937.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 10:52 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, law, news, Sen. Patrick Gallivan.

Press release:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C-I, Elma) recently announced the New York State Senate has passed legislation to end child marriage. The bill (S4407A), cosponsored by Gallivan, would prohibit the marriage of minors under 17 years of age and require 17-year-olds to get court approval for marriage.

“Surprisingly, children as young as 14 years old can get married in New York under current state law,” Gallivan said. “Too often, these children are coerced or forced into marriage with an adult, subjecting them to violence and abuse. It’s time to put an end to this practice once and for all.”

While current law states the minimum marriage age in New York is 18, children aged 14-17 may wed with parental consent, and 14- and 15-year-olds require judicial approval as well.

In addition to increasing the minimum age for marriage to 17, this bill puts checks in place to ensure that parental consent is not parental coercion. It also addresses concerns about the lack of meaningful procedures and guidelines in the current law's judicial approval process to ensure that the minor is making an informed decision based only on his or her own views and wishes.

At least 3,850 children between the 14 and 18 years old were legally married between 2000 and 2010 in New York State, and 84 percent of these marriages wed a girl to an adult man. Many of these marriages come with significant age differences, which can subsequently lead to negative effects on the child’s health and education, and an increased likelihood of domestic violence, predominantly affecting girls.

The bill passed by the Senate unanimously and was sent to the Assembly.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 10:49 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, Business, education.

Press release:

For the ninth consecutive year, the Buffalo Bills and M&T Bank are calling on fans to nominate Western New York’s Hall of Fame-caliber educators for the 2017 M&T Bank Touchdown for Teachers program. The program recognizes local teachers for extraordinary service to their schools and communities.

This year, the Bills and M&T are hoping to gather the most nominations in the program’s history. To make it happen, they’re challenging each of the schools throughout the 15-county region that is eligible for the competition to nominate at least one of their outstanding teachers.

“The Touchdown for Teachers program has allowed M&T Bank and the Buffalo Bills to provide some of our region’s best educators with the recognition they deserve,” said Pegula Sports and Entertainment Executive Vice President of Business Development Erica Muhleman. “Our children rely on the hard work and dedication of local teachers to achieve their fullest potential, and it is an honor to celebrate their exceptional efforts.”

Five finalists will be selected based upon their involvement in their school and community, the significance of their positive impact and their proven commitment to the education of their students. One of the five finalists will be named the Grand Prize winner.

Educators must be nominated by the public through the application form at buffalobills.com/teachers no later than March 31. Finalists will be notified no later than April 14.

“You may not see their names next to Jim Kelly or Thurman Thomas on the Bills’ Wall of Fame, but our community is home to so many Hall of Fame-caliber educators who truly are heroes for local students and their schools,” said M&T Bank Retail Market Manager in Western New York Jim Jarosz. “As we celebrate the ninth year of the Touchdown for Teachers contest, we encourage students, parents and school officials to take a moment to nominate an educator who’s making a difference today.”

Each of the five finalists and a guest will be invited to a Bills private event where they will be honored, and the winner of the 2017 Touchdown for Teachers program will be announced. The Grand Prize winner will receive:

    • $2,000 in grant funds, payable to their school or district, to advance their efforts to improve the school community;
    • An in-class visit from a Buffalo Bills player or alumnus.

The four remaining finalists will receive $500 in grant funds, payable to their school or district to strengthen their impact.

To be eligible, educators must live in one of the eight Western New York counties, which includes Wyoming County; the Rochester area; and McKean County, Pa., or Ontario County, Ontario, Canada.

Educators qualifying for nomination to this program are defined as individuals directly involved in the instruction and education of students, including but not limited to: teachers, guidance counselors and teacher’s aides. School and district administrators are not eligible for recognition as finalists but are welcome to nominate educators for recognition.

Information and nomination forms are available at buffalobills.com/teachers. They can be submitted online, or downloaded and mailed to: Pegula Sports and Entertainment, to the attention of Sara Petrone at 199 Scott St., Suite 200, Buffalo, NY 14204.

M&T Bank is the official bank of the Buffalo Bills and the exclusive provider of Bills checks and check cards. Further information about different fan contests and promotions through M&T Bank is available at www.facebook.com/mybillscard.  

About M&T Bank

Founded in 1856, M&T Bank (www.mtb.com) is one of the 20 largest U.S. commercial bank holding companies, with more than $96 billion in assets and more than 650 branch offices in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 10:31 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, Sports, hunting, DEC.

Press release:

The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced that the 2016 hunting season in New York had only 13 hunting-related shooting incidents. This is the lowest number on record since DEC began compiling hunting-related shooting statistics in 1958.

"Hunting is a proud tradition in New York State that continues to be safely enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors each year," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The trend of declining hunting accidents is proof that our Sportsman Education Program is working, thanks in large part, to the efforts of the 3,000 volunteer instructors that teach our hunter safety courses every year."

Of the 13 hunting-related shooting incidents in 2016, seven incidents were self-inflicted and six incidents involved more than one person. In 2015, there were 23 incidents. In 1966, there were 166 incidents, 13 of which were fatal.

Despite these low numbers, there were four fatalities in 2016 -- two two-party incidents and two self-inflicted incidents.

"While hunting is safer than ever, accidents can still happen," Seggos said. "It is important to remember that every hunting-related shooting incident is preventable. We urge every hunter going afield this year to wear hunter orange. It's the smart thing to do."

This year's report indicated that eight of the people involved in multi-party incidents were not wearing hunter orange.

With approximately 500,000 licensed hunters spending an estimated 10 to 15 million days afield each year, New York continues its trend of declining hunting-related shooting incidents. The incident rate (incidents per 100,000 hunters) has declined almost 80 percent since the 1960s. The past five-year average is down to three-and-one-half incidents per 100,000 hunters, compared to 19 per 100,000 in the ‘60s.

DEC encourages hunters to follow the primary rules of hunter safety:

    • Assume every firearm is loaded;

    • Control the firearm muzzle in a safe direction;

    • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire;

    • Identify your target and what is beyond; and

    • Wear hunter orange.

DEC's Sportsman Education Program is mandatory for all hunters. The program was introduced in 1949 and has significantly reduced the number of hunting incidents. Beginning in 2016, DEC instituted new course homework requirements for all hunter and trapper education courses. Students are now required to review course materials and complete homework prior to attending classroom and field sessions.

The new homework portion of the course provides an introduction to the subject and enhances students' understanding of the course material. DEC offers all courses free of charge. The Sportsman Education Program is always looking for interested individuals to volunteer their time to help students take the first step in developing the skills and knowledge to be better hunters and trappers.

Only incidents involving firearms, bows, and crossbows are included in the annual report. Incidents involving falls from tree stands or hunter health-related issues are not included. Investigations of all hunting-related shooting incidents are undertaken by DEC's environmental conservation officers.

For more information on taking a course, becoming an instructor, and on the 2016 Hunting Safety Statistics, visit the Sportsman Education Program Web page on DEC's website.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 7:28 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, weather, news.

There are approximately 4,442 homes and businesses still without power this morning.

Varysburg Fire Department has opened up their station as a warming shelter for those who are currently affected.

Power outages reported by local electric companies as of 7:15 a.m.:

NYSEG

    • Bennington – 910 customers

    • Java – 432 customers

    • Middlebury – 29 customers

    • Sheldon – 1,341 customers

National Grid

    • Orangeville – approximately 122 customers

    • Eagle, Java, Gainesville area – approximately 585 customers

    • Varysburg and Attica area – approximately 1,023

The Emergency Shelter will be supplied and staffed by volunteers from the American Red Cross with liaison personnel available from the Varysburg Fire Department and the Wyoming County Emergency Services Office.

Anyone with questions may call the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office at (585) 786-2255 or the Varysburg Fire Department at (585) 535-7984.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 6:24 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, weather, announcements.

Attica Central School is closed today.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 5:23 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, weather, Varysburg, announcements.

Wyoming County Emergency Services Director Anthony Santoro and Varysburg Fire Chief James Kelly, with the assistance of the Wyoming County Health Department, have opened an Emergency Shelter at the Varysburg Fire Hall, 2446 Route 20A, Varysburg. 

Due to yesterday’s storm damage there are still approximately 6,000 Wyoming County residents without power in the NYSEG and National Grid territories, says Wyoming County Sheriff Greg Rudolph. The designated Emergency Shelter is in the heart of those areas. 

There are no estimates on power restoration and the utility companies’ state it is a multi-day event. The weather forecast indicates below-freezing temperatures for the next several days. The Emergency Shelter will be supplied and staffed by volunteers from the American Red Cross with liaison personnel available from the Varysburg Fire Department and the Wyoming County Emergency Services Office.

Anyone with questions may call the Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office at (585) 786-2255 or the Varysburg Fire Department at (585) 535-7984.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 4:49 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, news, Warsaw, Attica, Covington.

The following were in Wyoming County Court before Judge Michael Mohun March 9.

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      Michael Lantain

Michael Lantain, who is accused of a crime in Warsaw, pled not guilty to: predatory sexual assault against a child, a Class A-II felony; 11 counts of use of a child in a sexual performance as a sexually motivated felony, a Class C felony; three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, a Class D felony; 11 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child, a Class E felony; endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor. An order of protection has been issued. The case has been adjourned to May 11 for motions. Bail was set at $100,000.

Philip Baker, who committed a crime in Attica, was sentenced to five years probation on the conviction of criminal contempt in the first degree, a Class E felony. An order of protection was also issued and he is responsible for all fees and surcharges incurred.

Aaron Gillard, who is accused of a crime in Covington, had his case adjourned to March 16.

Quinton Murphy, who is accused of a crime in Warsaw, pled not guilty to: driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, both are Class E felonies; operating a motor vehicle without a court-ordered ignition interlock device; driving while ability impaired by alcohol; no inspection and insufficient headlights. The case has been adjourned to March 30 for conference and May 11 for motions. Bail continues at $2,500.

The following were in court before Mohun March 6 and 7.

Mark Maussner, who committed a crime in Attica, pled guilty to petit larceny. He was sentenced to a one year conditional discharge and restitution of $4,400, which was paid in full.

Tammy Miller, who committed a crime in Attica, pled guilty to promoting prison contraband in the first degree. Sentencing is scheduled May 25.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 4:25 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, crime, news, Perry, Gainesville, Sheldon, Attica, Warsaw.
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 Dennis Rawleigh Jr.

Dennis N. Rawleigh Jr., 46, of Batavia, formerly of Perry, was charged March 7 with one count of scheme to defraud in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. Rawleigh is accused of not completing work he received payments for in November. At that time, he was doing business as Rawleigh’s Tear Down and allegedly received more than $15,000 in payments from a Town of Gainesville woman to perform work on two houses she owns in Perry and Gainesville. The woman reportedly told Wyoming County Sheriff’s deputies that very little work was completed on the Perry home and none on the Gainesville residence. A second victim, a male from the Town of Sheldon, reported paying Rawleigh a $3,200 down payment to tear down a barn. It is said that he attempted to pull the large barn down with a chain and his pickup truck with negative results. He is accused of making no further attempts at pulling the barn down since June 2015. Rawleigh is due in Gainesville Town Court later this month.

Daniel Thomas Henning, 36, of Attica, was charged March 8 with driving while intoxicated, driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, inadequate exhaust, driving on sidewalk, and unlicensed operator of a motor vehicle. Genesee County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Henning following a car accident on Route 5 in the City of Batavia. He is due in the City of Batavia Court April 19.

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     Michael A. Young      Victoria L. Young

Michael A. Young, 35, and Victoria L. Young, 22, both of Attica, were charged March 7 with multiple offenses following a traffic stop on North Main Street, Warsaw. Victoria was charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree. Michael was charged with criminal contempt in the second degree, operating a vehicle while registration suspended, and operating a motor vehicle without insurance. Wyoming County Sheriff’s deputies say they stopped the pair because the vehicle was allegedly found to have no insurance and a suspended vehicle registration. Although the car was registered to Victoria, deputies say Michael was driving the car and Victoria was the passenger. It is alleged that she told deputies she was 38 weeks pregnant and was in labor, at which time the vehicle was escorted directly to the hospital. According to the report, after being treated it was determined that she was not pregnant and she had lied to the police about it. Deputies also found Victoria was wanted on a warrant by the Olean Police Department on a petit larceny charge. She was subsequently arrested and turned over to Olean Police. Police also say there was an active stay away order of protection in place on Michael, which ordered him to stay away from Victoria. Both are due in the Village of Warsaw Court April 10. The vehicle was towed from the scene, and the license plates seized and returned to the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 4:13 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, accident, Perry.

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Wyoming County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a two-car accident on Route 20A just east of the Perry-Warsaw Airport, Perry.

A silver Subaru was parked on the shoulder of the road when the driver of a Volkswagon Beetle veered out of the lane and struck the Subaru at full speed.

The driver of the Volkswagon was cited for moving from lane unsafely.

Minor injuries were reported.

Deputies were assisted at the scene by Perry Ambulance and Perry Police.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, weather, Attica.

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Photo: Power line down on North Street.

Attica Police Chief Dean Hendershott says in the 27 years he has been with the police department in Attica this was the worst destruction he has seen in that short of a time period.

As of this post, the Village of Attica remains without power, however, both crews are working diligently to rectify the issue.

North Street is now open, however, the power lines are still down. Elm Street remains closed as Village Department of Public Works crews clear the downed tree out of the roadway.

On Genesee Street, a large tree toppled onto a home. No one was injured.

The railroad crossings are operating on generators and battery backup systems, however, should those fail, the arms will be lowered and the lights will flash. Hendershott says they are working with railroad officials to ensure the safety of travelers.

“We are mainly getting calls for the elderly and checking on them. People are cold. We are working with Wyoming County Emergency Management and the Attica Fire Department for the duration of the emergency. Depending on how long the situation lasts, it is possible that we will be opening up the elementary school for emergency shelter.”

The police department is currently operating on portable radios, as their main radio is out at the station.

Hendershott says homeowners can leave tree limbs and debris at the curb and DPW crews will pick up the items.

Firefighters say the fire hall will remain open for the duration of the power outage. There is water and coffee available to residents.

Although not many people came into the fire hall last night or early this morning, emergency responders are checking on those in the community who are unable to leave their homes.

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Window blown out at Nino's Pizzeria, Market Street.

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Trees across power lines on Market Street (Route 98).

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Tree fell on a home on Genesee Street.

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Attica DPW crew cleaning up Elm Street.

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Tree branches nearly miss a house on Main Street.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 6:43 am

High winds yesterday left thousands of residents without power. While power was restored to many customers, power companies report 6,350 residents are still without power as of 6:15 a.m..

RG&E customers without power: 

    • Arcade – 25 

    • Eagle – 27

NYSEG customers without power:

    • Bennington – 1,526

    • Castile – 10

    • Gainesville – 46

    • Java – 1,199

    • Middlebury – 29

    • Sheldon – 1,341

    • Warsaw – 1

National Grid customers without power:

    • Eagle, Bliss, Java, Gainesville area – approximately 589

    • Varysburg, Warsaw, Attica area – approximately – 1,557.

Power companies have been working through the night to restore electricity to county homes and continue this morning.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 8:53 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, Attica, weather.

Attica Police Chief Dean Hendershott release the following message regarding damages caused by the high winds earlier today:

The Village of Attica has received extensive damage from the windstorm which occurred today. During the height of the storm a wind gust of 70 mph was documented at the weather station located at the Attica High School. The majority of the village is without power. The police department and fire department are currently working on generator power.

There is extensive damage due to the high winds, trees down and power lines down throughout the village. At the time of this press release North, Elm, and Main (at Route 238) streets are closed. 

Main Street had been closed, however it has been reopened to normal traffic. 

Many residential and commercial roofs have received extensive damage, a window storefront on Market Street was blown out and several houses damaged due to falling trees. National Grid has estimated that the village will be without power for possibly one to two days.

Residents are warned to use extreme caution as downed powers lines remain throughout the village and are hidden by debris and downed trees and tree limbs.

Superintendent Bryce Thompson has closed Attica Central School for March 9 due to the power outage in both the High School and Elementary School.

If anyone is in need of assistance, contact the Wyoming County Sheriff Office at (585) 786-2255 for all non-emergency requests. 

If it is an emergency dial 9-1-1. 

The Attica Fire Department will be manned until further notice and is open as a warming shelter. The police department will be maintaining additional patrols throughout the weather emergency and until the power is restored.

If using portable generators use the following lifesaving safety tips:

    • Engines emit carbon monoxide. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up, so that neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air.

    • Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents or doors.

    • Use a battery-powered carbon-monoxide detector in the area you’re running a generator.

    • Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling and always use fresh gasoline. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, don’t forget to stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 5:16 pm

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The above photos were taken in the Village of Perry early this afternoon. 

Trees were reported to have fallen across power lines, and power lines were reported down at the "Five Corners" near the Arrowmart at Leichester and Lake roads.

Responding to the scene included Perry and Perry Center fire departments, and Perry Police.

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The above photos were taken earlier this afternoon at the corner of routes 77 and 20A. 

Officials say the winds were reported to have peaked at 102 mph, causing three tractor-trailers to get blown over. 

No injuries were reported in these three incidents.

Responding to the scene included the Wyoming County Sheriff's Department, and Harris Corners, Varysburg, Bennington, Sheldon, Strykersville, and North Java fire departments.

Route 77 was closed for a short time while crews removed the vehicles from the road.

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: Authorities report Route 77 has been reopened to traffic, the scene has been cleared. However, the light at routes 20A and 77 is still not functioning.

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The two photos above are from Route 354 in Bennington. 

One of the trees blocked the eastbound lane of traffic for a short time.

Responding to the scene was the Wyoming County Sheriff's Department and a county highway worker.

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The three photos above were taken in Attica, in which the Village is reported to have a widespread power outage, along with closed roads due to fallen trees and power lines across roadways.

Responding to the scenes was the Attica Police Department.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 2:36 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, weather.

Officials say the winds at routes 20A and 77 have been clocked at 102 mph. 

There are reports of multiple tractor-trailers rolled off the roadway on. Route 77 both north and south of Route 20A.

Officials say Route 77 north of 20A has been shut down to remove the semi from the road.

Emergency responders have been assisting residents throughout the county with downed trees and the like. 

UPDATE 3:05p.m.: Traffic on Clinton Street through Cowlesville is being diverted due to power lines down in the roadways. NYSEG is on the scene. 

UPDATE 3:15 p.m.  A tree is down in the road on Route 354 just east of Route 77 in Bennington.

UPDATE 3:42 p.m.: The Village of Attica is reporting widespread power outages as well as roads being blocked by fallen trees and power lines.

UPDATE 4:18 p.m.: The tree has been removed from the roadway on Route 354 in Bennington.

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: Authorities report Route 77 has been reopened to traffic; the scene has been cleared. However, the light at routes 20A and 77 is still not functioning.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 10:03 am

The Wyoming County Government Center is “turning green” for the month of March to celebrate the Girl Scouts, the 4-H program and cookie sales, and Wyoming County’s biggest producer – agriculture.

While the color green is most often associated with Saint Patrick’s Day when March rolls around, these organizations allude to the “luck of the Irish” as well. Subsequently, the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed March 2017 to be Girl Scout and Agriculture month – March 21 is National Agriculture Day and March 12 signifies the inception of the first Girl Scout troop in the United States.

This month, the Girl Scouts celebrate not only 105 years as an organization but also 100 years of their most successful fundraising program – the annual cookie sale.

The Girl Scout program was founded by Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low, with the help of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement. Low believed in the power of every girl. 

Low had joined the Girl Guide movement while in Scotland and in 1911 formed a group of Girl Guides while there. When she returned to the United States in 1912, she established the first American Girl Guide troop in Savannah, Ga.

It wasn’t until 1915 that the United States’ Girl Guides became known as the Girl Scouts. 

Modeling the program after the Boy Scouts, she was inspired by its stress of military preparedness and having fun, she encouraged the girls to become self-sufficient. 

While in Scotland, the group learned how to spin wool and care for livestock. She also taught them knot tying, map reading, kitting cooking and first aid. With the help of her friends in the military the girls also learned drilling, signaling and camping.

When she brought the program to the United States, she spread the movement as a way to help girls learn practical skills and build character. 

Although Low died in Savannah on Jan. 17, 1927, her vision lives on in the 1.9 million girls and 800,000 volunteer that continue the Girl Scouts worldwide.

The 4-H programs are based in science, healthy living and citizenship. It is backed by a network of 100 public universities and a community of 4-H volunteers and professionals. 

Through hands-on learning, youth build not only confidence, creativity and curiosity, but also life skills such as leadership and resiliency.

Grounded in the belief that kids learn best by doing for more than 100 years, 4-H has become the nation’s largest youth development organization. 

In the late 1800s, researchers noticed that young people were more open to new thinking in agricultural practices than their adult counterparts. In this way, it was the younger generations that introduced new agriculture technology to communities.

Today, 4-H’ers tackle issues such as global food security, climate change, as well as animal sciences, robotics, environmental protection and computer science to take on the challenges of the 21st century.

The program empowers the youngsters to be well-informed citizens who are actively engaged in their communities.

The month of March also signifies the start of its annual cookie sale. From March 7 through 21, cookies will be on sale.

“This is Wyoming County’s annual fundraiser that helps support programming in the county,” said 4-H educator Holly Harwood. “Proceeds from the sale allow youth to earn camperships at Wyomoco supports educational opportunities throughout the year, supports supplemental project and teaching materials, scholarships and more.”

Harwood says its these opportunities allow the youth to travel outside the county and the state to see the different careers available to them in agriculture, as well as meet other kids who are of similar mindset. It also allows kids to “build friendships that last a lifetime.”

And of course, one cannot travel about in Wyoming County without taking note of the rolling hills dotted with cows, corn, and other crops. These crops make the county number one in the production of milk, potatoes, hay, honey, and corn silage in New York State.

The county boasts 1.1 billion pounds of milk produced annually – 129.5 million gallons, 713 farms and 230,000 acres of cultivated farmland. The greens and golds of the county’s landscape is in large part due to 60 percent of its land being dedicated to farming. 

The economic vitality of Wyoming County is dependent on the food and fiber products agriculture plays a role in. Additionally, the county’s strong agribusiness ensures the maintenance of a strong economy.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 9:59 am

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The Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism announces that Merle Maple Farm of Attica, has been named the 2017 Agribusiness of the year. The annual award was presented at the 10th Annual Pride of Agriculture dinner Saturday at the North Java Fire Department, Java.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we were very pleased to present the Agribusiness award to Lyle and Dottie Merle and Merle Maple Farm for their commitment to Wyoming County’s agriculture industry and their support of the community,” said Chamber President Scott Gardner. “The Merle’s are a strong voice for the maple industry, dedicated to education and their craft, and are outstanding agricultural ambassadors for Wyoming County.”

In his opening remarks, Gardner touched upon the legacy those in agriculture leave.

“In that word are meanings like family, tradition, commitment, passion, and an eye to the future. The legacy is borne out of the blood, sweat and tears of our pasts, the hard decisions and the growing pains, achievements of innovation, and knowing that you’re doing this for posterity.

“To leave a legacy you have to love what you do and instill that in your children and grandchildren by fostering pride, purpose, and ownership, through dedication and a belief in the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ agriculture is important.”

The annual agribusiness award is given to a business that exemplifies the following criteria: contributions to the economic vitality and quality of life of Wyoming County, capital investments, business expansions, job growth, community involvement, and their contributions that strengthen their industry sector.

The Pride of Agriculture dinner also featured the annual presentation of the coveted Pride of Agriculture -- Good Neighbor Award, given to Charles and Velma Seewaldt, of Varysburg, and the new Friend of Wyoming County Agriculture award given to Jodi Smith, of Arcade. Both awards are given by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wyoming County, the Wyoming County Farm Bureau, and the Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism offices. 

See related: Merle Maple Farm awarded Agribusiness of the Year

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 9:27 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, events, 4-H, agriculture.

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Press release (photo submitted):

Sponsored by the Wyoming County 4-H Leaders’ Association, the annual Wyoming County 4-H Cookie Sale will take place March 7 through 21. 

The proceeds from this sale support numerous opportunities for 4-H members and volunteers including: educational award trips, camperships at 4-H Camp Wyomoco, supplemental 4-H project materials used by leaders and members, club teaching materials, National 4-H Week support, 4-H member and leader pins, scholarships for 4-H leaders to attend specialized trainings, and other program incentives.

The cost of cookies is $3.50 per package. The varieties include: Caramel Coconut Fudge, Peanut Butter Fudge Patties, Lemon Crème Sandwiches, Maple Leaf Crème Sandwiches, and Chocolate Raspberry Whippets.

Buying cookies from local 4-H’ers supports its members, Leaders’ Association, and the county’s 4-H program.

For more information call (585) 786-2251.

Monday, March 6, 2017 at 5:16 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, mAPLE, Attica, Business, agribusiness.

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A reporter caught them at lunchtime and with the graciousness of those accustomed to a tight-knit rural community, Lyle and Dottie Merle spent the next couple of hours chatting about their maple farm.

During the annual Ag Awards dinner Saturday evening, Lyle and Dottie were the recipients of the Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism Agribusiness of the Year Award for 2017.

“The annual agribusiness award is given to a business that exemplifies the following criteria: contributions to the economic vitality and quality of life of Wyoming County, capital investments, business expansions, job growth, community involvement, and their contributions that strengthen their industry sector,” said Chamber President Scott Gardner.

Merle (pronounced Mer-Lee) Maple Farm began around the 1870s with the “farm up the hill,” Lyle says.

The farm “up the hill” was located on Merle Road off Merkle Road in Attica. Although the farm was lost during the depression, their current farm, on Route 98 in Attica, well, “technically the Town of Bennington, with an Attica address, but with a Varysburg phone number,” has been in use since then. And it’s a good thing too, Lyle had said, because “fortunate for us, sap runs down – his family hails from both France and England – he is the fourth generation, of the six generations of Merles involved in agriculture, on the maple side of farming.

“When I was still in high school, my dad gave me the option of going to school (college) or continue on the farm,” Lyle said. “I opted to continue the tradition of making syrup.”

As with many of those who are self-employed, Lyle went to the “school of hard knocks,” learning the family business by virtue of growing up with parents who have carved out a niche by the sweat of their brow and determination.

“My dad was quite creative and innovative and involved in the cutting edge of the industry. I guess I inherited that from him.”

Lyle not only owns and operates the maple farm, he is also on the Cornell University advisory committee for New York State, as well as a delegate for the State’s International Maple Syrup Institute.

Merle Maple Farm has received a number of Best in Show ribbons for its maple syrup at the New York State Fair. And it was one of the very first maple producers to be listed with the Taste of New York tourism campaign, which featured their products at Taste of NY kiosks up and down the NYS Thruway.

Additionally, the Merles received the Maple Producer of the Year award in 2007. In 1988, Lyle’s father, Arthur, was inducted into the Maple Hall of Fame, and received the Hubbell Award by the New York State Department of Ag and Markets, which acknowledged their work to further education of maple sugaring.

Maple season typically begins in January with the season occasionally lasting until April 15, but is entirely weather dependent. While tapping can be done anytime the temperature rises above freezing, it’s the overnight temperatures that ensure a lengthy season. When it freezes overnight the tree draws up the sap from the roots. Anytime you have cold weather you can tap, but it has to be consistently cold at least a week or the syrup has a different flavor. Depending on the type of weather you have that season can also change the flavor of the syrup. Once the weather consistently stays above freezing both during the day and overnight, tapping is finished.

“The season is typically 25 days, but in those 25 days it’s pretty close to a 24-hour operation.”

When the Merle family began tapping, they never had more than 1,000 buckets to catch the sap and they used horse-drawn carriages to collect the buckets. That all changed with they began to use a tubbing system in 1958. 

About 10 years ago about a quart of sap a day was harvested from the trees, which produced about 4,200 gallons of syrup a day. To further increase production, they now use a reverse-osmosis process and vacuum pumps to extract and process the sap. 

The Merles have approximately 17,000 taps and at least 100 miles of line on the 400-acre farm. Of those taps, 4,500 run directly into the tap house, the remaining run into holding tanks scattered throughout the property. The sap is then collected and brought to the storage tanks at the tap house. 

Generally speaking, it takes approximately 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. On any given day, the farm produces two gallons of syrup a day per tap, which equates to approximately 20,000 gallons of sap a day to produce around 400 gallons of syrup a day. That’s about 8,500 gallons of syrup in one season.

In addition to the syrup production, the farm also makes sugar, spreads, candies, gummy leaves, and even barbecue sauce. To make the value added products it takes approximately 400 gallons of syrup to make sugar, 800 gallons for the maple spread, and 1,600 gallons for the candies. 

When asked how they keep up with production, Lyle’s answer was an easy “Well, there’s 24 hours in a day…” 

Operating one’s own business is no easy task, but they “do what it takes to get the job done.” With 15 employees – mostly part-time – Lyle says a typical day begins around 6:30 a.m.. And while his 102-year-old mother, Florence, still gets up and helps when she can, he said – with tongue-in-cheek – “since she turned 100, it was tough to get a full day's work out of her.”

Although working in the woods is taxing, Lyle said he has no desire to retire and “shuffle cards in Florida.”

“Many people may think we (business owners) only work half a day. And really, that’s true, it just depends on which 12 hours it is. Many people don’t get the opportunity to be a part of a family business, I’ve been fortunate in that department.” 

One of the most rewarding experiences Lyle has with working and owning the Maple Farm is that he is able to create new products and able to keep ahead of the industry. He also enjoys the value of Maple Weekend, which he says he is able to educate the general public about the maple industry and how it has evolved over the years.

A few of the innovative changes he has made to the business is the use of UV lighting which sterilizes the sap to allows them to keep the sap longer before processing without losing the quality of the product. The advances in how the sap is boiled has also allowed the company to produce more with using less energy. For example, instead of using wood to boil the sap they use fuel oil. Even with the use of fuel oil, Lyle has developed a way to use less fuel oil for boiling now than was used in years past.

“It used to take four gallons of fuel oil for every gallon of syrup made. Now it takes one gallon of fuel oil for processing. We are doing our part to be green and produce for efficiency.”

itstheir consumption of fuel oil, they also replace trees that are too old or have been damaged in some way for use. Additionally, Lyle “thins” the woods to allow for better growth of mature trees. A tree has to be about 30 years old for it to be tapped. Some of the trees he currently taps are around 100 years old. However, even with the thinning of the woods, he is conscientious in replacing the trees he removes with new ones. 

Sprawling over the land across the road, one can notice several dozen saplings planted for use for future generations, and as he says he likes “watching the trees grow.”

“What can I say, I like to plant trees. They don’t argue and you don’t have to send them to college. Some of those trees will be around 100 years after we are gone.”

In addition to developing better practices to increase productivity, the couple has developed a barbecue sauce recipe with no corn syrup in it. Dottie is certified to make acidified products – barbecue and hot sauce fall into this category.

Ever thinking of new products to make, the Merle’s decided to try their hand at making gummy leaves. 

“The first batch didn’t have the right consistency,” Dottie said. “We needed to find a way to make the product not quite as sticky.”

Working with students from the food science class at Cornell University, they have developed a better consistency for the product.

“Farmers don’t do it all by themselves,” Lyle said. “It also takes engineers that have developed the technology to help us advance in our field.”

Maple syrup is only produced in the northeastern part of the United States and Canada. And while there is a bit of “friendly competition” between the States and its northern counterpart, the demand for maple products has a growth rate of about 10 percent per year.

“Fifty years ago it was a 24 million pound worldwide market for maple products. Today, it has grown to about 170 million pounds,” Lyle said. “We in the industry feel that we can grow to 300 million pounds worldwide. People in Quebec (Canada), use maple products seven times more than we do here and live three years longer. I just think we need to use more maple products.

“We work to educate the consumer, because when you grow up in the field, it becomes second nature.”

As Lyle says, our customers don’t necessarily have to be our neighbors, a developed area to a farmer is an acre of woods or corn or wheat, because cities, well, they are “customer storage units.”

“I was told way back when that Western New York was a leader in agriculture. The reason we are leading is because we work with our neighbors and share ideas and knowledge. In a conversation, you always get something out of it. You may be giving away information, but you’re always getting something back.”

Lyle and Dottie have both contributed many hours and a great deal of maple products at various conferences and workshops, with the aim of helping other maple producers learn to make better maple, create a better value added maple product, and even the marketing and improvement of a maple display.

Last fall Lyle and Dottie hosted a value-added workshop at their maple kitchens, with the help of Eileen Downs and NYS Maple Specialist Steve Childs. Several batches of syrup were cooked for melt-in-your-mouth maple sugar pieces, including cinnamon flavored and cinnamon cream, and granulated maple syrup.

“A group came from Michigan to learn how to make a maple product. And the universal comment was that ‘no one would ever show us how to do this back home.’ But that’s the way it is here, not just in the maple business, but across agriculture in all of Western New York,” Lyle said. “If you get into other areas of the state, you may find a different view, but here, we believe in all boats rising.”

Even though Lyle and his brothers are no longer in business together – they had a combined farm that included some crops and cows – they still all support each other. During maple weekend, a patron may find at least 30 members of the Merle family working in some capacity to assist the 3,000 people that visit the farm during the event. And even though some of those who help during the two-day affair aren’t blood related, to the Merles, they are still family.

Maple Weekend will be held March 18 and 19, and 25 and 26.

For more information about Merle Maple Farm visit http://www.merlemaple.com/ or their Facebook page.

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