It was a year of Perfect Pitch, local honors for volunteers, teachers, performers, and athletes, of lake quality concerns, construction plans, the community’s brush with immigration laws, and sad farewells. Here’s a look back at the local news in the first six months of 2018.


The Yates County Legislature opened its 2-year term which ends Dec. 31, 2019 by electing Douglas Paddock of District I to serve as chairman and Leslie Church of District 3 to serve as vice chair. Paddock noted the legislature has never had a female chair or vice chair.

Bobby Fitzgerald, Dundee’s famed fiddler and bagpiper, and his Austin, Texas-based band, Whiskey Shivers, are featured in Universal Pictures’ Pitch Perfect 3, the third and final film in the very popular Pitch Perfect trilogy.

Yates County legislators are calling on state officials to include Canandaigua, Keuka, and Seneca Lakes among the lakes that will be studied with an aim to reduce sources of pollution that spark harmful algae blooms. The lakes were not included on a list of 12 priority lakes in New York to be included in a $60 million statewide initiative.

Jim Folts of Penn Yan, the general manager of the Yates County Fair, was honored as the Fair Person of the Year by the New York State Show People’s Association. The award was presented at the New York State Association of Agriculture Fairs Convention in Rochester.

Members and supporters of the Himrod Fire Department gathered for the organization’s annual dinner Jan. 20. Steven Hoover and Jason Hoover were honored as Firefighter of the Year.

When members of the Dundee Fire Department marked another year of service Jan. 26, Harlan Nolt was named Fireman of the Year and Tracey Miller received the Chief’s Award.

After being in jail for seven months, Gilberto Reyes-Herrera, a local farm worker who has many supporters in the Penn Yan community, pled guilty in Federal Court in Rochester to one charge of unlawful re-entry by a previously deported or removed alien. He was sentenced to time served, and sent to the U.S. Border Patrol facility in Batavia.


Dundee Central School has released a video that shows the school’s commitment to Personalized Learning.

Seth Olney will be able to serve beer in the tap room that was added to his Route 54 store, The Olney Place, as long as he prevails in Fourth Judicial Dept. Appeallate Division court. He was granted a license by the New York State Liquor Authority Feb. 6, conditional on the court decision.

Penn Yan Boy’s Basketball Head Coach Marty Gibson was named Section V Class B Coach of the Year.

Yates County was awarded a Community Development Block Grant to provide grant funds to repair or replace failed septic systems, water wells, and sewer or water laterals for single-family homeowners in the county.

One of the most explosive movie musicals of the 1980s burst onto the live stage in Dundee High School’s production of Footloose.


Tracy Mitrano, a Yates County resident seeking to be the Democratic Party’s candidate to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Reed representing New York’s 23rd District, kicked off her ballot petition drive at the Wagner Restaurant.

The Penn Yan Academy Drama Club presented the hit Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can. Like the DreamWorks motion picture of the same title, the production follows the unbelievable true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., a con man and master of fraud.

Plans for a Dollar Tree store and new McDonalds Restaurant on Lake Street were approved by the Penn Yan Planning Board.

Esperanza Mansion, the hotel, restaurant, and wedding venue overlooking Keuka Lake that closed its doors in 2016, was offered at public auction March 7, and despite a crowd of about 40 in the vestibule of the Yates County Courthouse, no bidders came forward.

Penn Yan Academy and Keuka College students participated in activities in memory and protest of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Town of Milo officials announced plans to commemorate the town’s history throughout 2018. The town’s first official town meeting was held April 7, 1818 at Nichols Corners.

Two storms hit the area March 14 and 16, and the blowing and drifting snow resulted in 43 crashes in three days. One incident involved a 10-year-old girl being struck by a vehicle on State Route 54. A Yates County Highway plow and a Sheriff’s Department patrol vehicle were involved in separate collisions.

Local athletes who participated in the annual Exceptional Seniors basketball games were Hannah Keech, Emma Harling, Desmond Battin, and Dylan Stape, all of Penn Yan, and Kyle Cratsley of Dundee. Penn Yan’s Megan Griffin was honored for her cheerleading, and Penn Yan basketball player Sydney Bloom was named to the first team all-league squad and was asked to play in the Ronald McDonald All-Star game.

Researchers and volunteer advocates joined in an effort to make the best decisions about improving water quality in the Seneca Lake watershed at the Seneca Lake Summit hosted by the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart & Williams Smith Colleges.


Members of the 1967-68 Penn Yan Academy Marching Band remembered their experiences in Washington D.C. during violent riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago.

The Johnson-Costello American Legion celebrated 99 years at Post 355’s annual birthday celebration.

Howard Leach of the Dresden Volunteer Fire Department received the H. Robert Hathaway Officer of the Year Award at the annual Yates County Emergency Services awards banquet.

Stained glass panels that were a centerpiece at Columbia Bank have been restored and now hang at Village Centre in downtown Penn Yan.

Penn Yan Ambulance Corps members gave their A-3 rig a send off when representatives from American Legion Ambulance came to Penn Yan to pick it up. The Woodstown, N.J. ambulance service lost its headquarters and equipment in a fire, sustaining losses of more than $2 million.

Aubrey Bagley, a Marcus Whitman 10th grader claimed the Best in Show award for her pastel, “Mr. Frizzle” at the Arts Center of Yates County.


The Yates County Youth Bureau has received state funds from the Office of Children and Family Services for 5 years to create resources and educate the community on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (SCEC) and Human Trafficking.

The Penn Yan Fire Department invited several area departments to join in a drill in the village May 3. The drill allowed them to strategize the methods that could be used to fight an emergency in the large structures downtown.

Penn Yan’s Noah Detar as Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me if You Can, lit up the stage at the Rochester Stars of Tomorrow competition. He brought home the Outstanding Leading Actor Award. Penn Yan students also brought home honors for Outstanding Acting Ensemble, Outstanding Production Crew, and Outstanding Student Pit Orchestra.

After less than 2 years on the job, Yates County Administrator Robert Lawton is leaving the position to become City Manager for the City of Turlock, Calif.

Decades of changes in calculating milk prices is squeezing small dairy farmers out of the business.

The Penn Yan community hosted another successful Lax by the Lake youth lacrosse tournament at Keuka College’s Jephson Athletic Complex, where 59 teams of young lacrosse players competed.

The Dundee Scotsmen Boy’s Track & Field Team won the Section V Class D Championship May 25 at Marion. Five Dundee athletes also won individual titles at the meet. Three Penn Yan athletes won individual titles.


The Penn Mustangs Varsity Lacrosse team celebrated their 23rd Sectional crown after defeating Aquinas 8-6. Three days later, they went on to capture the Western New York title with a thrilling overtime 12-11 victory over Akron.

More than 160 people gathered at Climbing Bines Hop Farm and Brewery overlooking Seneca Lake June 2 for the Yates County Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner where Philip Rahr, vice president of the Friends of the Outlet was presented with the Norman Snow Jr. Memorial Spirit Award and Kari Bezek was honored with the Emily Seager Memorial Pride Award.

Retiring Penn Yan Academy Agriculture teacher John Kriese enjoyed good wishes from many current and former students and members of FFA during the 87th annual Penn Yan FFA banquet.

The Penn Yan Mustang Varsity Lacrosse team fell to Pleasantville 16-2 in the New York State championship game at St. John Fisher College in Rochester.

Dundee music teacher Patrick Dunham was named as a quarterfinalist for the 2019 Grammy Music Educator Award.

After more than 2 years, customers at the Olney Place on Keuka Lake are able to drink a beer that is drawn from the taps on the bar in the tap room there. Owner Seth Olney learned that his argument prevailed in a case before the Supreme Court of New York Appellate Division.

The Yates County Legislature began a search for a new County Administrator.

After years of planning and weeks of work, Penn Yan’s Beloved art teacher Robert Gillespie completed his mural, “Main Street Circus Parade,” on the front of Water Street Wines and Spirits on Water Street.

Keuka College President Jorge Diaz-Herrera announced plans to retire July 1. The college’s board of trustees appointed Amy Storey Interim Chief Executive.

In Penn Yan June 22, another 103 teens, and in Dundee June 21, another 40 joined the ranks of high school graduates. The Penn Yan Commencement Ceremony was the 160th in the school’s history, and the ceremony in Dundee was that school’s 79th.

See a review of July through December in the Jan. 9 issue of The Chronicle-Express.