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May 7, 2008 - 10:21am

Batavia-based Brothers International Food Corp. has hit the national wires today because of a new potato chip that is supposedly tasty, addictive and fat-free.

The chips are made by peeling, slicing and cooking the potatoes, then freezedrying them.

The latter half of the process removes the moisture from the potato, leaving it crispy, light and satisfying.

More information available on BrothersAllNatural.com.

It sounds like a taste-test is in order.

May 7, 2008 - 9:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee Community College, notre dame high school.

Genesee Community College is hosting a conference on instructional technology.

“It is with great pleasure that Genesee welcomes CIT 2008 attendees,” said Dr. Stuart Steiner, President of Genesee Community College. “We are honored to be the first community college ever to host this event and are looking forward to the wealth of ideas and information that are sure to come out of the experience.”

Notre Dame High School holds its annual 500 Club Dinner and Roast on May 29 at the Holiday in.  More information on this PDF.

From the City Schools Web site:

Coffee With The New Principal @BHS
Saturday, May 10th @ 9:00 a.m. - Cafeteria Stop by to Meet & Chat with our new high school principal, Mr. Christopher Dailey. All parents are welcome and there is no special agenda.

While looking for school news, this picture of the 1925-26 Batavia High School basketball team popped up in Google search.

May 7, 2008 - 8:59am
posted by Philip Anselmo in news, video.

Not much Batavia news out on the Internet this morning. Not in Rochester sources, not in Buffalo sources, not on WBTA Batavia radio — which has a brief about the library budget (we posted results last night), plus a few out-of-area briefs and the vows of a Congressional candidate not to be greedy. So yeah, not much.

That means it's a great opportunity for you to make the news. I will not be hanging at Main Street Coffee until later today, in the afternoon. But that doesn't mean you can't just write a blog post about what's going on in your life, neighborhood, city, home, school... Or give me a call (585) 802-3032, and tell me the story and I'll do all the grunt work for you.

That's about it for now. Look for some video later tonight and hopefully some more in the morning. In the meantime, hone your own journalistic skills and file a report. If it's news to you, it's likely news to the rest of us, too.

May 6, 2008 - 9:36pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in budget, library.

Voters passed the Richmond Memorial Library budget tonight. The results were: 245 votes in favor, 54 against. The total budget is about $1.15 million — about $40,000 more than last year. Also, library Board member Tracy Stokes was elected to a five-year term with a total of 284 votes.

May 6, 2008 - 3:48pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in city council, Neighborhoods.

After a chat with City Councilman Bob Bialkowski this morning, I went in search of the "pockets of decline" that he mentioned. Bob said to check out the southside of the city around Jackson, Maple and Thorpe streets, if I wanted to find the "problem" neighborhoods.

That was where I thought to find the trash and debris, the buckled-under homes and general malaise. Not so. At least not by this city boy's estimation. I've seen streets in Rochester, streets in Buffalo, New York, Chicago, even some in Canandaigua that would make those Batavia blocks look like paradise on high, like a stroll through Green Acres.

At the very worst, I spotted some peeling paint, a couple (maybe) ramshackle porches, a stray tricycle or two, a leaf-swollen gutter — maybe. But really, what I saw as I drove down Dawson Place, Ganson Avenue and Thorpe Street were people. What I saw were people outside, sitting on their stoops, walking their sidewalks, talking to each other, mowing their lawns. I saw a community. I saw regal, Victorian-looking homes, a little bruised, sure, but not broken, not even bent.

So, maybe I wasn't looking in the right place. Maybe I wasn't looking with enough intent — I should say I was driving my car. Maybe those homes are rotten and rotting from the inside, really putrid and crumbling, which could explain why everyone was outside, hanging out. Or maybe — and this may be closer to the truth — maybe some Batavians have unusually high standards, higher standards than I have ever cultivated myself.

What do you think of these (and other) neighborhoods in the city? Are they in decline? Are they run down? Do you live there? Is that how you see it? Is Councilman Bialkowski on the ball? Or is he over the top?

May 6, 2008 - 12:34pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Tuesday):

• Reporter Tom Rivers works in the field — literally — as part of a series of articles on farm labor that kicked off today. His first stop: Triple G Farms in Barre. It doesn't take long for Rivers to realize he can't quite keep up with the crew of Mexican laborers. "I couldn't help but rub my back, shake my arms and legs loose, grit my teeth, and pray for rain, especially after a five-hour stint Wednesday." A fine article, worth checking out.

• Seventy school representatives from across the country have been touring Batavia's city schools over the past few days as part of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Technology Tour.

• A story on page three covers the city cleanup effort initiated by Helping Hands this past Saturday. Charlie Mallow covered the event for The Batavian three days ago. Go here for his post.

• The Genesee County Agricultural Society is looking for ways to boost attendance to the county fair — July 15-19 this year. Some of the ideas: move midway rides closer to the center of the fair and include more in the ticket price (so that $5 can get you access Tuesday and Wednesday, for example). What would get you to the fair?

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

May 6, 2008 - 12:29pm
posted by Patrick D. Burk in Spring, Lawns, Mowers, Yard Work, House Chores.

My thoughts came to rest the other day....Sunday, the day that the lawn people showed up. I would like to say finally, but that would mean I was sensing some sort of impatience...and I wasn't. It is always a great sign of spring and nice weather when I stop worrying how to get all the winter sludge and branches out of the yard and the lawn raked and the grass seed spread before the neighbors and my wife start to complain. She had already made a foray into the yard to pick up sticks, the proverbial "hidden under the snow garbage" and other messes that winter covers. I did a cursory once around as well....but when the lawn people show up.... I feel a certain sense of ease and comfort. It is then that I know that I am freed from my cares and woes. I never mow or rake...I let the experienced men do that. I let the lawn people do it. Just think, what other profession do we do ourselves that entitles pushing a heavy machine around while giant blades spin inches away from your appendages.

There are none. Why I day dream so much that the neighbors indeed should be frightened if they ever see me pushing a lawn mower.... I would become public enemy number one. Safety of pets and animals would be in jeopardy. Could you imagine if I had the chance to drive one? There could be a whole series of horror movies written about my exploits...I can see it now "Lawnmower Man's Revenge", Lawnmower Man's Revenge II"....just keep going and going...and.... Now to make matters even more difficult are the neighbors who mow thier lawn a certain way so that it looks nice and green and groomed. If I want nice and green and groomed I'll take up that game with pockets and balls played on a table or just continue to play golf badly and more often. I can't compete with green and groomed? I am just lucky it does not look like cow pasture. My lawn people take care of that. We have had the same lawn people for quite some time. They are two local kids....I actually have known them since birth. Now I trust them with powerful machines with whirling razor blades and wheels because they are the professionals....they have the knowledge...they have been doing this thier whole life. It is a family business.... green and groomed is in thier family....cow pastures are in mine. So they showed up and started to work. I made my appearance outside and pointed to a couple of areas of my concern (just so that they don't think I am totally detached and uncaring) and smiled, shook thier hands and thanked them once again for bringing to me that certain peace of mind. Lawn worries can go away. ....Yawn.... Time for a long summer's nap.... AND THEN IT HAPPENS.... "You know Patrick", she says as my eyes are almost to a thin slit of slumber...."We need to paint the house this year!" DANG....More worries....... the mind starts to whirl...paint...I hate to paint...I don't paint.... I sit and read and have fun and....and...... Well who knows. Hey.... Maybe the lawn people paint? There....that is better...Time for a nap....Eyes shut..... Ah peace again.

May 6, 2008 - 11:50am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, city council.

I've still had no luck catching the city manager or police lieutenant — both very busy men, it would seem. Must be tough business running a city and keeping it safe. I wouldn't doubt it. Fortunately, City Councilman Bob Bialkowski got back to me. We had a chat this morning about his thoughts on what's going on in the city these days.

Bob's a former crop-dusting pilot, "semi-retired" now, he says. That means he has "only one" airplane, from which he does aerial photography — his current business. He's been flying since he was a kid.

On his Web site bio, Bob mentions "community improvement" under his special interests. So I thought I'd ask him about that. So I ask him, quite simply: what needs to be improved, and how do we improve it?

"We've got some pockets of decline," he says. "We have to change some of our zoning laws, change code enforcement. We need to try to improve these areas."

That means public education on how to properly dispose of yard waste, for example. Get the word out to people, whether it's through the newspaper, through our site, in pamphlets included with the water bill — people need to be more aware, says Bob.

He says that "entire neighborhoods are a problem — trash all over, abandoned cars in the back yard." Head over to the southside of the city, to Jackson Street, over near Watson and Thorpe streets, State Street, and you'll see what he's talking about.

"But you can pick any street," he says.

Meanwhile, he goes on, the city has a tough time keeping up with all the violators. The code enforcement staff is minimal. Absentee landlords know how to work the system to "avoid" making the necessary improvements for "four or five months" at a stretch. Add to that the increasing crime rate — Bialkowski says the city department is 300 calls above their total for this time last year, which set records itself — and you've got a situation that could get out of control fast.

Nor is that all. Bob also takes issue with the taxes. They're too high, he says.

"Every year, more property in the city gets taken off the tax roll because of non-profits and tax exempts," he says. "And they use city services. They put their trash out by the street for pickup, but they don't pay for it."

In many ways, that's a valid claim, says City Assessor Michael Cleveland, who estimates the tax exempt properties in the city to total about 30 percent, without looking at the tax rolls. You have to understand, however, that Batavia is a county seat, he says. As the hub of Genesee County it's going to get the churches, the county offices, the organizations, all those who are tax exempt.

Could that just be the price of convenience then?

May 6, 2008 - 11:16am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Batavia Downs, farmers market, produce.

Not homeless for long, the Genesee Country Farmers Market signed a contract with Batavia Downs to set up shop in its parking lot for the summer season.  The market was told by Kmart a couple weeks ago that it could no longer use its parking lot, which had been home for the farmers for about a decade.

Offers to host the market poured in from all over the community — and some towns nearby.

"We were probably offered every parking lot in Batavia," says Paul Fenton, the market's director. "We had a ton of input on this. The community support was tremendous."

In the end, Batavia Downs, at 8315 Park Road, offered the market the best deal — proximity to the old site and a vigorous promotional backer. The market will be open from 8:00am to 5:00pm starting June 10 and closing for the season on October 31.

Says Fenton: "You'll see a lot more promotional stuff, a lot more giveaways. We're going to double our giveaways. And the Downs will help us with a few of those things."

Call (585) 343-9491 for more information.

May 6, 2008 - 10:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, Pok-A-Dot.

pok-a-dotThis morning, breakfast at the Pok-A-Dot.

True greasy spoons are treasured finds these days. The Pok-A-Dot is a classic.

From the moment I walked in, I could see the crowded counter was full of local residents who probably had been coming there for years.

As I saddled up on an empty stool, I quickly observed -- no printed menus. Speedy decision, go for the safe, sure-to-serve choice to save fumbling over options and giving myself away as a first-timer (as if that wasn't obvious from the get-go), so I went for coffee, eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast.

A word about the coffee: It will wake you up in the early morning. 

The young ladies cooking and serving the food were friendly and knew everybody in the joint but me. The conversation was personal and never touched on anything more weighty than whether to pick the chocolate or glazed donut. It made for a relaxing meal.

As I've written before, Batavia benefits from an abundance of dining establishments.  My goal: To try them all.  Any suggestions for lunch today?

Meanwhile, Philip and I will be spending the better part of today hanging out at Main Street Coffee (our permanent office is near ready).  If you stop by, please be sure to say hello, and the coffee will be on us.

UPDATE: Using Google Image search to see if there were any pictures of the Pok-A-Dot floating around on the Web, I found "The Cyber Pok-A-Dot," a large collection of photos of Pok-A-Dot customers.  Very cool.

May 6, 2008 - 9:03am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, Democrats, Jon Powers, Iraq.

Press Release from the Genesee County Democratic Committee:

The Genesee County Democratic Committee will host Jon Powers, an Iraq War veteran and Democratic candidate for the 26th Congressional district, for an airing of the documentary, Gunner Palace, at 6:00pm Monday (May 12) at the Elks Club, 213 Main St., Batavia. Gunner Palace is a film based on the 2/3 Field Artillery unit that Powers served with in Iraq. Following the movie, there will be a question and answer session with Powers.

The cost is $25 for adults, $10 for students and free for any veteran wishing to attend.

May 6, 2008 - 8:29am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, headlines, wbta.

Check out WBTA for these and other stories:

• A Batavia man was charged with criminal trespass, criminal mischief and endangering the welfare of a child this morning. A resident of Columbia Avenue told police that the man refused to leave her home.

• Seventy-five sheep have gone missing from a Wyoming County pasture in the town of Arcade.

• Residents within the city of Batavia School District can vote on the Richmond Memorial Library budget today from noon to 9:00pm. The total budget is about $1.15 million — some $40,000 more than last year, or an additional $5 for a $100,000 home. Tracy Stokes is running unopposed for the only open seat on the library's board of directors.

• Speaking of budgets and what the public thinks of them — the Batavia City School District will hold a budget hearing at 7:00pm at Jackson School on South Jackson Street tonight.

May 5, 2008 - 4:35pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, city council.

Today I made calls. In fact, I called every City Council member — that's nine, for those of you who aren't keeping count. Only one answered: Rose Mary Christian. I told her about our site, about the great folks who were already making it better, and I said: "On the city Web site, under your bio, you say: 'Everyone should get involved in their community.' So, what should folks be doing?"

Her first thoughts were for the elderly and the handicapped. We should be taking care of them, she said. Then she talked about child molesters. She wants to put signs up outside the homes of child molesters that identify them as such.

"We have to protect the kids," she says. "They can't protect themselves."

The other issue that had Rose Mary Christian worked up this afternoon: school taxes. Homeowners without school age children unfairly pay the brunt of those taxes, rather than parents who rent being more responsible for the cost, she says. Her idea: charge parents of school-aged children a fee to send their kids to school. That would help reduce the burden on property owners, she says.

What do you think?

May 5, 2008 - 3:55pm
posted by Rob Credi in coffee, howard, phillip.

main street coffee is the proud unofficial sponsor of providing coffee to the men behind the batavian. keep up the good work guys, batavia needs this.

May 5, 2008 - 12:57pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, news, Daily News, headlines.

From the Daily News (Monday):

• Thomas A. Aquino, 52, confessed to 10 burglaries in the city over the past several months. He also told city police that he was the "Pillowcase Burglar" of the early 1980s, responsible for burglarizing "at least 20 homes in 1983." He is expected to plead guilty today, according to reporter Scott DeSmit.

• Owners of downtown businesses, homes and a church were honored Saturday by the Landmark Society of Genesee County for their preservation efforts. Recipients included Mother's Chicken-N-Fish on Ellicott Street, New Hope Ministries on Bank Street Road and several homeowners.

• The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will host the Jam for a Cure fundraiser Saturday at 4:00pm at the Batavia Party House on East Main Street. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for anyone under 21 and include dinner and entertainment. Call Will Barton at (585) 409-0419, Paul Barton at 409-5901 or Jonah Alley at 813-3986 for more information.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on BataviaNews.com.

May 5, 2008 - 12:37pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, VA, veterans.

Head down to Center Street for a Block Party, starting at 6:00pm on May 16 — the first night of the Genesee County Veterans Appreciation Weekend. Stay for the food and music... But not too late as the festivities contintue Saturday morning (May 17) at 9:00am. That's when registration opens for the Motorcycle Run that starts at Stan's Harley Davidson on Saile Drive and heads through the city to end at the VA Medical Center. Then, at noon, veterans and their families will tour the VA grounds in an honor walk, followed by food and music.

Speakers will take the mic at various events througout the weekend to talk about services for veterans and their familes. Call (585) 344-2611 for more information.

May 5, 2008 - 12:23pm

Standing in John Kennedy School (Named for a former Superintendent of Schools NOT the President) this morning I was pleasantly surprised to hear our students perform for the visiting National School Boards Association Technology Seminar and visit. It was indeed a highlight to see the standing ovation they recieved after their phenominal performance. Kind of brings back to mind my reasons for living here in the first place. Elementary Students may not have the grandest of voices, but the purity of innocence and the ability to entertain is certainly apparent. When kids sing as wonderfully as these children did it is indeed special. Hats off to our Elementary Chorus teachers at all three schools for making this morning's program a big hit. Our guests from nine states were indeed impressed. The Arkansas and Louisianna delegations pulled me aside to tell me so. What a moment. I am always proud of our students and the work that they do. I could not get the smile off my face. It is indeed a great day to be the President of Board of Education of the best school district in Western New York. ALSO - the BHS Drama Club Show is at John Kennedy Elementary this weekend. Check out "Our Town" on of my favorite plays....oh and it just happens to be Directed by my very talented daughter Caryn and Asst Directed by my very talented daughter Malloryann.....Dad is proud of them both. As most of you know I am currently putting the final touches on the Batavia Players, Inc. production of "Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean". It is this weekend at GCC - Thursday - Saturday at 7:30PM. Come join us for this wonderful play. IT does have a rating of PG-13. Players is happy and appreciative to have the college available for for both of thier of thier spring productions this season. IN TWO WEEKS - Auditions for Jesus Christ Superstar - Batavia High School....MY BIGGEST SHOW YET!!!!! Please check out this week's show and future offerings. The new Principal at Batavia High School started today... A great big welcome Christopher Dailey.... He is a fine principal and will make a great addition to our High School. He was a former Asst Principal at Churchville-Chili. We wish him many wonderful years at BHS. I hope everyone takes advantage of this wonderful new source of news and information sharing that we have here in Batavia. I think it is wonderful....lets me work on my writing skills as well as catches me up on what others are doing.... Hope you enjoy my little efforts on most days.... See you around town and check out this weekend's two plays.....

May 5, 2008 - 12:17pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, police, fire department, city.

Another day of sun and blue skies. Another day of running all over the city plugging in connections.

First stop: the Batavia Fire Department. Chief Larry Smith was kind enough to come out for a curt yet pleasant introduction. He passed me off to Sally Hilchey — officially the "senior typist" of the department, though it seems like she does a lot more than type. She'll be passing on any department updates to us, so expect instant communication from that side of the public safety duo. As for the other half...

Second stop: the Batavia Police Department (third time). Unfortunately, Lt. Eugene Jankowski was out on SWAT training this morning and couldn't yet green light my hopeful connection with the department. He should be back to me by late afternoon (I hope).

Third stop: back to City Hall. I'm still waiting to hear back from City Manager Jason Molino. In the meantime, I thought to stop by the Public Works department and see if we could get updates from them on construction and maintenance projects around the city. We'll have to get Jason's approval for that. So I tried to catch him in person, but he was tied up on a call.

Fourth stop: I couldn't drive by this sculpture another time without stopping by and getting the story. No one was home. Maybe we'll hear from the artist another time.

Fifth stop: Richmond Memorial Library. I met with Library Director Diana Wyrwa who was kind and helpful. Looks like we'll be getting regular updates from their corner. Plus, we will have the results of the library budget vote as soon as the ballots are counted. Look for that post tomorrow evening.

May 5, 2008 - 10:22am
posted by L. Brian Clark in In serch of.

I'm wondering if anyone out there has any information or photos of the Veteran's Housing Project located at the corner of State and Denio Streets. It had two stone pillars on each side of the walkway to enter the project. I believe the pillars are still in place. The project was formed for veterans and their families to live in at the end of World War II. I know many former and present Batavians lived at the project during the the late 40's and early 50's. The Batavia Clippers played at MacArthur stadium and my grandfather, Charlie Pixley was the groundskeeper at the stadium. Anyone have memories, stories or photos?

May 5, 2008 - 9:49am
posted by Philip Anselmo in batavia, history, The Batavian, newspaper.

Some years ago, a pug-eyed French aristocrat gave me a book to read. She was a trunk of a woman with a tongue more refined than any cut gem I've ever held. When she spoke the language, it was like a lesson in grace and custom. She was a whole other class of beast.

That book was L'Or by Blaise Cendrars. It was about a Swiss-born pioneer named Johann Augustus Sutter, quiet tycoon of the California gold rush. Sutter was a tragic character, as flawed as any other that had graced the stage of American history. His men found gold by accident. He amassed wealth by design. He died poor and broken by fate.

In an article from The Batavian, June 22, 1895, an old miner tells of the day the gold was discovered. It reads:

"There is alive but one of the men who worked for Sutter in the mill at Coloma, where on Jan. 24, 1848, James W. Marshall discovered gold. That survivor is James Brown. He is nearly 70 years of age and makes his home with a grandchild in Pomona valley. He is the only man living who was present when Marshall washed the yellow grains in the camp doughpan, and he is the man who first tested the flaky scales with fire, and going forth from the shanty to where the men were at work on the mill race cried, "Boys, here's gold!"

"I am the oldest miner alive in California today," said he the other day. "I don't mean the oldest in years, but I was the first miner. ... It was Marshall came to me and told me about the books about gold and mines he had been reading, and on the afternoon of Jan. 23, 1848, he determined to do a little prospecting. He asked me to bring him the pan. It was a common ordinary pan that we baked bread in and the like. He spent all the afternoon with that pan trying to find gold, but he hadn't got anything by supper."

The next day, everything changed when Marshall came back with the "little flake-like scales" of gold. Meanwhile, Sutter was working his men hard.

"But we made no kick," he went on. "We had agreed to accept cattle, horses and grub in part payment for our work. Moreover, we picked up enough gold before we left the place to square our account with the captain's Coloma enterprise. We had come with a bigger mission than that of seeking gold. We were Mormons. Many of us were soldiers. I had been serving with my battalion, and after our disbandment was marching with the rest of our people to Utah."

But the old miner stayed on with Sutter, at least until the captain's mill was finished. By then, news of the gold had spread.

"Did I stay long at Coloma after the completion of the mill, you ask? No, sir. Only a few of us did. Myself and most of our people only remained long enough to dig up enough gold to equip ourselves for marching back over the plains to meet those of our people who were coming out to join us."

James Brown made a fine cut — about $1,500 in gold dust, he reckoned.

"Marshall, who found it first, had none at all. Marshall was not lucky anyhow. He was one of the original bear flag men — one of the filibusters who thought he owned the country. They had selected the bear flag as their banner because bears were so abundant out here in those days. The first bear flag was nothing but an old strip of canvas, on which the men daubed a picture of a bear with tar, their paintbrush being their own fingers."

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