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April 28, 2016 - 11:35am
posted by Billie Owens in washington avenue sewer project, news, batavia.

Press release:

The Washington Avenue Sewer Project is expected to impact traffic in that area and will start on or about May 2. Once construction begins, Washington Avenue will be limited to “local traffic only” in the specific section of Washington Avenue that is being worked on. The expectation is that the first section to be closed off would be Bank Street to Summit Street, followed by Summit Street to Ross Street.

During this time, thru traffic will not be allowed, only access for residents/deliveries/emergency services. It is expected that sidewalks will always be open and passable, but caution should be observed as it is a construction zone.

Once completed, construction will then shift to the Jefferson Avenue – Bank Street block of Washington Avenue. An additional notice will be provided for work on State Street which is also part of this project.

Work is expected to be completed on the entire project, including pavement resurfacing from Ellicott Avenue to Ross Street, by Aug. 19.

Construction updates, schedules and traffic plans will be posted on the City Web page, and should be available by the end of the week. You can access it here.

For additional information contact:

April 28, 2016 - 11:30am
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, Alabama, news, Announcements.

Oakfield-Alabama kindergarten registration is scheduled for Monday, May 2nd through Friday, May 6th at the elementary school office between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 p.m. It is located at 7001 Lewiston Road in Oakfield.

Information packets have been sent to families. If you did not receive a packet or are new to the district, please notify the elementary office at 948-5211, ext. 3211 and we will send one to you.

Please bring the following mandatory documents with you: a completed Student Information Form (from the packet received in the mail), your child’s birth certificate, two proofs of residency, a current immunization record and a current physical examination.

Only children who have reached their 5th birthday on or before Dec. 1, 2016 may be registered for the 2016-2017 school year.

April 28, 2016 - 10:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Emily Helenbrook, Genesee Chorale, batavia, arts, entertainment, music, news.

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Press release:

The Genesee Chorale, under the direction of Ric Jones, is excited to offer a performance of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29th, in the beautiful sanctuary of St. James Episcopal Church, located at 405 E. Main St. in Batavia. 

“Performing this amazing work will truly be a memorable experience for us and for the audience,” said Jones, director of the large, talented community chorus based in Batavia. “This performance will run the gamut of human emotion; excitement, intrigue, humor, and love all rolled into one amazing work."

“Carmina Burana” is a scenic cantata composed by Orff and based on a collection of 24 medieval poems. You might recognize the exciting “O Fortuna,” which was first introduced to mainstream media in the 1981, John Boorman film, "Excalibur." Other appearances in movies include "Glory" (1989), "The Hunt for Red October" (1990), "The Doors" (1991), "Natural Born Killers" (1994), and "The General’s Daughter" (1999).

Orff’s Carmina Burana is based on 24 of the 254 poems found in the medieval collection Carmina Burana, a manuscript composed of 11th – 13th century poems and dramatic texts, believed to be written by clergy in Italy and Western Europe for traveling scholars, universities and theologians. The collection of texts was discovered in 1803 in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern in Bavaria (Germany).

The Chorale will consist be accompanied by several three outstanding soloists: Emily Helenbrook, soprano; John Clayton, tenor; Joe Finetti, baritone.

Hellenbrook is a senior at the Eastman School of Music, studying with Carol Webber. Helenbrook has performed several times as a featured soloist with the Buffalo Philharmonic and in several appearances with Ars Nova Musicians in the Viva Vivaldi Festival. She also appeared twice on the nationally acclaimed show, From the Top, recorded at the Chautauqua Amphitheatre and Kodak Hall at Eastman.

Clayton is a tenor based in Buffalo. He has been described as “One of Buffalo’s top vocalists” who performs “gallantly.” He studied music and voice at SUNY College at Buffalo and has worked with vocal coaches from across America and Europe. Clayton is a frequent soloist with choral ensembles in Western New York. He has also been featured in concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Nickel City Opera. Clayton has sung the National Anthem for Buffalo Bills' home games and is a current member of the Harmonia Chamber Singers.

Finetti, bass – baritone, enjoys various performing opportunities in the Rochester area. He recently appeared as the beleaguered Herr Schlendrian in Bach’s Coffee Cantata at Nazareth College, interpreted the Bass role of Haydn’s "Creation" in several performances with the Finger Lakes Chorale, and sang Broadway favorites as a guest of the Irondequoit Chorale. A longtime member of the baroque ensemble The Publick Musick, he has sung solo roles in numerous Bach cantatas and masses as well as period performances of Handel’s "Messiah." Finetti performs regularly with the Renaissance group Musica Spei, the annual sponsor of the Rochester Early Music Festival as well as the well-known local chamber choir Madrigalia. He has a practice of family medicine in Greece, NY, and lives with his wife Maria Mastrosimone, also a family physician, in the Highland Park neighborhood of Rochester.

The performance will also feature two talented pianists, Doug Hanson and Howard Spindler. Five percussionists from the Batavia and Rochester area will accompany the work.

Tickets for the performance at St. James are available on the Genesee Chorale Web site, www.GeneseeChorale.com, from any Chorale member, or at the door. For more information please contact the Chorale president, Heather Lovelace at (716) 531-8986.

The Genesee Chorale is directed by Ric Jones, owner of Imagine Music Publishing. In addition to being the musical director of the Genesee Chorale, he also serves as musical director of the Brighton Symphony Orchestra and The Middleport Community Choir. Jones is also the organist at St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran Church in Medina and Trinity Lutheran Church in Wolcottsville.

The Genesee Chorale is a community choir comprised of singers from all walks of life. It draws membership from Genesee County and seven surrounding counties. The repertory of the Genesee Chorale encompasses a wide variety of music in various styles from motets and madrigals of the Renaissance, to folk, musicals and jazz. Over the years, the Chorale has championed contemporary works for choir as well as larger liturgical settings including Bach's St. Matthew's "Passion," Charpentier's "Midnight Mass for Christmas," the Mozart and Brahms requiems, and several masses by composers such as Schubert and Mozart. Additionally, the Chorale has performed "Die Fledermaus," Mendelssohn's "Elijah," Handel's "Solomon," Haydn's "Creation," Vivaldi's "Magnificat," and Vaughan William’s "Hodie."

This concert is made possible in part with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Genesee Regional Arts Council.

April 28, 2016 - 10:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Pavilion, news.

The call started with "two cows and a horse" in the road at Stubb Road and Route 19, Pavilion, but now deputies are informed there are "several animals" in the road at that location.

Dispatchers are trying to contact a farmer in the area.

Deputies are responding.

UPDATE 10:47 a.m.: One of the owners of the property has been located and "he's working on a plan." Earlier, a deputy told dispatch, "we also have a bull to deal with."

April 28, 2016 - 9:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, schools, education, news.

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Press release:

The halls at Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School were full of colorful and imaginative artwork and pottery, and the cafeteria was filled with music as hundreds of community members, parents, teachers and students got their creative buzz on. The school’s third-annual Buzzin’ Bistro event showcased a wide range of talent and drew a huge, enthusiastic crowd on April 22.

The Buzzin’ Bistro began with the opening of the District Art Show, which featured visual arts from the elementary and jr./sr. high schools. Participating art teachers Melissa Coniglio, Sandy Auer and Justine Fritz displayed the best work from their classes in a variety of media, including several exceptional student portfolios.

The main event, however, was the music. The Buzzin’ Bistro is an opportunity for students from grades five through 12 to perform with each other in front of a community audience. They are also able to sing and play as equals alongside their music teachers and talented musicians from the Bergen community. This year, guest artist Johnny Cummings, talented songwriter and Byron-Bergen alumnus (2000), and his band entertained and inspired the young artists.

The musical portion of the evening began with the fifth- and sixth-grade Jazz Band and Jazz Choir, directed by teachers Robert Lancia and Karen Tischer, with impressive solos from students Cameron Carlson and Angel Heick. Teacher Kevin Bleiler directed both the jr. and sr. high jazz bands in several numbers that had the younger members of the audience on their feet dancing. The Singing Silhouettes, a select group of high school chorus members, led by teacher Laurence Tallman, swung a wonderful version of the classic “In the Mood.”

Students took a breather to let staff members Amanda Cook, Alyson Tardy, Amber Taylor-Burns, Jodie Vandelay and Megan Wahl, along with community musicians Steve Keenan, Chris DeValder and Bob Wilkins, join the music department to perform a few numbers. Johnny Cummings and his band, Something Else, followed with a showstopping 30-minute set that had all the students up and dancing. The evening concluded with a rendition of “Twist and Shout” involving the jr. high band, sr. high band and community members.

Buzzin’ Bistro was sponsored and supported by the Byron-Bergen Music Boosters, Todd Sloat from T.S. Lighting, LLC, Ralph Marsocci from McCullagh Coffee Roasters, Ralph & Rosie’s Delicatessen, and Greg’ry’s Bakery.

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April 27, 2016 - 6:40pm
posted by James Burns in Richmond Memorial Library, batavia, genesee.

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Tuesday evening the Richmond Memorial Library celebrated a new program, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, providing free books to children from birth to up age 5 (but not including age 5). The library hosted a special story time featuring a certain librarian imitating Dolly Parton and guest storytellers.

Leading off story time was Tim Richter (pictured in red below) from the Richter Family Foundation. The foundation is funding the program is assisting with the launch of the Batavia Imagination Library, which is only available to children age 4 and under in the Batavia City School District.

Each participating school district funds and sponsors its own Imagination Library, under the auspices of, and with the assistance of, the Richter Foundation. To date, the foundation has helped launch Dolly Parton's program in Oakfield, Elba, Pavilion and Pembroke.

(Previous Coverage) To sign a child up get free books visit the library or apply on line

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April 27, 2016 - 4:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, fire, news.

From Patrick S. Privatera, president of Le Roy Physical Therapy:

I'm writing to give you an update on our incident this morning. There was a small electrical fire which was sparked by a bird which had built a nest inside an outdoor electrical box housing our service connections. Humphrey Electric is on scene currently making repairs, but Le Roy PT, Village Fitness, and Dollar General will be closed the rest of the day until power can be restored.

We expect to reopen by mid-morning tomorrow. Despite the inconvenience, there were no injuries and things could have been much worse. We're very grateful to Le Roy, Stafford, Pavilion, and Bergen‎ Fire Depts and the Le Roy Police Deptartment for their assistance.  

Previously: Smoke coming from back room at Le Roy's Dollar General store

April 27, 2016 - 4:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia city schools, news.

Not only does the Batavia City School District's proposed 2016-17 budget have no tax increase, the average homeowner can expect a decrease in the tax levy.

The good news doesn't stop there.

Come October, homeowners can expect a property tax rebate check in the mail from the state.

"I think it's pretty impressive that the tax rate is flat and that the average homeowner can expect a tax reduction," said Superintendent Chris Dailey, "because of the district's efficiency."

The district is saving taxpayers' money and planning program enhancements, Dailey said.

The spending plan totals $44,366,439.

It is because the district is keeping the tax levy below the tax cap (up to 1.48 is allowable with a simple majority vote; more requires a super-majority vote), that homeowners are once again eligible for a State property tax rebate, to be mailed directly to them this fall from NYS.

Adopted budgeted expenses for the upcoming academic year, and the corresponding percentages of the budget, are:

  • General Support -- $5,5333,723  (12.5 percent)
  • Instructional Support -- $26,092,772  (58.8 percent)
  • Transportation -- $1,817,170  (4.1 percent)
  • Employee Benefits -- $10,517,772  (23.7 percent)
  • Interfund Transfers -- $405,000  (0.9 percent)

Overall, expenditures are up 2.9 percent over last year, primarily due to increases in the cost of employee benefits and the need to replace some equipment which has been postponed for a number of years, Dailey said.

Payroll expenses have gone up slightly each year -- .39 percent -- over the last nine fiscal years through 2014-15, an average of $71,413 annually districtwide.

To save money, the district shares a number of services with other area districts. These positions are a curriculum coordinator, ESL Services, Athletics, and a Nutritional Services director. Althogether, the savings from shared services are in the six figures annually, Dailey said, noting that whenever sharing is feasible to do "it's always a good thing."

Proposed enhancements to programs for 2016-17 include the following:

  • One Jackson School Reading/Math AIS teacher
  • One John Kennedy School elementary teacher
  • One high school Math teacher
  • One John Kennedy School Computer Skils/AIS Math teacher
  • One (part-time to full-time) high school/middle school Art teacher
  • Four Jackson/Kennedy teacher aides
  • One high school Security aide
  • One Jackson buildings and grounds cleaner
  • One middle school date processing clerk
  • One district Instructional Teachnology coordinator
  • One-to-World Chromebooks, grades 5-12
  • Recordex Interactive Monitors
  • $100,000 NYS aidable Capital Outlay Project for middle school cost-efficient lighting upgrades

City schools spend less per pupil when compared to schools statewide. The total average expenditure per pupil in Batavia is $19,207, according to the district's budget synopsis, compared to a statewide average of $21,812.

As a matter of standard practice, the district continues to pursue alternative funding sources. These include renting space at the vacant Robert Morris School.

"It's at 60 percent (rental) capacity, which pays for the custodian and the utilities, easily, and it turns a profit for the district, which is pretty unique," Daily said. "We are negotiating with several parties and expect to announce some deals soon."

Also, the newly formed Batavia City School District Foundation enables donors to receive a tax deduction for contributions while creating an alternative funding source for the district.

The district also competes annually for state and federal grants -- anticipated at $2.5 million for 2016-17. Some grant money is available because 54 percent of the district's students qualify for free and reduced-priced lunches.

The grant money contributes to targeted programs to improve learning for disadvantaged students, to supplement professional development and provide universal Pre-K, which "helps 75 percent of incoming kindergarteners to get a jump on school success."

The proposed budget calls for using just over $2 million from the Unemployment Insurance Reserve, surplus Fund Balance, the Employee Benefits Accrued Liability Reserve, Repair Reserve and the NYS Employee Retirement Reserve.

"New York State encourages school districts to spend down their reserves," Dailey said. "We use our savings to help out."

The proposed budget is on the ballot on Tuesday, May 17, along with three vacancies on the Board of Education. Voting will take place between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Residents north of Route 5 (Main Street) vote at Robert Morris School building, 80 Union St.; residents south of Route 5, vote at Batavia High School, 260 State St. If you need clarification of where to vote, please check the street-by-street guide on the district's Web site or call the Business Office at 343-2480, ext. 1002.

April 27, 2016 - 3:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, Jacquetta Simmons.

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After being among Batavia's wanted for 18 months, Jacquetta Simmons, 30, appeared in court today following her arrest in Rochester last night, to answer to a charge of harassment 2nd.

Simmons, out of jail on $300 bail, asked for an adjournment of her case because on short notice, her attorney, Ann Nichols, could not appear in Batavia today.

The case was docked for May 25. 

In the meantime, Judge Durin Rogers issued an order of protection, which Simmons signed, barring her from any contact with the alleged victim in the harassment case, a 54-year-old woman.

Simmons was allegedly in an altercation of some sort with the woman back in October during a meeting at the YWCA. A couple of weeks later, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Simmons on the harassment charge. The warrant was reported by local and regional media in January.

The former Batavia resident gained international notoriety after punching a 70-year-old Walmart cashier on Christmas Eve, 2011. In August, 2012, Simmons was found guilty of assault in the second degree by a jury and later sentenced to five years in state prison. The sentence was later ruled too harsh by an appeals court and Simmons was resentenced to one year in jail.

Also in City Court today, 54-year-old Darlene M. Callan, charged with arson, 3rd, for allegedly starting a fire inside her home Monday at 189 South Main St., Batavia. Callan is being held on $25,000 bail and her attorney asked for her to be released under supervision given her lack of criminal record and ties to the community. Citing a low score on a bail review worksheet and concerns over recent substance use issues, Rogers declined to reduce the bail.

April 27, 2016 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, batavia, news.

A person was reportedly outside his vehicle at John Kennedy School when another vehicle struck it, causing the man's vehicle to strike him.

The man reportedly suffered a minor injury.

City fire and Mercy EMS responding.

April 27, 2016 - 2:18pm

Genesee County Master Gardeners will be hosting their annual Spring Garden Gala from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, 420 E. Main St. in Batavia.

There will be a plant sale featuring many kinds of perennials, house plants, geraniums and also a Basket Auction. Bring in a soil sample from your garden for free soil pH testing. Master Gardeners will be available to answer your gardening questions.

There will be a Container Garden Demonstration at 11 a.m. Find out how to create and take care of an herb container garden. Interested in helping out native bees? At 11:30 a.m., learn how to create a simple, easy to make bee house.

Don’t miss your chance to pick up some great plants (most grown by Master Gardeners), garden art and other interesting items for your garden. Plant sale starts promptly at 10 a.m. No early birds please. Basket Auction drawing starts at 12:30 p.m.

For more information contact Brandie Schultz at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County, (585) 343-3040, ext. 101, stop by the Extension office at 420 E. Main St. in Batavia.

April 27, 2016 - 12:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, Le Roy, news.

Shawn Thomas Rushok, 17, of Church Road, Le Roy, is charged with first degree criminal sexual act. He was arrested on April 26 for allegedly engaging in oral sexual conduct in the afternoon of July 20 with a person less than 11 years old. He was arraigned by Town of Le Roy Justice Welsh and released under supervision of Genesee Justice. The case was investigated by Sheriff's Deputy Timothy Wescott, assisted by Deputy John Dehm.

Brian K. Dyer, 49, of North Street, Batavia, is charged with third-degree assault, third-degree menacing, and criminal obstruction of breathing. He was arrested at 12:14 a.m. on April 23 as the result of an investigation into a domestic incident that occurred at a North Street residence a short time earlier. He was put in jail on $2,500 bail and was to be in court on April 25. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Eric Foels, assisted by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Ryan James Wetsell, 22, of Walden Creek Drive, Batavia, is charged with criminal obstruction of breathing and second-degree harassment. He was arrested at 5:30 p.m. on April 21 following an altercation with another male in the area of 335 Bank St., Northside Meadows Apartments in Batavia. It is alleged that Wetsell went after another male at that location, striking him several times and then attempting to choke him. He was issued an appearance ticket for City Court on May 3. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Chad Richards, assisted by Officer Marc Lawrence.

Timothy Jerome Stump, 44, of Montclair Avenue, is charged with: obstructed view; broken windshield; aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree -- having a prior driving while intoxicated conviction; felony common law DWI; and felony DWI with a BAC of .08 percent or more. Stump was arrested at 5:51 p.m. on April 22 following a traffic stop on Porter Avenue. He was allegedly found to be operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and doing so on a suspended NY driver's license. He was to appear in City Court April 25. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Mitchell Cowen.

Rebecca N. Bethune, 27, of Pringle Avenue, Batavia, is charged with trespass and illegal disposal of items. The charges stem from a complaint in which Bethune was alleged to have disposed of a mattress at 679 E. Main St., the Batavia Gardens Apartments, leaving the item against a dumpster at that location at 3 p.m. on April 21. She is not a resident of the complex. She was issued an appearance ticket for City Court on May 3. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Chad Richards.

Patrick A. Dudley, 18, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal possession of marijuana, 5th. Batavia police conducted a traffic stop at about 12:30 a.m. on April 24 and Dudley was a passenger in the vehicle. During the course of the traffic stop, police allegedly disovered 28 grams of marijuana on Dudley's person. He was subsequently arrested and released with an appearance ticket for May 10 in City Court. The case was handled by Batavia Police Officer Arick Perkins, assisted by Officer Matthew Wojtaszczyk.

April 27, 2016 - 11:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, crime, batavia, news.

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    Darlene M. Callan

A 54-year-old South Main Street woman has been charged with arson in the third degree for allegedly setting a fire in a bedroom of her home around 5 p.m., Monday.

The bedroom had fire and smoke damage but city firefighters were able to put the blaze out before it spread.

Interim Fire Chief Dan Herberger said that the actual cause of the fire cannot be released yet because it's still under investigation. 

City fire was dispatched after a woman ran to a neighbor's house and said her bedroom was on fire.

After an investigation, it was determined the only person at home at 189 S. Main St. was Darlene M. Callan and police say evidence indicates she started the fire.

Several subjects at the scene were interviewed, police say.

Callan was held on $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond.

The investigation was conducted by Officer Jamie Givens, Sgt. Dan Coffey, Det. Kevin Czora and Capt. Craig Williams.

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April 27, 2016 - 11:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jacquetta Simmons, crime, batavia, news.
 Jacquetta Simmons

More than a year after a warrant was first issued for her arrest, Jacquetta Bernadine Simmons, who first made international news after punching a Walmart cashier on Christmas Eve in 2011, is back in custody.

Simmons was picked up by Rochester PD last night and turned over to Batavia PD on a warrant for an alleged incident at a church meeting in Batavia in October, 2014.

The warrant was issued Oct. 20, 2014, but information wasn't released until January. 

Simmons, 30, allegedly made some sort of physical contact with a 54-year-old woman.

She is charged with second-degree harassment.

The meeting reportedly involved church members at a business meeting being held at the YWCA, 301 North St., Batavia.

Simmons was convicted in August 2012 of assaulting a 70-year-old cashier at Walmart and later sentenced to five years in prison, but that sentence was later overturned on appeals and she was given a year in jail. She was also ordered to pay restitution, which became the subject of several court appearances as she appealed the amount and sought modifications to the payment plan.

Simmons, held on $300 bail, is scheduled to appear in City Court at 1 p.m. today to answer to the harassment charge.

April 27, 2016 - 10:07am
posted by Billie Owens in fire, Le Roy.

Smoke is coming from the back room of the Dollar General store in Le Roy. Le Roy fire and Bergen's ladder truck are responding to the possible structure fire at 3 West Ave. A store employee told the dispatcher that last night electrical work was done in the back room and now there's smoke coming from it. They are blocking the road at West Avenue.

UPDATE 10:08 a.m.: A first responder on scene reports light haze inside the building.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m.: Stafford can respond non-emergency.

UPDATE 10:26 a.m.: Code enforcement requested to the scene.

UPDATE 11:37 a.m.: Le Roy fire has remained on scene, though in service for other calls if needed. A chief now requests law enforcement to the scene.

UPDATE 11:49 a.m.: A coordinator for Emergency Services is requested to the scene.

April 27, 2016 - 7:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, thruway, pembroke.

A rollover accident is reported on the Thruway, westbound lane, near mile marker 402.4, Pembroke.

There is a person unable to get out of the vehicle, but uninjured.

Pembroke fire and Indian Falls fire dispatched along with Mercy EMS.

UPDATE 7:19 a.m.: There are two vehicles involved. Two people involved. Both uninjured, up and walking around.

UPDATE 7:41 a.m.: A second accident is reported in the westbound lane, about 100 yards west of Exit 48. Initially, no Mercy EMS unit was available to respond, so Darien was going to be dispatched, but a Mercy unit cleared another call and is now responding. Both patients at the first accident were sign-offs, so now that ambulance is available. Pembroke and Indian Falls are also handling the second accident.

UPDATE 7:49 a.m.: Make that 100 yards east of the interchange (probably our mistake). Responders haven't located the accident, but a dispatcher says that a trooper is out with the accident and there was airbag deployment.

UPDATE 8 a.m.: Responding units were on location almost immediately after last update.

UPDATE 8:05 a.m.: All patients at second accident will be sign-offs.

April 26, 2016 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Joe Gerace, Genesee Cancer Assistance, batavia, news, charity.

Throughout his life, Joe Gerace has helped so many people in our community, and now it's our turn to help him, but he doesn't look at it that way.

"I'm a little humble," Gerace said. "I'm humble because I'm not looking for somebody to pay me back. I've done everything from my heart, and, yeah, now it is payback time, but I'm not looking for it that way. I'm not that way."

Gerace was diagnosed earlier this month with lung cancer and bone cancer, at the same time, he also suffered a broken femur. He's currently staying at the State Veterans Home but plans on attending his annual spaghetti dinner Thursday in Stafford, which is a fundraiser for Genesee Cancer Assistance, a local organization he's worked tirelessly for since 1995.

"I'm looking forward to going to my spaghetti dinner Thursday," Gerace said. "I'm not going to get to put my hands in the sauce. I'd like to, but they all know what to do. I gave them all instructions."

He thinks just being there is important, not for him, but for others who need the support.

"I did it for 20 years and I want to be there to root other people on," said Gerace, who is 80. "I'm not the only guy who has cancer. There's a lot of people out there. I don't want no one to feel sorry for me because I'm going to fight this. I'm going to fight it."

Gerace has been deeply involved in our community for decades. He was the first person selected for the Italian-American of the Year Award at Batavia Downs in 2008. That year he was also Humanitarian of the Year for United Memorial Medical Center and the Jerome Foundation. In 2006, he was named City of Batavia Volunteer of the Year and Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Genessean of the Year in 1993 and was honored for his community service by the Paolo Busti Foundation Scholarship Committee.

He has long been active in Rotary and Knights of Columbus. He's a former president of the Batavia Youth Bureau, co-chair of the Genesee County Cancer Society's Festival of Hope and a director of the Genesee County Baseball Club (co-owners of the Batavia Muckdogs).

"I've got the urge to help," said Gerace, who served in the Army from 1957-59. "I call myself a public servant for Christ. I'm not a very religious guy, but I believe in God."

For two decades he's devoted a lot of time and effort helping people afflicted with cancer, but he never had it himself until now.

"It's so easy to tell somebody, you're going to be OK," Gerace said. "Well, you know, you experience it and then you'll know what they're going through. It's not only the cancer. It's the treatments. It knocks the heck out of you. It makes you tired. I want to go faster, but they slow me down, my wife slows me down all the time."

Gerace has received hundreds of get-well cards and countless bouquets of flowers over the past couple of weeks. He knows hundreds of people are praying for him and he says his own prayer every time he goes into treatment. 

"I say, 'dear God, those people prayed for me. Please answer their prayers.' "

He vows to beat cancer.

He said the other day he was doing a little religious reading and came across the story of a woman who got cancer and asked, "why me?"

She told people, "I have the Big C."

"Another gentleman wrote a letter," Gerace said, "and wrote her back and said, 'It's OK to have the Big C. The Big C is Christ and Christ is bigger than cancer.'

"That's what keeps me going," Gerace added. "I'm going to have a fight and I'm going to win. I will win. I've got a lot of spirit."

The dinner Thursday is from 4 to 7 p.m. Gerace vows he'll be there for at least some of the time. It's at the Stafford Fire Hall. Adults $10 (includes a 50/50 raffle ticket), children $5. Takeouts available.

April 26, 2016 - 5:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Vibrant Batavia, batavia, news, business.

Whether Vibrant Batavia gets funded in 2016-17 depends on how a resolution passed a year ago by the City Council is interpreted by the City Council this year, and that decision will wait for another meeting, this year's City Council decided last night.

A year ago, the council made 2016-17 funding contingent on Vibrant Batavia securing $15,000 from another funding source, but the available language of the resolution seems unclear whether Vibrant Batavia must already have that funding in place or if the group of volunteers must have a plan in place for raising the money before the end of the fiscal year.

City Manager Jason Molino wasn't at the meeting last night and council members would like to hear from him and to review the minutes from a year ago to help with the interpretation of the resolution.

That said, it's a resolution, so it isn't binding. If there are five votes against Vibrant Batavia, the meaning of the resolution could be moot.

When Council President Eugene Jankowski asked council members to vote on a motion to request more information from Molino, four members -- Rosemary Christian, Kathy Briggs, Al McGinnis and Paul Viele -- all voted against even getting more information before making a decision.

Councilman Brooks Hawley was not at Monday's meeting, but it's not clear that other council members would support Vibrant Batavia if came down to a binding vote.

McGinnis likened Vibrant Batavia to socialism. He thinks the government shouldn't take the initiative on what private citizens should do.

Rosemary Christian said she was promised years ago that a spray park would be built on the Southside and she wonders whatever happened to that idea, and there are sidewalks that need repaired and police cameras that should be purchased.

"We need other things more than we need Vibrant Batavia, no ifs, ands and buts about it," she said.

Jankowski said everybody agrees that Vibrant Batavia has done good work over the past three years.

"There's no debate about it," Jankowski said. "The debate is on how to fund it. That's where the split is."

While the motion failed on the 4-4 vote, it really only takes one council member to request an item be placed on a conference agenda (it takes majority approval to place an item on a business agenda), so the council will be able to take up the issue again at the next conference meeting that Molino is able to attend.

April 26, 2016 - 3:50pm

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I- Batavia) today encouraged groups that hold raffles for fundraising and charity to write letters of support to Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mt. Vernon), chair of the Assembly’s Racing and Wagering Committee, encouraging him to introduce legislation that would help groups like the Stafford Fire Department legally operate their raffles.

“It is gravely important to our end goal of bringing back the Stafford car raffle that local groups write letters to Assemblyman Pretlow urging him to introduce the legislation that I have written,” Hawley said. “This is the first step in getting legislation passed. We have to show Assembly leadership that there is intense grassroots support for this legislation and that thousands of non-profits and charitable organizations will be gravely impacted if this injustice isn’t corrected.”

Current gaming regulations do not allow charitable groups and non-profits to collect raffle fees using check or credit cards and do not allow the sale of tickets outside of the county which the event will be taking place. The Stafford Fire Dept. previously sold tickets nationwide for its annual car raffle and used the proceeds for charitable donations and to fund the department.

Letters to Assemblyman Pretlow should include information about the group’s previous raffles and what profits were used for. A copy should be sent as soon as possible to Pretlow’s Albany office, his district office and Hawley’s district office. If you have any questions please call Hawley’s office at 585-589-5780. Pretlow’s office addresses are below.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow
LOB 845
Albany, NY 12248


Assemblyman Gary Pretlow
District Office
6 Gramatan Ave.
Mt. Vernon, NY 10550

 

 

Assemblyman Steve Hawley

District Office

121 N. Main St.

Albion, NY 14411 

April 26, 2016 - 3:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in hlom, history, news, batavia.

Submitted photo and press release:

The History Heroes Summer Program for the Holland Land Office Museum was established in 2011. It was our mission to immerse children in their local history and provide them with a foundation to understand how their hometowns fit into their history.

In four years, the History Heroes Summer Program has evolved into an experience where the youth of Genesee County can explore their roots and prepare for their futures as educated young citizens. 

The theme for the 2016 History Heroes Summer Program is Carnival Days at the museum. This year the children will work together to create a Penny Carnival. The program ends with the carnival and a multimedia musical production showcasing our local history with the children taking on the persona of a famous Batavian.

Each day of the summer program is packed with exciting and educational activities, field trips, games, crafts, and more! The program begins on Tuesday, July 19th and runs for eight days, ending on Friday, July 29th. The cost for the program is $25 a day for non-members and $20 a day for museum members. The program is open to children ages 7-12.

The program is staffed by Jeffrey Fischer, interim director for the Holland Land Office Museum, and Anne Marie Starowitz, a former elementary teacher, along with a certified art and music teacher, a profession photographer, along with volunteers from the community.

Please call the museum at 343-4727 for more information and to save a place for your child.

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