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December 11, 2013 - 8:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

Here are some of the snow pictures we received in response to our request to see what it looks like in Genesee County today.

We also got a couple of pictures from Wyoming County and since they got hit a little bit harder, I thought we'd include those (the bottom two pictures).

Top photo submitted by Jessica Radam.

After just a couple of minutes outside, Julie Ingalls' dog was snow covered.

Submitted by Mat Fenton.

Submitted by Angela.

Submitted by Sam Tambe, from Attica.

Submitted by Nora O'Neill from Orangeville.

December 11, 2013 - 5:18pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in batavia city schools.

According to Batavia City School Superintendent Christopher Dailey, John Kennedy Intermediate School will be closed tomorrow, Thursday Dec. 12, due to power issues.

Jackson School, Batavia Middle School, and Batavia High School will all be open.

December 11, 2013 - 3:42pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in accident, Darien, power outage.

Route 77 at Route 20 is closed because a power outage caused by an accident has disabled the stop lights.

No one is injured, but there's no power in that area.

The vehicle apparently slid off the road and hit a meter box. National Grid has been notified.

UPDATE 3:54 p.m.: Darien fire says the meter box has power, but will have to be turned off so the DOT can fix the stop lights.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.: Darien fire is back in service and law enforcement is at the intersection.

UPDATE 7:09 p.m.: Law enforcement on scene says the DOT may not be able to complete all the repairs to get the signal lights working again. They are requesting portable stop signs for the night.

December 11, 2013 - 1:58pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in accident, Pavilion.

The Pavilion Fire Department is responding to an incident on Peoria Road at Wallace Road in the Town of Covington where a truck driver was found down in the road.

The truck driver is unresponsive and an off-duty EMT from Perry was attempting to perform CPR, but the truck driver continues to be unresponsive.

It is unclear if the driver was run over by a vehicle backing out of a driveway or if he suffered a medical issue and collapsed.

Emergency responders have been to told to slow down and there is nothing they can do at this point.

State Police out of Warsaw are responding.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m.: According to the Wyoming County Sheriff Department, a passerby stopped to help a tractor-trailer driver at Big Tree Road and Wallace Road as he was not able to make the turn and became stuck at the intersection.

The passerby, while helping the truck driver, had a medical emergency and died at the scene.

Pavilion Fire Department went back into service at 3:10 p.m.

December 11, 2013 - 10:45am
posted by Bonnie Marrocco in Backyard Chicken Farming, Urban Agriculture.

A homegrown urban agriculture movement has gained momentum in recent years, as evidenced by the growing number of books and Web sites dedicated to the subject. Raising backyard chickens has caught on in big cities and small towns across the nation.

Often inspired by the expanding campaign to buy locally produced food, “locavores” hope to avoid the carbon emissions and energy consumption that come with transporting food.

The production cost is cheap: you can buy chickens for as little as a couple of dollars, and three hens will likely average about two eggs a day. Their waste provides good nutrients for garden soil, too.

Batavia residents Charley and Connie Boyd are vegetarians who have embraced the backyard chicken movement for the eggs, as well as to reconnect with nature.

“It’s nice to be able to raise chickens humanely and get fresh eggs in return,” Connie said. “We consider them to be our pets -- they all have names ( Ripley, LeeLoo and Tamcyn) and we never intend on eating them.”

The Boyds also like consuming products that come from cage-free and hormone-free chickens. The eggs from home-raised chickens are said to be tastier and can have stronger shells, brighter, richer yolks and higher levels of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids than their commercially raised counterparts.

“Chickens are fun, they have a lot of personality. Sometimes we just sit in the backyard and enjoy watching them. They're really easy pets and they actually produce something in return,” Charley said.

They don’t have a lot of land behind their Montclair Avenue home, but it’s enough to house a large chicken coop with an attached roofed pen, which allows the hens to have daily outside time. It also keeps them safe from predators and from flying away. The coop is currently winterized with tarps and in the warmer months the tarps are removed. Their neighbors, frequent recipients of eggs, don't seem to mind.

For some of these urban farmers, eggs are just the beginning. Unproductive hens are eventually slaughtered. The older a chicken is and the more exercise it gets, the more flavor and texture the meat will have. Since most commercial chickens are confined in small cages and killed when they are about 6 weeks old, their flavor is weaker than their backyard-raised peers, who may be 2 or 3 years old before they make it to the dinner table. However, age does not always mean quality: some older birds may have more flavor, but they can be gamier, with tough, stringy meat.

Andy Martin, also on Montclair Avenue, has been raising chickens for the past two years. The father of four young children built a coop over the backyard sandbox after his children mentioned that it would be fun to have chickens. 

“I went to the Tractor Supply store and bought hens,” Martin said. “It’s a hobby for our family and it teaches our kids responsibility as well.”

Although the family currently only uses the chickens for eggs, Martin hasn’t ruled out butchering the livestock for food once they stop producing.

“That’s why we haven’t named them and we don’t consider them to be pets,” Martin said.

Urban hen keepers are springing up around the country. Backyard Poultry, a magazine founded in 2006, caters to this segment of its audience with articles like “Chickens in the City.” On the Internet, thecitychicken.com offers tips to urban owners on how to keep chickens on a high-rise terrace and there are dozens of books on the subject, including Raising Chickens for Dummies.

Several cities have recently enacted ordinances regulating livestock. According to the Batavia Code Enforcement Office, the city currently does not have any ordinances or laws on raising chickens in the city. Pro-poultry people are free to start their own urban farms.


December 11, 2013 - 10:38am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education.

From The Batavian's news partner, WBTA:

The Batavia City School District has announced that Jackson Primary and John Kennedy Intermediate schools will be closed today due to power and heating issues.

Batavia Middle School and the high school are OPEN. 

The announcement was made by School Superintendent Christopher Dailey shortly before 6 a.m. this morning in a voice mail message to parents.

December 11, 2013 - 10:34am
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, concerts, Christmas, first presbyterian church.

Batavia's First Presbyterian Church will be alive with rousing holiday spirit when "Christmas with Vox, a Festival of Carols" comes around on Friday, Dec. 20.

"Vox Lumine," a professional chorus group made up of 25 members from all over Western and Central New York, is performing for the public free of charge at the church, at 300 E. Main St. in Batavia.

Ann Emmans, minister of music at First Presbyterian, says this is going to be "the church's gift to the community."

"We had ('Vox Lumine') at the church for a concert in May," Emmans said, "and it was delightful.  We thought, 'What would be more wonderful than to have them back for Christmas?' "

Costs are being covered by the church's memorial donation funds from the last few years.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and will probably run about an hour and a half, according to "Vox Lumine" first tenor Mark Ross.

A reception with Christmas cookies and punch will follow in the church's fellowship area.

The performance will feature 17 Christmas songs, including classics such as "Carol of the Bells" and "Joy to the World" and lesser know works, as well as pieces with different ethnic backgrounds (including Polish and Italian).

Emmans stressed that the music is "non-commercial" and has a "sacred character."

"It's more about the joy of the season," she said.

"(The Christmas season) is a time when people appreciate music even more than they normally do," Ross said, "because it's associated with the events of the holiday."

"Vox Lumine" was formed in March 2010 by founder and director Brandon Johnson, D.M.A, director of choral activities at Houghton College.

Ross, of Batavia, said they have done concerts as far east as Ithaca and as far west as Orchard Park.

Because members live in scattered locations (the member living at the farthest distance from Batavia is from Syracuse), Johnson sends the music to each of them individually. They will come together in two rehearsals between now and Dec. 20 to "meld" (in Emmans' words) what they have learned together. So each will quite literally bring his/her own voice to the performance.

A Houghton graduate, a member of First Presbyterian Church for 41 years and currently commissioned lay pastor at Stone Church Presbyterian in Bergen, Ross is very happy to be a part of the upcoming performance. It coincides with his retirement from New York Central Mutual Insurance, where he worked for 27 years as an insurance adjustor.

"It's a wonderful combination," he said with a smile on his face.

For more information, call the church at 343-0505 or e-mail Emmans at [email protected].

Pictured Emmans and Ross at the First Presbyterian Church sanctuary.

Top photo submitted by Mark Ross.

December 11, 2013 - 10:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, bergen.

Samuel R. Smith, 27, of Townline Road, Bergen, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Smith was allegedly involved in a motor vehicle accident at 9:22 a.m., Sunday, and his children, ages 7 months and 3, were not secured in any sort of child restraint in the back seat at the time of the collision. The arrest report did not indict whether the children were injured or not.

Amanda Ann Mull, 29, of Mill Street, Akron, was arrested on bench warrants related to charges for aggravated unlicensed operation and following too closely. Mull is accused of failure to appear on the charges. She was arrested following her release from the Erie County Jail where she was held on unrelated charges. She was arraigned in Town of Batavia court jailed on $300 cash bail or $500 bond.

December 11, 2013 - 10:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, Bethany.

A semi-truck driver hit an icy patch on Route 63 near Transit Road early Monday morning causing the truck to leave the roadway, strike a utility pole and overturn.

The driver, Benito A. Taveras Fernandez, 43, of North Bergen, was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital.

Taveras Fernandez was driving a 2004 Freightliner northbound at 3:42 a.m.

The accident was investigated by Deputy Matthew Fleming.

(Initial Report)

December 11, 2013 - 10:02am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather.

From six to nine inches of lake effect snow are expected to fall on portions of Genesee County today and a lake effect snow warning has been issued through 7 p.m.

The National Weather Services says the heaviest snow will fall south of, and along a line between, Corfu and Le Roy, meaning the bulk of the storm should stay south of Batavia.

Winds will be 15 ot 30 mph, producing blowing and drifting snow. Visibility will be as low as a quarter of a mile at times.

December 10, 2013 - 7:59pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in accident, Alabama.

The Alabama Fire Department is on scene at 5912 Knowlesville Road with a car partially submerged in the water.

The driver called 9-1-1 after the vehicle began to fill up with water after going off the road into the swamp.

Alabama fire units on scene say the victim has been extricated and other emergency personnel can come in non-emergency. The Shelby Fire Water Rescue unit will not be needed.

 

December 10, 2013 - 6:18pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in genesee county, snow.

 

The National Weather Service out of Buffalo says the heavy lake effect snow hitting Genesee County will stay over the area for at least another hour.

The band will then move south and into Wyoming County and the Southtowns.

There have been several property damage accidents throughout the county, but motorists seem to be taking it slow on the drive home tonight.

December 10, 2013 - 6:03pm

 

Farmers from three counties packed the Generation Center on Center Street in Batavia this morning to learn how they can improve their yields and be better stewards of their land.

The first ever "Soil Health Workshop" was put on by the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District and the event attracted about 60 farmers from Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Presenters talked about how to tell if your soil is healthy, disturbing your soil less, soil function and what works for you.

Molly Stetz, an AmeriCorp student intern for Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation, did an infiltration demonstration with donated soil from local farms.

Stetz says, "Many farmers do not know how to increase infiltration unless they visually see it using displays. It is an awakening for them to see how healthy their soil really is."

Farmers are always trying to increase infiltration because it causes less soil run-off into streams and creeks and there is also less compaction, which then optimizes plant roots and yield.

According to Heath Eisele of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, "Those of us in the conservation area thought this was something we needed to share with farmers. We are extremely surprised and glad to see that there is this much interest in soil health and that farmers want to treat their land better than what they are doing."

Stetz says "Farmers are looking for a way to network farmer-to-farmer and today was a good way to do that."

The Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District is hoping to have a field day event in the summer to do field demonstrations for area farmers.

To contact Gensee County Soil and Water about future workshops call 585-343-2363.

December 10, 2013 - 4:18pm

St. Joseph Catholic School will be holding an informational meeting about its new All Apostles' Society this Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in the school's cafeteria. Development Director Chad Zambito will review the school's recent fund raising activities and Principal Karen Green will provide an update on enrollment and technology.
 
 
The school has also announced that it will hold an open house at 10 a.m. on an. 26. For more information call 343-6154.
December 10, 2013 - 3:58pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in genesee county, snowfall.

According to the National Weather Service out of Buffalo, a burst of heavy lake effect snow is expected to develop in the next few hours.

Increased winds will result in some blowing and drifting snow, especially in open areas.

Snowfall rates may increase to one to two inches by early evening and travel conditions may deteriorate.

December 10, 2013 - 12:52pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in batavia, Baby Jesus found.

The Baby Jesus that was reported missing from a manger scene at All Babies Cherished yesterday has been found.

A woman who read about the missing Baby Jesus on The Batavian yesterday told her husband about the incident when he arrived home from work last evening. The woman's husband said he spotted it in a bush near a snowbank on Hutchins Street on his way home. He then went to Hutchins Street and retrieved the plastic Baby Jesus.

Tammy Arneth, executive director of All Babies Cherished, says the Batavia couple plans on returning the Baby Jesus to the nativity scene at 445 Ellicott St. on Thursday.

December 10, 2013 - 10:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, elba, Torrey Farms, Genesee County Farms.

This is the fifth in our series on Genesee County's farms and farmers. For previous stories, click here. (Obviously, I started this story in late fall and am only now publishing it. I've got one other story that I started at the same time as this and hope to finish in the next week).

When you farm 11,000 acres -- growing cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, cabbage, pumpkins, winter squash, onions, potatoes, carrots and tending milk cows -- you always have something to sell.

Whether you always have a buyer is another matter.

Each work day -- spring, summer, fall and winter -- Maureen Torrey arrives at the main office of Torrey Farms in Elba at 8 a.m. to start marketing the products grown on the farmland owned by her and her brothers John and Mark.

She talks to potential buyers not just in the Northeast, but as far away as Texas and California, trying to get the best price, and sometimes just trying to set a reasonable price, to move perishables before they spoil.

Torrey is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in journalism. She was a Cornell Extension agent for awhile then worked in merchandising for Chiquita for four years. The merchandising job gave her a taste of how she could contribute to the family farm.

"I realized I really liked the wheeling and dealing," Torrey said. "The markets are different every day. It's all by your gut. You're looking at weather patterns and what's available and what your gut is telling you. You look at whether to raise the market or lower the market and look at who's short around the country."

The roots of Torrey Farms goes back to the founding of the nation. In 1626, the Torrey family left England and settled in Connecticut. But the rocky soil of The Nutmeg State wasn't great cropland, so as pioneers moved West, so did the Torreys, looking for better farmland.

John Torrey arrived in Bethany in 1803, and while there are still Torreys farming in the Bethany area, Torrey Farms as we know it today began in 1948 when Elbert Torrey, the grandfather of Maureen, John and Mark, purchased the 375-acre Higley Farm in Elba.

Don't let the size of today's Torrey Farms fool you -- it's as much a family farm as the one with 100 acres and 40 cows. Besides the three offspring of Charles Torrey running operations today, Mark's children also work in management roles on the farm.

Jed is charge of grain crops, Travis, daily labor, Lucus, harvest and planting, Shannon, marketing and sales, Molly, human resources and Jordon in accounting and marketing.

"We're very much a hands-on operation," said Maureen, whose three daughters are all in college. Jill is at Cornell, Julie is at Florida State and former Elba Onion Queen Jamie is a freshman at the University of Arkansas.

The farm employs 80 workers throughout the four seasons and brings in as many as 220 workers for the spring through the early fall.

Most employees, as is the case in agriculture throughout the United States, are migrants and immigrants.

After the weather -- if not before -- ensuring the farm has enough labor to plant and harvest is the biggest difficulty Torrey Farms faces. Both John and Maureen agree on that point.

"More than 70 percent of all the food in this country is planted and grown by immigrants," Maureen said. "That's pretty significant. Without them, we'd be pretty hungry."

Yet, there's an endless supply of politicians in Washington -- and it's been this way since the 1980s --  seemingly intent on trying to make it as difficult as possible for farms to get the labor they need to feed Americans.

"Our biggest challenge is the labor, the immigration issue," John said. "You're always going to have the variables of the weather, but the last several years, what we're most uneasy about is immigration."

Fighting against hard-headed politicians in Washington has put Maureen Torrey on a national stage. She's testified before Congress and worked with both labor and agricultural groups trying to bring about sensible immigration reform.

It hasn't been easy.

"We're trying to get some people in Congress to stand up and be fair and do what needs to be done for the country," Maureen said. "They need to make strong decisions and stop worrying about elections. They hear from some advocacy groups, from people who are well organized and use social media and send tons of letters, but they need to look at the meat of the issue and see what it means for the country and who is doing the work and how it's getting done.

"We've always got to educate a new batch of congressmen," Maureen added.

Like just about any farmer you talk to, the Torreys have tried hiring native-born workers, but it never works out. After six hours, maybe two days, the domestic workers leave or don't come back.

The work is hard and dirty, and there are too many handouts from the government to it make worthwhile for citizens stoop and bend in farm fields.

Misinformation spread about immigrants sucking money from that same social services system is what drives border crack downs and makes it harder for farmers to bring in crops, Maureen said. People come here from Mexico to work, Torrey said, not collect welfare.

And often their wages get poured back into the local economy.

"They talk about (immigrants in) the schools, but this farm land and our housing all generate school taxes," Maureen said. "They're also the best shoppers for our retailers. Three weeks ago, 42 brand-new TVs went back on the bus to Mexico. Talk to the store owners in Albion. They love these guys. It makes their business for them."

December 10, 2013 - 8:51am
posted by Alecia Kaus in byron, chimney fire.

A possible chimney fire has been reported at 6632 E. Bird Road in Byron.

Byron, South Byron and Elba fire departments have been dispatched to the scene.

Byron fire is on location with smoke from the chimney showing.

UPDATE 8:55 a.m.: Town of Batavia fast team requested to the scene and Bergen requested to fill in at Byron's hall.

UPDATE 8:59 a.m.: Byron EMS and zoning enforcement officer requested to the scene and Town of Batavia's fast team is standing down.

UPDATE 9:41 a.m.: All Byron and South Byron units are back in service.

 

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