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June 13, 2018 - 5:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Alabama, news, notify, batavia, Grand Jury.

Winston A. Lockhart Sr. is indicted for the crime of second-degree burglary, a Class C violent felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 16 on Holland Avenue in the City of Batavia, Lockhart knowingly entered or remained unlawfully in a dwelling with the intent to commit a crime.

Ricardo Sampel Sr. is indicted for the crime of criminal contempt in the first degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on April 24 in the Town of Alabama that Sampel, in violation of a duly served order of protection, was in the presence of the protected party. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Sampel is accused of having been convicted of criminal contempt in the second degree, a Class A misdemeanor. The Special Information states the defendant was convicted on April 5 in Town of Alabama Court for violating a stay away family offense order of protection and that was within five years of the crime alleged in the current indictment.

Matthew D. Grant is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 10 in the Town of Batavia, the defendant drove a 2017 GMC bearing an Ontario, Canada, license plate on the Thruway while intoxicated. In count two, he is accused of DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for having a BAC of .08 or more at the time. In count three, Grant is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, another Class E felony. In count three, it is alleged that Grant knew or had reason to know that his driver's license was suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by authorities and he was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a drug. In count four, he is accused of consuming alcoholic beverages in a motor vehicle, a vehicle and traffic violation, and he allegedly did so while on a public highway. In count five, he is accused of moving from lane unsafely, a vehicle and traffic violation. In count six, Grant is accused of leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, another vehicle and traffic violation. It is alleged in count six that he drove the GMC and had cause to know that he damaged property -- a 2015 Ram truck belonging to another person -- and he allegedly failed to stop, and when no police officer was in the vicinity of the accident, he failed to report the incident as soon as physically able to do so at the nearest police station. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Grant is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on Jan. 10 in Town of Henrietta Court and that conviction was within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

June 13, 2018 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

Members of the City Council responded favorably Monday night to a proposal by Police Chief Shawn Heubusch to purchase four additional cameras to mount in local neighborhoods that are sometimes trouble spots.

Such a camera may have produced vital evidence in a murder and shooting case on Central Avenue last month and Huebusch said the one camera the department owns has proven popular with residents wherever it's mounted.

"We've received a lot of positive feedback around the camera," Heubusch said.

City Council had already approved $3,300 for a second camera but after the Central Avenue incident and a community meeting in Kathy Briggs' ward two weeks ago, support has grown for additional cameras.

"I support the chief on this because this is a quality-of-life issue," Briggs said. "People need to feel safe in their neighborhoods."

With five cameras, the cameras will be mounted in more neighborhoods but they're also easy to move; a process, he said, that requires a bucket truck and a couple of the city's DPW workers and a couple of hours time.

While the cameras are not monitored all day every day, they do record events if evidence is needed and they act as a deterrent, the chief said. They also provide some peace of mind to residents who want quieter neighborhoods.

Heubusch had already sought estimates from three different vendors to supply the cameras and is now asking the council to approve purchasing four at $5,000 to $8,000 each.

The total request is for $28,000 -- the $3,300 already in the budget, about $5,000 from drug asset forfeiture funds, and $20,000 from the dedicated reserve fund.

The council will be asked to vote on a resolution approving the expenditure at its next business meeting.

"I don't care where we have to get this money but we have to get it for these cameras," said Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian.

June 13, 2018 - 5:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia PD, news, notify, batavia.

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Adding a heavily armored vehicle to Batavia PD's fleet of vehicles isn't about taking on a more military appearance, said Chief Shawn Heubusch. It's about saving lives. Even just one life. And at a price the city can afford: free.

Heubusch is preparing a proposal for the City Council so the police department can request a decommissioned, heavily armored vehicle from the U.S. military known as an MRAP, which stands for Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected.

"Do we need a military vehicle?" Heubusch said. "No. We need a Lenco Bearcat. We can’t afford a Lenco Bearcat so what we’re asking for is permission to go and ask a decommissioned MRAP to keep our guys out of harm's way when they enter a hostile situation."

The armor can stop penetration by a .50-caliber round and withstand heavy explosives.

"It’s not the military vehicle necessarily that we need," Heubusch said. "What we need is the ballistic protection."

Law enforcement agencies across the country are lining up for these vehicles as the military takes them out of service and gives them for free to law enforcement agencies and even fire departments.

A Lenco Bearcat costs $250,000. The MRAP is free. It can also do something the Lenco Bearcat can't do: drive into high water to assist in rescues.

"Are we getting shot at every day? Absolutely not," Heubusch said. "But the cost of these vehicles compared to the cost of someone’s life is incomparable."

The vehicle would be used by the county's Emergency Response Team, which is headquartered at Batavia PD. Heubusch discussed the idea briefly with the City Council at Monday's meeting and in response to questions said maintenance of the vehicle would be comparable to a snow plow or dump truck and that while no special license is required for a police officer to drive it, there is a recommended instruction course for drivers of the  vehicle.

He'll bring forward a formal proposal for the city to submit an application for the vehicle at a future council meeting.

Heubusch acknowledged that some people might view obtaining such a vehicle as "militarization of civilian police" and he understands the optics of it but said that is a secondary concern.

"We certainly understand that aspect of it, but the brass tacks of it is, if it can save a life, it can save a life," Heubusch said. "I don’t care what it looks like, nor should anyone else if there’s an active shooter in your neighborhood and we need to get you out of your house so no one is injured in your home."

He added, "we’re not going to be patrolling in this vehicle. It’s not an offensive vehicle that is going to have gun turrets mounted on it or anything like that by any estimation. It’s vehicle that would be used, again, as a rescue vehicle, whether it’s to rescue a police officer or civilians from a hostile situation or a natural disaster."

June 13, 2018 - 5:12pm

Above is Ethan Hutchins, a 2018 Holowach Scholarship winner, with Julie Donlon, GVEP assistant superintendent.

Submitted photo and press release from the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership:

Le Roy -- Since 1988, the Gary Hammond Golf Tournament has helped to raise funds for the Holowach Memorial Scholarship Fund. To date, more than $112,000 in scholarships have been awarded.

Holowach Scholarships are given annually to assist outstanding career and technical education students with college expenses. The selection process includes written application, teacher recommendations, and a personal interview with the selection committee. Selection criteria includes citizenship, financial need, dedication to and achievement in his/her chosen field.

The Holowach Memorial Scholarship Fund is named for Charles “Chuck” Holowach, Ed.D., who served as the District Superintendent of Livingston-Steuben Wyoming Board of Cooperative Educational Services from March 1982 until his untimely death in December 1988.

The golf tournament is named in honor of Gary Hammond, a retired assistant superintendent for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, who served the district for 16 years.

This year’s Genesee County Holowach Scholarship recipients are noted below.

$2,000 -- Batavia CTE Center

Ethan Hutchins is a Health Careers Academy student from Notre Dame who will attend St. John Fisher’s Nursing program. Ethan is a member of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), 4H, and prom committee at his school.

Ethan is also a member of the Notre Dame chorus, and is HOSA Vice President for his class, and secretary for his class at school. He has received numerous awards including Breakfast of Champions, Most Improved-Volleyball, and Scholar Athlete.

$1,500 -- Batavia CTE Center

Paige Perry is from Attica Central Schools and a student in the Health Careers Academy Program. In the fall, she is set to attend Niagara University where she will major in Biology. At her home school, Paige is involved in many activities including Student Government, 4-H, Envirothon, Soccer, Track, Ski Club, Pulse Academy, We Care Club, and Spanish Club. She is a member of National Honor Society and President of the Ski Club.

$1,000 -- Batavia CTE Center

Kim Davis is a Health Careers Academy student from Pavilion Central Schools. She plans to attend Nazareth College and major in Physical Therapy. Kim is active in many sports, clubs, and activities at her home school including soccer, basketball, track, and Girls Service League.

She is a member of National Honor Society, serves as Student Government Class Treasurer, and also serves on Youth Court. dKim has earned many awards and much recognition including Honor Roll, Scholar Athlete, Music Award, MVP-Basketball Tournament, Coaches Award, and the Livingston County Athletic Association All-Star Award.

###

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, based in Le Roy, operates as a Board of Cooperative Educational Services offering shared programs and services to 22 component school districts located in Genesee, Wyoming, Livingston and Steuben counties in New York State.

June 13, 2018 - 4:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in GLOW YMCA, batavia, news, charity, Strong Communities Campaign.

Press release:

The GLOW YMCA on Tuesday announced a second year of record-breaking support as they raised just over $106,000 in its annual Strong Communities Campaign, exceeding a $104,000 association goal.

“We had so much incredible support," said Rob Walker, CEO of the GLOW YMCA. "We couldn’t have done it without our volunteers, members, vendors, staff and community supporters. I would like to publically thank the 559 contributors that helped us exceed our goal."

Walker offered special thanks to Joseph Bellardo, Elizabeth Skakowski, Lance Mark, Wayne Purdy and Christopher White, all of whom volunteered their time, treasure and efforts to lead this year’s campaign.

The Genesee Branch specifically raised $45,113 or 101percent of its 2018 goal. With 85 new donors and 194 renewed donations we had 279 very generous donors help us to achieve this year’s campaign record.

The money raised helps the YMCA meet its charitable mission by offering scholarship support to children, families and seniors in our community that otherwise could not afford to experience the many benefits of the YMCA.

“The Genesee County YMCA is dedicated to identifying the needs of our community and helping to be a part of the solution,” said Jeff Townsend, YMCA executive director. “In 2017 we supported over 650 children, adults, families and seniors with YMCA scholarship assistance.

"So far in 2018, we are on target to help over 700 individuals and families in our community.”

As a leading nonprofit for strengthening community, gifts made to the annual Strong Communities Campaign help the Y advance programming and services that support youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. More importantly, 100 percent of gifts made will make a direct impact on the residents in our communities.

To find out more about how you can help volunteer for the Annual Campaign at the Y or to make a donation that will have a meaningful, enduring impact right in your own community, visit www.glowymca.org or call the GLOW YMCA at 344-1664.

June 13, 2018 - 4:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in weather, genesee county, news.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 11 p.m. in Genesee County, and other portions of Western New York, according to the National Weather Service.

June 13, 2018 - 4:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, news, batavia.

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Reader John Michaels submitted this photo of a tree down at the Terrace Apartments.

June 13, 2018 - 4:25pm
posted by Billie Owens in corfu, girl scouts, troop 42025, news, Milestones.

Submitted photos and information from Julie Beach, leader of Girl Scout Troop 42025, Corfu, and Lyndsey Schneider:
 
Corfu Girl Scout Troop 42025 completed its Bronze Award Project, the highest honor a Junior Girl Scout can achieve. They made fun, colorful "Lily Pads" -- a skateboard-like device -- for use at the base of IV poles at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute's Pediatric Center in Buffalo.
 
These are handmade, custom-made bases that fit securely on the bases of the IV pole, to be used by children undergoing treatments and in a weakened condition; they are able to ride on their IV pole accompanied by an adult.
 
For the "Lily Pad Project," the girls planned, wrote letters, then used multiple power tools to create, design and paint six wooden lily pads and build a rolling cart used to store and transport them.
 
They got the idea after learning on the Today show about a Seattle-area teenager named Nick Konkler who had battled leukemia since age 4. Nick was the first to design and create IV pole platforms after seeing a little girl in Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital struggling to manuever around with her IV pole.
 
According to the Today show, his plan was to use time in his shop class at Auburn Riverside High School to build one for every child at the hospital. But he never got the chance; he died in 2015 at age 17.
 
Once they agreed this was the Bronze Award Project they wanted to pursue, the Girls Scouts of Troop 42025 started the process by writing letters to local lumberyards and home centers, requesting donations to help offset the cost of constructing the lily pads.
 
A prototype lily pad was created and tested on the IV poles at Roswell Park’s Pediatric Center, and after some modifications to the prototype the troop was finally set to begin creating the lily pads.
 
Each girl in the troop had a hand in creating the lily pads from start to finish. They used woodworking tools to cut, router, fill and sand each lily pad and the storage box. It was the first time many of them had a chance to use power tools.
 
With such a large troop it was decided to create a reversible lily pad with a different design on each side, allowing each girl an opportunity to layout the design and paint.
 
Designs include: Captain America/Buffalo Bills, Emoji/Minion, SpongeBob SquarePants /Snoopy, Cupcake/Girl Scout Cookie, Dalmatian/Ladybug, Basketball/Soccer Ball were picked by the girls and traced onto each lily pad and then handpainted.
 
While it took much longer than expected to complete this project -- a year and a half -- and the troop far exceeded the requirements for the Bronze Award, the results were far beyond anyone’s expectations. The girls, now mostly fifth and sixth-graders, did an amazing job working together to create beautiful lily pads for the children at the hospital. 
 
They worked hand-in-hand with Roswell Park staff to ensure all necessary steps were taken to ensure their lily pads would be totally functional and safe for children to ride upon to and from there treatments. 
 
On one side of the cart it says "Please use a Lily pad to ride in style. Made with Love by Girl Scout Troop 42025." The other side of the cart names the troop responsible for this creative feat intended to brighten the day of a sick child, noting it was their Bronze Award Project.
 
The lily pads and rolling storage cart were presented at Roswell Park Cancer Institute yesterday (June 12) by the troop and its leader, Julie Beach.
 
The Girls Scouts from Troop 42025 in Corfu who received the Bronze Award are:
  • Hannah Beach
  • Reagan Schneider
  • Lilly Senko
  • Bryonna Bisig
  • Kylie Monette
  • Paige Bryant
  • Makenzie Rich
  • Elle Peterson
  • Olivia Peterson
  • Ashley Johnson
  • Savannah Meyer
  • Sienna Korytkowski
  • Autumn Korytkowski
  • Dianna Kutter
  • Allie Spaulding
  • Kaydence Butler
  • Madison Chatley

Below is a series of submitted photos showing the progress of their project.

June 13, 2018 - 3:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

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A reader reports this bicycle was stolen from his father about 1 p.m. yesterday. It was parked in front of the laundry on Ellicott Street in Batavia.

If found, spotted or you have information to help lead to its recovery, call Batavia PD at (585) 345-6350.

June 13, 2018 - 3:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in politics, steve hawley, news.

Press release:

As the result of years of inaction by the Cuomo administration to clean up Albany’s widespread bid-rigging and pay-to-play paradigm, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is making a late push for legislation that would provide greater accountability, transparency and safeguarding into the state’s economic development spending.

“New York no longer offers fair opportunity for the best, brightest and hardest working, as state leaders only offer opportunities and favoritism to whoever can satisfy their itching palm,” Hawley said.

Following a press conference held by Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I,Ref-Canandaigua), Hawley and a host of his Assembly Republican colleagues are blasting the state’s corrupt programs like START-UP NY and the illegal I Love NY signs and arguing that strict auditing, deadlines and oversight must accompany any further spending in these initiatives.

“It has become abundantly clear in New York that in order to do business with the state, you have to know someone, be politically connected or make a large campaign contribution,” Hawley continued.

“This is taxpayer money that belongs to our hardworking families, and I am calling for an immediate cease, audit and analysis of all state economic development spending to ensure that state leaders are playing by the rules.”

Assemblyman Hawley represents the 139th District, which consists of Genesee, Orleans and parts of Monroe County. For more information, please visit Assemblyman Hawley’s official website.

June 13, 2018 - 2:08pm
posted by Billie Owens in rabies, Genesee County Health Department.

Press release from the GC Health Department:

Springtime is a perfect time to remind everyone about how dangerous rabies can be and what you can do to prevent exposure to you, your family and your pets.

Rabies is an infectious viral disease that can be fatal once symptoms (signs) show up. Rabies is a central nervous system disease, which attacks the brain and causes death. Rabies can be spread through bites, scratches, and saliva.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that each year, the majority of rabies cases occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Though those are the most commonly reported animals with rabies, all mammals; including humans can be infected.

Therefore, it is recommended that pet owners and livestock owners get their animals vaccinated for rabies. In New York State, cats are the most often diagnosed domestic animals.

Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, reported that so far in 2018 there have been a total of 19 animals submitted for rabies testing between the two counties and three have tested positive for the fatal disease, complete details below.

In addition to these animals, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has submitted one deer from Genesee County, which tested negative.

Genesee County -- Animals Tested for Rabies as of June 12:

Total Tested / Total Positive

  • Bat: 2 tested / 1 tested position 
  • Cat: 3 tested / 1 tested positive
  • Dog: 3 tested / 0 tested positive
  • Horse: 1 tested / 0 tested positive
  • Raccoon: 1 tested / 1 tested positive

One of the first signs of rabies in animals includes a change in the animal’s behavior.

Balduf said “Animals may become unusually aggressive, or may develop an unwarranted sense of fear or it may lose its fear of another animal. In wild animals, symptoms are as follows; affectionate or friendly, or it may attack anything in its path, due to excitable or irritable behavior. Other symptoms include staggering, convulsions, choking, foaming at the mouth and paralysis.”

Though rabies may take up to three months to fully develop, there are some early signs to look out for in humans.

These signs include fever, headache, sore throat, and unexplained tiredness. If an animal bite or scratch is not reported right after it happens, the disease can develop. The signs after development include, pain and tingling at the bite site, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), strong tightening of the muscles in the throat and paralysis starting at the infection site.

To protect yourself from rabies, people are encouraged to avoid feeding touching or adopting wild animals and stray domestic animals such as dogs and cats.

People are also encouraged to keep their pets (dogs, cats and ferrets), and livestock animals up-to-date on their rabies vaccination. Keeping a close eye on children who are playing outdoors and telling them the dangers of playing with wild or stray animals (alive or dead) is also highly recommended.

It is very important to make sure you are not attracting wildlife to your home. You can do this by making sure that your garbage cans are not accessible by wild life and you don’t leave pet food out unattended.

Anyone who has been bitten by any animal or who otherwise may have been exposed to rabies, needs to "Capture and Call." If you can do so safely, being careful to not damage the head/brain, capture the animal and call your local health department or a doctor to report the incident. Capturing the animal is vital in order for it to be tested for rabies.

Testing will confirm if the animal is infected with the virus or not, ensuring that only those who need treatment get it. In addition, make sure you clean any wounds immediately with soap and water.

(*If a bat is found in a room where there are unattended children, someone sleeping or someone who cannot speak for him/herself or your family pet, do not let the bat out of the house. To learn how to capture a bat safely, view a short video at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/ communicable/zoonoses/rabies/.)

A doctor or health department will determine if they need to be vaccinated with rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP). A person who is exposed and has never been vaccinated against rabies should get four doses of rabies vaccine — one dose right away, and additional doses on the third, seventh and 14th days.

People who have weakened immune systems may require a fifth dose of vaccine, as determined by their doctor.

The dosage and cost for an individual to be treated with RPEP depends on the individual’s weight. The cost to treat an individual for rabies is estimated to be about $3,750. Local health departments will work with the patient’s insurance company but what cannot be covered by insurance is paid out by the county, and ultimately you, the taxpayer.

Another reason it is important to love your own animals and leave the rest alone. So far in 2018, 20 individuals have been treated for RPEP in Genesee County and four people have been treated for RPEP in Orleans County. These numbers could be lower if animals were safely captured and submitted for testing.

To protect your pets from rabies, please visit our upcoming anti-rabies clinic in Genesee County:

  • Genesee County: 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 16: Genesee County Fair Grounds, 5031 E. Main Street Road, Batavia.

For information about Health Department services contact the Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html 

June 13, 2018 - 1:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in animal abuse, animal rescue, pets, news, batavia.

A dog is locked in a car with the windows up in the Walmart parking lot in Batavia. It is described as a red Honda Pilot, which is an SUV, parked in row 10. An animal control officer is responding.

June 13, 2018 - 11:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, news, FFA, agriculture.

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Press release:

On May 29, Byron-Bergen Jr./Sr. High School held their first Future Farmers of America Awards ceremony since restarting an agriculture program after an absence of almost 50 years.

The presentation honored student members and their supportive FFA parents. Certificates of Appreciation were given to many community advisors and volunteers, and district personnel.

The FFA chapter’s student officers were recognized as a cohesive leadership team who have driven the growth of the new chapter: Garrett Sando (president), Cole Carlson (vice-president), Hallie Calhoun, Isabelle Stevens, Andrew Parnapy and Seth Sharp.

Greenhand FFA degrees, for senior high school students, were given to Jacey Donahue and all six FFA officers. Garrett Sando was named the Star Greenhand for 2018. Discovery FFA degrees for Jr. High School students were given to Caleb Carlson, Madelynn Pimm, and Rachel Best. Four students received Proficiency Awards: Cole Carlson (Beef Showmanship), Sando (Employment Interview), Parnapy (Creed Speaking), and Sharp (Agricultural Sales).

The ceremony marked the end of the beginning for the Byron-Bergen agriculture program and FFA chapter. It has been an amazing year for both, with about 15 students getting involved in the hands-on approach to learning offered in the new Introduction to Agriculture Science class, along with the Living Environment class.

Students marveled at the opportunity to learn about agriculture as a science course, and to be able to explore it even more deeply through FFA.

“Students are really excited and proud to participate in FFA,” said Byron-Bergen’s Cornell Ag-certified teacher Jeff Parnapy. “They love the teamwork and leadership activities involved.

"Our kids have stepped up and taken responsibility for making the decisions and doing the work necessary for the chapter to be successful, to raise funds, and to take part in the community.

"Our group attended the recent NYS FFA Convention in Rochester and got to meet students from around the state. We’re planning to participate at the State Fair and the Genesee County Fair later this summer.”

Parnapy says the chapter will begin active competition in statewide FFA contests this fall, and take part in more state and FFA District 9 events and trips next year.

He says FFA is undergoing a renaissance, with several local school districts starting new chapters. He also credits the school’s Advisory Committee — local volunteer farmers and animal science experts — for their help and guidance.

Parnapy will be attending professional development sessions in Animal Science this summer, with the hope of offering it as an additional class in the 2019-20 school year.

"We had a great first year bringing back Ag Education and FFA for the first time in so many years,” said Jr./Sr. High School Principal Patrick McGee.

“Kudos to Mr. Parnapy and our kids for getting this back off the ground. We truly believe that this program is going to continue to grow and be a viable part of the Jr./Sr. High School."

FFA is a national organization that makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education. www.ffa.org

Top photo: Byron-Bergen’s FFA members at May’s NYS FFA Convention in Rochester. (l-r) Garrett Sando, Jacey Donahue, Isabelle Stevens, Rachel Best, Madelynn Pimm and Hallie Calhoun.

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FFA President Garrett Sando (right) with advisor and Ag teacher, Jeff Parnapy.

June 13, 2018 - 11:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in City Fire, batavia, news.

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City Council President Eugene Jankowski, right, congratulations former firefighter Jeff Stevens on his retirement after 20 years of service to the City of Batavia during Monday's City Council meeting.

Below, Councilwoman Kathy Briggs reads a proclamation from the Council recognizing Stevens for his service.

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June 13, 2018 - 10:22am

This is a transcript of an interview conducted with Catherine Huber, Ed.D., superintendent of the Alexander Central School District, on May 15. It's taken us some time to prepare the transcript for publication. It's been lightly edited for clarity.

The interview came about following publication of a story published April 25, Group of Alexander parents express frustration at how the school is handling discipline, student safety. Shortly after publication, the attorney for ACSD, Jennifer Schwartzott, e-mailed The Batavian and demanded a retraction. The Batavian did not retract the story, and the school district eventually dropped its demand for a retraction and agreed to an interview with Huber.

Context for the interview also includes the stories: Five school districts in Genesee County restrict speech for board members and NYSSBA deputy director addresses confusion about free speech rights of school board members.

Huber became superintendent of Alexander in December 2016.

THE BATAVIAN: We've heard from several parents, especially after our story a few weeks ago, who express frustration with the school district. They feel they are not being heard and they're powerless. This is more than just a few disgruntled parents. Why is this so pervasive? How did it become this way, and what changes are you making sure the parents are empowered?

CATHERINE HUBER: I just want to respond to that we listen to all concerns, questions that are brought to our attention. When I say we, I mean me, I mean teachers, building administrators, and our Board of Education. We deal with every situation that's brought to our attention and while sometimes there might not seem to be a resolution or might not be a resolution that people have all the details about does not mean that we're not responding.

TB: Is there anything you need to review that parents aren't getting -- how can you help parents feel more empowered, that they are being listened to?

CH: Do you have a specific situation that you --.

TB: Well, we're not supposed to discuss specific situations --.

CH: Correct.

TB: And, you know, there was the parents with the two meetings that had come up and then after a story posted we got so much feedback and social media emailed to me of like, "right on, finally somebody standing up for us." So, there is definitely a feeling out there that parents don't feel empowered and don't feel like they're being listened to. So, I'm wondering if there is a self-reflection of anything, anything you can do differently?

CH: I can assure you that we're always reviewing our processes and reflecting on how we conduct our business.

TB: Does it concern you to have this pop up like this?

CH: So, one of the things that is so fantastic about Alexander is that this school is the heart of the community and there is nothing like this community. This community loves its schools and there are so many outstanding things that are happening in this school every day. We have students who are successful on the stage, on the field, academically. We have community members, faculty, and staff who are engaged in all sorts of processes around the school all to make sure that people know that they have a voice in this school.

CH: One of the things that I'm most proud of, and I know that you were privy to some of this during your budget presentation last week, is that we've set up a whole system of committees. They are open to anybody -- community members, faculty, staff. We have student representatives on our committees. Some of the committees that we're working on right now, we have a capital project committee, we have members of our community, We have people from our transportation department, our administrators, our teachers, our staff, we have a student representative, who are not only talking about what we're going to be doing moving forward with our next project -- and I think you walked in through our last project, our beautiful new foyer -- but we're also talking about what's our vision for what Alexander will be in the next five or 10 years and then how our facilities can match up with that.

CH: We have community members and faculty and staff and students involved and all our hiring committees so we're about to start hiring for two of our retirements and those committees are important things that we're doing. We have our safety committee that has community members on it as well. We have a wellness committee. Again, representatives from across our community. Tim and I actually once a month meet with the mayor and the town supervisor in Alexander, again, as an opportunity to reach out to the community and to make sure that we always stay focused on the fact that this school is the heart of the community.

CH: That's what I want us to be focusing on. Our practices and the way that we communicate, the way that we are available -- those are all things that as any good professional will do. We're reflecting on all the time but what I'd really love to do is to get back to the conversation about all the great things that are happening at Alexander.

TB: I appreciate that. If there is any parent out there who feels that they haven't been heard, what would you encourage them to do?

CH: I would encourage them to follow the chain of command and the chain of command would be that you start with the classroom teacher. You move to the building administrator. If you still don't feel satisfied, you would move to the superintendent. And then, as appropriate, I could refer that to the Board of Education. That's in our policy.

CH: Being heard is not the same necessarily as getting the answer that you expect. We all know that. But I can assure you that parents are heard. Community members are heard when they reach out.

TB: Moving on, why should the board speak with one voice?

CH: The board should speak with one voice for several different reasons. The board by policy designates a spokesperson for the school district. We have that policy for you and I know that you've gathered those policies from other school districts as well and the board by policy has designated the superintendent as the spokesperson. Our board has also gone a step further. Recently we did a board retreat and the board established norms, which you also probably saw on our website, and one of the norms that the board established was that they would speak with one voice. They would speak with one voice on matters related to the school district. Board members individually don't have power on their own. They have power and they come together around the board table. That is not the same as their inability to express an opinion. Anybody has the ability to express an opinion. But in terms of commenting on district business, the board members only can speak with that same one voice as a board and not as individuals and they've designated the superintendent, as they probably have in most school districts, as the spokesperson for the district.

TB: Before this whole issue came up, I never, in 30 years of journalism come across agencies that said we must speak as one voice, that individual people are not their own independent agents who are responsible to their constituents. What you describe sounds like the kind of thing we would expect in Communist China where we all must be on the same page, people aren't allowed to dissent.

CH: You have the policies and I know you have the policies from the other school districts as well.

TB: Do your members have a right to dissent?

CH: Absolutely, they do.

TB: So why are they not allowed to speak those opinions if asked?

JENNIFER SCHWARTZOTT: That isn't what she said. She didn't say --

TB: I'm asking this, this because this has been my experience. Nobody can speak their opinions individually, from my experience in dealing with this school district. So I don't know, why that is?

CH: Can you maybe use a different word than allowed? Where are you finding that nobody can speak?

TB: That's comes from your statements and her statements to me.

JS: That is certainly not my statements as we've -- I'm not part of this interview, so if you want to ask Dr. Huber what her statements are you certainly can but she can't speak for me --

(NOTE: Since this interview, The Batavian has twice emailed Schwartzott offering her an opportunity to clarify her position. She hasn't acknowledged the emails.)

TB: When the first time I tried to talk to you the clear message as we speak with only one voice.

CH: Correct.

TB: Which is negating dissent or individuals’ views.

CH: It's in keeping with our policy. An important thing to keep in mind, too, is that one of the central jobs of a Board of Education is that they get to approve a policy. So, Boards of Education approve the policy that talks about things like who is the spokesperson for the board.

Continued after the jump (click "read more" below or the headline):

June 13, 2018 - 8:15am

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The Batavia Business and Professional Women’s Club (BBPW), 2018 Scholarship Committee, has awarded scholarships to seven Genesee County high school, two Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) and one Genesee Community College students.

The clubs Vice President/Committee Chairperson Peggy Johnson presented the awards for the evening.

The 2018 Scholarship Award winners pictured above are, from left: Jessica Hicks, (Oakfield), Alexis Breton (Alexander), Gordon Montgomery (Batavia), Kelsey Kasmarek (Batavia), Eric Sharlau (Alexander), Ethan Hutchins (Notre Dame) and Sabrina Walton from (Genesee Community College). Not in the photo were Abigail Klos (Oakfield), Grace Krizen (Pembroke) and Madison LaGrou (Oakfield).

The high school students each received a $750 check to support their educational and career goals. These scholarships are open to Genesee County high schools seniors (male or female). Each student maintained an 85-percent average or higher, completed a one-page BPW application with a letter of recommendation from a school staff member and submitted a personal essay discussing their achievements and future goals as well as an essay from a parent. The finalists were interviewed by the BBPW Scholarship Committee in May and were notified by one of the scholarship committee members.

The Genesee Community College (GCC) adult student received a $500 scholarship award. The selection process for the GCC award is completed by the Genesee Community College Foundation.

The Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GVEP) students each received a $250 scholarship award. These students were selected through the GVEP, Student Services Committee.

All of the award winners were invited to the Batavia Business and Professional Women’s June Banquet, which was held Thursday, June 7, at Dibble Family Center in Batavia.

Additionally, BBPW club members voted at their May Meeting on the Service Awards to be distributed and this year. Four $300 checks were awarded.  To be considered for the service award a letter written on appropriate letterhead was sent to the BBPW requesting consideration.

To find out more about BBPW scholarships and service awards visit their webpage here.

The following service organizations received monetary awards at the banquet: Crossroads House, Project Stork, The Warrior House, Genesee Cancer Assistance & Bethany Volunteer Fire Department.

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The BBPW club also voted at their April meeting for Women of the Year. This year's recipient was Pearl Hyatt. She is an honorary member who joined the club back in 1980.

Hyatt is currently the chair of the club's Sunshine Committee. She loves serving on the committee and the club couldn’t have a better person for the position. In this role, she goes and visits any shut-in members and keeps them informed on what the club is doing. She is so sweet, happy and a very caring women. It is a great pleasure to have her service.

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Please support BBPW next fundraising event, the Basket & Live Auction & Dinner being held at the Ascension Parish Hall on Sumner Street in Batavia on Oct. 13.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6. Basket drawings and live auction to follow.  It is an "Evening in the Magical Kingdom" event. Tickets are on sale now for $25.

To purchase tickets or donate to the auction, please contact Michelle at 297-0779 or send an email to [email protected]. All proceeds from this event benefit Genesee County scholarships and the service organizations.

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June 12, 2018 - 6:45pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news.

A transformer blew up -- or had some kind of meltdown -- on Center Street, resulting in a power outage. National Grid is notified and asked to respond in emergency mode; no ETA. The transformer was leaking oil or fluid, which reportedly got on a vehicle parked near it.

The vehicle was moved to a parking lot. Center Street was closed at East Main and School Street. City fire and police responded. The city fire assignment is back in service. Not sure if the roadway is reopened.

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Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

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