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January 29, 2015 - 6:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, Notre Dame.

Notre Dame's Dave Pero will be honored before tomorrow night's girls basketball game against Holley.

Several former players will be on hand to speak and share their thoughts on how Pero helped influence them and shape their lives.

If this sounds like a swan song event for the Fighting Irish coach, it just might be. Then again, maybe not.

Pero hasn't announced any retirement plans but his son, Dave Pero Jr., is thinking that once the season is over, the elder Pero just might call it a career.

"It's not guaranteed he's going to resign, but if I had to put a dollar on it, I would say it's his last year," Pero Jr. said.

Given that hunch, the assistant coach wanted to be sure his father got a proper send-off. The Friday game seems like the best time to do it with only two home games left on the schedule -- a weekday game, which former players who are in college wouldn't be able to attend, and then senior night, and on that night a farewell to the coach would take the spotlight away from the players.

Pero became head coach at the start of the 2002-03 season. His teams have notched eight five league titles, a state title (in 2013) and sectional titles in 2003, 2006 (the team lost the state title game that year), 2007 and 2013.

A logical choice of successor for Pero Sr., is Pero Jr., who said he's obviously interested in the job, but that's a decision for the Notre Dame Board, not to mention his wife, who he would ask to bless any such assignment.

UPDATE: More on Pero's record:  He is currently 234-51, and 101-12 at home. His teams have a postseason record of 34-11.  

January 29, 2015 - 1:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Town of Batavia Fire.

Demolition has begun on the old Town of Batavia rec hall (and onetime fire hall) on Lewiston Road. The fire department is planning a new, modern fire hall at the location, as well as a new Station #2 on Clinton Street Road.

January 29, 2015 - 9:22am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office.

Press release:

Deputy Daniel M. VanValkenburg, of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office retired December 20, 2014, after 20 years of service. Deputy VanValkenburg started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on December 5, 1994, as a Correction Officer at the Jail.  He was appointed Deputy Sheriff-Road Patrol in 1998 and for the past two years, was assigned to the Court Security Detail. In addition to his normal duties, he also participated in community events on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office with the Safe Child ID Program. During his career, Deputy VanValkenburg has earned two Commendation Awards. 

Deputy John R. Duyssen, of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will retire effective at the end of his shift tomorrow, January 30, 2015, after 21 years of service. Deputy Duyssen started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on April 19, 1993. In addition to his normal duties, he was also a Crash Reconstructionist, Field Training Officer and also conducted farm safety training for the agricultural community. During his career, Deputy Duyssen earned several awards which included Officer of the Year in 1998, three Meritorius Awards, and four Commendations. 

“Deputies VanValkenburg and Duyssen have been valued employees with the Sheriff’s Office, and everyone here wishes them all the best in their future endeavors,” stated Sheriff Gary Maha.

January 29, 2015 - 9:10am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, nature, songbirds.

Thanks in large part to a constantly filled bird feeder, the Winter of 2015 has seen an abundance of feathered visitors in and around our yard. This cardinal waits on a snow-covered spruce bough between feeding forays.

The smaller birds, like this junco, begin to arrive at first light -- not at sunrise mind you -- but when the first hint of gray light begins to permeate the darkness.   

The blue jays arrive a bit later. After a pit stop in the apple tree to make sure the coast is clear, they will flit back and forth between the tree and the bird feeder....

as does this cardinal.

A trusting sort, the chickadee will occassionaly take seed from your hand.

Not so with the tufted titmouse....it flits about rapidly; It's been difficult to take its picture.

A blue jay in the "crow's nest" of the apple tree. The apple tree is the closest bit of cover to the bird feeder. There are small brambles and thickets just inside the small woods, but the apple tree is usually where all of our "guests" bide their time while waiting a turn at the bird feeder.

January 28, 2015 - 6:03pm

Millennials -- that generation born after 1980 but before the turn of the century -- came of age in a time of economic stagnation, fewer jobs, fewer chances for career advancement, lower pay.

Technology has ruled their lives.

They're getting married later in life, starting families later, and moving to smaller cities in droves.

Buffalo has attracted a 34-percent jump in recent college graduate residents, outpacing bigger cities such as Los Angeles.

All of these trends, and more, are attracting the attention of land use planners and informing a new way of looking at planning, said Felipe A. Oltramari, director of the the Genesee County Planning Department, during a presentation at City Hall this morning on the Millennial Generation.

There are 87 million people born in the Millennial decades, about 11 million more than were born during the Baby Boom years.

What they want out of life tends to be far different than Baby Boomers or even Gen-X.

To them, suburbs are dead.

A higher percentage of them than any previous generation have never had a driver's license. Often, they don't own cars.

They're more environmentally aware and socially connected through their digital devices.

The reason they're flocking to cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Portland and Houston is they're more interested in deciding what lifestyle they want before deciding what job they will take, Oltramari said.

Sixty-four percent settle in a city before they get their first job offer.

"It's going to be a difficult job market any place you go, so you might as well go to someplace where you want to live," Oltramari said.

So why not go to New York City instead of Buffalo?

Because it costs a lot more to live in NYC than Buffalo.

So why come to Batavia instead of Buffalo?

Because, Oltramari said, eventually, as Buffalo attracts more Millennials, the cost of living will rise. Adjacent small cities such as Batavia can offer some of the same advantages of bigger cities, but at an affordable price.

Besides, Millennials are the coming economic driver, so Batavia should be planning to be the kind of community they want now; otherwise, we get left behind.

The planning model for this new urbanism is called "form based."

From the 1920s until recently, all planning was built around zoning codes -- what developers cannot do, not what a community wanted.

Planning zones were radically segregated, not just separating, say, residential from industrial, but apartments from houses, offices from retail space, artisans from factories.

Mix-use was a product of the organic growth of American cities in the 19th Century, but planners tried to stamp it out in the 20th Century.

In the post-War years, as suburbs grew and highways were built to accommodate the booming auto industry, planners replaced dense city blocks with strip malls and paved over culturally diverse neighborhoods.

Batavia, with its white elephant of a mall and Urban Renewal conformity, is an example of a city that lost its soul to parking lots and drive-thru restaurants.

"What planners tried to do was try to make our cities more like suburbs, and what did we get? Very bad suburbs," Oltramari said.

Form-based codes allow cities to set a vision for what they want to be.  

"Conventional planning looks at use, not at form," said Derik Kane, a senior planner for the county, and himself of the Millennial Generation. "In looking at use, you eliminated things you might want, such as small artisans when you moved out the industry, things like that that make an economy and a community. With form-based codes, instead of eliminating things you don't want, you say what you do want."

For developers, new construction and renovation of existing structures becomes a more streamlined process.  

A community with form-based codes doesn't need to require a developer to go through the current lengthy and expensive environmental review process, Oltramari said, because a conforming proposal will already fit within those environmental requirements.

"We need to be moving at the speed of business," said Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for Genesee County Economic Development Center. "Developers don't want delays."

The City Council has already approved funding for a new master plan for Batavia and City Manager Jason Molino said form-based codes will certainly be part of the discussion as the process moves forward.

Urban Renewal did a lot of damage to Downtown Batavia, but there are still positive aspects that can be enhanced.

Kane pointed out that experts in new urbanism recommend you build on successes, rather than trying to fix problems.

For Batavia, that success would center around Jackson Square, especially Jackson Street.

Oltramari suggested borrowing a page from a small Massachusetts city and building over a portion of the parking lot on the west side of Jackson Street and putting up a row of single-story, small retail shops.

Millennials want walkable communities -- remember, they often don't have cars -- which means density, and more retail on Jackson would give them what they want.

County planning is planning on bringing in a walkability expert this summer to study Batavia, but online resources such as WalkScore.com already give Batavia low marks.

On a scale that counts 80 as pretty good, very little of Batavia scores higher than 70 (my house, three blocks south of Downtown Jackson Street, scores 67).  

Greater density and more options downtown would help improve those scores, which Millennials look at when deciding where to live.

One issue planners might wrestle with is Baby Boomers still have an auto-oriented mindset. They demand parking. They expect to park right in front of the store they wish to enter. Any proposal to eliminate parking downtown is going to meet resistance, even as data shows it's not necessary.

People will park and walk, or just walk from their residence, if it's an interesting walk, Oltramari said. 

"Nobody wants to park on the far edge of the Walmart parking and walk to the store, because it's not interesting," Oltramari said. "But if you measure it, they probably walk at least twice that distance once they get inside the store."

People will walk for blocks and blocks at Disneyland, he noted, and then come home and complain if they can't find a convenient parking place downtown.

For Millennials, if they're living and working in a neighborhood they like, parking simply isn't an issue.

"The good news is, we know how to build this way," Kane said. "We built this way for centuries.  Your villages, your main steets, are all walkable places."

Copies of the slides used in Oltramari's presentation along with related material can be found on the Web page for the county planning department.

January 28, 2015 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Le Roy, Stafford.

Carolina M. Frias, 34, of West Main Street, Batavia, is charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and criminal nuisance. Frias is accused of providing alcohol to four juveniles at her residence.

Kimberly A. Brodsky, 23, of Elm Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a traffic ticket. Brodsky turned herself in to Batavia PD. Brodsky's mother posted $250 bail.

Marene A. Donnelly, 29, of Oak Orchard East, Albion, was arrested on a warrant for allegedly parking after hours on city streets. She turned herself in to Batavia PD.

Kelly A. Kasper, 44, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Kasper is accused of causing pain to a child during a domestic incident. She was jailed on $3,000 bail.

Kurt Wayne Tripp, 58, of Bernd Road, Le Roy, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, moving from lane unsafely and refusal to take breath test. Tripp was arrested following a report of a vehicle on fire in a field at 7:53 p.m. Monday on Buckley Road, Stafford. It's alleged that Tripp drove a 2006 Chevrolet pickup while intoxicated when it travelled off the west shoulder of the road and eventually caught fire.

January 28, 2015 - 2:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, byron, Pavilion, bergen.
Joshua Baltz

A pair of investigations by the Local Drug Task Force has led to the arrest of two men, one accused of selling a controlled substance, the other of selling marijuana.

Busted were Joshua L. Baltz, 38, of Wood Street, Batavia, and Mark A. Knickerbocker, 17, of Route 262 in Byron.

Baltz allegedly sold a quantity of suboxone to an undercover agent on three separate occasions, once in Pavilion and twice in the City. 

He is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, 4th, a Class C felony.

Knickerbocker is accused of selling marijuana to a person under age 18 while in the Town of Bergen in May.

He is charged with criminal sale of marijuana, 2nd, a Class D felony.

The task force was assisted by the District Attorney's Office, uniformed deputies and Batavia PD.

January 28, 2015 - 1:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, alexander.

The body of an 84-year-old Batavia man was found in a field off Cookson Road late this morning following a search by state troopers and Sheriff's deputies.

Alphonse Spiotta was last seen by a family member yesterday evening, a trooper said. His daughter reported him missing this morning.

At around 10 a.m., a county road maintenance worker reported finding a car off the roadway at 4312 Cookson Road, Alexander, that crashed into a tree. No one was around the vehicle, which was just around the curve where Dorman becomes Cookson. The worker told dispatch he first spotted the vehicle yesterday.

About 10 minutes later dispatch got a call from a woman who said her father was missing and that he was last seen yesterday.

A State Police helicopter was dispatched to the scene, but officers found the body shortly before it arrived. Sheriff's and State Police K-9s assisted in the search.

The man's body was found along a tree line next to the field some 300 yards south / southeast from where the car was found.

Alexander fire and Mercy EMS also responded to the scene.

January 28, 2015 - 1:43pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, basketball, sports, high school sports, Batavia HS.

With an offense that distributed the points a bit, the Batavia Blue Devils beat Lackawanna on Tuesday night in a non-league game, 73-32.

As usual, Jeff Redband led the team in scoring, this time with 20 points.  Mmalachi Chenault had 13, Jarred Lasket, 9, Ryan Hogan, 8 and James Schrider, 8.

Redband added eight rebounds and three assists and had a blocked shot. 

Batavia was 46.4 percent from the field and 81.2 percent on free throws.

Batavia is now 10-2 on the season.

January 27, 2015 - 10:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs.

The latest employment data for Genesee County paints a mixed picture of the local economy, with some indicators higher and some lower than previous measurements.

The county's unemployment rate for December hit 5.6 percent, which is lower than the 6.1 percent of a year ago, but two-tenths of a percentage point higher than November.

It's also higher than the fiscal year's lowest rate of 4.8 percent in August.

The total number of unemployed in the county fell from 1,900 to 1,700, year-over-year, but the number of total employed workers in the country also fell, from 28,900 to 28,000.

The state's unemployment rate is 5.7 percent.

January 27, 2015 - 10:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history.

Tony Mancuso shared with us another picture of old Batavia from his family archive. This shot is of a group known as the Batavia Archers. He doesn't know the year nor can he identify most of the people in the photo. He'd love to hear from anybody who can. His father, Joe Mancuso, is second from the left. The young lad looking like Robin Hood, near the center of the photo with the feather in his cap, is Jim DiSalvo, currently owner of Applied Business Systems and of the home on Fargo Road known for its annual Christmas lights display.

January 27, 2015 - 9:17pm
posted by Andrew Crofts in basketball, GCC, sports.

Tuesday night marked the fifth time this season that the Genesee Community College men's basketball team eclipsed the 100-point mark. The Cougars rolled to a 110-85 Western New York Athletic Conference (WNYAC) victory over visiting Jamestown Community College-Olean to improve to 3-2 in conference play, the first time GCC has been above .500 in WNYAC play this season.

Ervin Mitchell led four Cougars in double figures with a game-high 35 points. Mitchell was 15-19 from the field in the game and scored 23 points in the first half alone.

Genesee raced out to a 15-point lead midway through the first but the Jaguars hung tough and got to within seven late in the period. The Cougars went into the half on a 7-2 run and led 55-43 at the break.

Naquil Jones scored 10 of his 16 points in the second half and Devante Carolina added nine in the frame, 18 overall, to help the Cougars put the game out of reach.

Genesee out-rebounded JCC-Olean 52-20 and shot better than 59-percent from the floor. Mitchell also grabbed 10 rebounds to record a double-double and Rahsaan Williams finished with a double-double as well with 12 rebounds and 10 points. Devante Carolina added 18 points and six rebounds; Jones led GCC in assists with six and Tre'Shaun Perry chipped in nine points and four assists.

Genesee (15-4, 3-2) will play its second of four scheduled games this week on Thursday at Niagara County Community College. Tip-off is set for 7:30pm.

(GCC's Ervin Mitchell (#0) and Naquil Jones (#12) celebrate after a Mitchell basket in the 2nd half of Tuesday night's game against JCC-Olean)

January 27, 2015 - 7:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Baby Chandler.
Jacquelyn Deats

The Batavia woman who at one time thought she was the grandmother of a baby who died while reportedly in her son's care should have the criminal charge against her dismissed, her attorney will argue in a series of motions that will be filed March 3.

Jacquelyn Deats is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, under the theory that she took no action to seek medical attention for 6-month-old Chandler Zuchs before he died Dec. 10.

Court documents that were available at the time -- and have since been sealed -- contained statements by Jacquelyn Deats and her son Jeffrey Deats that seem to indicate the once-presumed grandmother was alone with Baby Chandler and noticed something wrong, but didn't call for an ambulance.

When Jeffrey Deats came downstairs that morning, he found Baby Chandler unresponsive. It was then that 9-1-1 was called.

Baby Chandler, according to later medical examiner reports, died of brain injuries.

Jeffrey Deats, who seems to have believed he fathered Chandler with Michelle Zuchs (aka Michelle Denise), was charged with manslaughter.

In Facebook and Twitter posts, prior to Chandler's death, he displayed a good deal of pride and affection for little Chandler.

While confined to the Genesee County Jail, Deats learned he wasn't Chandler's father.

A week after Chandler's death, Deats attempted to hang himself in his cell with bedsheets. He later died at ECMC.

Jacquelyn Deats appeared in court today with her attorney Thomas Burns and entered a not guilty plea to the charge of endangering the welfare of a child.

Burns, always aggressive on behalf of his clients, plans to file several motions aimed at either getting the charges dismissed or his client's statements surpressed.

Outside of court, Burns said he plans to challenge the legal sufficiency of the charge as well as bring a motion to dismiss the charge in the interest of justice.

A dismissal in the interest of justice has legal precedent and is predicated on a series of legal tests the judge must consider. 

"The case meets all the criteria for dismissal," Burns said. "(The motion) doesn't necessarily look at the merits of the case, but at the person's background, culpability, lack of criminal record, lack of a drug problem, factors such as no need for rehabilitation, no protection of the community issues. You put it all together and argue that the charge should be dismissed."

Burns has yet to see any evidence in the case, which could also be a factor in his series of motions.

With the Jeffrey Deats case sealed, it's unclear if Burns will have access to the medical records and police reports.

The case was sealed by Judge Robert Balbick under New York Law that requires cases to be sealed when a criminal case is resolved in the defendant's favor. With the death of Jeffrey Deats, the charges against him were dismissed.

January 27, 2015 - 7:55pm
posted by Billie Owens in Oakfield, fire.

Smoke is reported in the basement of a structure at 2719 Lockport Road. Oakfield fire is responding, along with mutual aid from Alabama. Town is Batavia fire is asked to fill in at the Oakfield Fire Hall. The location is Allied Electric Co., located between Bliss and Lewiston roads.

UPDATE 8 p.m.: Command says responders can proceed non-emergency.

January 27, 2015 - 7:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, economic development, downtown, bdc.

The City of Batavia has realized a 500-percent return on its $360,000 investment in community development, Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator, told the City Council on Monday night.

The Council has authorized $90,000 a year over four years to the Batavia Development Corporation- that's $360,000. In return, the BDC has generated more than $2.1 million in public-private investment in Downtown.

Several of the projects managed by BDC were building owners constructing renovated apartments, all of which rented immediately.

But perhaps the biggest win is the renovation of the old Carr's Warehouse in Jackson Square.

The property sat vacant and deteriorating for three years. The city marketed the building as a revitalization project and eventually found a developer.

With the help of a $115,000 state grant, Paul Thompson and his partners invested more than $500,000 in constructing four apartments and a first-floor office area.

The vacancies were filled as soon as construction was completed.

The property was assessed at $30,000, but since it was a city-foreclosed property, it was generating zero tax revenue. Now it's assessed at more than $200,000 and on the tax roles. (The developer has the option to apply for a tax abatement by March under a municipal program that works like a PILOT, offering tax relief on the increase in assessed value).

The nine new residential units, using current economic models, are worth about $5,000 each in extra consumer buying power Downtown, Pacatte said.

Pacatte's job has been funded in the past through the use of revenue generated by Batavia Downs and transferred by the state to the city on an annual basis.

Since this is not general fund revenue, it doesn't have any impact on local property taxes. Even so, there is some question as to whether the current council is willing to once again use city money to fund the development coordinator's position.

Pacatte's Monday presentation could be seen as a pitch to save her job, but that didn't stop her from getting a little feisty. She was full of energy during her presentation, and when she spoke about negative attitudes, Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian challenged the remark and Pacatte shot right back with her own view.

The topic of the exchange was the mall, which Pacatte had already called a travesty and an embarrassment and one of the factors weighing down economic development in the city.

"I think maybe people have a negative attitude because they have heard the same old thing year after year," Christian said. "How many years have we heard we're going to do something with the mall. I've sat on this board for 24 years and I've heard year after year we're going to do something with the mall."

Pacatte responded that she didn't say the BDC was going to do something with the mall, just that the issue needed to be resolved.

The negative attitude discussion harkens back to a consultant report from three years ago, which Pacatte referenced, that said one of the things hurting Batavia is a persistent, nagging culture of antagonism to new proposals.

From the report (pdf; page 29):

... many residents and business leaders alike are quick to say what is right about the place, but only after they or others have said how it is not the community it used to be. This habit goes to the core of the challenge for Batavia. Regardless of how effective the city government is, or how successful the schools are, or how homeowners keep up beautiful homes, there is always the perception that things used to be better. This sets up an impossible goal: Batavia needs to be as good as its finest past features, but without any of its previous problems, and certainly without any of yesterday’s resources. It allows critics to say, “see, I told you so.” It lives on phrases like “that can’t be done,” and “we tried that,” and “here’s why that won’t work.” Until the community addresses this problem, Batavia won’t achieve its full and substantial potential.

Pacatte has succeeded in helping to bring new development to Downtown Batavia despite the naysayers. Each new apartment development was met by a wave of criticism and endless predictions that nobody would rent such high-priced units.

Yet, there are no vacancies. Landlords rent the apartments as quickly as they become available.

The Carr's project was roundly criticized, yet it's successful.

The negative attitudes are just something to try and work though as a professional, Pacatte said after the meeting.

"I think it's important to listen to what the community is saying, but we also have access and in our profession we understand that these projects do happen and happen a lot in other communities and there's no reason it shouldn't happen in Batavia," Pacatte said. "We bring the folks to the table who can make it happen.

"It's important to hear some of the negativity at the time to maybe rethink how we approach a project," Pacatte added, "but it's important to be a professional and understand that it is possible and persevere to that end. I was hired to impact the economic community in Batavia and I believe that's what I'm doing when I push those projects forward."

In 2015, the BDC will look to advance the Batavia Opportunity Areas, such as the Della Penna property on Ellicott Street, and right next to it, the Santy Tires property.

The mall fits in there somewhere, as well, though that is a much stickier problem with all of the competing interests and ancient animosities. Pacatte believes there might be an opportunity to apply for funding in 2015 through the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to pursue some sort of long-term solution.

She also sees as her job in 2015 an effort to foster a greater entrepreneurial spirit in Batavia, to coordinate and implement a new micro-enterprise grant program, and support an industry-specific incubator.

The BDC will also apply for more redevelopment grant money from the state.

January 27, 2015 - 5:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Vibrant Batavia.

Between the public comments section at the top of the agenda and a presentation by folks with Vibrant Batavia, the City Council heard more than an hour of reasons to keep the city-created community promotion group.

Some on council sounded a skeptical tone about continued funding.

Vibrant Batavia is seeking $50,000 for 2015. City Manager Jason Molino is recommending $45,000, which is in line with the commitment the council made to Vibrant Batavia two years ago.

"I would be very disappointed and embarrassed if you were pulling back on your financial commitment to Vibrant Batavia, putting your reputations on the line," said Mary Valle, a local business owner and active member of the Vibrant Batavia Board.

The community's business owners donated their money for Batavia's centennial, committed to our community. How could things continue without a leader for Vibrant Batavia? If you do pull back, our business leaders, I believe, every one of them, would be very hesitant to donate and support projects in the future."

Councilman John Deleo said he's having a hard time justifying to himself and his constituents the expenditure of $45,000 or $50,000 on Vibrant Batavia when the city is talking about a tax increase.

"I did run as a fiscal conservative," Deleo said. "In fact, I may be downright stingy with taxpayer money and this is what I'm obliged to."

Last year, Vibrant Batavia was funded to the tune of $45,000 through unspent contingency funds from the previous budget year. Whether it's funded -- if it's funded -- through the same process this year, or from reserves, or through the general fund, or perhaps with video lottery money from Batavia Downs, is something for the City Council to discuss.

Funding or no, Vibrant Batavia won't necessarily have any impact on the tax rate.

Vibrant Batavia Director Leanna DiRisio (pictured) provided the council with an overview of what Vibrant Batavia has accomplished in its first two years.

  • Hosted coffee talks
  • Conducted neighborhood surveys
  • Hosted a fall frolic
  • Hosted home tours
  • Published the Vibrant Times
  • Organized neighborhood meetings
  • Sponsored beautification projects
  • Set up a community art project
  • Organized the city's ongoing centennial celebration.

One of the big accomplishments for Vibrant Batavia in 2014 was raising $124,000 to fund this year's Batavia centennial celebrations -- an ongoing series of events that started with New Year's Eve fireworks and parties in City Hall and on Evans Street.

Valle noted that Vibrant Batavia, by raising so much money, exceeded council expectations, and that Deleo in particular expressed skepticism that the group could meet its fundraising goals

Those funds can only be used for the centennial and can't be used for Vibrant Batavia operations. 

In year three, Vibrant Batavia, if funded, will focus on neighborhoods, particularly along the lines of forming three block clubs, DiRisio said. One on the Southside, one on the East End and one in the Central Park District.

Vibrant Batavia would also look pursue leadership development for community leaders and deliver programs that engage residents and build pride in the community.

All Vibrant Batavia is trying accomplish comes right out of a plan developed for the city three years ago by consultants with czb.

The consultants found that with greater civic engagement, Batavia could improve itself both economical and socially, spurring revenue growth and decreasing crime.

It all begins, the report said, in fostering a greater sense of community pride and more community engagement.

Those who spoke during public comments, such as Lisa Barrett and Paula Miller, said Vibrant Batavia has certainly hit that target.

After one neighborhood event, children who live near Barrett were asking her when they could have another block party. Next week, maybe? Not that soon, said Barrett, but soon.

"I think when youth see adults caring about their neighborhood, then as adults they will care about their neighborhood," said Barrett, not in person but on a video screened for the council, as was a video from City Church Pastor Marty McDonald, who is very active in Vibrant Batavia.

Miller said before their neighborhood gathering, she and some of her neighbors were concerned about one house on their block that seemed to be a source of ongoing issues with the tenants.

The opportunity to come together as neighbors with city officials, including police and code enforcement, helped lead to an eventual resolution of that issue, she said.

"We felt it was a unique opportunity to bring our concerns to them and through that developed a request with City PD and city administration to come around and hear our complaints," Miller said. "It wouldn't have happened if we each felt we were the only ones hanging out there. We came together as a united effort to resolve our issue."

Deleo said there has been a lot of good work by Vibrant Batavia that he supports, but his constituents aren't seeing the value, not when faced with a 1.7-percent property tax increase.

"If we had a flat tax rate, I think it would be great," Deleo said. "Voters are pounding on me. They understand the water rates, but they can't understand the 1.7."

Councilman Eugene Jankowski, who used a post on Facebook yesterday to generate feedback from local residents, said everybody seems to believe Vibrant Batavia does good work. Where opinions diverge is on whether it should receive city funding.

"If we fund it completely, then we're not listening to half the people who don't want it funded by the city," Jankowski said. "If we don't fund it, then we're not listening to the other half. I don't know if we could fund it to a different degree to please both sides."

January 27, 2015 - 4:44pm
posted by Billie Owens in Deal of the Day.

NEW TODAY!  Delavan's -- The Little Ridge, 107 Evans St., Batavia NY, 14020: The Little Ridge continues the long-standing history of fantastic food from Batavia's local favorite, Delavan's. Fine dining and family fare combine to offer the best of both. We offer Friday night Fish Fry, prime rib dinner on Saturdays, steaks, burgers, salads, and classic Italian dishes. Open Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Phone 815-5118. Take-outs available. Kids' menu. Weekly and daily lunch and dinner specials. On Saturday, breakfast is served from 9 to 11 a.m. Good food, good friends, good times! We have a $25 gift certificate for $15.

Viking Valhalla Restaurant & Rose Garden Bowl21 Buffalo Road, Bergen, NY: Open for lunch Monday through Sunday, and dinner Friday and Saturday evenings. Dinner favorites are our succulent prime rib and Friday fish fries! We are always happy to help plan your special occasion -- wedding, shower, rehearsal dinner, stag party, graduation, company function, banquet, family or class reunion. We have a $20 gift certificate for $8.

Fortune's Restaurant inside Batavia Downs, 8315 Park Road, Batavia, NY: Italian-style menu, drinks in one of the region's most popular entertainment venues. We have a $25 gift certificate for $15. (Must be new or current Players Club member to redeem.)

The Rack Shack, 4974 Ellicott Street Road, Batavia, NY: Genesee County's newest BBQ restaurant offers a varied menu that ranges from tender, tasty slow-cooked BBQ ribs and smoky beef brisket to Cajun catfish, ribeye steaks, burgers and wraps. Family owned and operated, the atmosphere is warm and comfortable, and the meats are smoked on-site. The homemade BBQ sauce is “sweet with a spicy kick.” Sides include authentic Southern-style collard greens, 5-bean chuck wagon beans with bacon and ground meat, mac ‘n’ cheese, tater tots and more. Catering available. Dine in, take out, phone in (585-201-7077). Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 9 to 7, closed Monday. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Batavia's Original, 500 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: First established in 1947, this Batavia landmark pizzeria reopened as Batavia's Original in 2010, serving up delicious Neopolitan tomato pies that have had satisfied generations. We offer regular and New York-style thin crust pizza, plus Chicago deep dish and gluten-free. We have "tray," white, sweet, or white ricotta sauce. Choose from two dozen toppings, including pulled pork, carmelized onions, steak and spinach! Enjoy specialty pizzas, too, like Sienna, Steak-in-the-Grass or bacon/chicken/ranch. Our menu also includes calzones, appetizers (like deep-fried pickles, garlic knots, Hodge Podge), wings, salads, wraps and cannolis. All subs are toasted. Weekday Express Lunch combo meals (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). A $9.99 Sunday lunch buffet is offered from 11 to 3. Patio dining, catering, delivery. Hours are: Sunday & Monday 11 to 9; Tuesday & Thursday 11 to 10; and Friday & Saturday 11 to 11. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

The Mane Attraction Salon and Spa99 Main St., Batavia, NY: offers "Affordable Luxury" in downtown Batavia. We pride ourselves in the great customer service we give to the entirefamily. Men, women and children are all welcome either by appointment or walk-in. We offer all hair care services including cuts, color, highlights, lowlights, perms, styling/updos, facials, leg and back waxing, Shellac Polish System, manicures and pedicures. We are the only salon in Batavia that has an airplane chair for kids' cuts! Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. We have a $20 gift certificate for $7.

Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew, 9 Main St., Le Roy, NY. The kind of downhome, laid-back and comfortable place that just feels right. Open daily for lunch, dinner and drinks, this eatery and bar features a variety of eats and drinks that are outstanding. Specializing in smoked meats -- each meat is dry rubbed with a proprietary mix of seasonings, then smoked slowly in their on-site smoker for maximum flavor and tenderness. With a variety of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, combo platters and entrées, there's always plenty of choice for even picky eaters. Great food, frosty brews and some of the best folk around call the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew their favorite -- make it your favorite today! Don't forget to ask about our catering! We have a $20 gift card for $12.

Oliver's Candies, 211 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Oliver's, a Batavia landmark, offers the finest chocolate and confections in the area. We have a $20 gift card for $12.

Mooney's Sports Bar & Grill, 65 Lake St., Le Roy, NY: "Not Your Average Sports Bar!" This place is Home of the Mac N' Cheese, an All-American favorite with nine kinds to choose from. Plus, monster 1/2-lb. burgers, huge tacos, pizza, wings, fingers, wraps, soups, salads, appetizers (including deep-fried pickles), a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, seafood, and plenty more. Mooney's has a fun, welcoming atmosphere where you can enjoy watching your favorite teams. Endless soda pop, great selection of ice-cold beer. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Catering available. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Alli's Cones & Dogs, 7063 Lewiston Road, Oakfield, NY: Full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu; all-you-can-eat salad bar; ice cream served year-round; eat-in or take-out. We have a $20 gift certificate for $8.

Ficarella's Pizzeria, 21 Liberty St., Batavia, NY: Dine-in, drive-thru or delivery. Featuring fresh, hearth-baked pizza since 1985, plus wings, pasta and more. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12. (Good only at the Batavia location.)

Sweet Pea’s Cupcakery Café, 23 Jackson St., Batavia, NY. We are a full-service Cupcake Bakery and Café. Treat yourself to a variety of baked goods, mainly varieties of specialty and traditional scratch-made cupcakes, as well as other bakery items like cookies and brownies. Handmade, artisan pizza offered at lunchtime. We also serve a variety of hot and cold beverages. Check out our location, or place an order for parties, gatherings or any other reasons you can think of to enjoy some cupcakes. We have a $10 gift card for $4.

Bourbon & Burger Co., 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Batavia's newest burger joint offers more than two dozen different types of tasty hamburgers. Our menu also includes a variety of sandwiches, appetizers and an extensive beer list, plus a full bar. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

El Burrito Loco, 4125 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Located in Valu Plaza, this new eatery offers tasty, authentic Mexican fare. Tell us what you want on your burrito! We make it fresh just for you. Choose from steak, seasoned ground beef, chicken, pork, and/or beans -- black, refried or pinto. Other ingredients to choose from include lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, guacamole, Spanish or white rice, cilantro, salsa, and jalapeno peppers. The menu also offers tacos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, loaded nachos, Mexican soda pop, lemonade, and more! Relax and eat in, or take out. Call in your order if you like -- 219-4620. We have a $10 gift certificate for $6.

John & Mary's Restaurant, 3711 W. Main Street Road, Batavia, NY: This popular restaurant offers a varied menu that people love. From subs, hoagies, hand-tossed pizza, and wings, to fish & chips, salads, Mexican food, gyros and other Greek fare, it's all here. Only the finest and freshest ingredients are used. Bread, using homemade dough, baked fresh daily. Amazing specialty pizzas and appetizers! "We never waver on quality!" Delivery available all day, every day. We offer catering. Hours 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. We have a $10 gift certificate for $6.

Rancho Viejo, 12 Ellicott St., Batavia, NY: Traditional Mexican cuisine, from tacos and burritos to pollo norteno, Rancho Viejo brings a bit of "South of the Border" to Batavia's restaurant scene. We have a $10 gift card for $6.

Larry's Steakhouse for lunch, 60 Main St., Batavia, NY: The name says it all -- Larry's is a great place for steak. Larry's has a fine dining atmosphere with a great menu and outstanding service. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12. Valid only for lunch, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Settler's, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

T.F. Brown's, 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's."  Stop in and check out our Jumbo Chicken Wings, Roast Beef on Weck and Friday night fish fry. The original family spaghetti sauce still adorns all of our Italian specialties. The other popular selections from our menu range from Super Salads, butcher cut Strip Loin and South of the Border items. We offer daily lunch and dinner specials as well as a full adult and children’s menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $12.

Bohn's Restaurant, 5256 Clinton St., Batavia, NY: Fine dining in an atmosphere of casual elegance. Lunch and dinner, steak, prime rib and seafood. Ask about Bohn's catering services and banquet facility. We have a $25 gift certificate for $15.

[Last updated June 6, 2014. Subject to change without notice.]

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SOLD OUT

January 27, 2015 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley.

Press release:

With the recent arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on alleged federal corruption charges, the culture of deceit, lies and bribery in Albany has been brought further into the public spotlight. It is unfortunate that a few members of the legislature refuse to follow the rules and fall victim to money and power. Scandals such as these bring a pejorative perception to the already tainted Albany culture and make it difficult for the rest of us who truly want to do what is best for all New Yorkers.

If the recent news regarding Speaker Silver has demonstrated anything, it is that we need ethics reforms in Albany now more than ever. It goes against the very function of our government to have a single person hold as much power as Sheldon Silver. Silver has omnipotent control over which bills come before the Assembly for a vote and how taxpayer funds are used. The length of time Silver has been in office, more than 20 years, has allowed him to accumulate significant wealth and power. Now we have discovered that much of his wealth and power allegedly was either illegally obtained or used to promote his own private interests.  

If we are to truly reform Albany’s culture of corruption, we need to pass the Public Officers Accountability Act. I sponsored this legislation last legislative term, along with almost all of my Assembly Minority colleagues, because I know that abuses of power such as these should be handled proactively. This legislation: limits the time a member of the legislature can serve as a committee chair or legislative leader to eight years; bans elected officials from future employment for certain felony convictions; and requires the return of campaign funds to donors or charities upon certain felony convictions. Furthermore, I sponsored Assembly Bill 4935 of 2014 that proposes stripping pension and retirement benefits from public officials convicted of certain felonies.  

Until these bills are taken up for a vote, we are leaving the door open for further abuses of power and theft from the public coffers. The last thing we need is career politicians who have lost interest in benefiting their constituencies in exchange for padding their own pockets and ensuring their own reelection. The only way to handle serious ethics violations is with a serious ethics reform bill, and the Public Officers Accountability Act provides a plethora of reforms that will prevent these abuses before they happen again.

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