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February 4, 2012 - 3:55pm
posted by Andrew Crofts in GCC, sports, Swimming and Diving.

The Genesee Community College swimming and diving team hosted the “Last Chance Invitational” on Saturday afternoon, welcoming Jamestown Community College and Herkimer County Community College to the Genesee Aquatic Center.

While team scores and combined scores were not kept, the Cougars earned first place finishes in eleven events on the day.

The men’s 200 yard medley relay team of Yusuke Inami (Chikusei, Japan), Max Brady (Akron, NY), Robert Harder and Ben Tyx (Alexander, NY) kicked off the afternoon with a first place finish and a time of 1:49.42. Smith followed with victories in the 100 yard and 200 yard freestyle, beating out fellow teammate Brandon Schwab (Gainesville, NY) in the latter, who swam the second best time in the seven swimmer race.

(Robert Harder does his part in the 200 yard medley relay)

Inami continued his impressive season by breaking his own school record in the 200 yard IM, his sixth record of the year, with a finishing time of 1:58.23. He also earned the top time in the 100 yard breaststroke and was part of the winning 400 yard freestyle relay team.

Schwab beat the field in the 500 yard freestyle and Jake Rudnik (Pembroke, NY) was the winner of the 200 yard breaststroke.

Kylie Bank (Alexander, NY) topped the women’s 100 yard breaststroke and beat the field by more than five seconds, while Emily Mott (Oakfield, NY) earned a second place finish in the 100 yard butterfly and a third place finish in the 200 yard IM.

The meet concludes the regular season for the squad who will begin the post-season on February 17th at a time and location to be determined.

February 4, 2012 - 3:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sports, golf, terry hills.

The snowmobilers are pretty unhappy with winter in 2012 so far, but the golfers don't mind.

About 80 people showed up at Terry Hills today to get in a round on a course that is usually covered inches deep or more in snow this time of year.

"It's amazing," said Brandon Seifert, of Buffalo. "I can't believe it."

Seifert, above right, was with Matthew Olsen, in the cart, and Olsen said he was dubious when Seifert told him he got an email saying the course was open today.

"We golfed here in November and the conditions were a lot worse," Olsen said.

Colin Castile, of Amherst, was also golfing and enjoying the break from snowboarding while getting the chance to tune up his game before spring.

"It’s nice to have a place that’s relatively local that’s open right now," Castile said.

February 4, 2012 - 3:11pm
posted by Billie Owens in Deal of the Day.

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 $12.50.

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 $10.

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 $10. (Good only at the Batavia location.)

Palm Island Indoor Water Park, 8250 Park Road, Batavia, NY: The newest family fun center in Genesee County, featuring a hot tub, monsoon lagoon pool and play area, tipping buckets, water slides, arcade with 15 games and birthday party rooms. We have a pair of gift certificates worth $40 in merchandise or services for $20.

Salsa & Curry, 13 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: An authentic Mexican restaurant, offering all of your favorite dishes from enchiladas and burritos to tacos and fajitas, as well as daily Indian food specials. We have a $20 gift card for $10.

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 $10.

Spirits, 78 Lake St., Le Roy, NY. Le Roy's favorite sports bar, where fun and good food are always on tap. Come try one of our many delicious burgers that we have to offer, as well as our HUGE Bomber Sandwich, homemade chicken fingers made to order, and the all-time favorite Dumpster Plate with many choices. We deliver. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

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 $10.

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 $10.

Alabama Hotel, 1353 Lewiston Road, Basom, NY: A historic and legendary tavern and restaurant. The Alabama Hotel is famous for its fish fries, but also serves a variety of top-quality entrees, featuring Certified Angus Beef. Now with expanded hours. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Delavan's, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Jagged Edges Salon, 4140 Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia, NY: Jagged Edges Salon is a walk-in and appointment salon for men, women and children. It is a fun, welcoming salon that offers all hair care services including cuts, color, highlights, lowlights, perms, styling/updos, treatments, and facial waxing. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

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 $10.

SOLD OUT

February 3, 2012 - 6:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Three of the original 12 students who displayed tic-like symptoms at Le Roy High School had preexisting conditions, according to a report released today by the NYS Department of Health.

One of the students had previously been diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and suffered an acceleration of symptoms during the onset of the 12 cases.

The other eight students were diagnosed with conversion disorder.

Three more students have been identified since the DOH started preparing its report.

The age range of the students is 13 to 19.

From the report, "All 12 students were evaluated by Work Fit Medical and eight of the 12 were evaluated by DENT Neurologic Institute."

Two of the three students with preexisting conditions had been tic free for some time, but experienced an exacerbation of tic symptoms during this time period.

Of the original 12, significant life stressors were identified in 11 patients.

One of the original 12 students did not seek medical treatment.

The report goes into some detail on the investigative process the DOH went through to examine the case.

As part of the environmental evaluation, the DOH states it, "consulted with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Lehigh Valley Railroad Derailment Superfund Site and reviewed information pertaining to the Lapp Insulator and Target Products sites to determine the potential for spread of contamination to the school campus."

It also states:

Interviews of the 12 cases did not reveal any common environmental exposures, other than attendance at the same school. The occurrence of symptoms in only female students and the range of time of symptom onset are not consistent with an environmental cause.

An exhaustive search of prior reports of environmental contamination causing tic disorders showed only a couple of cases worldwide, according to the report.

As for infectious causes, the 12 students did not have common experiences to explain an infectious onset.

"Drug use was ruled out based on interviews with all the cases, and toxicology screens on seven of the cases," states the report.

Seven students received Gardisil.

"Six of seven cases who received Gardisil had onset of tic symptoms greater than one year after their last dose of vaccine," states the report.

According to the report, none of the cases were consistent with PANDAS.

The report also states:

A post-licensure safety study of HPV vaccine among 189,629 females completed by an independent safety team of experts, identified no association between vaccination with Gardisil and neurologic disorders

In its conclusion, the report states:

The healthcare providers and public health agencies involved in this investigation consider this cluster of cases to be the result of conversion disorder/mass psychogenic illness.

...

While outbreaks of psychiatric or neurologic disease without clear explanation are unusual, similar cases have been documented (11-14). The conversion disorder/mass psychogenic illness conclusion is based on individual medical evaluations, the presence of significant life stressors, and demographic characteristics of the cases. It is uncertain what role conversion disorder played in the recurrence/acceleration of symptoms in the three cases with preexisting medical conditions.

The report encourages families of affected children to continue individualized care with their treating physicians.

Read the full report (PDF).

February 3, 2012 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

The Le Roy illnesses may not have one single cause, according to a Tennessee health official who has seen this kind of thing before.

Dr. Timothy Jones, state epidemiologist for the Tennessee Department of Health, was lead author of a paper for the New England Journal of Medicine examining an outbreak of an illness in 1998 at a high school in McMinnville, Tenn.

It turned out, for at least 90 percent of the cases, there was no environmental cause for the illness, which in this event included rashes, vomiting, nausea and headaches. Some of the people involved just happened to be sick at the time of a rumored gas leak and one girl turned out to be pregnant, causing morning sickness, though she didn't know it at the time.

The diagnosis -- which was hard for the community to accept -- was psychogenic or sociogenic illness.

For most of the sick kids and teachers, the illness was a matter of adopting symptoms from people around them.

Jones hasn't been involved in the Le Roy case and only knows about the situation thorough media reports, but he said there are some similarities to the Le Roy and McMinnville situations.

  • Most of the patients are adolescent and disportionately female;
  • The groups tend to know each other or be socially related;
  • There is a line-of-sight transmission or direct knowledge of a previous patient's symptoms;
  • There is no other apparent medical explanation for the illness.

There are also some things, Jones said, that are not entirely classic psychogenic in the Le Roy situation.

Most importantly, in most psychogenic cases, the symptoms are short lived. They usually involve dizziness, fainting, vomiting and rapid heart rate, for example. The symptons usually disappear when patients are separated.

In the McMinnville case, for example, after the initial outbreak, everybody went home for the weekend and were fine until they returned to school on Monday.

Typically, Jones said, these kinds of outbreaks start with one person who has an actual physical problem -- the student becomes woozy or the choir member who faints -- but over the course of the illness spreading, additional cases may be psychogenic or there may be infectious or environmental causes for some patients.

In the Le Roy case, it's possible, if not probable, that the the initial student with a tic sympton -- the trigger case -- has a non-psychogenic disorder.

One of the problems public health officials have in such a situation is explaining who might be ill because of an infectious or environmental condition and who might be showing psychogenic symptoms.

HIPPA prevents officials from discussing a specific patient diagnosis.

While a public state health official might be able to talk about a diagnosis for a group of patients under HIPPA, Jones said, the doctor who has actually treated the patients is prevented by HIPPA from discussing the cases, even as a group, because that could lead to public knowledge of individual diagnosis.

"No matter what, these are incredibilty senstive things to discuss and there are good reasons for that," Jones said. "When you have the word 'psych' attached to any conversation or diagnosis, people think they're being told they're crazy, or they're faking it or they're malingering. It's a hard thing to convince them and other people reading about it that it's real. The symptoms are real."

Jones said actual mass conversion disorder is a very rare thing and he knows of only two such cases in recent history, one in Colombia and one right in Tennessee.

In the Tennessee case, girls at a closed religious community stopped eating and were suffering severe weight loss.

"It certainly can happen, but it's at the severe end of the spectrum for sure."

Public attention doesn't help matters, either, Jones said.

While things like a lot of ambulances and fire trucks showing up at a school can spread an outbreak of psychogenic illness, so can the appearance of the media, and reports in the media reinforce the message of an illness spreading.

Getting people to accept the diagnosis is very difficult, Jones said.

In the McMinnville case, self-proclaimed experts and actual experts from all over the country were popping up with test suggestions and ideas for investigation.

In all, public health officials ended up spending close to $100,000 trying to find an environmental cause for an illness that, in the end, had no environmental cause.

Telling the community at a public meeting that the cause was psychogenic was "one of the most stressful things I've done in my entire career," Jones said.

"It's not because people were being mean," Jones said. "They were well meaning. This is scary. It's scary for the kids. It's terrifying for the parents. Many times people don't want to hear the answer."

Recommended reading: Mass Psychogenic Illness Attributed to Toxic Exposure at a High School.

February 3, 2012 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

A 17-year-old from Batavia who was spotted allegedly speeding by an off-duty deputy Dec. 24 on West Main Street Road has been charged with a felony and two misdemeanors stemming from events that transpired that day.

The deputy attempted to talk about speeding with the youth, Austin L. Wester, while stopped at Read Road, according to a Sheriff's Office press release.

The deputy reportedly attempted to keep Wester at the intersection until an on-duty deputy could arrive.

Wester, who lives on Pratt Road, reportedly refused to remain at the location. In his attempt to detain Wester, the deputy allegedly suffered a hand injury.

Wester was charged with assault, 2nd, resisting arrest, and assault, 3rd. He was jailed on $30,000 bail.

The investigation was conducted by Deputy Patrick Reeves, Investigator Timothy Weis, with assistance from Deputy Brian Thompson and Deputy Ronald Meides.

February 3, 2012 - 3:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Stafford.

For years, Bill Dominiak has been known the world over as a master craftsman.

Dominiak makes pool cues, the kind top professionals buy and use to win tournaments.

Now, right here in Genesee County, anybody can buy a Dominiak designed and built product, but you won't need a felt-covered table to use it.

You just need a knife and something to cut.

Dominiak and business partner Tom Walter launched New York Butcher Block about six months ago and their local retail outlet is Batavia Restaurant Supply.

Blocks are $65 and up, and butcher tables are $275 and up, with table tops and countertops in the works.

The blocks are all natural, including the finish, which contains natural oils and beeswax.

"When you're in business, you're always looking for new revenue streams," Dominiak said.

For pool cues, Dominiak's Stafford-based company buys only the best hardwoods available in Western New York. The people who buy professional pool cues have very high standards and not all of the great wood is good enough to make it into a pool cue.

"Pool cue manufacturers are very fussy about the grade of wood they use and this gives us a chance to do something else with (the rest of the wood)," Dominiak said.

For years, Dominiak said, the wood not used in cues would just be given away.  Now he's found a way to turn the wood into money.

February 3, 2012 - 3:06pm
posted by Billie Owens in chamber of commerce.

The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce today announced the 2011 honorees who will be feted at the 40th Annual Awards Ceremony on April 14 at the Clarion Hotel in Batavia. However, the Geneseean of the Year has not yet been named.

Here are the award recipients:

Business of the Year: Arctic Refrigeration Company of Batavia, Inc.  

Agricultural Business of the Year: Baskin Livestock, Inc.

Industry of the Year: Graham Corporation

Entrepreneurial Business of the Year: Adept Equipment Services

Innovative Enterprise of the Year: Palm Island Indoor Waterpark at the Clarion Hotel

Geneseean of the Year:  To Be Announced

This is the county’s premier event that honors businesses and individuals for their achievements in business, community service and volunteerism. If you would like to attend, tickets are $50 per person or a table of 10 for $450.

The evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres. There will be entrée tables and a cash bar (No formal sit-down dinner will be served). The award program starts at 7 and dessert and coffee will be served at that time.

Call Kelly J. Bermingham, at 343-7440, ext. 26, to make your reservations or with any questions you may have.

February 3, 2012 - 2:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Lehigh Valley Derailment Site.

The EPA announced Thursday that barrels full of rock and soil from the site of a 1970 train derailment in Le Roy will be removed by the end of February.

Soil and rock material from the drilling of the groundwater monitoring wells was placed in drums and stored at the site in a fenced-in area. Based upon data previously collected from the drilling activities, this material is believed to be non-hazardous. The EPA has directed the railroad company to do sampling to evaluate the material in some of the drums so they can be removed and disposed of off-site. This work is expected to be completed and the drums removed by the end of February 2012.

Full report (PDF)

UPDATE 5:23 p.m.: Press release from the office of Rep. Kathy Hochul:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After Congresswoman Kathy Hochul spoke with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Judith Enck yesterday, Congresswoman Hochul, along with senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, announced that the EPA will remove barrels from the federal Superfund site in Le Roy by the end of February.

“I’m proud to announce that the EPA will finally help clean up LeRoy and will remove these barrels by the end of this month,” said Congresswoman Hochul. “The health and well-being of my constituents is my top priority and I am glad I was able to help remove these containers. Now we must ensure our local water supply and the soil is clean of any environmental threat.”

“Removing the barrels is absolutely the right thing to do, and I want to thank Administrator Enck and the EPA for getting it done,” said Senator Schumer. “Going forward, it’s going to be absolutely critical that we watch this site like a hawk and keep testing the area to monitor the plume and finish the remediation of this site. The EPA should also release the full December report so that everyone who lives, works, or attends school in the area has the information they need to understand what is being done to clean-up this site.”

“I am pleased to hear that the EPA will remove the barrels from this Superfund site,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. “The EPA must now continue testing and monitoring all areas around the site to assure residents there has been no further contamination. Everyone in Le Roy and Genesee County must know that their community is a safe place to live, visit, work, and raise a family.”

The removed drums will be tested to ensure they are sent to the proper disposal location. Quarterly testing is undertaken at the Superfund site and is next scheduled to take place this month, however Congresswoman Hochul, Senator Schumer, and Senator Gillibrand have sent a letter to the EPA calling on them to release December’s report to the public to ensure the contamination has not spread. A copy of the letter can be found here

On Monday, Congresswoman Hochul sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson calling on the EPA to reevaluate the Superfund site. A copy of the letter can be found here.

February 3, 2012 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in highways, infrastructure, bridges.

Pending federal legislation could have a dramatic impact on Genesee County's ability to repair and maintain its road and bridges, according to Highway Superintendent Tim Hens.

Both the House and Senate version strip most of the aid that has traditionally gone to local governments to help with infrastructure. 

The county is facing more than $15 million a year in expenses over the next five years to repair roads and bridges.

The bill would also realign regional highway planning committees and allow any municipality of more than 10,000 people to set up their own committees.

"There could potentially be hundreds of these planning organizations fighting for the same pot of money," Hens said. "Neither the House version nor the Senate version is very local-friendly."

Hens has drafted a letter to senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand along with Rep. Kathy Hochul asking them to consider the local impact of the legislation.

Hens wrote:

We are certainly in favor of consolidating programs and accelerating delivery measures that reduce the time and cost to bring projects to construction, thereby maximizing the available dollars to the actual construction. However, we are very concerned that funding available to the non-NHS system will fall short of what is critically needed. Although we concur that the NHS is vital to the nation’s economy, it is important that the entire transportation system be considered as one seamless system that needs to preserved and maintained in its entirety. Local governments saddled with mandates just do not have the financial ability to take up these obligations on their own.

Full text of his letter after the jump (click on the headline to read):

February 3, 2012 - 2:08pm

The county is scheduled to receive a $7,200 grant to help fund training for potential food-processing workers, as part of the Finger Lakes Food Processing Cluster Initiative.

The grant will likely assist Genesee Community College in developing food-training classes, said Scott Gage, director of the Job Development Center, and comes at a good time, with companies like Alpina opening factories in Batavia, along with existing businesses such as Yancey's Fancy in Corfu.

"Workers need to learn manufacturing techniques, process control, and health and safety issues," Gage said. "We’re seeing this as a tool to help us with these new businesses moving into the town."

Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, said there is an effort going forward from government agencies, schools and food-processing companies themselves to create a better trained work force for these types of businesses.

He said developing such tech-based job-training programs (and food processing is now a tech-based job) is hugely important for the region.

"We are better aligning education with industry needs," Hyde said. "If you really start being able to deliver (a better trained work force), boy, you are at a key strategic advantage (for attracting new businesses to the area)."

February 3, 2012 - 1:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, mandates.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) is circulating a petition calling for mandate relief during this year’s legislative session seeking public support for a measure that will decrease costs to local governments and drive down taxes. Hawley stated that by showing the governor that Western New Yorkers are on board, real progress stands to be made.

“Here in Western New York, we’re tired of property taxes and other fees skyrocketing year after year due to expensive and unnecessary programs forced on us by state government,” Hawley said.

“We took a step in the right direction with last year’s budget, alleviating some of the pressure on local governments, but we need to do much more. I am hopeful that local taxpayers will join me in showing the governor just how important this is to Western New Yorkers so we can build on last year’s momentum and provide real savings on our tax bills.”

This year, nine state mandates will account for 90 percent of the county’s local property tax levy. The petition can be signed at bit.ly/WNYformandaterelief.

Hard copies are available at the assemblyman’s district office. The assemblyman can be reached at 121 N. Main St., Suite 100, Albion, NY 14411, by phone at 585-589-5780, or via e-mail at [email protected].

February 3, 2012 - 1:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in legislature, Medicaid.

Press release from the Genesee County Legislature:

Importance of Medicaid Petition Drive. Why should Geneseeans Care?

$9.2 million six years ago was the amount Genesee County was spending for Medicaid. 50% of the total program cost is the responsibility of the taxpayer in New York State which is the same in most of the other 49 States. New York State has the 57 New York counties paying a share of this Medicaid Bill each week which in 2012 equals about 18.5% of that 50% state share.

Six years later, $9.8 million is the dollar amount representing 18.5 cents of every dollar spent for Medicaid that Genesee County taxpayers must fund in the 2012 budget year.

Approximately 7,200 individuals are enrolled in Medicaid in Genesee County. In 2014, the Federal Health Statute (Affordable Care Act) is mandating states to select a health care program for those particular state residents in need of health coverage and eligible to enroll. In New York state the choice has been made, Medicaid will be the primary payor. 

Current estimates that there are 5,000 additional county residents eligible for this proposed/expanded Medicaid program. This means an additional 69% increase in Medicaid funding, or in 2012 dollars would mean $6.30 per thousand just to pay the county’s 18.5% of this unfunded mandate.

This is a call to be answered by Genesee County and all New York State residents that have concern to be proactive with their county’s Medicaid petition drive.

Blank petitions are available at your town and village offices and once you have obtained signatures return to your town or village hall or local library. Petitions may also be sent to county residents electronically by contacting the Clerk of the Genesee County Legislature, Carolyn Pratt, 344-2550, ext. 2202, [email protected]

February 3, 2012 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy.

Parents are reporting in comments on The Batavian that the Le Roy Central School District will hold a meeting Saturday morning to introduce report on test results performed at the Jr./Sr. school  Leader Professional Services and discuss a possible round of environmental testing at the Jr./Sr. high school.

On its website, Leader describes its services: "... a full-service environmental, industrial hygiene, safety and transportation compliance services company with principal offices in the following areas: Buffalo, New York; Rochester, New York; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."

The meeting will be from 9 to 10 a.m. in the school auditorium.

Parents received an automated phone message about the meeting.

Meanwhile, Scientific America this morning published an interview with a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Michael Jenike, who said PANS (sometimes called PANDAS) could be the cause of tic symptoms in 15 Le Roy HS students.

Jenike said the disorder was once thought rare, but he believes it is more common than many doctors realize.

I used to think it was very rare, too. I've worked on OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) my whole career, and I couldn't figure out why no one could pin down what was going on with these kids who had had strep. Then the parents got me involved, and I learned a lot more. I now think PANS is extremely common — way, way more common than we thought. I get emails from parents every day whose kids have it. I don't think it is rare, is the bottom line.

The problem is, some doctors don't know about it, and some don't even think it exists, so it isn't diagnosed.

He also said he believes the age range could run higher than previously thought.

According to the article, Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, who reportedly treated 11 of the 12 girls initially reported with the illness, has said PANDAS was ruled out because it is rare and because it only afflicts young children.

UPDATE: Media release from Bill Albert, of the law firm Harris Beach.

Le Roy Central School District Community Meeting
 
Date: Saturday, February 4, 2012
 
Time: 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
 
Place: High School Auditorium, 9300 South Street Road, Le Roy, N.Y.

Topic: As most are aware, the District has hired Leader Professional Services a highly regarded environmental, industrial hygiene, and safety consulting firm. Leader was hired to assess the testing already performed at the high school and to make recommendations for further testing at the school. Leader has completed its review and will present its recommendations for a work plan for additional testing to the parents of students in the District on Saturday, February 4 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. at the high school auditorium.

Presenters from Leadership Professional Services:
Michael P. Rumrill, President/CEO
Mary Ellen Holvey, CIH, Senior Industrial Hygienist
Peter von Schondorf, P.G., Senior Project Manager

Media Information Session 8:30 – 8:55 a.m.: Please join Leader Professional Services representatives and Superintendent Kim Cox at 8:30 a.m. for a media information session to preview the recommendations prior to the community meeting. This session will be held in the school’s library.

Parking: There will be no parking at the school’s parking lot. The school is hosting student Round Robin basketball games in which buses will be dropping off and picking up students throughout the day. You will be directed to park at Hartwood Park located next to the school.

February 3, 2012 - 11:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

In the past 10 years or, call volume for the Town of Batavia Fire Department has jumped from about 50 calls per year to around 300 calls per year, and the number could soar to 800 calls per year in the next two decades.

That kind of growth requires planning, according to Board of Directors Member Tim Yeager, who was joined by department leaders Thursday to unveil a new master plan -- the first of its kind -- for the department.

"What has occured in the past 10 years, what's occurring now and what could potentially happen in the future -- we tried to address all of those things (in the plan)," Yaeger said. "We don't want to play catch up and be reactive. We want to be proactive and anticipate those potentials and better plan for those in order to keep costs down."

The department will remain all volunteer, Yaeger said, but staffing will need to increase from 41 active members to 100 active members.

That kind of recruitment and retention, according to the plan, may mean possible property tax relief for volunteers, stipends, retirement plans as well as other incentives to volunteer. The department's bylaws may also need to be amended to relax the residency requirements.

The biggest expense for the department is in possibly replacing two aging and inadequate fire halls, which could cost $5.8 million and $2.7 million respectively.

The department will also need a second ladder truck at a cost of $625,000 and to replace the current ladder truck, another $1 million. Plus over the next several years, other aging pieces of equipment will need to be replaced at a cost of $400,000 to $500,000.

All of this can be done, Yaeger said, without increasing the fire district's tax rate, which is currently $2.34 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Growth in the town, much of it fueled by the anticipated success of the Genesee Agri-Business Park, will drive up the overall assessed value of property in the town, meaning more revenue for the fire district.

"That increase should sustain us based on our predictions over that 20-year period and keep in consideration any increase in the cost of doing business over those 20 years," said Fire Chief Randy McIntire. "We can keep the tax rate as it is."

Station #1, at 8382 Lewiston Road, is 20 years old and only 6,800 square feet. The concept #1 new station would be 18,000 square feet and include five engine bays, a room for turn-out gear, men's and women's locker rooms, offices, a workout room, lounge area and increased storage.

But Station #2 is perhaps the location in most immediate need of replacement and enlargement.

The large buildings of the ag park will require the fire department to have a ladder truck at Station #2, and with the anticipated growth in both business and residential on the east side of town, the department will need updated trucks and personnel ready to respond from Station #2, according to the report.

Built on Clinton Street Road in 1977, the 1,920-square-foot facility has only two engine bays and not much else.

The concept #2 new station would be 8,200 square feet, have three bays, offices, conference room, locker rooms and a lounge area.

Construction on the new Station #2 would begin in 2014.

While the plan doesn't anticipate a tax increase, and forecasts the ability of the department to pay for new equipment out of tax revenue, the cost of new stations will probably mean the department will need to take out construction loans at an anticipated interest rate of 4.5 percent.

The plan came about because department officials were looking at growth in the town and realized they better be ready for it, but they didn't have a lot of data on what the town was planning or what was anticipated.

Department officials met with town officials over the past several months and gathered data to help them develop a plan for the future.

"We had a lot of ideas, and lot of good ideas on where to move forward, but there was nothing documented," Yaeger said. "We needed to gather the data to justify the decisions that we needed to make. All of the decisions in this plan are based on data."

UPDATE: Forgot to link to the PDF of the report. Here it is.

February 3, 2012 - 8:08am
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, northern pike, skin-diving.

As mentioned in my previous post, by the late '80s chasing down northern pike had taken a back seat on my list of priorities. I did, however, enjoy watching pike -- in addition to other species -- in their own element. Skin-diving local impoundments made that possible and that is how Jody Hebdon and myself bumped heads with one particular northern pike, an encounter that was not only unexpected but also quite invigorating.

On a hot July afternoon several years ago, we had donned mask, fins and snorkel in an attempt to cool off. We hadn't been in the water long when we spotted what looked like the tail end of a decent-sized pike sticking out of the weeds, the rest of it hidden by the dense growth. Several feet below us the fish remained motionless while we watched from the surface. Then, with no warning, it vacated the weed bed with one mighty sweep of its tail. Streamlined and built for ambush, in the blink of an eye that pike was out in the open where we could see its size.     

As I swam down for a closer look, the fish began swimming away from me. Then, about the time it disappeared into the depths, I noticed something strange. There, several feet below the surface, some of the taller growth at the edge of the weed bed appeared to be swaying. Ever so slowly it was beginning to lean in the direction where the fish had disappeared. Taking a closer look, I saw a single strand of monofilament fishing line wrapped around the moving weeds. From there the line angled downward toward the deep water, other end no doubt attached to the pike.

What to do? Grab the line? You bet! But first I needed air. After reaching the surface I told Jody, between deep breaths, just what the deal was. I dove again, seeing small perch and bite-sized bluegills hovering idly about as I tried to relocate the line. I was nearly out of air again when I saw it. Thinking to myself, here goes nothing, I took hold of it and began back finning to the surface. Ascending, I kept my eyes on the line, following it into the darkness. On the other end I could feel the fish, then watched as it emerged from the depths -- and what a sight it was. The pike undulated, shaking its head from side to side, its mouth wide open and gills flared. I remember feeling as though I was watching a Jacques Cousteau documentary.

Water tends to magnify an object, making it appear 25 percent larger than its actual size. Once on the surface, and with the fish twisting and turning below, I turned to Jody and stole what may have been Roy Scheider's most memorable cinema line (from "Jaws" of course), blurting out, "We're gonna need a bigger boat!"

Several times I slowly worked the fish close only to have it take back the line each time, not in long, slashing runs, but slow and deliberate, disappearing back into the depths. Jody and I would later discover there were 19 yards of line attached to the pike -- exactly 57 feet. 

After 45 minutes of give-and-take, we had worked the fish into water about six-feet deep. Previous experience with pike told me the most crucial time was at hand. Fish about to be brought to the net often go ballistic -- even those appearing exhausted. And because we had no net, we planned to slip our hands beneath the pike and flip it onto shore. What's more, we had a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth to contend with.

Of all the pike I've tangled with through the years, this one certainly ranks right up there in terms of excitement -- perhaps even more so. I mean, how often does one get face to face with their catch while it's still in the water?

February 3, 2012 - 12:39am
posted by Andrew Crofts in GCC, sports, Men's Basketball.

After their first loss in conference play to Jamestown Community College on Tuesday night, the Genesee Community College men’s basketball team looked to rebound on Thursday night when the played host to Monroe Community College.

The Tribunes grabbed the first lead after a back-and-forth start when they went up 18-13 with 12 minutes remaining. Deylon Bovell (Brooklyn, NY) finished a three point play, capping off a 10-2 run in a span of two minutes for the Cougars, to give the home team a 23-20 advantage. Monroe would bounce back, however, and ended the first half on a 16-3 run, taking a 13-point 49-36 lead into the half.

(#2 Kevin Nascimento tries to hold off a Monroe defender during the Cougars loss to the Tribunes on Thursday night)

MCC started the second half much like they ended the first and grabbed a 20-point, 58-38 lead just four minutes in. The Cougars struggled to gain any ground throughout the remainder of the second half and were out-rebounded 53-30 on the night. Monroe never saw their lead drop below 20 and the Tribunes downed GCC, 93-70.

Bovell lead all scorers with 18 points, Kenton Chan-Man (Brooklyn, NY) finished with 15 points, Mike Glenn (Fairport, NY) added 11 points and Dijon Wright (Philadelphia, PA) added 10 points.

The Cougars drop to 13-9 on the season and 5-2 in conference play. They will travel to Alfred State on Tuesday for a 7:30 tip.

February 3, 2012 - 12:34am
posted by Andrew Crofts in GCC, sports, Women's Basketball.

The Genesee Community College women’s basketball team could not handle Division I Monroe Community College on Thursday night, as the visiting Lady Tribunes (ranked #14 in the country) downed the Lady Cougars 84-30.

Genesee struggled from the floor all night, shooting only 18.8% and were out-rebounded 66-36.

Jasmine Armstead (Rochester, NY) was the only GCC scorer to reach double figures, finishing the night with 13 points. Kayla Golden (Lackawanna, NY) chipped in with six points and collected eight rebounds and Chyna Lennox (Moseley, VA) added four points.

(Genesee head coach Christie McGee-Ross talks to her team during a timeout on Thursday night)

Genesee falls to 6-17 on the season and will travel to Alfred State on Tuesday for their next contest at 5:30pm.

February 2, 2012 - 9:54pm

It is clear to me that there is a lot of pain in our community and that people are looking to the leadership to better understand what is going on and what to do. Here’s my perspective.

I would like to start by saying that my heart truly goes out to the children and families directly affected by the Tourette's-like symptoms. I cannot even imagine how hard and possibly devastating this is for you! As a parent I do know what it is like to have your dreams for your child shattered (even if only temporarily) by forces with more power than you.

What I understand is that everyone would like answers. I am with you on this. We have some answers, but many of our questions are currently unanswered. It is very clear that there are a few students in our district of high-school age that are experiencing very real symptoms that resemble Tourette's. They and their parents are looking for answers as to why this is happening to them. I am not a doctor, neither is the school district. I do assume, though, that the reasons may not be the same for everyone and that everyone directly affected is desirous of a clear conclusion. While we search for answers we should keep in mind that the human brain is an extremely complex organ that we still do not fully understand.

Initially it seemed like this was an issue strictly affecting the school district and the high school specifically. My reaction as a community leader was that everything was being taken care of and under control, no need to worry. As the numbers of students affected began to increase it started to look like maybe there was a need for concern, but the school district was on top of it, so no need to panic. In the last few days, though, the situation seems to have escalated and spiraled rapidly out of control causing many rumors that have resulted in panic.

I am here to say that I do not have the answers. I know only what you already know. I've read Superintendent Cox's publications, read The Batavian and the Daily online, watched some of the Today Show and Dr. Drew, and listened to the opinions of others. What is clear to me is that there is more than one issue going on here and that the first brought the others to light. Thanks to the unrelenting efforts of some very strong parents who desperately want answers, we now know that the site of the train derailment 40-plus years ago was not properly cleaned up. It seems this is now being addressed. We also learned that there is another Superfund cleanup site in the area. The experts believe that these sites do not have anything to do with the Tourette's-like symptoms that are being exhibited by some of our youth. It is a good thing, though, that this was questioned otherwise we might not be seeing action at the derailment site. Clearly the contamination is not even near the school. I was speaking with someone today who served on the conservation committee at the time that the school was built, it seems very unlikely that any contaminated soil from the derailment site was used at the school site. I say it seems very unlikely because the site was already known to be contaminated before the school was built, but I take nothing for granted and support testing to put that question to bed for everyone.

Howard Owens, owner of The Batavian, did some research on some of the rumors that have been floating around. You can read what he found here: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/le-roy-high-school-property-rumors-a.... I also recommend looking at: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/follow-information-epa-and-dec-situa.... Finally, this statement was released yesterday in regard to water tests: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/nih-offers-no-cost-consultations-bet.... It also includes an offer from NIH and NIHM, that was reiterated on Dr. Drew last night, for free consultation through these agencies. I hope that the families will take this offer as it seems that with these two agencies working together on their behalf answers will be found. Also I would like to call your attention to the Le Roy Pennysaver this weekend as I happen to know that there will be a well researched piece in regards to the derailment in there. To satisfy my own curiosity I have also asked my own DEC contact if the school is built on a swamp or just swampy and will let you know when I have an answer.

I am not an expert on the environment. Those of you who know me know I am a relentless recycler that even throws toilet paper and paper towel cores in the recycle bin with used tissues rather than into the landfill; I try to guilt people into saving Terra Cycle items for the school because it earns PTSO money, when truly I just am grateful to keep it out of the landfill; that I carry paper coffee cups around with me for hours and hours until I find a recycle bin; I freak out a little on my family if they buy water in plastic bottles (ok, a lot); and I also know a great deal about VOCs in regards to paint and stain and would like to see more no-VOC products used in our public facilities. Even so, the Superfund sites and the environmental questions at the school are beyond my area of expertise.

What I can say for certain is that I do not believe in any way that there is a conspiracy to cover something up. You know that if I am proven to be wrong about this I will be the first to step up and admit it. I understand why people might believe there is a cover up, though. I support productive questioning of everything. Does the (swimming) pool ring a bell? All of us live here together in the same small community, shop at the same stores, go to the same gyms and restaurants, and most of us even drink the same water, including Mrs. Cox. I do not believe that anyone is trying to maliciously cover up. I do believe, though, that none of us are experts on how to deal with the situation, particularly the resultant media spotlight.

Above all else, I believe that together as a community we can find answers, overcome this, and heal. We are strong as a team. Perhaps one of the most important ways we can do this is to try to stop the rumors. Rumors tend to be inflammatory and divisive. They can be productive if we look at them as being a tool to finding answers, but if we look at them as truth then we stall our own efforts to move forward and find real answers. Please let us not point the finger of blame, but instead unite around the truth we have and the questions we want answered and around the families who have brought all of this to our attention. Human beings are incredibly strong and resilient in the face of adversity. Let’s show our strength to each other and the rest of the country and heal as a community. United we stand, divided we fall, has been proven true after all.

Below I will paste several links to recent Batavian coverage of this issue so that you have quick references to look at. Earlier today I posted on my FB page that I was considering blogging about this and asked for my friends’ input on what I should include. I believe I have covered much of it; more of it will be covered in the Pennysaver this weekend. I would like to know from the rest of you what you would like to see from your community leaders, particularly those of us who are elected. I want to know your ideas. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing them here please feel free to confidentially contact me via email me at [email protected].

As always, I appreciate your reading this and your input. Thank you, Howard, for providing us with this forum to update people and to discuss issues on.

Today: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/hawley-issues-statement-le-roy-illne... Yesterday: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/le-roy-illnesses-todays-efforts-gath... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/le-roy-superintendent-releases-lette... Monday: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/photos-drive-down-gulf-road-le-roy/3... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/hochul-responds-question-about-situa... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/statement-released-le-roy-central-sc... Over the weekend: http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/statement-released-le-roy-central-sc... http://thebatavian.com/howard-owens/specialist-questions-scientific-vali... (This is not an exhaustive list.)

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