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February 26, 2015 - 9:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame girls basketball team won its first Section V Class C1 playoff game of 2015 with a rout over Williamson, 55-29.

The Fighting Irish took a commanding 31-4 lead into the half.

Shea Norton (#44) hit three threes and had 17 points on the night. Becca Krenzer had 12 and Emma Francis had 11, including a trio of threes.

For Williamson, Kiki Hall had 11 and Maddie Thornson finished with 10.

Next up for Notre Dame (16-4), Byron-Bergen (16-3), at 2 p.m., Saturday at Byron-Bergen.

February 26, 2015 - 9:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, infrastructure.

The City of Batavia's Water Department is making repairs to a broken water main in the area of Treadeasy Drive this morning. Water service is interrupted on Industrial Boulevard and Treadeasy Drive, primarily south of the railroad tracks.

February 25, 2015 - 6:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, veterans, VA Hospital, va center.

The VA Hospital in Batavia has a new NCO Club on the third floor thanks to the efforts of residents, staff and several area veterans groups who donated money and material to make it possible. The club will be a place for veterans to gather and socialize while at the VA.

The new club, a converted storage room, was dedicated today with speeches and a ribbon cutting.

February 25, 2015 - 4:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCC, david steel.

CORRECTION: We posted the wrong time for today's presentation at GCC by marketing and social media expert David Steel. It was scheduled to start at 12 not 2.

The Batavian regrets the error and any inconvenience this caused.

Thankfully, GCC videotaped the whole thing and if you'd like to view his presentation "Be Heard: Influence Marketing -- Locating, Engaging & Motivating Customers Online" simply send an e-mail to:

[email protected]

Subject: David Steel

And they will supply a link with which to view the presentation with Steele's permission.

Steel is the chief viral officer of Sneeze.it, a digital marketing agency, a division of The Steel Method. He is the author of "The Care and Feeding of Highly Aggressive Sales People" and also the soon-to-be-released, "Sneeze.it." A renowned keynote speaker, author, motivator and marketing strategist, Steel is widely recognized for his ability to help organizations monetize their social networks.

At Sneeze.it, he teaches company executives the fundamentals of utilizing social media channels to attract prospects, build a lead pipeline and convert those leads into paying customers. He has a proven track record of turning business owners from social media novices into savvy social media marketers.

February 25, 2015 - 3:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, tax liens.

Here's a list of the properties to be auctioned off to the highest bidder by Genesee County as part of a tax lien auction at 10 a.m., March 14, at Bontrager's on Wortendyke Road. For more on the auction, which includes City of Batavia tax foreclosures as well, visit bontragerauction.com

Address Town Type Delinquency Value
6287 Knowlesville Rd. Alabama Single family $3,037 $37,800
Bowen Rd. Alexander Vacant land $3,493 $29,000
Route 98 Alexander Vacant land $1,064 $3,400
11098 Route 98 Alexander Single family $6,342 $61,500
6859 Route 237 Byron Single family $10,247 $45,300
6371 Freeman Rd. Byron Single family $10,439 $50,000
6062 Oak Orchard Rd. Elba Mobile home $1,141 $4,000
5054 Hundredmark Rd. Elba Seasonal residence $2,851 $7,000
7150 Weatherwax Rd. Elba Single family $1,970 $5,000
7011 W. Main Rd. LeRoy Commercial $128,512 $375,000
9339 Warsaw Rd. LeRoy Mobile home $2,314 $19,500
10875 South Lake Rd. Pavilion Mobile home $9,837 $86,000
1448 Indian Falls Rd. Pembroke Single family $6,288 $83,200
8576 N. Lake Rd. Pembroke Old church residence $3,977 $30,000
Alleghany Rd. Pembroke Vacant land $3,227 $21,300
Genesee St. Pembroke Vacant land $551 $500
Clinton St. Rd. Stafford Vacant land $2,084 $2,700
6224 Route 5 Stafford Vacant land $20,309 $6,200
Spring St. Bergen Village Vacant land $1,424 $5,300
29 LeRoy St. Bergen Village Vacant land $2,084 $8,900
42 South St. LeRoy Village Single family $23,693 $77,000
19 Munson St. LeRoy Village Single family $14,769 $76,700
9266 Robbins Rd. LeRoy Village Single family $27,086 $28,000
February 25, 2015 - 3:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today criticized Gov. Cuomo’s budget negotiation tactic of tying funding for New York’s Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to passage of the DREAM Act. Hawley said we shouldn’t play politics with college students’ education and it is wrong to link such a vital higher education program to the passage of a politically tumultuous initiative.  

“It would be wrong to jeopardize TAP funding, which hundreds of thousands of college students rely on every year because the governor wants to pass a politically controversial initiative,” Hawley said. “With the cost of college and university tuition continuing to rise and student loan debt at an all time high, it is insulting to hold this funding hostage in exchange for providing illegal aliens access to taxpayer-funded tuition assistance. The average TAP award per student is upwards of $2,500 which, if not available next year, could lead to hundreds of thousands of students being unable to attend a New York college or university.”

Hawley’s comments come after Gov. Cuomo released his 30-day amendments, which link passage of TAP funding to several education initiatives, including the DREAM Act. The 2015-16 Executive Budget proposal includes an additional $27 million in TAP funding for the DREAM Act.

February 25, 2015 - 2:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, pembroke.

Anthony W. Janda, 37, of Gasport, is charged with DWI, speed unreasonable, failure to use designated lane and driving across hazardous markings. Janda's vehicle left the south shoulder of Route 5 in Pembroke and struck a snow embankment. Upon a trooper's arrival, Janda was in a Mercy EMS ambulance. The trooper said he detected "an overwhelming odor of an alcoholic beverage." The trooper administered two field sobriety tests and a breath test, which indicated alcohol consumption. Janda was transported to ECMC as a precaution and reportedly refused a blood test for the trooper, though the hospital had already drawn blood.

Vanessa Lynn Silvernail, 29, of Meadow Farm North, North Chili, is charged with DWI, aggravated DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, moving from lane unsafely and drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle. Silvernail was arrested following an investigation into a one-vehicle accident in which the vehicle left the roadway on North Road, Town of Le Roy, and went into a ditch at 12:30 a.m. The accident was investigated by Deputy Joseph Loftus.

Annie E. Johnson, 86, of Milbank Street, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on an overnight parking ticket in the city. Johnson turned herself in and was released on $100 bail.

Christina M. Sanchez-Anderson, 26, of Bank Street, Batavia, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear on a possession of stolen property, 5th, charge. Sanchez-Anderson turned herself in, was arraigned in City Court and released on her own recognizance.

Lee Edward Richeson, 53, of 8th Street, Canisteo, is charged with possession of more than 400 untaxed cigarettes. Richeson was stopped at 11:50 a.m. Tuesday on Route 77, Pembroke, for an alleged traffic violation by Deputy Patrick Reeves.

February 25, 2015 - 2:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in business, agriculture.

Press release:

The 2015 NYS Dry Bean Growers Meeting will be held Wednesday, March 18, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m., at the Le Roy Country Club, one mile east of Le Roy on Route 5 / East Main Road. The agenda includes discussion of varieties, insects, disease and weed pests. There will also be bean dish sampling. Join us for important dry bean production and market updates! DEC and CCA credits will be available.

Lunch will include tasty, healthy NYS dry bean dishes from the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food.

Preregister by March 10 to save $5! Sponsored by New York Bean, LLC, and Empire Tractor, Waterloo.

Sclerotinia white mold caused significant losses in 2014 due to the wet season. New Cornell plant pathologist Sarah Pethybridge will explain white mold development, cultural practices and fungicide choices/timing to reduce risk, and new research ideas. Progress on breeding for white mold resistant dry beans, and improved yields will be reported. Results of Cornell variety trials comparing yield, maturity, canning quality, etc. will be presented. Western bean cutworm (WBC) feeding damage on beans has now been detected in several locations.

The 2014 WBC moth survey will be summarized, and recommendations for bean damage control will be provided. Final results of a reduced tillage dry bean weed control trial, and trials of potential new herbicides, will be presented. The effects of long-term reduced tillage, rotation and cover crops on dry bean yield and root rot will be described. There is increased cost-sharing available for such good soil management.

There will be a report from the U.S. Dry Bean Council, and a summary of the Feb. 9 Organic Dry Bean Discussion. The NYS Dry Bean Industry Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m., and decisions on funding 2015 dry bean research will be made.

Cost if preregistered by March 10: $20 for Cornell Vegetable Program enrollees; $30 for all others. Cost is $5 more at the door. To preregister, go to cvp.cce.cornell.edu or send a check, payable to Cornell Vegetable Program, to CCE Cornell Vegetable Program, Attn: Angela Parr, 480 N. Main St., Canandaigua, NY 14424.

For sponsor opportunities, contact Angela Parr at [email protected] or 585-394-3977, ext. 426. Questions or special needs, contact Carol MacNeil at [email protected] or 585-394-3977, ext. 406. In case of bad weather, call 585-394-3977, ext. 406, for a message.

February 25, 2015 - 11:45am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, agriculture, elba, NY Farm Bureau.

Heading into the 2015 legislative session, the top priority for the New York Farm Bureau is immigration reform, said Dean Norton, bureau president, during a media conference call this morning.

The Elba resident is in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with members of New York's congressional delegation to represent farmers' interests.

"We need a stable, legal, reliable workforce," Norton said. "What we have now is broken. A stable workforce on our farms means a stable rural economy."

The Farm Bureau is calling on Washington to create a visa program or temporary worker program that will make it easier for farmers to hire and retain farm workers and not worry about all of their workers being taken away by immigration officials without notice.

"Everybody (in Washington) understands there's a problem, but neither side trusts and has faith in the other side to deal fairly," Norton said. "Both sides want to hold immigration as a political football."

The Farm Bureau is also looking for clarification from the FDA on food safety rules and there's been some progress on that front, Norton said.

Until recently, a small dairy farm with gross revenue of $500,000 that also grows a few strawberries for a fruit stand would face reams of regulations for the strawberry operation, but the FDA will start to apply those rules to $500,000 per crop, so the strawberry operation would not be covered in that circumstance.

Still a top priority for the Farm Bureau is the EPA's proposed rule change on what constitutes navigable waters. Farmers remain concerned that rule changes would bring into regulation small --- even very small -- bodies of water on farms.

"We continue to push the EPA for a clarification on the rules," Norton said. "Of the comments sent in by individuals, 58 percent of the comments ask the EPA to start over and become better partners with agriculture and come up with rules that are better for everybody."

Also on today's conferance call was Elisabeth Walters, director of national affairs, who said the Farm Bureau is paying close attention to the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, and is pushing for trade reform and reforms in tax structure to encourage more farmers to donate crops to local food pantries.

Norton said farmers want greater access to foreign markets, which means trade agreements, and the president should have greater authority to reach trade deals. 

Rep. Chris Collins has publicly opposed the idea, and Norton said he would be meeting with Collins today to discuss the issue with him.

"The reason we're in favor of it is that our trading partners want to deal with one person, not negotiate with 365," Norton said.

February 25, 2015 - 11:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba.

Law enforcement is being dispatched to Batavia Elba Townline Road near Pekin after a highway worker reported he had a confrontation with a resident who is blowing snow in the road.

The worker said this isn't the first time the issue has come up.

"He gave it to me and I gave it right back to him," the worker told dispatchers.

The worker said the resident videotaped the encounter.

"He's putting the hazard right back in the road," the worker said.

February 25, 2015 - 10:34am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, high school sports, pembroke, byron-bergen.

Two teams, evenly matched, made for action-packed basketball at Byron-Bergen Tuesday night, but a 14-2 run in the second quarter made all the difference for Pembroke as the Dragons pulled out a 51-45 win in a first-round Section V playoff game.

Byron-Bergen and Pembroke came into the game as the #8 and #9 seeds, both with 7-12 records and having split their two regular season contests.

"We know everything that they're running," said Chad Smith, Bees head coach. "I mean, he had to change up his pace and we were able to adjust to it. We figured it out. We did a great job. He knows pretty much what we're doing. We worked them down to five seconds on the shot clock a lot throughout the night, but they had guys come up big."

Smith and Pembroke Coach Matt Shay agreed that the turning point was the second quarter, when shots stopped dropping for the Bees and the Dragons got hot.

"We really locked down defensively and that was huge because they made some shots in the first quarter and I told the guys after the first quarter, I thought we were playing solid defense, but they were just making tough, good shots, good offensive plays. I told the guys, 'stick with it.' I think the defense looked pretty good and eventually those percentages even themselves out."

The game wasn't really decided into the closing second, but Byron-Bergen wasn't able to run its plays to get some scores.

Smith realizes he has a young team and he's eager to start off-season work with his returning players with an eye toward a stronger 2015-16.

"We've got a great group of kids," Smith said. "They work their tails off for me. I knew it was going to be a fight. They weren't going to give up at all until the end. I'm very proud of our guys.
I think we're moving in the right direction."

For Pembroke, Ryan Cansdale had 16 points, Zack Von Kramer, 10, and Kyle Ludwig hit three triples on his way to a 10-point game.

For the Bees, Steele Truax had 11, and Brandon Burke and Adam Strassner had 10 each.

Next up for Pembroke at 7 p.m., Friday, is #1 seed Mynderse (15-4). 

Shay knows it's going to be a tough game for his young team.

"We're definitely the underdog, which is OK with us because we've been an underdog team for most the season," Shay said. "I don't try to focus too much on the other team. We will get focused on what we do and execute on what we do rather than concentrate on what they do."

To purchase prints, click here.

February 24, 2015 - 10:24pm
posted by Lou DiToro in chamber of commerce, Chamber Awards, Muller Quaker.

This is the third in our series of profiles of the 2014 Chamber of Commerce Award winners. The awards will be presented at a dinner at the Clarion Hotel on Saturday.

When a manufacturer impacts a region economically like Muller Quaker Dairy has, that’s a big boost for the area. When that manufacturer also turns out to be an outstanding corporate citizen, then it should be recognized. And it has been. The Genesee Chamber of Commerce named Muller Quaker Business of the Year for 2014.

Muller Quaker Diary is the biggest dairy manufacturing plant to open in Genesee County in 55 years. It’s provided a huge boost economically to the region. It pumps as much as $150 million annually into the local dairy and fruit farms. That’s on top of the $206 million capital investment Muller Quaker made to build the giant production plant in the Ag Park location. Plus, Muller Quaker sources all milk for its yogurt locally.

Muller Quaker Boosts Local Economy

The facility also provided about 160 new jobs — all of which are at the computerized facility. With a new production line starting in the fall, Muller Quaker expects to add as many as 20 to 30 additional jobs to the plant’s payroll. This is in addition many jobs the facility has created in the community’s agriculture, hospitality, and business services sector.

“We have much more room to expand the plant,” says Kevin Williams (pictured), supply chain vice president, who has been with the company about three years. “We built facility so it could grow with our business. And we continue to innovate new and delicious products so we can do just that." 

The facility sits on 82 acres of land in the Ag Park and has three production lines that can produce more than 120,000 cups of yogurt per hour. It can accommodate up to eight production lines with room for future expansion. The Muller Quaker Dairy plant is the largest LEED-certified dairy manufacturing plant in the world.

Makes Impact in Community

In addition to stimulating the area's economy, Muller Quaker makes an impact in the community. Employees invest hundreds of hours annually in community activities, like participating in food drives and supporting the Salvation Army at Christmastime. Muller Quaker also supports local educational projects and gives facility tours for kids and residents.

“We’re involved in numerous community projects,” says Williams. “In fact, we encourage employees to go out into the community and contribute. Put simply, we get involved. And it’s our absolute pleasure to do so. It’s the way we like to operate.”

From a marketing standpoint, the production facility helps Muller Quaker compete in the $6.2 billion U.S. yogurt marketplace. It serves as the national production and distribution center for the Muller brand, which launched in select regional markets in 2012. Its products include Muller Corner®, Muller Greek Corner®, and Muller FruitUp™ varieties. 

The facility’s yogurt helps satisfy the increased demand for value-added dairy products in America, where per capita consumption of yogurt is generally less than half that of Europe. Per capita consumption in the United States has more than doubled in the past decade, according to an article in Food Business News. Retail sales in the United States are expected to approach $9.3 billion by 2017.

Joins Two Powerhouses

The Muller Quaker Dairy joins the complementary strengths of two powerhouse global companies. The Quaker Oats Company, a subdivision of PepsiCo, is among the world’s most recognized and trusted brands. The Theo Muller Group is one of Germany’s largest privately held dairy businesses. It’s also among Europe’s top yogurt producers, making yogurt and other products for more than 100 years.

The Muller Quaker Dairy stands poised to help its parent company dominate the growing yogurt market in the States. By boosting the region’s economy and helping out in the community, it’s increased the region’s optimism -- ample reason to name Muller Quaker the Business of the Year for 2014.

February 24, 2015 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, schools, education, Jackson School.

Ella, Mrs. Shuknecht’s First Grade
My Snowman
My snowman’s name is Krystal. She is fancy and happy.  She likes to wear bows and a hat. Her favorite food is ice cream cake. When it is cold outside she likes to have snowball fights and go snowboarding. 

Parris, Mrs. Bigsby’s First Grade
My Grandma’s House
I went to my grandma’s house. It was a special place. First, I ate dinner with my grandpa and grandma. It was good. I had turkey and mashed potatoes with them. Next, I played at the park with my friend, Emma. We played on the monkey bars. Last, I went to feed the ducks. I fed them bread.  I had a great time at my grandma’s. I hope I can visit them again soon. 

Martha, Mrs. Bigsby’s First Grade
My Papa’s House
I went to my papa’s house and it was a special place. First, I ate dinner with my papa and my grandma. It was delicious. Next, we watched the Croods. It was a funny movie. Last, they took me to the park. I went on the swings. I had fun at the park. I had a great time at my papa’s house. I hope I can visit him again soon. 

Jay’lee, Mrs. Mattice’s Kindergarten
Penguins
Penguins can swim. 
Penguins have blubber. 
They have claws. 
They have beaks. 

Trey, Mrs. Wolff’s Kindergarten
Seasons
My favorite season is summer because I play baseball with my brother, mom and my dad.

Brandon, Mrs. Colvin’s First Grade
How to Build a Snowman
To make a snowman I would first roll three snowballs. One big, one medium and one small. Then, I would stack them. The biggest on the bottom, then the medium and finally the smallest on the top.  I would decorate. My arms would be sticks. My nose would be a carrot. My eyes would be coal.  My mouth would be rocks. I would do a scarf with a zigzag design. I would name my snowman Snowy and give him a hug. 

More after the jump:

February 24, 2015 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, elba, pembroke, Le Roy.

Zaid Amhad Alhariri, 47, of Dodge Street, Buffalo, is charged with possession of more than 4,600 untaxed cigarettes. Alhariri was stopped for alleged traffic violations at 12:23 p.m. Sunday on Route 77, Pembroke, by Deputy Patrick Reeves. He was allegedly found in possession of 4,600 untaxed cigarettes with a value of $1,055.

Cindy Lou Bush, 63, of Oak Orchard Road, Elba, is charged with five counts of criminal contempt, 2nd. Bush was allegedly involved in an incident at 7:30 p.m. Monday at a residence on Oak Orchard Road, Elba, with five other people, all who are the subject of a complete stay away order issued to Bush.

Annette Monique McMillian, 30, of Elmdorf Street, Rochester, is charged with scheme to defraud, 1st, petit larceny and issuing a bad check. McMillian was arrested on a warrant after turning herself in to Monroe County Probation. She was arraigned in Le Roy Town Court and jailed on $1,000 bail.

February 24, 2015 - 3:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime.

Nina Kelso isn't sure she should have entered a guilty plea in October to one count of animal cruelty, the Batavia woman indicated in City Court today as she wiped away tears.

She told Judge Robert Balbick that she wanted a new attorney before being sentenced on the conviction.

"I need somebody more suitable for somebody who attends mental health and needs more help with the case to be able to show their innocence and not be pretty scared into taking a plea," Kelso said.

Under no circumstances, Balbick told her, would she be allowed to withdraw her guilty plea, nor would he assign a new county-paid attorney to her, but he did give her two weeks to hire her own attorney.

In October, Kelso entered a guilty plea on an Alford basis, meaning she admits she would likely be found guilty by a jury, but did not admit to the facts of the case.

It's been a year since Kelso was first accused of mistreating her former dog, Fox'r. Fox'r was found by an animal control officer extremely malnourished at Kelso's residence.

Kelso maintained that Fox'r had eaten something that made him sick.

Today, Kelso said she felt pressured to enter a guilty plea because she said her attorney -- her second attorney on the case -- had told her if she didn't plead guilty, she would likely be found guilty by a jury and sent to jail once convicted.

Balbick reminded Kelso that when he accepted her plea, she questioned her about her understanding of the plea and her confidence in her attorney.

"If you had given any indication you were not making the plea voluntarily, I would not have taken the plea," Balbick said. "We went through the entire plea process very, very clearly."

The plea deal required Kelso to surrender ownership of Fox'r, who had been languishing in the animal shelter for eight months, so he could be adopted by a new family. It also came with a stipulation that Kelso would not be sent to jail.

Kelso is scheduled to reappear in City Court for sentencing in two weeks.

February 24, 2015 - 1:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Habitat for Humanity.

The city's tax lien auction list for 2015 includes 12 parcels, with five single-family homes and two commercial buildings.

City staff is also recommending the sale of three vacant homes in poor condition to Habitat for Humanity for rehabilitation and sale to a low-income family.

There's also a piece of vacant property on Law Street next to the city's current yard waste collection center -- the center is on leased land -- that may be suitable for a new yard waste facility.

These four properties aren't included on the list of properties slated to be auctioned off March 14 at Bontrager's on Wortendyke Road, Town of Batavia.

In a memo to City Council, City Manager Jason Molino noted that the city has previously sold seven single-family homes to Habitat for Humanity, and these homes have been successfully rehabilitated and occupied, increasing the average assessment by 38 percent.

The three properties to be offered to Habitat this year are:

  • 54 Oak St., which has been vacant since March 2011, for $2,500
  • 131 Pearl St., which has been vacant since August 2012, for $1,000
  • 240 State St., whose owner died, for $2,500

The foreclosed properties slated for auction are:

Address Type Delinquency Value
214 Ellicott St. Commercial $13,396 $70,000
Ellicott Street, rear Vacant land $2,923 $31,000
Hall, City Centre Commercial $1,146 $10,000
30 Hutchins Place Vacant land $2,458 $3,600
26-28 Hutchins Place Vacant land $17,421 $35,000
South Main St. Vacant land $88 $100
159 Bank St. Single family $22,017 $72,000
33 Clinton St. Single family $37,630 $79,000
42 Lyon St. Single family $24,479 $69,000
27 Oak St. Single family $31,817 $60,000
210 Ross St. Single family $32,532 $68,000
214 Swan St. Two family $32,532 $68,000
141 Liberty St. Vacant land $9,325 $6,800

As in previous years, buyers will be reviewed by city staff and the city reserves the right to reject a purchase a buyer it believes is not qualified to maintain the property.

February 24, 2015 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, city centre, mall merchants association.

So far, attorneys have been paid a combined $207,000 for the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchants Association to battle in court over who is responsible for what in the rapidly deteriorating structure.

There's a chance now the case may go to mediation, the City Council was informed Monday night.

After losing a motion for a summary judgement, City Manager Jason Molino said the MMA is willing to submit to mediation. 

A final agreement on mediation has not be completed.

The city and MMA have locked horns over responsibility for concourse maintenance, major repairs, ownership and governance.

In 2009, the MMA filed suit against the city.

Since then, the city has spent $104,199 on legal fees, while the suit has cost the mall merchants $103,317, according to Molino's memo.

"A thriving and healthy City Centre is critical to the City's downtown revitalization, and the City is very interested in an overall resolution that will best support long-term and prosperous solutions for all parties involved," Molino wrote.

February 24, 2015 - 12:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business.

A $200,000 federal grant could help create from five to 10 new businesses in Batavia, the City Council was told Monday night.

The "micro-enterprise" grant program is designed to help fund businesses with fewer than five employees either through a start-up or growth phase.

The minimum federal requirement for the program is that five business owners receive benefits and five new jobs are created.

Recipients would be required to attend classes at GCC's Best Center covering the fundamentals of owning and operating a business, including planning, legal issues, accounting and financing. 

The program would be supervised by the Batavia Development Corp. with the assistance of a grant administrator.

In total, $150,000 would be available for grants to small business owners, with $31,300 for program delivery, $10,000 for grant administration, and $8,700 for classroom instruction.

The money given out would be in the form of grants, not loans.

City Manager Jason Molino told council members that it's his understanding the federal government would require some sort of claw back for businesses that fail or move out of the city within the first three years after receiving the grant.

The City Council will vote on a resolution to accept the federal money at its March 9 meeting.

February 24, 2015 - 11:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, City Budget.

Councilman John Deleo opposes including money for an assistant city manager in Batavia's budget for 2015-16 and wants his vote on the record.

In what one of his colleagues characterized as an 11th-hour plea, Deleo asked near the end of Monday's City Council meeting how he goes about proposing a budget amendment.

Deleo said his constituents don't want him to drop the issue.

"We talked about it at budget time, but it never came up," Deleo said. "It was never put on the agenda here, but I made a promise to the voters that they wouldn't grease the rails and slide this though. I would make sure I would bring it up."

The council approved the addition of an assistant city manager position in the 2014-15 budget and over the summer, local resident Gretchen Difante was hired to fill the role. Since then, she's worked on a variety of issues for the city, including flood insurance, problems with the emergency communications system, administrative services, including finance, the clerk-treasurer, personnel, information technology, the youth bureau and assessment. She's even been called on to help city residents deal with feral cats.

Her annual salary is $75,950.

While Deleo maintains the majority of the people he's heard from say the city should eliminate Difante's job, Councilman John Canale said he is hearing a completely different message.

The feedback he's getting, he said, is the job is needed.

Couching his words with phrases like "in all due respect" Canale was critical of Deleo's request for a vote after the council has already been through budget work sessions and a public hearing on the budget.

The budget needs to be approved by April 1 and making a substantial change at this stage would require a second public hearing, which could potentially jeopardize timely passage.

At any point in the process, Deleo could have made a motion to eliminate the job, but didn't. 

"This is a knee-jerk reaction," Canale said. "We had this discussion many, many times. We had several budget sessions and nowhere did you ask Mr. Molino to take it out of the budget."

Canale called on Deleo to show some leadership and do what's right for the city.

"I voted against this job from the get go," Deleo said, "because that's what the people said. I still work for the people. I'm still against this and I want to get it on the record that I'm still against it and that's what I'm asking for."

At one point, after much discussion, Deleo made a motion, seconded by Briggs, to schedule a budget workshop session for Friday evening.

At such a session, Deleo could make his motion and if it passed -- and even Deleo conceded it wasn't likely to pass -- a public hearing on the amended budget could be scheduled.

After further discussion, City Manager Jason Molino said he had run some calendar calculations, and if the council waits until its March 9 meeting for a vote on Deleo's proposed budget amendment there would be a day or two of wiggle room to get in a public hearing before a final budget vote.

With that, Deleo withdrew his motion for an early meeting.

At several points during the discussion, Molino told council that at no point has the council expressed a request for him to do a budget analysis on the impact of removing the position, both for its impact on the tax rate and its impact on city operations.

By the end of the meeting, no council member made that request.

February 23, 2015 - 9:46pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in awards, cancer, Genesee Cancer Assistance.

This is the second in our series of profiles of the 2014 Chamber of Commerce Award winners. The awards will be presented at a dinner at the Clarion Hotel on Saturday.

One of Genesee County's most active volunteer organizations is in for a pretty big year. Genesee Cancer Assistance is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and it's being honored with a Special Service Recognition Award from the Chamber of Commerce.

Consisting of two office staff and around 50 volunteers, Genesee Cancer Assistance was founded in 1995 after the American Cancer Society withdrew its services from Genesee County. The organization provides emotional, financial and practical support to Genesee County cancer patients and their families. According to office manager Patricia Arnold, they have helped about 1,700 families and given more than half a million dollars to cancer patients in the last 20 years.

Some of their most well-known annual fund-raising events include the Festival of Hope, 5K Walk, golf tournament and spaghetti dinner.

Their nomination came from Paul Figlow, a member of the Genesee Cancer Assistance board of directors and chairman of the Festival of Hope.

"The reason I nominated (Genesee Cancer Assistance) is that I really think we need to get the word out about what we do," Figlow said.

Three things that make Genesee Cancer Assistance special

If you talk to the people involved, they will tell you that there are at least three major factors that distinguish Genesee Cancer Assistance.

First, all of the money they raise stays in Genesee County and goes directly to those who need it.

Second, everyone involved with the charity has been personally touched by cancer in some way.  Figlow, for example, lost his mother to cancer in 2010.

"Probably about 99 percent of the people involved can give you a story," Figlow said. "Our organization really hits home to a lot of people."

Finally, the people of Genesee Cancer Assistance give their time and effort neither out of necessity nor personal gain, but because they have a passion for it.

“We're blessed with a very strong board presence,” said Steve Grice, board member and golf tournament co-chair, “people who are willing to put the effort in. But we're also blessed with a group of volunteers who don't go out and wave a flag, but are right there when we have an event.  They show up and ask, ‘What can we do? Where do you want me?’ Anything you ask them to do, they'll do.”

Volunteers will also help with technology, advertising, or other areas according to their interest and expertise.

“It’s like God brought them down here,” said Board Member Joe Gerace, who is chairman of the spaghetti dinner fundraiser. “They really are good people. And they don’t complain (about the work). This is really a big family.”

As for Arnold and Sue Underwood, the only two paid staff, Grice said that they go “above and beyond” for their positions.

How Genesee Cancer Assistance works

Each patient is given $400 upon application. This is to help with hospital visits, copays, mileage, hospital parking fees, etc.

"It may seem like a small gesture to some," Grice said. "The money sometimes might seem minimal; but it's really not minimal to someone who's lying in a hospital bed on chemo and just wants somebody to hold their hand, or just sit there and watch TV with them. The family might not have the funds, because of insurance and all that."

Patient advocacy is also a big part of the mission. Staff at Genesee Cancer Assistance will answer, to the best of their ability, questions about any issues or concerns patients bring to them.

"Say a patient calls and says their utilities were shut off," Arnold said. "We will step in and tell them how to go about contacting the utility companies and what has to be done for their heat, for example, not to be shut off."

She said that oftentimes, if a patient can present proof from a doctor stating that the loss of electricity or other utilities would cause him or her harm, then the company cannot shut them off. But there are specific procedures people must go through in cases like these, and Genesee Cancer Assistance can guide them through such procedures.

Other services include referrals to other agencies when necessary (for example, when people have used up the services Genesee Cancer Assistance is able to provide), sharing educational materials with the community, and free Biblical counseling through Grace Baptist Church in Batavia.

"Simply Beautiful"

One of Genesee Cancer Assistance's best-kept secrets is the "Simply Beautiful" program, which is Gerace's brainchild. He runs it with the help of dedicated volunteers Carol Grasso, Joyce Meisner, Karen Roland and Amy Nichols, as well as others.

It is sort of a cross between cosmetic aid and a support group. The first thing Gerace does for everyone once they arrive is try to make them comfortable.

"When they come in, they're very nervous," Gerace said. “And I try to help them out. I give them coffee, or donuts, or fruit. It depends. (Once they feel relaxed), if they don't have a wig, I put a wig on them to show them what they look like."

Patients -- both men and women -- get free makeup and wigs (or hats, if they are not interested in wigs) up to $200 in value, over and above the $400 they receive upon application. Makeup includes artificial eyebrows and eyelashes for those who have lost these as a result of chemotherapy.

"Simply Beautiful" meets on a monthly basis as a general rule, although sometimes this is impossible due to treatment schedules or illness. In those cases, Gerace will do his best to accommodate people's needs.

"They'll either call me up, or call Patty from the office, who says: 'Joe, we got a woman who needs a hairpiece and can't wait. Would you let her come to the office and see if it's what she wants?' I've done that many times."

Gerace started "Simply Beautiful" after being involved with a similar program in association with the American Cancer Society, "Look Good, Feel Better."

When American Cancer Society services diminished in Genesee County, he and his fellow volunteers "had to start from fresh." He was asked to come up with the name for a new program, and was told to "keep it simple."

"And I said, 'Yes, that's a good name -- "Simply Beautiful.” ’ ”

A community effort

Another ingredient in the success of Genesee Cancer Assistance is their ability to form productive partnerships with people in the community.

"There are many people that we have helped who take it on themselves to do their own fundraisers,” Figlow said. “And they basically do it all themselves. These are quite the events -- I'm sure they spend months working on them. (In each case) they tell us about the event, they take care of everything, and then we receive a check every year."

Some of their partners include Paul Berardini of Big Pauly's Pizza, T.F. Brown's, Kiwanis of Corfu-Pembroke, Toni Funke and her "Zumba in the Sand" program, and Michelle Shade, who puts on a "Christmas Angel Festival and Basket Raffle" at Calvary Baptist Church in Batavia every November.

"All the service clubs in Genesee County help us some way somehow," Gerace said, "whether it's the Lions Club, Zonta, Sertoma Club (and others). And Patty Arnold is very good about making sure everyone who helps us gets a thank-you."

For more information on Genesee Cancer Assistance and what they do, call 345-0417.

Photo: Dr. Kevin Mudd, president of Genesee Cancer Assistance Board of Directors.

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