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October 21, 2015 - 4:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, jobs, employment.

The slight bump in Genesee County's unemployment rate for September over August can be attributed to people leaving the workforce, said Scott Gage, director of the Job Bureau.

The local labor market remains tight, with an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent.

The local trend holds statewide, Gage said.

"The labor force went down by 81,000 people (statewide)," Gage told WBTA. "Some 55,000 people retired, the other 21,500 either are going back to school or left just because their summer job ended."

There were 700 people in Genesee County who chose to leave the workforce at the end of the summer.

The 4.4 percent rate is still three-tenths of a percentage point than a year ago and much improved over the 5.9 percent rate in 2013 or the 7.1 percent rate in September 2012.

Employers continue to report they're finding it difficult to fill open positions and help wanted signs dot the landscape locally.

The NYS Labor Department reports 23,100 non-farm jobs in Genesee County, down for the 23,800 in August and down from the 23,400 in September 2014. Government jobs have dropped by 300 year-over-year while goods-producing jobs and private-sector service jobs have held steady at 4,100 and 13,500, respectively.

"We're seeing job openings across all sectors," Gage said. "Manufacturing, retail, service jobs, health care. There are job openings."

October 21, 2015 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, Alabama, business.

From Steve Hyde, president and CEO of Genesee County Economic Development Center:

As we take a collective breath from this month’s exhilarating announcement about 1366 Technologies becoming the first tenant at the Science Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama, we can look back as a community and realize what a magnificent accomplishment this is for Genesee County.

Governor Cuomo’s announcement created a buzz unlike anything we have experienced in recent times; and why not – the first tenant at STAMP is the largest economic development project in the County’s history. It triggers the first phase of what we believe will be a transformative economic development game changer for the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions for generations to come.

The public and private sector support throughout the 10 years to bring STAMP from a concept to this first development has been building steadily. This support gained steam and momentum especially over the last 24 months when it became a crescendo after a coalition of local and state government officials, organized labor, regional business and economic development agencies, higher education and others helped secure $33 million in the state budget as part of the Fiscal 2014-2015 budget deliberations last year.

Like any effort of this magnitude, you need a solid foundation of support, or else the effort crumbles. The foundation for STAMP was built at the local level and in particular the annual funding provided to the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) by Genesee County. This foundation was further enhanced and enabled through the longtime support of the Town of Alabama.

Last week the Governor and other state leaders as well as local and regional elected officials, regional economic development partners and others from the Buffalo and Rochester metropolitan regions came to Batavia to celebrate this monumental achievement. I wanted to take this opportunity on behalf of the GCEDC Board and staff to thank the Town of Alabama for its steadfast support of our efforts to make STAMP a reality. 

From the town’s representatives in the state legislature, Senator Ranzenhofer and Assemblyman Hawley, to Genesee County Legislative Chairman Ray Cianfrini to the members of the town board: Supervisor Dan Mangino, Deputy Supervisor Janet Sage, Council members Bill Cleveland, Pam LaGrou, Kevin Fisher and Planning Board Chair Ron Gilbert – thank you! The work of the town was further enhanced through the participation of town officials Sage, Fisher and Gilbert on their STAMP Committee.

It also should be noted that elected officials represent the interests of the constituents in the communities they represent. In this regard, the town has been extremely forthcoming in sharing information about STAMP to residents. These meetings also have provided town residents a forum to provide their feedback and comments. It is a process that we look forward to continue to work with the town on now and in the future as we move to implement our first project on the STAMP campus.

There is an old saying that local government is where the rubber meets the road. In this instance, local government in the Town of Alabama is where the silicon meets the solar wafer.

October 21, 2015 - 3:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in STAMP, GCEDC, oakfield-alabama, schools, education.


Before the start of the school year, John Ioge figured he was interested in a career in civil engineering, maybe mechanical engineering or perhaps the medical field or even teaching. Whatever it was, he figured he would eventually wind up in a job far from home.

Now, the sophomore at Oakfield-Alabama is honing in on a career in mechanical engineering and feeling pretty certain he will be able to find work in Genesee County.

The developments recently with WNY STAMP as well as a new course at O-A in STEM is driving much of John's change in thinking.

"I now realize there are going to be jobs in this area," John said. "At one point, I didn't think I was going to stay here because there's not any jobs, but now there will be jobs at home. So why not stay home? Why not stay where my family is?"

O-A Principal Lynn Muscarella sought to start the STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for students just like John. She realized that with STAMP coming to Alabama, she wanted to make sure Oakfield-Alabama students had a good grasp of career opportunities in STEM.

"Last year I had seniors who weren't even aware of what is happening in their own backyard," Muscarella said. "I said, I can't allow this to happen. These kids are right here, so why not get them somewhat prepared to think about what's going to be here so they can stay if they want to."

STAMP stands for Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park, a 1,340-acre parcel in Alabama that the Genesee County Economic Development Center and its economic development partners from throughout the region are marketing as an ideal location for high-tech manufacturing.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in town to announce the first new development in the park, 1366 Technologies, a Massachusetts-based company that will construct a new plant to make silicon wafers for solar energy panels. The plant will employ from 600 to 1,000 people once fully operational, perhaps as soon as early 2017.

The STEM classes at O-A are part of the sophomore-year curriculum for the first time and will run throughout the school year with classroom time every other day for the participating students.

The instructors are Kathy Rushlow and David Porter, with Rushlow developing most of the course.

Seven weeks after the start of the school year, Rushlow is seeing some progress among her students, many of whom came to class without a clear understanding of what sort of degrees colleges offer and what their post-high-school educational options are.

"I think they are much more aware of what STEM is and what the different career choices are in the STEM field," Rushlow said. "I think that's been eye-opening."

The classes aren't intended to give students any kind of training that will lead them to a particular job; rather, it's an overview to expose them to the array of options available to them if they decide STEM might be something of interest.

The class also reinforces the importance of the other coursework in high school.

"It's surprising to them to see there's a second side to that coin, that even in the medical fields, they need that science and math, that background, on top of the medical information," Rushlow said.


October 21, 2015 - 1:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in byron-bergen, music, arts, entertainment.


Classic rock fans might recognize the smiling guy with the gray hair. It's Peter Frampton. Next to him is somebody a few people in Genesee County will know, Ben Sheridan, a 2008 graduate of Byron-Bergen High School. 

Sheridan, who plays keyboards, is on tour with Frampton and when the band stopped in Albany last night, a group of family members and friends traveled there to see him play.

He hooked up with Frampton after meeting Peter's son, Julian, while working at a Starbucks in Los Angeles. Julian is the man with the acoustic guitar in the photo.

Info and photos submitted by Anne Sapienza.



October 21, 2015 - 1:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in @ct Coalition, Bataiva, Batavia HS.


Article by Serena Strollo-DiCenso, BHS Junior and member of @ct Genesee.
Photo by Howard Owens of: Anita Strollo, Scott Wilson, Kevin Keenan, Sandy Martin and Jen Zambito.

When Federal Drug Free Communities Support Program funding ended after 10 years, the committed individuals from the Genesee Drug Free Communities Coalition continued to meet on a regular basis to determine the scope of their work. Renamed @ct Genesee Coalition, their vision is simple; they want to keep Genesee County, its youth and its families healthy, safe and substance free. 

Working closely with the WNY Prevention Resource Center, this coalition is basing their coalition development on the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), a proven model that helps coalitions choose data-driven actions that result in sustainable change. @ct Coalition members understand that local problems require local solutions.

“We recently developed a community survey to help understand Genesee County’s needs and concerns regarding substance use and abuse," said @ct Genesee Coalition President Anita Strollo. "Following this framework will not only help our process, but will ensure outcomes, and put us on track for future grant funding.

"The SPF comes down from the federal and state levels and it’s what they look for when assessing which coalitions are doing the right things for their communities. Those are the communities that are considered for money. Money is pretty important."

The coalition meets regularly at Batavia High School at the invitation of Scott Wilson, @ct Genesee vice president and Batavia High School principal. @ct Genesee is seeking new members who are like minded and who will pick up the mantle and join their efforts.

“We are always looking for new members with fresh ideas," Wilson said, "whether you want to attend meetings or run fundraisers, everyone has something to contribute.” 

The community survey will be distributed shortly and the coalition can use the information gained to focus their energies toward what will best suit Genesee County.

“What the community needs to know is that we are here and we care,” says Strollo. 

The next meeting of @ct Genesee Coalition is at noon at Batavia High School on Nov. 17. The meetings usually run one hour. For more information, please contact Anita at (585) 813-5371 or e-mail [email protected].

October 21, 2015 - 12:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, law enforcement.

Via our news partner, WBTA.

Bodycams may be in the future for Genesee County Sheriff’s Deputies.

Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha proposed the idea to the Public Service Committee for recommendation Tuesday. The Sheriff said the department "has been researching the implementation of a body camera program for our officers for about two years."    

There’s room in the department’s budget for the $495 bodycams according to the Sheriff, with a total cost of $42,000 for the 32 deputies.

Sheriff Maha also remarked that "Some people tend to act differently when they know they are being recorded and that's also a benefit to our people out in the field."

The cameras would record both audio and video and could potentially be used as evidence for both prosecution and defense.

October 21, 2015 - 12:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Le Roy, Oakfield.

Brandon C. Smart, 38, of River Street, Batavia, is charged with trespass and harassment, 2nd. Smart allegedly refused to leave a home on Summit Street and threatened to kill the residents. He was jailed on $500 bail.

Brad Michael Prinzi, 34, of Batavia Elba Townline Road, Oakfield, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, speed violation, operating without vehicle inspection certificate, inadequate plate lamp. Prinzi was stopped at 12:27 a.m. Tuesday on Townline Road, Bergen, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Brodes J. Gibson, 54, of Thorpe Street, Batavia, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful fleeing, 3rd, reckless driving, DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st. Officer Christopher Lindsay attempted to stop Gibson for alleged traffic violations at 7:44 p.m. Oct. 11 on East Main Street, and Gibson allegedly failed to stop and instead engaged police on a short pursuit into the parking lot of Batavia Gardens. He was stopped in the east driveway and taken into custody without further incident. He was jailed without bail.

Katherine L. Urf, 54, of Hutchins Street, Batavia, is charged with DWAI/combined influence of drugs. Urf was stopped after complaints of an erratic driver at 4:24 p.m. Oct. 12 on Hutchins Street, Batavia, by Officer Peter Flanagan.

Khadijah A. Davis, 24, of Arnett Boulevard, Rochester, was arrested on a warrant. Davis allegedly failed to appear on a charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th. He was jailed on $1,000 bail.

Rachel M. Jordan, 19, of State Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 2nd. Jordan allegedly failed to cooperate during grand jury proceedings.

Tera Michele Williams, 42, no permanent address, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear. Williams allegedly failed to appear on a disorderly conduct charge.

Gladys May Patmore, 54, of East Buffalo Street, Churchville, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .18 or greater, and stopping on a public highway. Patmore was allegedly found sleeping in her vehicle at 10:16 p.m. Saturday off of Lake Street Road, Le Roy, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

October 20, 2015 - 9:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Kiwanis Club, batavia, Pancake Days.


On Saturday, the Batavia Kiwanis Club hosts one of its most popular events, Pancake Days, this time for the 58th consecutive year.

Pancake Days are from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the ARC Community Center on Woodrow Road, Batavia. The price is $6 for adults, $4 for children 10 and under, and $4 for senior citizens.

Pictured are committee members Theresa Asmus-Roth, Susan Maha, Lawrence Friedman and Jeanne Walton.

October 20, 2015 - 8:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.


Larry Hanley was out on Ellicott Street this morning driving his electric-powered, with a radio, C-Cab three-wheel bike.

He built the C-Cab himself.

"I made the templates with cardboard and I kept cutting them until I got it to where I liked it," Hanley said. "That saved on wasting wood."

He started the project with a "plain old three-wheeler" in May and it didn't take long, he said.

Asked why, Hanley said simply, "It's just something that I've wanted to do for a long time."

October 20, 2015 - 8:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, bergen, America's Finest Communities.


Le Roy and Bergen took one big step forward Monday night toward the goal of community leaders winning a competition with a $3-million prize to help drive local economic development. Consultants presented the outline of a strategic economic development plan.

The plan focuses on bringing infrastructure to the Le Roy Food and Tech Park as well as Appletree Acres in Bergen, but also contains several other goals and tactics for spurring economic growth.

Le Roy and Bergen entered the competition as a team and are among the finalists, and as a finalist the community group leading the effort received $50,000 to come up with the plan to submit to the America's Best Communities competition, which is sponsored by Frontier Communications.

The competition committee hired Saratoga-based Camoin Associates to do the research, conduct the interviews and come up with recommendations for the plan.

The committee came up with the following vision statement to include in the plan:

Our economy is grounded in strong agriculture and food-production industries, a resilient manufacturing sector and vibrant village centers. Our proactive economic development investments provide the foundation for sustainable, long-term growth. Our communities maintain a high-quality lifestyle and livelihood through a collaborative ethic and adaptation and reinvention and by leveraging our historic and natural assets.

Robert Camoin, president and CEO of Camoin Associates, said the second sentence is meaningful in the competition and significant.

"It says you're not going to let happen to you whatever happens to you," Camoin said. "You're taking a proactive approach toward your economic future."

Alyson Slack, an economic development analyst for Camoin, outlined 11 key points in the plan, which includes further investment in the Le Roy Food & Tech Park, marketing the park to target industries, preparing the I-90 interchange for future development, promoting the region's top-quality workforce, exploring the creation of a craft manufacturing incubator for entreprenuers who wish to work out of their homes, and protecting farmland.

"Employers are pleased with the local workforce," she said. "They appreciate the work ethic and the skills that are based on the agriculture history of the area, which fosters a strong willingness to work, problem-solving skills and mechanical know-how."

The big problem facing both Appletree Acres and the Food and Ag park is the lack of high-speed broadband, insufficient electric capacity and no high-capacity natural gas pipeline. If the community wins the $3 million, those issues could be addressed.

The 40 or 50 people who attended the "stakeholders meeting," were invited to provide feedback. Robert Taylor raised a concern about the need for housing to support economic growth and another audience member pointed out that a study of the village land area some years ago found about 50 percent of the village is under-used for housing.

Camoin asked several times for feedback on the proposed plan with little response, then asked if people in the audience were happy with what they saw and heads nodded yes. Taylor said he liked the plan, he just thought housing needed to be more strongly addressed.


October 20, 2015 - 4:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, SAFE Act, 2nd Amendment.

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

I am deeply disappointed in the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Second Circuit to uphold the core provisions of the NY SAFE Act. This legislation infringes on the constitutional rights of gun owners across New York State and is clearly unconstitutional. My district alone is filled with thousands of law-abiding citizens with firearm ownership as part of their family’s traditions. This law disrespects their way of life and hinders their ability to defend themselves in the unfortunate event of a burglary or break-in.

“Aside from the facts that this law is arbitrary to a fault and lacks the enforcement mechanisms to make it effective, the process by which it was passed through the Legislature is deeply troubling. The SAFE Act was passed under cover of darkness on one of the first days of the legislative session, and I can attest to the fact that few members of the Legislature had even read the bill before it was voted upon.

"As lawmakers, we are supposed to hold transparency and accountability in the highest magnitude. The SAFE Act was forced through the legislative process with complete and utter disregard for these objectives and should be repealed immediately. I will continue to sponsor legislation that repeals this unconstitutional measure and places integrity above political ambition.”

October 20, 2015 - 9:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Darien, accident.

A motor-vehicle accident with injuries is reported at Sumner and Colby roads, Darien.

Darien fire and ambulance responding.

UPDATE 9:18 a.m.: Minor injuries reported.



October 19, 2015 - 4:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Neptune's Gardens, batavia, business.


Start a business and make it well into your second year and you're doing better than nearly 20 percent of the other people who tried doing the same thing. Make it to five years and you've lasted longer than nearly half of your compatriots. How about 30 years? Well, the Small Business Administration doesn't publish those stats, but does tell us 75 percent of new businesses are closed by year 16.

And in the age of speedy delivery from computer to doorstep, it gets even tougher on retail businesses.

That makes 30 years of owning Neptunes Gardens for Nick and Cathy LaFarnara quite an accomplishment.

Nick said customer service and an ongoing effort to diversify what they offer has helped them survive, especially against growing Internet competition.

Just this past Thursday, as an example of going above and beyond for a customer, Nick said he drove nearly 150 miles to retrieve a saltwater aquarium filter and deliver it to an elderly customer after she tried unsuccessfuly to purchase it at Petco.

"It's stuff like that, you kind of bend over backwards to try to make ends meet," Nick said.

A big part of their business now is live bait, and they do well in the summer with goldfish for fairs and carnivals, and stocking fish for residential and commercial ponds.

Nick's father opened Neptune's Gardens at 33 Liberty St., behind the Pok-A-Dot, in 1967.

Nick and Cathy's daughter, Jamie, works in the store now and will likely run it someday, but Cathy thinks a fourth generation is already eager to take over.

"Our grandkids are already involved," Cathy said. "One time we had a customer looking for a fish and I was, 'I don't think we have it,' and Victor, I think he was 6  years old, said, 'Grandma, we have it.' He took the lady right to it."

Now 9, Victor has a way with reptiles in the store and he thinks nothing of walking around with a snake wrapped around his waist.

"He probably sells more reptiles and snakes than I do," Nick said.

October 19, 2015 - 3:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Downs, ADK Hospitality, business, GCEDC.


Dignitaries, politicians and business leaders gathered at Batavia Downs today for an official groundbreaking ceremony for a new $5.4 million hotel being developed by ADK Hospitality, a company from Buffalo that reached an agreement earlier this year to build the hotel on land formerly owned by Western OTB.

The project turns the land from tax-free acreage to tax-generating acreage and is expected to create 25 full-time equivalent jobs in the 82-room facility. To help finance the project, Genesee County Economic Development Center has granted more than $600,000 in tax relief. Once open, hotel guests with balconies will be able to watch harness racing from their rooms.



Western OTB VP Mike Nolan, left, and CEO Michael Kane.


 ADK Hospitality CEO Anthony Baynes.


October 18, 2015 - 9:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, batavia.






October 17, 2015 - 12:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in football, Le Roy, sports.


Le Roy finished out the regular season with a loss to Livonia, 28-22.

The Oatkan Knights will head into sectional play with a 4-3 record.

Nick Egeling carried the ball for 176 yards and a TD on 22 rushes. Dom Filio gained 54 yards and scored 11 carries. Josh Laurie had nine carries for 43 yards and a TD. He was 4-20 passing for 20 yards. Ryan Boyce had a 35-yard reception and Benny Piazza caught one for 34 yards.

Nate Flint had seven tackles, and with six each are Piazza, Egeling, Dave Englert and Laurie.

Also on Friday night:

  • Pembroke over CG Finney, 36-28
  • Attica, 34, Oakfield-Alabama, 21
  • Elba/Byron-Bergen, 35, Alexander, 32
  • Cuba/Rushford, 47, York/Pavilion, 22

Notre Dame hosts Holley today at 1:30 p.m.

Le Roy game photos by David Boyce.







October 17, 2015 - 8:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield, batavia.
  Brian Brennan

Brian L. Brennan, 46, of Maple Avenue, Oakfield, is charged with criminal sale of marijuana, 2nd, and endangering the welfare of a child. Brennan allegedly gave a quantity of marijuana to a 15-year-old in Attica Village Park on Monday. The park is monitored by surveillance cameras and patrolled frequently by Attica PD. Following an investigation by Attica PD, he was arraigned and jailed on $2,000 bail, or $5,000 bond.  

Kevin Scott Ludwig, 41, South Pearl Street, Oakfield, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, driving while using a mobile phone and failure to signal a turn. Ludwig was stopped at 2:17 a.m. on Stevens Street, Oakfield, by Joseph Corona.

Joseph Benjamin Baldassara, 29, of 3rd Street, Youngstown, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and inadequate muffler. Baldassara was stopped at 10:26 p.m. Friday on South Main Street, Oakfield, by Deputy Joseph Corona.

Ramon Alberto Quinones, 21, of Batavia Stafford Townline Road, Batavia, is charged with petit larceny. Quinones is accused of shoplifting from Walmart.

October 17, 2015 - 7:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fall, east pembroke.


A photo submitted by Emily Muench yesterday of a Fall scene in East Pembroke.

October 15, 2015 - 7:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in thebatavian.

As a guest of the New York Farm Bureau, I will be in Waterloo for the next two days to attend the Farm and Food Experience, a symposium for journalists on the agriculture industry. I was thrilled to be invited to attend. It's a great opportunity to learn more about farming.

Naturally, news coverage will be more limited while I'm away, but will continue.




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