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February 27, 2016 - 1:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, Batavia HS, batavia.

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It's been 26 years since Jeanette Filbert played in a sectional title game. In her senior year at Batavia High School, the Lady Blue Devils came into the final with a 19-0 record and high hopes of winning the school's first championship in girls basketball.

The girls didn't win that year. Pittsford-Mendon, a perennial powerhouse, dashed the dreams of hardwood glory for the girls and Filbert never forgot what that was like, and for 26 years, she's watched from the sidelines as Mendon came out on top game after game and blocked Batavia's path to the Section V trophy it lacked.

But history doesn't always repeat. Sometimes, life comes full circle and dreams do come true.

Friday night, Batavia finally -- and perhaps for the first time ever -- beat Mendon, winning the long-coveted Section V Class A2 trophy by a score of 53-42.

It was sweet revenge.

"I'm impressed," Filbert said. "They (Mendon) always have a good program. They are well coached always, and being from Batavia, a small town, coming here to play in a Rochester district, it always felt a little unfair, but I'm very proud of our girls. I can't express how I truly feel. They're a well-coached team and these girls in Batavia, they deserve this."

The girls on the 2016 championship team include a basketball prodigy, arguably the best female player in Section V, and that would be Tiara Filbert, Jeanette's daughter.

"First, I give all honor to God," Jeanette said. "We are truly blessed with her talent, but there are no words to describe how I feel right now. Like I said, this was 26 years in the making and to be able to be here and to have my daughter be a part of the team that brought them here ... again, it's not about her, it's about the team effort. She couldn't do what she did without the team helping her."

What Tiara did was score 27 points, grab 18 rebounds and notch five steals on the way to being named tournament MVP.

Tiara being Tiara, even when asked pointedly about her performance, didn't take any credit herself.

"We all came in with a positive mindset," she said. "We knew we were going to do everything we can to win. I know I had to come in and play my game and I knew our team, we were going to come together and be able to play 32 minutes of basketball."

And that they did. It never really felt like Mendon had a chance. Oh, they would claw back from 12 and 14 point deficits, but then Batavia would put together another 10- or 12-point run and pull away again.

Filbert said Mendon never managed to get the team rattled, even when they got within a point or two of the lead.

"We all know it's part of basketball," Tiara said. "You've got to keep going on to the next one no matter what happens in a game. You've got to keep an optimistic outlook on things, and we knew our defense was going to take care of our offense for us."

Head Coach Marty Hein said he had a lot of confidence in his seniors, especially Tiara coming into the game.  

"If she's not the best girl in Section V, she's second place," Hein said. "Out of 115 teams in Section V, if I've got the second best player, anything can happen. Mendon's a great team. Taking nothing away from Mendon, nothing away from Todd, but having that type of caliber player, it's going to take two, three girls to even come close to stopping her."

Speaking of team effort, there would be no sectional title in Batavia today if not for the play of Sam Cecere, whose double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds) was crucial to Batavia's success.

By her own admission, Cecere has struggled a bit lately scoring. In the semifinal game three nights ago, she missed her first 10 shots before scoring six in the second half. In practice this week, she worked hard on getting in position a bit quicker and finishing with the ball in the bucket.

"The feeling (of winning the title) is just unreal," Cecere said. "Four years ago, I was in this gym as a freshman and we lost a sectional final and from that point forward, I was motivated to get a trophy and make it ours. The fact that we got here and got a great win just feels unreal. It's amazing."

The win was especially meaningful because it came against Mendon, Cecere said. 

"It feels good to give them a taste of their own medicine, really," Cecere said. "We've always lost to them as long as I've been on varsity and they've always been hard games. They always have players who are so good, but this time, we were the better team and that feels amazing."

There was a time early in the season when even the most confident of coaches and the most rabid of Blue Devil fans might have a flicker of doubt that this truly would be the year the girls would win their first sectional title, and that was in January, when the Lady Devils lost a key component of the team's offense. Maddy McCully's season ended during the Rotary Tournament when she suffered an ACL and MCL injury.

There were no post-game All-Star trophy's for McCully, who cheered her teammates from the bench dressed in her jersey with a black calf-to-thigh brace on her leg, but Hein said her contribution to the team can't be understated.

Even injured, McCully grew as a senior leader, Hein said. 

"Maddy's growth made Taylor's (Stefaniak) growth," Hein said. "Watching last year's film against Mendon, she looked like a freshman, completely like a freshman. Ryann (Stefaniak), who is a freshman now, in the second game of the season, when we lost to Mendon, looked like a freshman. You know, she didn't look like a freshman tonight. That all goes to Maddy's help, all the time talking with the girls."

While neither of the Stefaniak sisters made it into double digits on scoring Friday (they scored five apiece), they both played with confidence and helped with ball movement on offense and were key parts of Batavia's successful defense.

"They definitely stepped up big time for us after Maddy went down," Tiara said. "They had big games against Notre Dame in our tournament. They came out strong. They kept coming back. We just had to keep them in a positive mindset and they came out here and they handled their business."

Top photo: Tiara Filbert.

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Always fearless in the paint, Ryann Stefaniak did get tagged with an offensive foul in the second quarter.

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Sam Cecere was dominate in the low post.

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Filbert, as usual, was a threat inside and out.

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Taylor Stefaniak with a layup in the fourth quarter.

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Sam Cecere's father was ebullient (see slideshow below) and emotional in the final minutes as it became increasingly clear his daughter's team was about to win a championship.

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Post-game celebration.

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The team bus received a police and fire escort down Main Street when the team returned to Batavia.

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Back at the high school.

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February 27, 2016 - 1:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.

A vehicle is reportedly refusing to stop for police in the city.

We're not sure where the pursuit started, but a police officer observed, "he looked right at us and is refusing to stop."

The vehicle headed south over the bridge at South Lyon and then onto South Main, then to South Pearl.

A deputy was attempting to get a spike strip down. It's unclear if they were down in time or at the location that the vehicle continued.

The vehicle has been clocked at 95 mph leaving the city and city units are backing off.

Another deputy is attempting to get in position ahead of the vehicle, which is westbound on Route 33.

The vehicle has slowed to 50 mph.

UPDATE 1:38 a.m.: The vehicle is a green Chevy Suburban registered to a female in North Tonawanda.

UPDATE 1:44 a.m.: The vehicle hit spikes near the Corfu Fire Hall on Route 33. Both front tires were punctured and the vehicle is continuing on just rims. We think we heard a description of the driver as a white male in a hoodie. The vehicle has reached the Erie County line and may have hit an Erie County patrol vehicle.

UPDATE 1:48 a.m.: A deputy reported the suspect may have a possible hand injury. A medical evaluation is requested.

UPDATE 1:50 a.m.: Darien's ambulance is requested to the scene.

UPDATE 2:17 a.m.: Suspect in custody, being transported to the jail.

February 26, 2016 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba central school district, schools, education, elba, news.

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Press release:

In a recent Buffalo Business First magazine, Elba Central Middle and High Schools' combined ranking placed in the top spot among all 17 schools in the Eastern Tier (Orleans, Genesee & Wyoming counties).

Factors used in determining each school's ranking are percentage of graduates who received Regents diplomas, Regents scores in 10 subjects and scores on statewide English and math tests -- all over the last four years.

Elba Central was also the only school of the 22 schools in the Genesee Valley to have a 100-percent passing rate on the Geometry Regents and the U.S. History Regents.

“Because we’re small, it’s difficult for any student to get lost in the shuffle," explained Elba Schools Superintendent Keith Palmer. “And even though we’re a public school, our staff treat our students as if we’re providing a private education, focusing on individual needs with individual interventions and taking the time to work with students who need it."

Submitted photo.

February 26, 2016 - 12:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, hockey, sports.

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Notre Dame seems to be peaking at the right time, scoring goals in bunches in post-season play, sending them to a Sunday final against a team they've played close three times this season, but came up a goal short each time.

On Thursday at RIT, the Fighting Irish flicked in three goals in under two minutes to start the second period and lock down a playoff victory against Aquinas, 8-1.

All four of Notre Dame's lines scored at least one goal for the second straight game.

"This is a good sign at the right time of year," said Head Coach Marc Staley.

The game was scoreless for the first six minutes and Staley said some of his team's lack of offense can be blamed on nervousness. Aquinas had beaten Brockport earlier in the year, and one of Notre Dame's four defeats was a lopsided loss to Brockport.

There was also a "feeling out" period to start the game.

"I thought we came out a little nervous tonight, which is to be expected, but we rotate four lines and they rotate two lines, so we knew if we kept shifts short and made good line changes that eventually they were going to tire and that's exactly what happened," Staley said.

The three quick goals in the second were a boost of confidence and the 5-1 lead was deflating for Aquinas, Staley said.

"We don't give up a lot goals," Staley said. "There were only three games all year where we've given up four goals or more, so when we get up four, five to one, we can shut it down and teams know that."

The sectional title game against Geneseo is at 1 p.m., Sunday, at RIT. Geneseo has beaten Batavia three times this season, by scores of 6-4, 3-2 and 2-1. Staley said his team is eager to rise to the challenge of meeting a season-long nemesis in a title game.

"It's going to come down in the belief you have in yourself in the locker room, and I believe we've got that right now," Staley said.

Here's the scoring table for the game:

0 - 1 1 1   5:58  B.Moscicki  R.Webster  
0 - 2 2 1   6:49  P.Madafferi  M.Keeler  
1 - 2 3 1   9:51  T.KELLY  E.CLEMMONS  
1 - 3 4 2   0:30  R.Antinore  H.Toiviainen  
1 - 4 5 2   0:50  B.Misiak  E.Hutchins  
1 - 5 6 2   2:10  H.Toiviainen  R.Antinore  
1 - 6 7 2   9:52  R.Antinore  D.DAlba  
1 - 7 8 3   4:01  C.Clark  R.Webster  H.Toiviainen
1 - 8 9 3   9:25  D.Grimshaw  R.Antinore  

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February 26, 2016 - 10:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in polls, news.

February 25, 2016 - 2:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, theater, arts, entertainment, news.

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Batavia High School's Production Club will present a musical product of Mary Poppins next week with Nick Piedmon playing Bert and Andrea Gilebarto as Mary Poppins.

Photos are from yesterday's rehearsal. 

Caryn Burk Wood is the director and Dan Grillo the musical director.

The cast includes Ross Chua as Mr. Banks, Chelsea Jensen as Mrs. Banks, Eryn Dunn as Jane Banks and Colin Dunn as Michael Banks.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m., March 4 and March 5, and 2 p.m., March 6.

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February 25, 2016 - 1:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Z&M Ag and Turf, John Deere, agriculture, BOCES, news.

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Representatives of Z&M Ag and Turf presented a donation of tools to the conservation program at BOCES yesterday as part of a two-day seminar by Z&M and John Deere on some of the latest farming technology.

The first day was focused on dealers from throughout New York and yesterday the farms and shop techs came in to learn about technology advances from John Deere and the new precision GPS planting system.

John Duyssen is one of the conservation instructors -- concentrating on diesel and hydraulics repair and maintenance -- and he said the job of being a farmer is getting a lot more sophisticated as technology becomes more embedded in the process of planting and harvesting. The conservation program provides that instruction along with instruction on soil and water conversation.

Top photo: Carson Decarlo, left, Tom Klaeper, Tarra Shuknecht, John Tyx, Keith Conwa, Branden Cerefin, John Duyssen, and Ed Swain.

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February 25, 2016 - 12:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in basketball, sports, oakfield-alabama.

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For the first 12 minutes of Wednesday's Class C2 Section V semifinal game between Oakfield-Alabama and Pery, the two teams looked pretty evenly matched, but then Perry began to pull away.

The half ended with the Perry girls up 22-14. In the third quarter, Perry much sealed the fate of the Hornets, outscoring them 14-3. The final eight minutes was just a matter of maintenance for the Yellowjackets.

The final, 43-19.

 Rachel Evans scored 13 for Perry, Chelsea Pascoe, 12, and McKenna Croll, eight.

For 0-A, Lauren Reding scored 5 and Brianna Greene had four.

The Hornets have relied on strong defense all season and Perry's head coach, Courtney Kingston, said her team knew it needed to stay disciplined to get the ball around O-A's Kenydie Mott, who can alter the course of games on defense.

"We made sure we were setting our screens and making our early passes to get around her good defense and get our offense going," Kingston said.

Perry was able to effectively move the ball inside and that has been a big step forward for the team, Kingston said. 

"That's really the whole way to be a threat, to use both our post and use our guards," Kingston said. "We have two strong posts we can put in there and we use them. It's been a struggle until the past couple of games to make good interior passes, and we did it tonight."

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February 25, 2016 - 9:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, Stafford.

Bradley John Broadbent, 36, of Walnut Street, Batavia, is charged with false personation, criminal possession of a controlled substance, 7th, criminal use of drug paraphernalia and possession of hypodermic needles. Broadbent was arrested following a traffic stop at 10:37 p.m. Tuesday on Route 33, Stafford, by Deputy Rachel Diehl.

February 25, 2016 - 9:05am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oak Street, National Grid, trees, news, batavia.

Press release:

The City in conjunction with National Grid will be removing trees between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Mondays thru Fridays for the time period of February 29 through March 31.

This work involves the removal of 18 trees that have become unbalanced due to years of required trimming for utilities, thus becoming a liability and unsightly.

The area of work is Oak Street between the NYS Thruway Exit 48/ Park Road to NYS Rt 5/ West Main Street. Work shall begin north of Richmond Avenue and proceed south.

This work will require lane shifts, lane reductions and temporary stoppages. All efforts will be made to minimize impacts to traffic but there will be delays so please plan accordingly and avoid the area if possible. Work will occur as weather and other work assignments permit.

Future work plans will be the replanting of more appropriate underwire street trees and replacement rate of 2:1. This work is anticipated in the Fall of this year.

February 25, 2016 - 8:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Diana Kastenbaum, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today, Democrat Diana Kastenbaum announced her candidacy for New York’s 27th Congressional District.  \Kastenbaum is the CEO of Pinnacle Manufacturing Company, Inc., in Batavia, N.Y.

“As a small business owner from Batavia, I am well aware of the realities that face middle-class families. Using my years of experience as a businesswoman, I will bring new ideas and solutions to the problems we face in Western NY,” said Kastenbaum. “We need a member of Congress who will fight for Western NY on the issues that matter most; good paying jobs, ending income inequality, making college more affordable, and providing access to affordable healthcare. Where Congress has failed us, I will lead.”

Kastenbaum’s family has owned and operated Pinnacle, a zinc and aluminum dye casting manufacturing company, since 1972. She is a graduate of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Kastenbaum is heavily involved in many community organizations in Western NY.

Diana is married to actor and comedian Hiram Kasten. Their daughter, Millicent, is a senior Government major at Cornell University.

New York’s 27th Congressional District includes all of Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, and Livingston counties and parts of Erie, Monroe, Niagara, and Ontario counties.

February 24, 2016 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, Ray Cianfrini.

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The text of the State of the County address delivered today by Chairman Ray Cianfrini:

For those of you who know me, you know that I like to keep things brief and to keep the program moving. I’m sure my address tonight will not be out of character.

Let me start by saying welcome again to our new legislator, John Deleo, and to all our new department heads; Eve Hens our new purchasing director; Pam Lagrou our new clerk of the legislature; Ruth Spink, our director of the office for the aging; Theresa Asmus-Roth, the program coordinator for Genesee Justice and Mike Cianfrini, our new county clerk. This is an exciting time to be part of our county government and we need you as leaders to use your talents and your energy to bring us new ideas and not always accept the status quo, but to challenge it and change it when necessary.

I would also like to take a minute and say how our county takes great pride in the accomplishments of its leaders.

And we in Genesee County are proud to recognize and praise two of our longtime county leaders in county Manager Jay Gsell and county Sheriff Gary Maha.

Jay is scheduled to receive the prestigious Wolcott “Jay” Humphrey III Community Leadership Award from the Chamber of Commerce at their awards ceremony on March 5.

And our own sheriff, Gary Maha, the longest tenured sheriff in the state, has received the likewise prestigious sheriff Grover Cleveland award from the NYS Sheriff’s Association. This is the highest award to a sitting sheriff and has only been awarded on four other occasions.

We congratulate both of you for these well-deserved honors and we thank you for bringing us pride and recognition to Genesee County.

Last year I spoke of making 2015 a year of progress in our county and in looking back I think it's safe to say we may have overachieved in accomplishing our goal

Let’s look back to last year…….

Our Genesee County jobless rate at the end of 2015 was 4.8 percent, down from 5.5 percent the previous year. This is the lowest jobless rate in our county since 2006.

At Genesee Community College, construction began on the new student awareness center and the new student wellness event center with completion expected by this year.

Tourism continues to be strong in our county. The year 2015 saw a 2-percent increase in bed tax revenues and the Chamber of Commerce has used the “bed tax reserve” revenue to assist in the acquisition of a new chamber office on park road with a new visitors center.

A new ride is being built at Darien Lake and a new hotel is being built at Batavia Downs gaming facility and both are sure to bring additional visitors to our county.

Our airport began construction of its new $5.9-million terminal scheduled for completion next month.

The airport also saw record sales of jet fuel in 2015 continuing a trend that has seen our fuel sales increase every year since 2008.

The legislature gave its initiative and support for rifle hunting in Genesee County last year and also commenced its first ever deer management hunt at the county park.

We funded two new deputies for the Sheriff’s Department and we went to a full-time county attorney.

We adopted a new management salary schedule to bring parity to our management personnel and we successfully completed contract negotiations with both of our CSEA employee bargaining units.

In addition, the legislature adopted a 2015 county budget that reduced the tax rate by $.18 (cents) per thousand and for our 2016 budget we held the line with a zero-percent tax increase.

Also, agriculture is still our major industry in Genesee County and in 2015 we continued to be the “breadbasket of Western New York."

We suffered disappointment with the departure of Muller Quaker yogurt manufacturing, but we were very fortunate to have Dairy Farmers of America acquire the facility with the expectation of a new and perhaps larger dairy presence in the ag park.

To showcase our local agricultural riches, GCC hosted a “Harvest Fest” and Stein Farms in Le Roy held a “field to fork feast” on their farm in September.

We have also seen expansions at O-AT- Milk in Batavia and Yancey’s Fancy in Pembroke. And, (regarding) business facilities, a national site selection publication has ranked Genesee County as one of the fastest growing “food processing employment leaders” in the nation, ranking it seventh in their list of top 10 mid-sized metro areas for food processing growth.

While all of these are measures of progress last year, I feel strongly that the two major accomplishments of 2015 were the sale of the county nursing home and the reality of STAMP (Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park).

As you know, the legislature, after a long and arduous process, sold the county nursing home last year to premiere health care for the sum of $15.2 million.

We anticipate a closing by this summer and when complete, we not only close the “fiscal dark hole” that generates almost $3 million annual deficits to our county budget, but once the county has settled all its debts and short-term borrowing and employee obligations, some of the sale proceeds can be designated to fund much needed infrastructure repairs.

We feel strongly that the sale of the nursing home to a well respected private ownership group is a win-win situation for all involved, including the employees and residents of the home.

On the economic front, last year Steve Hyde, the CEO of our GCEDC (Genesee County Economic Development Center(, stated that “2015 is the year STAMP comes to life” and he was right.

With our support and the hard work of the staff at GCEDC stamp became a reality when 1366 technologies announced last October that it is set to break ground by this summer on a new solar chip manufacturing plant on the STAMP site.

They have committed over $700 million to the project and will create over 1,000 jobs with an additional 5,500 construction and supply chain jobs.

With this announcement, the state released $33 million dollars from its budget for site improvements to the STAMP site, which will provide water to the Town of Alabama and water and sewer to the STAMP site.

So as you can see, 2015 had an aggressive agenda that resulted in a very productive year with progress made on many fronts and I applaud our management and my colleagues on the legislature for their hard work and dedication. It was a year we could all be proud of.

However, with a new year in front of us there is still much to do.

In a perfect world of county government, there would be no state mandates, taxes would be low; revenues would be high.

Social service programs and our jail population would be reduced; everyone would have county water; our roads and bridges would be in excellent shape and our sheriff would have all the deputies he asks for.

Unfortunately, in our real world of today, things are far from perfect.

The state continues to overburden counties with mandates that are an onus to our taxpayers. We need only look at our county cost of Medicaid, indigent legal defense and pre-K programs forced on us by the state to cry out for the need for reform.

Our jail population, especially for female inmates, puts a tremendous strain on our tax dollars and the need for a new 125-bed jail for males and females at a cost of over $36 million is facing us in the near future.

Our roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair.

Sales tax revenues are flat and with the cost of gasoline going down, they will continue to be flat.

Our sales tax agreement with the city of Batavia and our county-wide water agreement with the city, which includes completion of phase 2 of the county water project, are both scheduled to expire in 2018, less than two years away.

As a result, I see 2016 as a year of tremendous challenges.

County water and distribution of sales tax revenues are the “hot button” topics that must be resolved in the next two years.

I feel it is imperative that we begin discussions immediately to explore how best to allocate our sales tax revenues with our municipalities when the current agreement expires and hopefully have some concessions that allow the county to complete phase 2 of the county water project.

In addition, we need to develop a strategic plan for how best to use the net proceeds from the sale of our nursing home to address our aging infrastructure.

Our roads and bridges have been too long neglected. I’m sure many of you are not aware that our county is responsible for every bridge in the county over 5 feet, which would include most all culverts, and we have already been advised by our highway superintendent about the deteriorating condition of many of our county bridges. We need to act now!

On the economic front, the STAMP project will come to life and hopefully we will see the growth of new businesses to support 1366 technologies and the installation of water to the Town of Alabama and the STAMP site.

We look forward to the new hotel on Park Road and we will continue to work in partnership with the City of Batavia and GCEDC on the pathway to prosperity to provide funding for development and enhancement of the brownfield opportunity area in the city.

I feel it’s time for the county to consider selling some parcels of county-owned property that are currently underutilized and a drain on county revenues.

Let’s look at the Holland Land Office and the former engine house property to see if they might be better served by being in the hands of private or not-for-profit ownership.

And hopefully with some state assistance, I would like to see us increase our rural broadband capacity to those areas of the county still without this increasingly vital resource.

And finally, let’s look at a small-scale solar project to see if it can benefit the county in reducing our energy costs.

Now on the state level, our governor has been asking counties to consolidate or share services to reduce our tax burden.

Five years ago the governor instituted the property tax cap to municipalities with the understanding that when implemented, counties would get mandate relief.

Through innovation and creativity we in Genesee County have stayed under the tax cap for all five years, but where is our mandate relief? Surely not in the meager checks for $15 or $20 we got earlier this year from the state.

And yet in our governor’s budget state aid to municipalities remains flat and he is lowering our tax cap, still looking for us to come up with innovative ideas on how to stay under the cap.

“Ok, governor, we get it!” We’ll keep working on it, but how about you and the legislature giving us the tools to work outside the box?

Give us the legislation that allows us the opportunity to pursue a regional jail with an adjoining county instead of our county taxpayers bearing the entire cost of a new jail that will be in excess of $36 million. 

And why stop at just a new regional jail? Why not look at a regional county-wide justice court system that consolidates our current 15 city, town and village courts into two or three centrally located district courts in the county to reduce costs on all the municipalities and the Sheriff’s Office and provide for a more efficient justice court system?

These are the challenges that face us this year.

As legislators and managers, we need to keep our priorities in order and understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges we face.

Rather than think and talk about the problems, we need to think and talk about the solutions.

We rose to the occasion last year and we have the right people in the right place to attack these hard issues in 2016 because we, as leaders, have the capacity to translate vision into reality.

Let me end by saying 'thank you' to all our hard working and dedicated employees, department heads, managers and legislators for putting Genesee County in the forefront of progress and economic development in our state. It is you who are our county’s greatest assets.

Thank you.

February 24, 2016 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in oakfield-alabama, schools, education, stem.

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There is hardly a profession in America that isn't being changed profoundly by technology. From taxi drivers and plumbers to big company CEOs, the world is increasingly digital.  

The Oakfield-Alabama Central School District wants to prepare students for this new and fast-changing world by providing them with the latest technology as learning tools.

As a pilot program this year, students in fifth and sixth grade were each provided Chromebooks (based on software from Google). The computers are touchscreen and connected to cloud servers, making file sharing easy for students both at school and at home on their own devices and with teachers, who are equipped in class with giant touchscreens.

"This is a skill set you're not going to escape, no matter what career path you choose to go down, even if you're at home and your spouse works, you're still going to need these skills to be a productive member of society," said Rob Zdrojewski, the district's director of instructional technology. "You're going to need to know how to communicate electronically."

The plan for the district is to roll out the technology to all of the grade levels with the help of a grant from the state, called a Smart Schools grant.

So far, there's positive feedback from students and teachers.

"It's a lot more fun and easier, too, because you don't have to keep track of a lot of papers or anything on your Chromebooks," said fifth-grader Jose Reding.

A hot topic of debate in Silicon Valley circles is over the shortage of women in the technology field, especially as entrepreneurs. Reding, like Mckenna Johnson, are probably unaware of such controversies, but both are ready to do something about it. Both have already built their own Web sites (Reding with Weebly, and Johnson with WordPress) and both say they think they might want to run their own technology businesses someday.

"I've always loved technology," said Mckenna, whose parents own Millennium Computers in Batavia, "It's helping me do more and I can learn more." 

Mckenna's also made a contribution to her class, using her tech savvy, by setting up a group contact in Gmail so one e-mail can be sent to all the students in the class at the same time.

While Josie and Mckenna might represent the top of the learning curve, it's a pretty shallow curve, said their math teacher, Michelle Smith.

"There are definitely kids with more experience," Smith said, but when I look around the classroom, I couldn't pick out a kid who is struggling with something because they don't know how to use the technology."

While there are districts around the country which are adopting more technology in classrooms, not all of them are providing devices for each student, Zdrojewski said. The advantage of O-A's approach, he said, is that it levels the playing field. There are students who can afford the latest iPhone for their children and there are parents who can't even afford a $50 tablet from Amazon, so with the district providing Chromebooks, no student is without a device.

"The Chromebooks are a great leveler," Zdrojewski said. "All of the students can participate in social media, they can all do their assignments online, because they all have the tools to do it."

The other benefit of the new technology, Smith said, is it raises the level of engagement. Kids are excited and they stay on task more readily.

"I think it's made the kids take more ownership of their work, not only in math, but other subject areas as well," Smith said. "And with the Chrombooks, there is a lot more data available to me to help drive my individualized instruction for each student."

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February 24, 2016 - 3:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, entertainment, theater, arts, news.

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Le Roy High School is presenting "The Addams Family: A Musical Comedy" on March 3, 4 and 5.

Director Jacqueline McLean said:

The story is inspired as a continuation of the Addams Family from the original comic strip and TV series. In the show, Wednesday Addams has gone off to college and fallen in love with a "normal" boy. When the "normal" family comes to meet the Addams, things get out of hand. This show is full of wonderful, dark comedy and will feature all of the characters that you remember in addition to some new ones. We hope you will join us at one of three performances and get ready to be "Pulled in a New Direction!" with this quirky story.

Books are by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, based on characters created by Charles Addams.

All show times are at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at leroycsd.org, in the HS main office or at the door. Tickets are $10 pre-sale and $12 at the door.

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February 24, 2016 - 2:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Calling for an “end to business as usual” in Washington, Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced that he is endorsing Donald Trump to become America’s next President.

“Donald Trump has clearly demonstrated that he has both the guts and the fortitude to return our nation’s jobs stolen by China, take on our enemies like ISIS, Iran, North Korea and Russia, and most importantly, reestablish the opportunity for our children and grandchildren to attain the American Dream,” Congressman Collins said. “That is why I am proud to endorse him as the next President of the United States.”

“The results of Barack Obama’s failed presidency have been devastating. America is no longer seen as the world’s leader. Our jobs are gone. Our middle class is struggling. And, the federal government has grown too large and wastes too much of our hard earned money,” added Collins. “The last thing we need is a third Obama term, which we would get with either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.”

“We need a president willing to make the tough decisions necessary to restore our country to greatness. I believe Donald Trump is the man for the job, and I am proud to provide him with my support.”

Both Trump and Collins share a strong private-sector background. Before entering public service, Congressman Collins was in the private sector for over 35 years where he built a successful career as a businessman and entrepreneur.

Both as an Erie Country Executive (New York) and a Member of Congress, Collins has advocated running government like a business.

“If we want to get our nation’s economy growing again and deal with the daunting fiscal issues threatening America’s future, it’s time to say no to professional politicians and yes to someone who has created jobs and grown a business,” Collins said.

“America has the potential to once again become the land of opportunity. Donald Trump understands the importance of American exceptionalism, and has the unique qualifications to make America great again,” concluded Collins.

February 24, 2016 - 2:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, Oakfield, news.

Two more people involved in a racketeering case that also involved a pair of Genesee County residents have entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court.

The pleas are the latest in a string of convictions in the case for federal authorities.

Robert W. Moran Jr., 63, of Rochester, entered a guilty plea to a count of conspiracy to commit assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. Gina Tata, 52, also of Rochester, entered a guilty plea to being an accessory after the fact.

Both defendants face possible federal prison terms and potential six-figure fines.

Authorities say Moran was an officer with the Hells Angels in Rochester and was involved in an assault at Spenders Bar on Lyell Avenue, Rochester, that involved an attack on a victim with a baseball bat. Authorities say Moran was the attacker and beat the victim on the head and body after the person made disparaging remarks about motorcycle clubs, including the Hells Angels.

"The defendant committed the assault order to maintain his position in the Rochester Hells Angels," said federal prosecutors.

Tata was the bartender that night and tried to help Moran evade arrest and prosecution. It was Tata who informed Moran of the remarks by the patron, prosecutors said. She then lied to police about the identity of the attacker and counseled other eyewitnesses not to speak to provide identifying information to police. She helped another member of the Hells Angels retrieve a hard drive containing recordings of the interior of the bar at the time of the attack.

"In May 2007, a year after the assault, Tata lied to the FBI about the perpetrators of the assault, describing them as tall, young Hispanic males, and falsely told the FBI that she used the phone at Spenders Bar only to call 9-1-1 and the owner of the bar," prosecutors said.

From the press release:

These pleas are part of a larger investigation that resulted in the indictment and arrest of members and associates of the Rochester and Monterey (California) Hells Angels for drug trafficking and racketeering-related offenses in February 2012. Hells Angels President Richard W. Mar, and Jeffrey A. Tyler, were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute, 500 grams or more of methamphetamine. Five other defendants – Henry McCauley, Donna Boon, Paul Griffin, Richard E. Riedman, and Gordon L. Montgomery – were convicted for their roles in the methamphetamine conspiracy. Judge Siragusa sentenced Griffin to probation and Riedman to 37 months in prison. McCauley, Boon and Montomgery are awaiting sentencing. Another defendant, Timothy M. Stone, was convicted and of being an accessory after the fact to the assault and conspiracy, and was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

McAuley and Boon are residents of Oakfield.

Sentencing is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively, May 25.

Some of the prior related stories:

February 24, 2016 - 11:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, basketball, sports.

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When you hold an opponent to 43 points, you would think you would walk away with a win, Elba's Head Coach Ciaci Zambito said after the Lancers' loss Tuesday night to Lima Christian in a Class C2 Section V semifinal at Le Roy High School.

Defense wins games, but only if you put hit shots on the other end, and there were simply too many missed shots Tuesday night.

"You cannot afford to go through lulls where you don't put the ball in the basket," Zambito said.

The Lancers managed only 18 points in the first half and were down by a point at the 10-minute break. Then Lima came out firing and Elba came out cold in the third quarter, with Lima Christian building a 14-point lead.

For most of the third, Elba fired and fired and fired from beyond the arc and failed to hit. Then in the fourth, the Lancers started to drive into the paint and put together a scrappy 11-0 run, with eight points coming on free throws following fouls, to pull within three.

"They're a group of fighters," Zambito said. "I never, ever once thought that the game was going to be over and we would lose until the final buzzer."

The game, in fact, wasn't decided until the closing seconds, with great plays by Elba's Henry Pflaumer and Lima's Conell Christiansen perhaps deciding the final outcome (top photo). With seconds left and Elba down by three, Pflaumer stole an inbound pass, took a dribble and a step to the three-point line. Christiansen leaped and with his long reach got a hand on the ball, blocking Pflaumer's shot. Who knows if Pflaumer would have knocked down the game-tying bucket, but Christiansen arguably made the play of the game, capping off his 19-point performance.

"Lima did good," Zambito said. "The story line in the paper tomorrow shouldn't be what we did wrong. It should be what Lima did well."

John Hocmuth lead Elba's scoring with 15 points. Shane O’Halloran scored nine. Jayson Faynor added 11 for Lima.

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To purchase prints, click here.

February 23, 2016 - 4:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Police Facility.

Via our news partner, WBTA:

The Batavia City Council has unanimously agreed, at least for the moment, to build a new police station on Swan Street.

In a straw poll, one without any binding authority, the council agreed to pursue the new facility on the site of the former Wiard Plow Company.
City Council President Eugene Jankowski doesn’t want to give away the city’s bargaining chip, since the Swan Street site is privately owned, and left open the possibility that the city could still choose a different site.

The working price tag to buy and prepare the land, and build the building, has been pegged at $10 million.

City Council also held a public hearing into next year’s city budget. Only two people spoke at the hearing: perennial critics John Roche and Rich Richmond.
Final action of the budget, which carries a tax rate increase of .08 percent, must be taken before April 1st, the start of the city’s fiscal year.

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