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October 25, 2016 - 11:21am
posted by Genesee Chamber... in genesee county, arts, business, news.

Are you looking to try something new? Why not take an art class? Life can be hectic at times – slow it down a little by exploring some creative pursuits. The benefits of taking an art class are numerous: self-expression, relaxation, slowing down, awakening other parts of your mind and discovering new talents are just a few.

From absolute beginners to individuals with prior training, there are several opportunities in Genesee County where you can stretch your creative muscles. Here are seven locations where you can “get your art on!”

Oatka School of Glass – 56 Harvester Ave., 2nd Floor, Batavia
This place is known as the little studio with a big reputation. Artists and students come from around the world to learn and teach at Oatka School of Glass. And you too can create your own glass masterpiece at this highly revered place! The school offers a variety of classes and instructional demonstrations. Experienced glass-workers guide you through the steps to create a unique glass project such as a glass paperweight, flower, beads and pendants, wind chimes, plates, coasters, or even a sun catcher.

GO-ART! – 201 E. Main St., Batavia

GO-ART! is the main arts advocacy and promotions organization in Genesee and Orleans counties. In addition to supporting artists and producing events, the organization also hosts art classes throughout the year. Artist Jill Pettigrew teaches classes in many different mediums. Visit their website to see their offerings.

Fired Up Ready to Paint Ceramics – 216 Ellicott St., Batavia
Here are some fun projects to undertake. Visit Fired Up and pick out one of the countless three-dimensional items to use for your project. Using special paints, you then paint your item, which is eventually placed in a kiln. A few days later you come back and get your ceramic masterpiece.

Country Cottage Gift Shop & Gardens – 10448 Harper Road, Darien Center
In the rolling countryside of Darien Center is this very neat gift shop, gardens and art class complex. Classes take place in a small cottage or in the loft of a barn. The classes and projects here tend to focus on a country theme. A delightful place to purchase a gift, too!

Karen’s Yarn Paper Scissors – 550 E. Main St., Batavia
Just like the name of the business implies, you can find art supplies here – especially those involving paper and yarn. Karen’s also offers a few unique art classes throughout the year. There have been recent classes involving mixed media, inks and metals, decoupage, drawing techniques, and more.

Jade Pottery – 10115 Creek Road, Pavilion
Tucked away in the southeastern most corner of our county, Jade pottery offers custom pottery, handprint art, paint-your-own pottery and more! Drop in during their open hours, or sign-up online for one of their many public classes. Private classes, birthday parties and children’s camps are also part of Jade Pottery’s many offerings.

Art Ah La Carte – 39 Jackson St., Batavia
Art Ah La Carte is a teaching art studio for all ages. Kim Argenta, the school’s owner, teaches in many mediums, including acrylics, oils, mixed mediums, chalks, pastels, pencil and much more. The school offers weekly classes, open paint nights, and parties for all occasions.

Visit to learn more...

October 25, 2016 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, budget, news.

His proposed county budget for 2017 is bare-bones and no-frills, County Manager Jay Gsell told Legislators in his annual budget message, delivered as his office wraps up putting together a tax and expense plan that meets the county's obligation to continue state-mandated programs, keeps local services in place and doesn't call on officials to raise taxes above tax cap levels.

Increasing state-manded funding obligations continue to burden local taxpayers, with no relief in sight, Gsell said.

"The continued disregard of New York State's culpability in the county tax rate increases over the past 40 years is something we have learned to live with, but to be additionally mocked by Albany for not being able to control our expenses or tax rates, and blaming us for 'living with these unfunded mandates' is disingenuous at best and necessitate county governments cutting non-mandated, quality-of-life programs, reducing funding for vital community agency programs and depleting our fund balance in lieu of 10- to 30-percent property tax levy increases, neither option of which is sustainable nor logical in tax-happy New York State," Gsell wrote.

Examples of mandated expenses without concurrent state aid is Medicaid, an expenditure equivalent to 80 percent of the county's tax levy. The county is also being forced to pick up more of the cost of legal defense for suspects unable to pay for their own attorney. Unreimbursed legal services costs now exceeds $1.2 million. The state is also mandating an increase in District Attorney pay from $152,500 to $183,350. 

Gsell's budget once again dips into the county's reserve funds, to the tune of $1 million, and transfers $1.1 million in anticipated sales tax revenue from future projects, such as road and bridges, to spend the money in 2017. It also cuts 10 percent of the funding requests for several local agencies, including Genesee County Economic Development Center, libraries, the Holland Land Office Museum, and the Soil & Water Conservation District.

Shuffling the deck chairs enables Gsell to present a balanced budget that keeps the tax levy under the tax cap level.

The proposed tax rate is $9.76 per thousand of assessed value for a total levy of $27,844,499.

Any drastic changes in Gsell's proposed budget, such as raising the tax rate above tax cap levels, or cuts to essential services, what Gsell previously called "the nuclear option," are policy decisions best left to members of the County Legislature, Gsell said.

The legislature meets at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow in the conference room of the Old Courthouse to discuss the proposed budget.

As mandated expenses continue to grow and the county facing potentially large bills for infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, and possibly a new jail, Gsell warns in his budget message that the county may have to consider in 2018 pulling back the 50/50 share of sales tax revenue with towns and the city. The county isn't required to share sales tax revenue and expenses for local roads and bridges falls almost entirely on county government.

October 24, 2016 - 3:27pm

Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Public Health Column:

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is this week, Oct. 23-29. The Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming County Health Departments encourage you to learn about lead, lead poisoning, and the importance of preventative testing in order to make our community a healthier one.

Lead is a metal found in the earth and it is a poison. For years, lead was used in paint, gas, plumbing and many other items. Since the late 1970s, lead paint was banned in the United States, however other countries may not have regulations regarding the use of lead products. Lead can be found in the soil, deteriorated paint, household dust, contaminated drinking water from old plumbing, lead-glazed pottery, some metal jewelry, and at some jobsites (typically construction, manufacturing and mining).

Lead poisoning is preventable but when ingested, even a small amount can cause severe and lasting harm. Exposure to lead can happen from breathing air or dust, eating contaminated foods, or drinking contaminated water. All houses built prior to 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust.

Lead dust, fumes and paint chips can cause serious health problems. Too much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, nervous system and red blood cells. Everyone, young and old, can be affected if exposed, but children and pregnant women are considered at highest risk. Young children between 6 months and 6 years old are more likely to suffer health problems from lead exposure. Lead poisoning can slow a child’s physical growth and mental development and may cause behavior problems, intellectual disability, kidney and liver damage, blindness and even death.

“New York State Department of Health requires health care providers to obtain a blood lead test for all children at age 1 and again at age 2,” said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans counties. “Up to age 6, your doctor or nurse should ask you about ways your child may have had contact with lead.

"Pregnant women are at high risk because lead can pass from mother to her unborn baby, as well as be responsible for high blood pressure and miscarriage. Also, be concerned if you or someone in your home has a hobby or job that brings them in contact with lead."

Prevention is the key! Protect yourself and your family from possible lead exposure by talking to your Primary Care Provider about lead testing. There are also many precautions that can be taken to protect yourself and your family; here are a few. Prior to consuming food, make sure hands are washed, clean your home weekly, do not allow your child to chew on something that is dirty, avoid wearing shoes in the house, and hire a qualified professional if you suspect there is lead in your home that you want removed.

For information about this topic or Health Department services contact,

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website

at Visit Facebook at Genesee County Health Department and Twitter at GeneseeCoHealthDept.

  • Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out our website at: Visit Facebook and Twitter: the user name for both is OrleansCoHealth.
  • Wyoming County Health Department at: 786-8890 or visit their web site at
October 20, 2016 - 2:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in budget, genesee county, news.


Legislators are faced with a number of hard choices as the county's 2017 budget comes together.

Increases in mandated spending, increases in personnel expenses, flat sales tax revenue and unsettled questions about expenses related to the soon-to-be-former Genesee County Nursing Home means the county needs to raise more money than allowed by the tax levy cap.

County Jay Gsell laid out several options for the legislators, except one, but Chairman Ray Cinifrinit put it on the table: Voting to override the tax cap limit.

To override, the Legislators would have to hold a public hearing and then vote on a resolution. That would have to be done before completion of the budget process, so approving the resolution wouldn't necessarily mean there would be a tax increase above the cap amount.

"I'm suggesting that we at least pass the resolution," Cianfrini said. "That's just good planning."

Gsell said he won't submit a budget proposal, which is due within 48 hours, that includes a tax increase above the cap amount.

The formula for figuring the cap takes into account the $14 million in increased assessed value for real property in the county, but the county can only use a portion of that increase for any pre-cap increase in the levy.

If the county were to raise no more money from the levy than in 2016, it would put the tax rate for the county at $9.69 per thousand of assessed value.

The rate can't go past $9.86 to stay under the levy cap. 

If Gsell accepted all of the funding requests by various county departments, which by direction were already frugal requests, the tax rate would be $10.27.

To get the rate down to at least $9.86, Gsell said there will be no new hires for county staff, except two new corrections officers, and he's looking at using $1 million from the county's reserves, as well as diverting 1 percent of the sales tax that would normally go to next year's capital projects (think roads and bridges), for another $800,000 in savings. He's also cutting 10 percent from all non-mandated services, except for mental health related services, Genesee Community College and the Chamber of Commerce (the tourism office helps generate revenue for the county and gets funding from the hotel bed tax).

Here's the list of programs and agencies slated for a 10 percent cut from their funding requests:

  • GO-ART!
  • Business Education Alliance
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Holland Land Office Museum
  • Housing Initiative Committee
  • Genesee County Economic Development Center
  • Libraries
  • Mercy Flight
  • Soil & Water Conservation District

Legislator Andrew Young expressed concern about the county once again dipping into reserve funds to balance a budget. He noted that practice can't last forever. He is also concerned about diverting funds from capital projects when the county is looking at a $15 million bill for road and bridge repairs over the next five years.

So take those two revenue diversions off the table, that leaves Legislators with two big options -- raise taxes above the levy cap, or go to what Gsell called "the nuclear option," the "scorched earth policy."

That option is completely eliminating a service the county currently provides but isn't mandated by state law. Those options include closing county parks and eliminating the road patrol deputies in the Sheriff's Office.

Such drastic cuts could also include elimination all funding for the nine programs and services listed above.

"If they (the legislators) don't like what I recommend in terms of how the revenues are put together," Gsell said after the meeting, "that's when I have to go back to the expense side of the equation and get rid of $1 million to $2 million worth of expenses."

But Gsell warned legislators that drastic cuts will certainly bring about intense pushback from the community.

"We tried that with Genesee Justice a few years ago and I believe there were 200-plus people at a public hearing over in the court facility," Gsell said. "Everybody and the kitchen sink came in and said that's the worse thing the county has ever thought of, let alone tried to do as far as county government goes. So that's just a caution."

The two-and-a-half hour meeting Wednesday also included a lengthy discussion about how to eliminate some of the overtime costs within the Sheriff's Office. Sheriff Gary Maha, Undersheriff William Sheron (top photo), Chief Deputy Gordon Dibble and Jail Superintendent William Zipfel participated in the conversation.

The two main areas of overtime expense are deputies in training with their four-hour daily commute to and from basic training in either Niagara Falls or Monroe County and prisoner transport of female inmates between Genesee County, which doesn't have a jail that can house female inmates, and the jails in the area that can accept female prisoners.

Currently, deputies are taken off of road patrol for transports.

The Sheriff's Office budget requested three new corrections officers to handle the transports, but the discussion headed toward a proposal to hire two new corrections officers and find retired law enforcement officers to work part-time help with transports.

County Attorney Charles Zambito, soon-to-be County Judge Zambito, said once he's judge he can probably make sure the calendar is adjusted to ensure prisoners to be transported are scheduled for appearances in batches, reducing the number of transport trips. 

Jail expense is also going up, Zipfel said, because of the changing demographics of the jail population. There is more time and expense with medical transportation and dealing with mental health issues, including more one-on-one watches for inmates who may be suicidal.

"The jail population is aging and getting sicker with every month that goes by," Zipfel said. "We're encountering more people who have drug and alcohol addictions, more people who are older. We've had several people recently in their 70s and 80s who are getting sentenced because of drug and alcohol addictions."

The legislature will meet again on the budget next Wednesday.

October 19, 2016 - 11:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in district attorney, genesee county, news.

Moments after being told on Monday by County Manager Jay Gsell that a pay raise for the district attorney is being mandated by the state and the County Legislature really had no say in the matter, members of the Public Service Committee decided to say nothing at all.

No member of the committee spoke up to make a motion to approve the mandated pay raises, so there was no second to a motion, and without a motion or second, there could be no discussion.

Afterward, Chairman Ray Cinanfrini, who was in the room, but is not a member of the commitee, was totally surprised that the committee acted as it did.

He said there was no prior discussion that gave him a clue there would simply be no action on the matter.

Not that he was disappointed.

"I'm not in favor of the way it was handled by the governor's office," Cianfrini said. "This is no reflection whatsoever on our district attorney and the services provided by his office. They do a great job. It's just that we had no control over the  whole process."

A committee appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended that salaries for district attorneys throughout the state be pegged to the salary structure of Supreme Court justices, which are pegged to the salary rates of federal judges.

Under the mandate, the district attorney pay would hit $193,000 annually in April 2018, or 95 percent of a Supreme Court justice's salary in that year.

Last year, Friedman, who hadn't received a pay raise in about eight years, was paid $152,500. The governor's plan would give Friedman an immediate boost to $183,350.

The lack of action by the Legislature really puts the ball in Friedman's court, Cianfrini said. 

"Certainly, as the law stands right now, our district attorney is entitled to the money," Cianfrini said. "The fact that we did not take action on it today, I think, puts a lot of pressure on us on how we can justify the decision of the Public Service Committee."

County Attorney Charles Zambito agreed that it is probably up to Friedman to decide how to proceed.  

Friedman declined to share specific thoughts on the pay issue.

"While I certainly have some very strong feelings about this issue, rather than making statements to the media at this time, I will begin by promptly addressing it with the County Legislature," Friedman said.

If push comes to shove, he and Gsell said, the Legislature could vote to make the district attorney's job part time. That would get the county out from under the state mandate.

Up until the early 1990s, the job, along with all the assistant jobs, were part-time. Just prior to Friedman's election to DA, the legislature voted to make the job full-time, so Friedman is the only full-time DA in the county's history.

October 17, 2016 - 2:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, genesee county, weather.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo has issued a wind advisory, in effect from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18. It specifically cites Northern Genesee County and the City of Batavia.

Winds are predicted to be 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph.

Strong winds may cause minor property damage and power outages. Remember to secure any loose objects that can easily be blown around by wind.

A wind advisory is issued when sustained winds are forecasted to be 31 to 39 mph or gusts ranging between 46 and 57 mph. Winds of these magnitudes may cause minor property damages unless extra precautions are taken.

Motorists in high profile vehicles should use caution until the winds subside.

October 6, 2016 - 10:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, property taxes, genesee county.

The county is looking at a 2017 budget that will reduce the county's tax rate by 23 cents per thousand of assessed value, but that won't necessarily be good news for all local property owners.

What each property owner ends up paying in property taxes will depend on any changes in their individual assessed value.

If your assessed value went up, depending on the size of the increase, the reduction in tax rate could hold your county tax bill even with 2016, unless your assessment increased significantly, then your overall county tax bill could increase. If you're assessed value stayed the same or went down, your county tax bill could decrease.

The county's budget is still in an early stage draft form, but County Manager Jay Gsell told legislators yesterday that what they're looking at is a possible tax rate of $9.63 up to $9.69, and even that range is subject to change as more numbers come in.

Overall, the total assessed value of all properties in Genesee County increased by $96 million. Some of that increase relates to assessors deciding some properties are now worth more money; some of it is due to new construction and some to temporary tax exemptions, such as PILOTs granted by GCEDC, expiring.

Under the state's complex property tax cap formula, the county is limited in how much of an increase in assessed value it can capture in revenue.

Roughly speaking, based on currently available calculations, the county probably can't go with a tax rate higher than $9.69.

The current rate is $9.86 per thousand.

A rate of $9.63 to $9.69 also fits with Gsell's goal of holding county spending for 2017 pretty much on par with 2016.

The instructions to department managers has been to hold the line on spending, Gsell said.

One of the big unknowns for the county as it tries to map out expenses for 2017 is the status of the Genesee County Nursing Home. The property has been sold, but the deal can't close until the State Health Department approves a certificate of need for one wing of the home for the new owner. There seems to be little progress with the state on that front and legislators are getting antsy about the lack of resolution. The unresolved issue may require legislators to budget for that expense in 2017.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: The following is the result of a discussion via e-mail today with Kevin Andrews, the deputy county treasurer.

The total assessed value of all properties in Genesee County has increased by $160 million. The revised number for how much of that is taxable by the county is now about $80 million.

As for the $80 million in increased assessed value, that is because of various exemptions, such as PILOTs, but also nonprofits and government-owned property are tax exempt, so there are other programs that property owners can apply for that award tax exemptions. These include a veterans exemption for homeowners, an exemption available to farms in some circumstances, and one for seniors below certain income levels, and various municipal exemptions.

The tax rate for some residents is also affected by a state formula for equalization of rates in different towns. If a town's assessments are below market rate, the county rate is adjusted accordingly.

On that point, Andrews said, "It is tough to say for sure what the tax impact will be in those towns without looking into those in a little more detail, but my guess would be that the equalization rate didn’t go down by too much, so they probably will not see an increase in taxes in those towns with a lower tax rate (unless you are a property owner whose assessment went up due to, say, new construction), but that is just a guess."

These figures are also still subject to change.

Approximately 26 percent of the properties in the county had some sort of increase in assessed value. About $14 million of the increased assessed value is because of new construction and improvements, less losses on demolition or destruction of property (fires, etc.) and properties moving from profit to nonprofit status.

About $146,000 of the increase in assessed value is the result of market-rate adjustments.

Because of updates on numbers, Andrews now estimates that stay-even tax rate is about $9.66, or $9.67.

October 3, 2016 - 3:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in genesee county, RTS, news, Announcements.

Press release:

To make it easier for customers in Genesee County to get the most up-to-date information about RTS news, events, routes, and service and schedule changes, RTS today announced that customers can now sign up to receive this information via text message and email alerts, and our email newsletter.

“The introduction of these text message and email alerts is part of our ongoing effort to make it easier for customers to get the information they need, when they need it,” said Bill Carpenter, CEO of RTS. “With these new communication tools, we can now provide customers with an instant update if we have to implement a detour at the last minute or encounter a delay on a specific route.

"By improving the timeliness and frequency of information that is important to our customers, we are making it easier for them to enjoy the ride.”

Signing up is easy. Customers can fill out a subscription form online or in person, or opt-in via text message.

The directions for each option are as follows:

·         Sign-Up Online: Visit, click the “Stay Connected” banner on the homepage, and complete the subscription form to receive alerts and updates from RTS via text or email

·         Opt-In Via Text Message: Text the words “OPT IN GEN ALL” to (585) 433-0855 to receive all the information we distribute. If customers only want alerts for a specific route, they can replace the “ALL” with the specific route number. For example, to sign up for text message alerts for the Route 1 customers would text “OPT IN GEN 1”

·         Contact Customer Service: Call (585) 343-3079 to enroll over the phone with a customer service representatives assistance

·         Sign-Up in Person: Fill out a subscription form at RTS Genesee at 153 Cedar Street in Batavia

For all other information, visit

September 29, 2016 - 5:13pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, genesee county, news.

Our news partner WBTA contributed to this story.

Prominent 81-year-old attorney Randolph Zickl was sentenced to five years probation in Genesee County Court today and ordered to pay $400 a month in restitution to his victim, the widow of a former client.

Zickl admitted stealing $75,398 dollars from the woman, who is "well into her 80s," and on June 24th he pled guilty to second-degree grand larceny, a Class-C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Prosecuting attorney Candice Vogel, an assistant DA in Erie County, said after today's proceedings: “The sentencing order was for five years probation. During that five years of probation the defendant was ordered to make restitution payments at the rate of $400 a month through the Probation Department here in Genesee County. He had already made a payment of $11,300 before we arrived here today.”

That leaves a remainder of $64,098 in restitution to be repaid to the victim. At the rate set today, she will not see the full restitution payment for approximately 14 years.

Zickl was once one the most respected attorneys in the county, heading up the County’s Office of Legal Assistance. He also has two sons currently working in the Genesee County District Attorney’s Office.

One of Randolph Zickl’s defense attorneys said before sentencing that he “feels horrible” about his crime; Zickl declined to speak before sentencing.

His defense also requested that he be given 60 days before continuing restitution payments as he has already paid a large sum of the amount and is currently living off of Social Security.

Presiding Judge James Bargnesi gave Zickl 30 days before the resumption of monthly restitution.

Vogel said that the perpetrator's age, the victim's age, the sizable amount of restitution paid to date and Zickl's assets and capability of paying the remaining amount all factored into the judge's decision to grant probation and set the amount of monthly restitution. Vogel said the victim's family is aware of the terms and indicate they are comfortable with them.

Asked about the likelihood that the victim will live to reap the benefits of full restitution, Vogel said: "This is one of the biggest issues of financial exploitation of the elderly. It's kind of a race..." to try and prosecute such crimes and recoup what was stolen before the victim dies.

Vogel said, technically, if Randolph Zickl dies before he completes restitution, the balance will be the liability of his estate and its heirs.

September 22, 2016 - 10:50am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Elections, genesee county, news.

The county will be prepared, Dick Siebert, the Republican election commissioner, for a historic turnout on presidential election day, Nov. 8, Siebert told members of the County Ways and Means Committee at Wednesday meeting.

Where an off-year, local election might garner a 20- to 24-percent turnout, Siebert is ordering enough computer-readable ballots to handle an 80-percent turnout.

"One thing we don’t want to do is run out of ballots on a presidential election," Siebert said.

In his role as an election commissioner and as chair of the county's GOP committee, Siebert said he is seeing a lot of interest in this election.

"We’ve had a lot of activity," Siebert said. "We had a strong turnout in the primary. We had a 40-percent turnout on the Republic line in the primary. There’s been a lot of interest, both for Trump and for Hillary in our county. We normally experience anywhere around 70 to 72 percent in a presidential year. I think this year we will exceed that."

The fact that both the Republican and Democratic primaries were strongly contested until late in the season, helped drive interest in this year's presidential election, Siebert said.

Plus both top-party candidates are polarizing.

"This campaign has been going on forever," Siebert said. "Everybody has been following it. It seems like it’s never ending. Trump has his supporters. He has his people who love him. He has his people who hate him. Same thing with Hillary. There are people who love her and there are people who hate her. There’s just a lot of extra interest this time."

As GOP chair, he said he's getting a lot of requests for Trump lawn signs. He just got a batch of 300 in and half of them are already gone.

He said the Democrats will soon get Clinton signs in and Siebert expects strong demand for those signs as well.

"This will be our busiest election in my 13 years as a commissioner," Siebert said. "We had strong turnouts before, but there just seems to be so much more vocal interest locally, at least in Genesee County."

Even so, the election staff is ready, he said, though it will be a long day.

"We’re well staffed," Siebert said. "We’ve got great crews out there. We add on people where we can, but we suspect that our workers will be busy right from six o’clock straight through until nine o’clock at night. Unfortunately, some of them won’t even get a break."

The biggest problem he expects on election day is people turning out who never registered to vote.

"We’ll get complaints that 'I can’t exercise my Constitutional rights because I can’t vote,' " Siebert said. "Well, they can’t vote because they didn’t register, even though they think they did, but they didn’t it. It makes it a very touchy year."

The deadline to register for the general election is Oct. 14.

August 17, 2016 - 3:17pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in genesee county, Peace Garden.


Batavia Peace Garden ©Mark Gutman (37)In downtown Batavia, NY, you will notice a beautiful and charming park right on Main Street sitting on the banks of Tonawanda Creek. The colorful garden is more than just a gorgeous landmark. Through natural beauty, the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden represents a symbol of 200 years of peaceful coexistence with our neighbors in Canada.

Well maintained by volunteers, the peace garden celebrates history through informational signage, display of flags, and little artistic features, such as a bench shaped as a butterfly. A footbridge extends across the meandering creek. A nice, gentle spot, indeed.Peace Garden ©Mark Gutman (6)

The Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail is designed to attract international visitors as well as residents of this historic region to experience and enjoy the natural beauty that these gardens provide while commemorating the two centuries of peace that has existed between Canada and the United States.

Part of a much larger endeavor, the Batavia peace gardens is part of a 600 mile trail that travels through Canada and the United States. The route follows the historic route where events from the War of 1812.

Peace Garden ©Mark Gutman (4)

Batavia Peace Garden ©Mark Gutman (14)

Batavia Peace Garden ©Mark Gutman (32)

Visit to learn more...

August 5, 2016 - 12:00pm

The third annual Hometown Trail has kicked off and a variety of shops in Genesee County have joined together to offer shoppers a fun way to explore unique stores and win prizes along the way. The Hometown Trail 2016 shops include:

  • Country Hill -- 11119 W. Park St., Pavilion. 584-3540. Tues-Fri 10-6, Sat 10-4.
  • The Hobby Horse -- 54-56 Main St., Le Roy. 768-8130. Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-3.
  • Walking in the Woods -- 3456 Galloway Road, Batavia. 344-2428. Fri-Sun 11-5.
  • Torrey’s Farm Market -- 7142 Oak Orchard Road, Elba. 355-1005. Fri & Sat 10-5.
  • The Mill -- 7061 Oak Orchard Rd., Elba. 746-1677. Thurs 12-5, Fri 10-5, Sat 10-4.
  • Vintage Vogue -- 36 Main St., Le Roy. 502-5333. M-F 10-6, Sat 10-4.
  • The Divine Tree -- 19 Main St., Le Roy. 502-5386. Mon. 10-6, Tues. 2-6, Wed. 10-6, Th-Fri. 10-7, Sat. 11-4.
  • Buttercrumbs Bakery -- 13 E. Main St., Corfu. 599-4550. Mon-Fri 7am-2pm, Sat 7am-2pm, Sunday: CLOSED.
  • The Farm -- 9079 Alleghany Road, Corfu. 409-1433. Open seven days 10am-5pm.
  • Danielle’s Countryside Antiques -- 8966 Alleghany Road, Corfu. 599-3808. Thurs-Sun 11-5.
  • Country Cottage -- 10448 Harper Road, Darien Center. 547-9591. Open 7 days 11-6.
  • Berried Treasures -- 13219 Broadway, Alden. 356-9895. Tues-Fri 10-4, Sat 8-2.

Participate in the Hometown Trail this summer by shopping at these Genesee County shops. Get your card stamped at each shop by Aug. 31st to be entered in the grand prize drawings to be held on Sept. 12. Participants who collect all shop stamps will be entered in the Grand Prize Drawing for a $100 gift certificate that can be used at any of the participating shops.

Participants that collect all shop stamps PLUS participate in any of our bonus features on Facebook will be entered in our Ultimate Shopper Prize. The more you participate, the more chances you have to win! Winners will be notified and featured on our Facebook page
In addition to these great prizes, there will also be a trivia question giveaways on our Facebook page - The Hometown Trail - Click here.

Maps can be found at any of these shops. Trail-goers can explore along the way and get their map stamped at each store until the end of August when maps will be turned in for prize drawings. Find out more on The Hometown Trail Facebook Page. 

August 2, 2016 - 4:41pm
posted by Genesee Chamber... in genesee, genesee county, history, Historical Society.

Relevant history of American life is abound in Genesee County, NY. The county is home to 12 historical museums, which are excellent ways to understand how people in these towns lived many years ago.

You don’t have to travel to The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to have an experience with American history. We recently visited all of the Genesee County historical locations with the hope of shedding a little light on the history and relevance of each town. See history come alive by visiting these places!

Alabama Museum, 2218 Judge Road, Alabama, NY (585) 948-9287

The museum itself is a neat place as it was originally an one-room schoolhouse. When you walk into the museum, you can see the big windows and high ceilings and wonder about the children and the education that went on in the building. Through the artifacts you will discover that Alabama used to have three gun manufacturers in its small town. There was a prominent citizen named Dr. Grant Neal, whose buggy is displayed at the museum. Part of the original Bason post office is also on display. Some people might find the museum’s vintage posters of “horse auctions” and old-time carnivals as interesting historical markers and how life was way back then. One small item that is still relevant today is a Christmas party invitation harking back to 1856 in regards to some soiree in Alabama. Gladly open by appointment only. Feel free to call (585) 948-9287.

Alabama Museum 22

(Alabama Museum was once a one-room schoolhouse.)

Alabama Museum 18

(Artifacts from days gone by.)

Alabama Museum 6

(Dr. Grant Neal’s buggy is on display at the Alabama Museum.)

Alexander Museum, 3350 Church St., Alexander, NY (585) 591-1204

Up on the third story of Alexander’s Town Hall (United States’ only three-story cobblestone town hall) sits the Alexander Museum. The building alone is worth the trip and makes for interesting photographs – bring your camera. A few items on display that are relevant in today’s world, include an old phone, record players and typewriter – which are all now part of our cell phones. Children these days would be baffled in the ways we use to communicate. In a section dedicated to tools, it’s interesting to look at the objects and try to guess their usage. The museum’s large open space is filled with their wide-ranging collection. From farmer’s tools to old record players, there’s a lot to absorb here. Please call to schedule a visit.

Alexander 1

(Alexander Museum is located in Alexander’s unique town hall.)

Alexander 2

(Alexander Museum is open by appointment only.)

Alexander 4

(Remembering those who served from Alexander.)

Bergen Museum,  7547 S. Lake Road, Bergen, NY (585) 494-0080

The Bergen Museum is a truly unique place. The museum resides in the former 1880 Hartford Hotels Livery Stables in downtown Bergen. It has been converted into a cozy, and well-done museum. Inside the old barn, there are a handful of interesting, life-size tableaus depicting, a blacksmith shop, a general store, school classroom and more. The goal of the exhibits are to have the artifacts tell the story. You really get an excellent sense of what it was like to shop at a store, studying in school or visit the local pharmacy. A local military exhibit includes war time posters, which capture people’s imaginations. The nicely crafted tableaux were created by museum’s volunteers.  Open every Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.

Bergen Museum 13

(The Bergen Museum is inside a converted horse stable.)

Bergen Museum 9

(Display of a blacksmith shop at Bergen Museum.)

Bergen Museum 8

(See what a General Store looked like at Bergen Museum.)

Byron Museum, 6407 Townline Road, Byron, NY  Phone: (585) 548-9008

A cool surprise is that this museum is located in an old church that is right next to an old cemetery. The sanctuary of the former German Lutheran church is packed with countless items, including a lot of clothing and textiles. People who love fashion or clothes will enjoy looking at what people were wearing a hundred years ago. South Byron High School is well-represented with photographs and yearbooks. Behind the church, there is a large annex dedicated to items typical of a farming community. There are even a few local business and community signs spread throughout. The collection is pretty deep. Open Sundays 2 to 4 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day. Other hours are gladly accepted with appointment.

Byron Museum 15

(Byron Museum is located inside a former church.)

Byron Museum 2

(The sanctuary of the church is filled with historical items.)

Byron Museum 9

(At the Byron Museum, there is a large area dedicated to antique tools and equipment.)

(More after the jump. Click on Read More below.)

July 26, 2016 - 3:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in health, genesee county, UMMC, news.

Press release:

Employees of community service agencies and professionals are wanted to provide their expertise to help our communities become healthier. 

The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County health departments, along with United Memorial Medical Center and Orleans Community Health are updating the Community Health Improvement Plan and Community Services Plans.

They invite you to participate in a conversation to help shape future efforts to imporve current health concerns. Bring your suggestions for how challenges can be met!

There will be a forum to discuss challenges and options from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at the Genesee County Building #2 -- Foyer Conference Room, on West Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

Light refreshments will be provided.

To attend, please RSVP by Aug. 2 to:

[email protected]

June 28, 2016 - 2:17pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, genesee county, STOP-DWI.

Press release:

Genesee County STOP-DWI Coordinator Matt Landers announced that the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, City of Batavia Police Department and the Village of Le Roy Police Department will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving.

The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on July 1st and will end on July 5th. The Fourth of July extended weekend is historically a deadly period for impaired driving. This year the 4th of July falls on a Monday, so we expect heavy traveling to begin on Thursday, June 30th and festivities to begin on Friday, July 1st and run through Tuesday, July 5th.

Americans love to celebrate the Fourth of July with family, friends, food and fireworks, but all too often the festivities turn tragic on the nation's roads. The fact is, this iconic American holiday is also one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to drunk-driving crashes. According to data from NHTSA, during July 4th holiday period over the five years (from 2010 to 2014), 752 people lost their lives in crashes involving drivers with a BAC of .08 or more.

These fatalities account for 42 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities over this same five-year period. The New York State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies will collaborate across the state and will be out in force in this coordinated effort to aggressively target those who put lives in danger.

Genesee County Undersheriff Bill Sheron wants you to know “The fourth of July holiday is for family gathering and celebration, let’s keep our families together, please celebrate responsibly.”

The July Fourth Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association. The Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign also targets Labor Day Weekend, Halloween and the national Holiday Season in December.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol and drug related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving.

June 15, 2016 - 4:20pm

Whatever differences of opinion may exist about how to address the problems faced by small, rural volunteer fire companies, one thing pretty much all the stakeholders agree on is this: they are struggling and need help.

So said Emergency Services Manager Tim Yaeger at Monday afternoon's Public Service Committee meeting.

He asked for permission to apply for a state Management Performance Grant offered as part of the 2015-16 Municipal Restructuring Fund Program. Permission was unanimously granted.

The aim is to secure funds to contract with a consultant to assess the county's firefighting needs.

Yaeger said he and Bill Schutt, the West Battalion coordinator for the Genesee County Emergency Management Office, have talked with County Manager Jay Gsell about bringing a consultant on board. Schutt, a volunteer for more than 25 years with Alabama fire, also works full time as general manager of Mercy EMS, where he manages a staff of more than 60 and its fleet of vehicles.

"We want to look at fire services in Genesee County -- how do we provide that service in the future in a very efficient and professional manner," Yaeger said. "As you know, we've had conversations before, we're struggling, in some places more than others."

The amount of funding available to conduct such a study is "kind of open-ended."

Schutt said the grant is designed for consolidation-of-services projects, but fire service was listed as eligible and after confering with state officials, it was deemed that assessment and evaluation of Genesee County fire services would fit within that scope.

"The 10,000-foot view of what we'd like to look at, is what this grant is asking us to apply for, and it kind of goes down from there," Schutt said. "A lot of it is based on what you'd save for money. I don't think this project is going to be looking at saving money directly, but in the long term it will, so there's a way of working it in there in terms of the long term."

Committee Chair Marianne Clattenburg asked how long the process will take.

A timeline is not known. It would be a process of stages, perhaps two or three studies or consultations. 

"It's not going to be 'here's your information' and we're going to walk away," Yaeger said, "because it's such a vast program. There's so many moving parts to this."

If, say an initial study is done and that takes six or seven months just to identify what they true issues are, that may constitute the first step.

"This is not going to be done in a year or two and find a solution," Yaeger said. "I think it's going to take a few years to get to a position to where we can make some decisions."

It was asked, when looking at the big picture, if there is consenus amongst those in the firefighting community about what the future is and what changes may be forthcoming.

"I think today more than ever, there's a level of agreement that a level of government beyond the local fire company has to find some solutions for them," Yaeger replied. "I think they'll all agree to that -- that they are not able to find those long-term solutions for themselves and they need assistance.

"And the next step up would be to the county, because obviously we're going to be able to benefit everybody here. The issue with the volunteer fire service is you may have consensus today, and then two or three elections from now, the consensus changes."

To that, Clattenburg deadpanned: "Exactly."

"So it's a moving target," Yaeger reiterated, adding that no one should expect sweeping changes anytime soon and noting that Oswego is looking at this issue, but the problems in volunteer firefighting companies are statewide.

Thus he's meeting with fire associations of NYS this week to get the them moving toward a solution. He's already met with WNY fire personnel and emergency coordinators, "all agree...we have to start addressing these things."

"So some may go screaming, but some don't really have much to defend. In many cases, they should be the first to tell you they need assistance," Yaeger said. "They need to be doing something different than what we've been doing right now because it's not working. Right now it's primarily daytime, but we're seeing nighttime problems as well."

Gsell said, actually this is a national issue: "Volunteer fire companies are the backbone, particularly in rural jurisdictions, like ours to some extent, versus urban areas, where they have not just a full-time department but a number of them surrounding in a ring of suburbs.

"In talking with others, they have been able to find solutions that in New York State are not yet on the table, because the state has certain issues and preclusions built into statutes that say 'you just don't do it that way here.' So this (study) might be part of what the future might hold as far as prospective legislation that might need to change."

Any consultant up to the task, Yaeger said would "have to work with us and realize this is going to take some time. The more grant money that becomes available, the more services can be done. The preliminary numbers we were talking about on the phone were good numbers. I think we're trying to keep those numbers small, but understanding that if we expand it to $150,000 that may complete the entire project. ....But it's hard to say exactly what the total will come to."

Committee Member John Deleo asked about the scope of a grant-funded study.

"We're not talking about just two outfits combining together," Deleo said. "Is there a chance we could look at a whole big umbrella? I'm not advocating anything. I'm just asking."

No, this is not about just looking at how to combine or consolidate services.

"There's so many moving parts -- locations of fire stations, response times, and combining -- in some cases there's an opportunity but in our county, not many, because we're fairly spread out already," Yaeger said.

"But we're looking at the entire fire service. What does the city provide? What do the remaining volunteer fire companies provide? And they're all in different categories of capabilities, based on their manpower and their budgetary constraints. We're going to look at this whole thing, absolutely."

The thing that won't be done is approaching the issue with any preconceived notions about a solution.

"The first thing is, everybody understand," Gsell said, "and maybe start developing some consensus around all the constraints there are, and then, how do you address those going into the future."

June 9, 2016 - 4:48pm
posted by Cheryl Thorley in genesee county.
Company Name: 
Genesee County
Job Type: 
County Attorney at Genesee County Attorney $96,987-$122,687 For qualifications, job duties and application information:
June 3, 2016 - 2:50pm

A TV monitor that scrolls a continuous loop of ads for local businesses and things of interest in the county will soon be found in the Batavia DMV Office.

On Wednesday, the Ways and Means Committee approved County Clerk Michael Cianfrini's request for permission to install an AdMonitor on a wall inside the DMV, at no cost to the county, other than the electricity used to run it.

"I'm really interested in advertising the motor vehicle office, to (encourage people to) renew locally," Cianfrini said. "We found that a lot of people have no idea that if you go online and do your transactions, that the county gets nothing. They assume it's the same whether you do it in an office or out of office. So it's a good way to get the word out."

The system is prerecorded, with the information provided to AdMonitor, which supplies the equipment, services it and replaces it if need be.

The monitor will feature advertising for local businesses and the county will have five ad spots to call attention to whatever they'd like to call attention to -- from reporting welfare fraud and notifying the public of upcoming immunization clinics, to Youth Bureau activities or happenings at the fairgrounds or the county Park & Forest.

"They also intersperse trivia and other little things to keep people entertained while they wait," Cianfrini said.

Wait? What wait?

"The times I've been in your office, I didn't have to wait," said Committee Chairman Bob Bausch. "I think you move us through pretty doggone quick!"

Whatever is displayed can be switched up and changed from time to time, of course. 

"I've seen this in several restaurants. It does grab your attention. Because I like to play trivia, it's kind of cool," Committee Member Ray Cianfrini. "But you may have a captive audience, like the Department of Social Services, where you have a waiting-room situation, and it soothes the crowd."

Committee Member Rochelle Stein asked if there is any opportunity to make money with it.

No, the county clerk said, but by calling attention to specific activities or promotions, there's the potential to increase foot traffic and participation .

More AdMonitors are possible down the road, the clerk and committee members said, possibly at the DSS and the Office of the Aging on Bank Street.

June 1, 2016 - 6:47pm

Say a middle-school student habitually sasses a teacher and repeatedly winds up in the vice principal's office. Or maybe a teen is often truant from school or acts out in a way that might get him or her in trouble with the law, perhaps already has.

In many cases, there's a voluntary way to make amends and square things with authorities. It's the Genesee County Youth Court -- an alternative for young people who face disciplinary action through school or law enforcement. The goal is to decrease behavior problems and increase "citizenship skills."

On Tuesday afternoon, the local legislature's Human Service Committee was given an agency review of the Youth Bureau by Director Jocelyn Sikorski, which includes the Youth Court.

She told them that referrals are up. There were 32 last year and there have been 17 to date this year.

With a success rate of 90 percent or better, there are cost savings to the county because this reduces the caseload in the juvenile justice system, Sikorski said.

Eligible young people are referred by either their school or law enforcement. Parents and guardians are involved throughout and everything is kept confidential. Sentencing is individualized and there's no permanent record in the youth’s file or record.

Youths who want resolution through the Youth Court, fill out an application. If approved, the defendant appears before a court of peers.

A "prosecutor" representing school and community interests argues their side and makes a sentencing recommendation. The defense acts on behalf of the teen in question and also makes a sentencing recommendation. A clerk-bailiff maintains court records, administers the oath, and makes sure the court runs smoothly. A panel of three teen judges listen to both sides of the issue and recommends a sentence based on what is heard in the courtroom.

This process gives the wrongdoer a chance to learn from mistakes through early intervention and positive peer pressure.

Those who voluntarily serve in the Youth Court learn about public speaking, group decision making and the justice system.

It began in 2008 and costs about $16,000 a year to run. Funding is provided by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), a component within the U.S. Department of Justice. Chelsea Dillon is the coordinator; she works collaboratively with the Probation Department, law enforcement agencies, the Dept. of Social Services and schools in the county.

Another program administered by the county Youth Bureau is the federally funded "Youth Opportunity Program," an AmeriCorps offshoot, now in its second year here.

The fledgling program enrolls at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth in direct service projects sponsored by AmeriCorps.

"We had a lot of learning in our office," Sikorsky said of the inaugural year. "We're getting better. There are challenges with the youth being served."

Steps are being put in place to prevent problems encountered initially. But through no fault of the county, future funding is not assured for its continuance here or elsewhere.

The federally funded AmeriCorps Program was also reviewed for the committee by Sikorski. It focuses on creating jobs and providing paths to opportunity for young people about to enter the workforce. Through AmeriCorps, participants learn valuable work skills, earn money for education and develop an appreciation for citizenship by working in community service helping others.

Going forward, a concern with the AmeriCorps program is the higher minimum wage of $9.70 an hour in 2017.

"We still will be competitive with that," Sikorski said, because with their education award and their bi-weekly stipend, an AmeriCorps participant makes $9.85 an hour.

"2018...(we) believe that we will struggle to recruit AmeriCorps members with the raise in the state minimum wage, with the money we have to give our AmeriCorps members. Our hands are tied based on that program."

The grant cycle is every 15 months, and Genesee County next cycle runs from October through the end of 2017, when the minimum wage is set to become $9.70 an hour. Each cycle requires a competitive grant application process to secure funds.

"The minimum wage I think will hit us in 2018," Sikorski said.

Committee Chair Rochelle Stein asked if the minimum wage requirement applies to AmeriCorps at all.

"If this is a government program, though, isn't that exempt?" Stein asked. "Because I thought that governments were exempt from the minimum wage increases. I could be wrong."

Sikorski replied: "My understanding is we're exempt (as county government) from the fact that we have to raise the wages to coincide with the raise in the minimum wage. Correct."

County Manager Jay Gsell said "But that may not apply to this program because it's not necessarily with public entities. That's one of those things that you'll have to look at. We'll have to look into that."

Gsell said the minimum wage hike requirements and any future budget impacts on various programs are still being determined.

Regardless of wages, all AmeriCorps members gain an education benefit. A 900-hour volunteer would get, for example, a $2,650 education award upon completion. A parent or grandparent can allocate it to their child or grandchild; you can use it to pay for your own tuition; and, student loans incurred during AmeriCorps participation can be deferred, and no interest will accrue on them.

In another Youth Bureau initiative, Sikorski happily reported that the Kiwanis Club provided $200 to buy "Halloween kits" last October for 90 boys and girls who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to dress up at school or go trick-or-treating in costumes with friends and family. A total of 40 went to children in one of the city's two elementary schools, and 50 went to underprivileged kids in the other.

"Oh, my gosh, it was so much fun!" she said.

The goal is to make this amusing seasonal holiday outreach travel -- next on one side of the county, then the other, then back to the city.

Stein asked about the back-to-school supplies and was told annually, they are able to help between 30 and 50 children with supplies.

Following Sikorski's presentation, the committee agreed to give permission for the Youth Bureau to apply for a grant from the U.S. Tennis Association to fund a summer tennis program. If granted, it would provide $1,900 to pay for a tennis instructor, mileage and some equipment.

May 25, 2016 - 12:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in STOP-DWI, news, law enforcement, Le Roy, batavia, genesee county.

Press release:

Genesee County STOP-DWI Coordinator Matt Landers has announced that the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, City of Batavia Police Department and the Village of Le Roy Police Department will participate in a special enforcement effort to crackdown on impaired driving. The statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown efforts start on Friday, May 27th and will end on Tuesday, May 31st.

Memorial Day week is historically a deadly period for impaired driving. Memorial Day weekend is the traditional beginning of summer. In addition there will be thousands of parties and barbeques to celebrate graduations, proms, communions, confirmations and the fact that the better weather has arrived. This combination of factors equates to more people on the road in general and more people specifically driving impaired with 13 percent more fatalities than on a non-holiday weekend.

The New York State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement agencies will collaborate across the state and will be out in force in this coordinated effort to reduce the number of alcohol related injuries and deaths during this period.

“Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season. Traffic will increase making it more important than ever to drive defensively. The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will have extra patrols out to help keep the roads safe for all travelers” said Undersheriff William Sheron. “The City of Batavia Police Department will be out aggressively enforcing DWI laws over the Memorial Day Week in an effort to ensure that all have a safe and happy holiday week. Make sure to have a plan to get home safely and ensure that all in your party do the same.”

The Memorial Day Weekend Crackdown is one of many statewide enforcement initiatives promoted by the New York State STOP-DWI Association with additional funding from the STOP-DWI Foundation with a grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. The Statewide STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign also targets 4th of July and Labor Day Weekend, Halloween and the national Holiday Season in December.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the numbers of alcohol and drug related fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by drunk or impaired drivers. Highly visible, highly publicized efforts like the STOP-DWI Crackdown Campaign aim to further reduce the incidence of drunk and impaired driving.


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