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June 23, 2018 - 7:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, le roy hs, schools, education, news.

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Le Roy High School celebrated the graduation of 93 seniors today in a ceremony in the school's auditorium.

Gavin Luckey (top photo) was the valedictorian.  

He noted that now he and his classmates will have more freedom and the time they have in front of them will be filled with choices about how to spend that time.  He said, make choices to fill it with memories.

"We are now able to do what we want with our time. By far one of the greatest resources we have is time. For this reason, I want to take this moment to talk about it, more specifically, to never take it for granted.

"Unfortunately, time does not work in our favor. Time is limited, unlike other resources, time can only be lost it can never be gained, therefore, once time is past it can never again be attained. However, the one extraordinary thing about time is it can be stored within us as memories we can revisit again and again."

The salutatorian address was delivered by Lydia Borrelli, who marked the time of her class by recalling some of the cultural touchstones of the past four years, such as Michelle Obama's healthy lunch initiative, the Harlem Shake, the blue or gold dress, the break up of One Direction, and clowns.

“Clearly, we’ve overcome many obstacles during our time here at Le Roy," Borrelli said.

The class selected James Thompson, elementary principal for 20 years, to deliver the faculty/staff address.  He recalled that he had known many of the students since kindergarten and advised them that what they learned in kindergarten will always serve them well in life.

"Share everything, play fair, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody, wash your hands before you eat, flush, and when you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together," Thompson said. "All good reminders, my friends, the Class of 2018, especially that last one. As we go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and please stick together."

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Lydia Borrelli

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James Thompson

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Donald Hobart, president of the Board of Education

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June 23, 2018 - 3:08pm

Genesee County Human Resources Department announces an open competitive examination for Deputy Sheriff, O.C. #65-623.

SALARY

Genesee County -- $28.43 – $31.42 per hour (2018)

VACANCY

This examination is being held to establish an eligible list to fill future vacancies, which may occur during the life of the eligible list.

An eligible may receive only one permanent appointment from this list. Once appointed, there will be a Probationary Period of 8-78 weeks based on performance of duties. During this probationary period the Department Head has the ability to terminate employment, without cause.

Residency Requirement to Participate in the Examination

Candidates must have been legal residents of Genesee County at the time of examination and for at least two months prior to the date of the examination.

Residency Requirement for Appointment

Candidates must be residents of Genesee County at the time of appointment.

LAST FILING DATE --- JULY 18, 2018

EXAMINATION DATE --- SEPT. 15, 2018

To find out about the minimum qualifications, education, filing fees and other requirements, see the full Deputy Sheriff listing here.

NOTE: ANY CHANGE TO A SCHEDULED EXAM, WHETHER A CANCELLATION RELATED TO A WEATHER EMERGENCY OR OTHER CONDITION, WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON RADIO STATION WBTA AM 1490 THE MORNING OF THE EXAM. PLEASE DO NOT CONTACT THE HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICE.

June 23, 2018 - 1:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, news, Roswell Cancer Institute.

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The folks in Pembroke today held "The Ride for Roswell" to help raise money for the cancer institute for research and treatment in Buffalo. The Pembroke Fire Department directed traffic conducting a boot drive at the same time.

The volunteers collected $1,614.20 for the cause.

Info and photos provided by Tera Reinhardt. 

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June 23, 2018 - 9:00am
posted by Billie Owens in crime, news, batavia, Pavilion, Le Roy, notify, Grand Jury.

Jerod M. Baltz is indicated for the crime of criminal sexual act in the first degree, a Class B violent felony. It is alleged that on March 18 on Sparks Road in the Town of Pavilion that Baltz engaged in oral sexual conduct with another person by forcible compulsion. In count two, he is accused of criminal sexual act in the third degree, a Class E felony. It is alleged in count two that he engaged in oral sexual conduct with another person without the person's consent and this lack of consent was by reason of some other factor than incapacity to consent -- physically helpless (NYS Penal Law 130.05(2)(d). In count three, the defendant is accused of first-degree rape, a Class B violent felony, for allegedly engaging in sexual intercourse with another person by forcible compulsion. In count four, Baltz is accused of third-degree rape, a Class E felony, for allegedly engaging in sexual intercourse with another person without the person's concent and this lack of consent was by reason of some other factor than incapacity to consent -- physically helpless. In count five, Baltz is again accused of criminal sexual act in the first degree. It is alleged in count five that he engaged in a second act of oral sexual conduct with another person by forcible compulsion. In count six, the defendant is again accused of criminal sexual act in the third degree. In count six, he allegedly engaged in a second act of oral sexual contact with another person without the person's consent and this lack of consent was by reason of some other factor than incapacity to consent -- physically helpless. In count seven, Baltz is again accused of first-degree rape for allegedly engaging in a second act of sexual intecourse with another person who incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless. In count eight, Baltz is accused of criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, a Class A misdemeanor, for allegedly intending to impede the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying pressure on the throat or neck of a person. The allegations in counts two through eight also allegedly took place on Sparks Road, Pavilion, on March 18.

Qumane J. Santiago and Jaequele M. Tomlin are indicted for the crime of fourth-degree conspiracy, a Class E felony. It is alleged that on Jan. 18 in the City of Batavia that the defendants' intentional conduct constituted a Class C felony to be performed: second-degree robbery. In count two, Tomlin is accused of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree, a Class D felony. It is alleged in count two that Tomlin possessed a dangerous instrument -- a sock with a rock or piece of concrete in it, with the intent to use it unlawfully against another person.

Steven D. Fronczak is indicted for the crime of driving while intoxicated, as a Class E felony. It is alleged that one Feb. 24 in the Town of Le Roy that the defendant drove a 2012 Chevrolet on Route 19 while in an intoxicated condition. In count two, he is accused of aggravated DWI, per se, as a Class E felony, for allegedly have a BAC of .18 or more at the time. In count three, he is accused of aggravated unlicensed operation in the first degree, a Class E felony, for driving while his driver's license was suspended, revoked or otherwise withdrawn by authorities, and he did so allegedly while under the influence of alcohol or a drug. In count four, Fronczak is accused of circumventing an interlock ignition device, a Class A misdemeanor. It is alleged in count four that the 2012 Chevrolet was not equipped with an interlock ignition device, which he is required to have by court order. In count five, he is accused of the offense of use of a mobile telephone while operating a vehicle, a violation. In Special Information filed by the District Attorney, Fronczak is accused of having been convicted of DWI, as a misdemeanor, on March 6, 2017, in Town of Le Roy Court and this conviction was within 10 years of the crimes alleged in the current indictment.

June 23, 2018 - 6:53am
posted by Billie Owens in ILGR, batavia, news, wellness, nutrition, Announcements.

Press release:

In July, the premier consumer-run disability service organization serving Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR), is resuming The Wellness Hour,” a series of five FREE classes to help the whole community to live healthier.

Taking place from 10 to 11 a.m. every Tuesday in July in the front lobby of the ILGR office, 113 Main St. (at Center Street), Suite 5, Batavia, the series of Informational talks is designed to expand participants’ awareness of tools that can promote wellness.

• July 3: Katrina Mogavero and Judy Hysek from Eden Café
Learn about the health benefits of a Vegan lifestyle while sampling some tasty treats.

• July 10: Schwab Farm Market and Nice Farms 
Will come and share the benefits of eating local fresh produce, fruits and pasture raised pork and beef.

• July 17: Vicki Wood from Young Living Essential Oils 
Learn about how cooking with Young Living essential oils can contribute to good health and will also bring her favorite recipe.

• July 24: TBA 

• July 31: Katrina Mogavero and Judy Hysek from Eden Café 
Learn about what a Vegan diet is and how it can promote a healthy life. 

ILGR stresses that the information shared is not intended to replace a doctor’s instructions. You should always consult with your physician or health care provider before beginning any new treatment.

While reservations are not required, so that we can plan, we would appreciate participants calling Michelle Whitmore to RSVP at 815-8501, ext. 409.

June 23, 2018 - 6:47am

Press release:

Join the Genesee County Parks along with the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club and try out fishing at DeWitt Recreation Area today, June 23rd, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.! Perfect for beginners!

Program meets at Pavilion 3. DeWitt is located on Cedar Street, Batavia. Friendly guides will be on hand to assist you.

No fishing license required, this is part of NYSDEC’s Free Fishing Weekend!

Fishing tackle and bait provided by Smith’s Great Outdoors, formerly known as Hunters Landing. Fishing poles provided by Cabela’s of Cheektowaga or bring your own.

Kids up to age 16 can join the fun and get the chance to win a prize with the Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club!

Fishing Derby takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. This program is FREE! Call 585-344-1122 register or walk-ins also welcome! See you there!

June 22, 2018 - 11:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, byron.

A car-into-pole accident is reported in the area of 6418 Warboys Road.

A first responder on scene says the driver is not in the vehicle but there's blood on the steering wheel.

Byron and South Byron fire departments dispatched.

There is debris in the roadway and wires are down.

Fire police requested to close the roadway.

UPDATE 11:47 p.m.: Responders are checking a nearby field for the driver. There is also a resident who thinks she may have heard somebody enter her house but isn't sure. She is waiting outside for police.

June 22, 2018 - 6:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, eddie miles, news, batavia, notify.

Eddie Lee "Pops" Miles Jr. will serve a minimum of five years in state prison, Judge Charles Zambito ruled this afternoon in Genesee County Court.

Last month, the native of Batavia with a long criminal history -- 20 arrest dates and 50 charges -- accepted a "global plea agreement" and made a factual admission of guilt to three felonies that were among multiple charges brought in three grand jury indictments.

There was a bizarre incident in August wherein he allegedly grabbed a 17-year-old girl from behind who has walking "Zeus," a dog he had owned then let a neighbor family adopt. He was charged with choking her; she dropped to the ground and he then allegedly injected the hapless dog with an unknown purple liquid. He ran off, saying he would be back, according to witnesses.

Chaos ensued. The dog became unresponsive and started twitching, the choking victim sobbed and was extremely distraught. An animal control officer and emergency first responders arrived.

"The dog is still skittish. It refused to go outside, would curl up," Assistant DA Kevin Finnell told the judge. "It's depressed. Afterward, some man called and said (to a victim) 'Pops is going to kill you, bitch.' "

Finnell added, "If that's not bad enough, that's the misdemeanors." The cases -- for obstructing a person's breathing or blood flow and animal torture were pending in city court but dismissed under the plea agreement carried out today.

Finnell continued: "This man is selling drugs in this community to make money, supplement his income...his lengthy criminal history has run the gamut from menacing and second-degree assault to criminal mischief and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree; DWI..one officer says he has had numerous contacts with him over the course of two decades. He's violent."

Last fall, he was arrested for selling crack cocaine to drug task force agents so he could make some extra spending money.

On Sunday, Jan. 7, he admitted he drank two bottles of booze. He got in a big fight with his girlfriend and set fire to a couch in his apartment in a multi-family dwelling on Washington Avenue. He threatened the life of his girlfriend, threatened to shoot police who responded, and caused other families to be displaced when he started a fire where they lived.

But in statements contained in the presentencing report, Miles, who's in his late 40s, had some alternative facts to share.

He claimed his girlfriend became angry that day because he was "blaring the radio"; he claimed that she was the aggressor -- "she caused all this" -- punching out a window and arguing and that when police arrived, he didn't want to go outside because he was still in his bathrobe.

A fire broke out. "Fire just started," was how Miles put it in the report, subsequently hypothesizing that under the attic door a gas can be found and his girlfriend smoking a cigarette somehow ignited the gas can and started the fire. Arson investigators said there was not sufficient heat in the cigarette to cause the damage.

The judge disputed Mile's version of events by noting that Miles put a couch in front of the door, creating a blockade against his girlfriend's attempt to leave. When he went to the back of the apartment, she seized her chance to escape by breaking out a window, climbing onto the second-story eave and jumping off; not the actions of an aggressor.

In the presentencing investigation (PSI) report, he was asked why the police responded to his residence on Jan. 7.

"I don't know why the police were there," Miles responded, according to Finnell, adding that the girlfriend told officers Miles blocked the door, punched her, held her hostage and had a gun.

The convicted felon denied having a gun that day. He was taken to UMMC for evaluation. But when Batavia Police Det. Richard Schauf went there to interview Miles afterward, Miles asked him "Did you find the gun?" 

Finnell argued that Miles deserved the maximum penalty for terrorizing his girlfriend, his landlord, and his neighbors.

"He needs to be segregated from the community as long as possible," Finnell said.

Public defense attorney Jamie Welch said the PSI indicates Miles did not take responsibility for his actions. Welch argued that while that point is debatable, his client's expression of regret is not.

Welch acknowledged the sparsity of leeway granted to the judge in sentencing for arson. But said his client deserved "to be commended" going forward if he continues to maintain the sobriety that incarceration has brought.

Finnell attempted to read a victim statement in open court and Miles' attorneys called for a sidebar. Afterward, the judge determined the letter could not be read aloud by Finnell in court. Only a letter from the victim of a violent felony can have a statement read, it clearly says so in the statute, Zambito said. This letter writer, although a victim, was not directly a victim of a violent felony in the Miles' case.

*Nonetheless the judge allowed the statement to be attached to the PSI for the court record and a copy was given to Miles' attorneys (the other one being Marty Anderson).

The woman who wrote the letter said Miles was polite when they first met, but his behavior changed; Welch said that was because Miles has had lifelong addiction problems and his behavior took a turn for the worse last year after he became "reinvolved" with his addictions.

Before sentencing, Miles spoke to the court.

"I'd like to ask the court to forgive me for all my actions," Miles said, standing in his orange outfit, hands shackled, wearing orange Crocs on his feet. "If I could take back January 7th, I would."

He said he felt ashamed of his behavior and the bad publicity it has generated for himself and his family. He said he drank two bottles of liquor and his world fell apart; he lost the woman he has loved for 15 years, displaced his neighbors, frightened the homeowner and now faces a long stint in prison.

Zambito told Miles not to ask his forgiveness, but that of those he has harmed. He said he is particularly concerned about domestic violence perpetrated by Miles going back many years and noted the arson itself was an act of domestic violence, one that threatened the girlfriend's life and affected many others -- the neighbors, the firefighters, law enforcement, first responders.

The Swat Team was called in.

"It goes to show the level of professionalism of the law enforcement community here," Zambito said, adding that he can't fathom how Miles didn't get shot by police. "You see it every day, somebody gets the wrong end of a gun every day.

"You are unwilling or incapable of obeying the law," Zambito said. "You have no respect for human life, for animal life, for property, for your neighbors, for the law."

Having read the presentencing report he ordered for this case and reviewing Miles' extensive criminal history, Genesee County Court Judge Charles Zambito said he was disinclined to cut him any slack for his terrifying behavior on Jan. 7.

Next Miles was sentenced on: one count of third-degree arson, a Class C felony, for which prison is mandated. He will serve the maximum -- five to 15 years, indeterminate; one count of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, a Class B felony, and will serve the minimum -- five and a half years with two years of post-release supervision (the max was nine years with three years post-release supervision).

The two sentences will run concurrently.

Sentencing on the third count -- second-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle, a Class E felony, is delayed until Aug. 13, pending submission of blood-test results to the court. It could garner one and a third to four years of prison time, which would run concurrently.

Failure to submit to the test or provide the test results to the court would void the plea agreement and subject Miles to maximum sentencing guidelines.

Four orders of protection were put in place until June 22, 2041. Miles had a check for $425 ready pay for his fees and surcharges.

*Here is a victim statement that was provided to The Batavian by Rebecca Eldridge (née LaRock), who says her family is no longer remaining silent about what they have endured. She gave us permission to publish it and use her name. It is not the same statement put in the court record today.

"After 1 year my voice, my family's voice, my daughter's voice and my four-legged son Zeus's voice were finally heard today. Although our case was dismissed as part of Miles' plea deal, our voices were heard by judge Zambito today. 

"Through the past year since this attack on my family, our lives are still forever changed. The effects of this man Eddie Miles Jr. still remain. For 1 year my family has sat silent and in hesitation and fear. We have kept quiet and silent to be sure to not hinder in any way the prosecution of Mr. Miles.
 
"My family and I have been threatened and harassed; we have been blasted by comments on social media and Batavia news and crime sites. We have been called liars by people in the community because all aspects of the case were not reported by them.
 
"Eddie Miles Jr. is a despicable human being who continues to be a threat to our community. It is my daughter's hope, my four-legged son Zeus's hope and my family's hope, that this man's life be less than the sentence the court imposed on him today!
 
"It is our hope that this disgusting human never again be blessed to own an animal in his lifetime. It is our hope that every ounce of karma comes back 1,000-fold to this man. It is our hope that he spends every day of the remainder of his life thinking of all that he has done and all those he has hurt and the lives and the families that have been forever changed by his deplorable, shameful and continued criminal actions in this community!
 
"My family is not the only ones that were affected by this man's actions. I broke my silence in court today in support of them also and to hopefully give them some strength as well. Mr. Miles deserves nothing less than the maximum sentence on all charges that were before the court today and ones that are still pending in court.
 
"The maximum sentence that he receives today gives my family some peace and a feeling of calmness knowing that we will never again have to look at this man. If I could speak to Mr. Miles directly today I would say to him 'Mr Miles I hope you never have a day of freedom again. I hope every ounce of what you have done through your life to hurt and harm others comes back on you one thousand fold.'
 
"May God never forgive you for such acts, Just as my daughter will never forgive you, and just as Zeus will never forgive you, and just as my family and members of this community as a whole will never forgive you. I hope that my words and the truth of them today stabs and stings like a needle in your neck and poison in your soul just as you did to my son Zeus!
 
"I hope that my family is lack of silence today takes your breath away just says it did to my innocent daughter when you choked her! I am glad that the court showed no mercy today. I hope your last breath is taken in a cell because you deserve no less.
 
"God will judge you in the end Mr. Miles and God's judgment is clear; it is full, and it is unending and just. One day whether it's before a courtroom judge or in the future before God alone, you will be judged justly for the actions of your life."
June 22, 2018 - 6:29pm

This past February, members of the Alexander Central School District Board of Directors traveled outside of the district, driving to East Aurora, for a retreat where, according to the school district's attorney, the board members learned about how to work together better.

If that's all the retreat was, it's perfectly legal.

However, in a May 15 interview with The Batavian, Superintendent Catherine Huber said that at the retreat the board developed a policy called the "Norms."

If that's true, and if you interpret the "Norms" as a work product unique to the Alexander CSD, the retreat may have violated the state's Open Meetings Law, according to Robert Freeman, executive director of the NYS Committee on Open Government.

It would take a citizen filing a legal challenge to the meeting/retreat to determine if it really were a violation of the law. Freeman's statements to a reporter is not a legal determination.

"If they came back with a policy that is clear, then the purpose of the retreat was not general in nature," Freeman said. "Policy can only be established and discussed in a meeting in accordance with the Open Meetings Law. The facts, in this case, differ from the analysis offered by the school district attorney."

The "Norms" for the school board, as published in a district newsletter earlier this year, are:

  • We represent all students and District residents;
  • We speak with one voice;
  • We consider all matters brought to the Board as confidential;
  • We are active listeners;
  • We agree to the practice of tell one, tell all;
  • We are visible in our schools and at school functions;
  • We are respectful to all.

It is the "one voice" policy that brought the retreat and the "Norms" to the attention of The BatavianAs reported earlier, Huber, school members, and a school board candidate have used this policy as a reason that board members cannot answer questions from reporters.

After the May 15 interview, The Batavian filed a request under Freedom of Information Law for all documents, including emails, related to the retreat including an agenda, minutes, meeting notices, notes, memos, and emails created in the planning of the retreat, and any documents produced after the retreat.

The Batavian received back two documents, receipts from the Roycroft Inn for a meeting room rental and food totaling $496.80.

In response to receiving only the receipts, The Batavian emailed the school district's attorney, who responded to the FOIL request, and asked: "No agendas? Minutes? Meeting notices? Dr. Huber went into this meeting with no preparation? There was no prior planning? The board members didn't have hotel rooms? No travel expenses?"

Schwartzott responded, "Yes, that is correct – the District did not prepare agendas or take minutes. Additionally, there were no hotel expenses because no one stayed at a hotel. There were no travel expenses because there wasn’t any travel involved – the Roycroft Inn is in East Aurora."

She didn't address the question about missing meeting preparation documents.

In subsequent emails, Schwartzott denied the board held a meeting. We asked her to explain how the retreat didn't violate the OML.

Her response:

District policy was not discussed or created at the Board retreat. As Dr. Huber explained and your publication clearly states (“Recently we did a board retreat and the board established norms, which you also probably saw on our website, and one of the norms that the board established was that they would speak with one voice”), the discussion centered around communication strategies (i.e., “norms”), which the State’s Committee on Open Government (COOG) has determined is a permissible topic for Boards of Education to discuss privately in a retreat setting (see OML-AO-3709).

Moreover, COOG has also long held that a meeting of members of a Board of Education at which “public business” is not being discussed is not a Board meeting, and, therefore, is not a public event and does not follow the requirements in the Open Meetings Law (see Open Meetings Law Section 102(1); see also OML-AO-4762).

While Schwartzott did not explicitly quote from OML-AO-3709, which was written by Freeman, for example, does state:

... if there is no intent that a majority of public body will gather for purpose of conducting public business, but rather for the purpose of gaining education, training, to develop or improve team building or communication skills, or to consider interpersonal relations, I do not believe that the Open Meetings Law would be applicable.

In that event, if the gathering is to be held solely for those purposes, and not to conduct or discuss matters of public business, and if the members in fact do not conduct or intend to conduct public business collectively as a body, the activities occurring during that event would not in my view constitute a meeting of a public body subject to the Open Meetings Law.

In other words, school boards can have retreats for the sole purpose of education and training without violating the Open Meetings Law.

However, the next paragraph states:

"...if indeed the retreat involved 'District goals' and consideration of the policies and procedures referenced earlier, I believe that it constituted a 'meeting' that fell within the requirements of the Open Meetings Law."

In The Batavian's discussion with Freeman about these official, written opinions, he expressed the opinion that a retreat that produces "Norms" would mean that discussions were held and decisions made that were unique to the district, sets policy for the board, and is not general in nature, then the gathering is covered by the Open Meeting Law.

"This clearly involves school district business that is unique to the school district and is not general in nature," Freeman said.

We provided these Freeman's quotes to Schwartzott and she called Freeman and then sent The Batavian an email that began, "It turns out he and I don’t disagree about these issues at all. Mr. Freeman said you didn’t provide him with all of the relevant information when you spoke."

She added, "To confirm, now for the third time, the District’s position remains that a discussion about how to develop strong communication skills at the Board retreat did not violate the Open Meetings Law. In closing, this is my last comment about this; I will not engage with you on this issue anymore."

We asked Schwartzott to provide the "relevant" information The Batavian did not provide to Freeman. She did not respond. When we spoke to Freeman today, he mentioned no missing relevant information and confirmed his prior opinion the "Norms" look like something that is unique to the district, sets policy, and should have been handled in a public meeting.

By this time, we had provided Freeman with the full May 15 quote from Huber and a copy of the "Norms."

"Again," Freeman said, "it seems to me what is described here would essentially be a policy of the board of education and the school district, which, again, should have been discussed in an open meeting."

See also: Analysis: It's still not clear what Alexander attorney and superintendent believe about free speech for board members

June 22, 2018 - 6:18pm

Since April, The Batavian has been trying to understand the Alexander Central School District's policy related to free speech for members of the Board of Education.

After all this time, the district's attorney, Jennifer Schwartzott, told Robert Freeman yesterday, that the "one voice" policy or "Norm" does not prohibit school board members from expressing their personal views on matters of public interest. He is the executive director of the NYS Committee on Open Government.

How a policy that says board members must speak with one voice doesn't inhibit free speech for board members still isn't clear to us. We do know the policy has been used to shut down board members from answering questions from a reporter (see April 25 story) and that is has had a speech-chilling effect on school board candidates (see May 4 story).

Whatever fuller statement Schwartzott made to Freeman, she has never been willing to articulate clearly to The Batavian what her position is and how it differs from how "one voice" is being interpreted by Huber, the board, board candidates, and reporters. She wouldn't even make such a clear statement after being asked to do so in light of what Freeman shared with The Batavian.

When asked about it, she said, "Mr. Freeman correctly conveyed to you my opinion and the District’s opinion regarding speaking with 'one voice.' As for why you didn’t know that before having a conversation with him, I can’t speak for you or your understanding of my or Dr. Huber’s previous statements."

Here is Huber's May 15 statement:

The board should speak with one voice for several different reasons. The board by policy designates a spokesperson for the school district. We have that policy for you and I know that you've gathered those policies from other school districts as well and the board by policy has designated the superintendent as the spokesperson.

Our board has also gone a step further. Recently we did a board retreat and the board established norms, which you also probably saw on our website, and one of the norms that the board established was that they would speak with one voice. They would speak with one voice on matters related to the school district. Board members individually don't have power on their own. They have power and they come together around the board table.

That is not the same as their inability to express an opinion. Anybody has the ability to express an opinion. But in terms of commenting on district business, the board members only can speak with that same one voice as a board and not as individuals and they've designated the superintendent, as they probably have in most school districts, as the spokesperson for the district.

So Huber states that district has a designated spokesperson but the board has "gone a step further," explaining the board agreed it would speak with "one voice." In fact, she states, "They would speak with one voice on matters related to the school district." Then she said that's not the same as the inability to express an opinion, but immediately walks back that statement by stating, "But in terms of commenting on district business, the board members only can speak with that same one voice as a board and not as individuals."

As with Schwartzott, we have repeatedly asked Huber to make a plain, clear statement about individual board speech. She hasn't even acknowledged the emails.

We started asking Schwartzott to make a clear, unambiguous statement after she objected to our May 14 story, "Five school districts in Genesee County restrict speech for board members," stating that The Batavian misrepresented her views. Even in the comment she left on the story, however, she doesn't state clearly what her views are on the topic.

In emails about that article, she said it wasn't clear to her that the story we were working on was about the rights of individual members to express their personal views, yet in the response to our initial set of questions, she said, "Community members who are interested in what the local board members have to say can attend board meetings where the members discuss issues, share their opinions, and make decisions."

In other words, the only place the public can count on to find out what board members think is at meetings.

So, we're still waiting for a clear statement from Huber and Schwartzott about the ability of school board members to not "speak with one voice" but to speak individually as they see fit.

June 22, 2018 - 1:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, fire services, news, NY-27.

Press release:

U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY-27) and Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ-09), the co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, celebrated the passage of H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.

The legislation they sponsored together would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of certain cancers in firefighters. The registry will improve collection capabilities and activities to address an enormous gap in research on the health impacts of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

Firefighters may experience detrimental health effects due to smoke inhalation and other harmful, toxic substances. The legislation takes a first step toward gathering this information to develop new protocols, safeguards, and equipment to protect these men and women. Senate legislation is sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

“I am extremely humbled and proud of the work we have done to get this bill on President Trump’s desk,” Collins said. “We have to prioritize the health and safety of the brave men and women who selflessly protect our communities.

"It has been an honor to work with Congressman Pascrell, and we have seen an outpouring of support for this legislation from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, various firefighter organizations, health care groups, our colleagues in Congress, and of course the firefighters in our districts and across America that this is intended to serve.

"I look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law and to see all of the positive impacts this will have on the firefighting community.”

“Today is a big day. I can’t think of many priorities more important than protecting the health of America’s firefighters. The Firefighter Cancer Registry will bring together information on firefighters’ history to help doctors and researchers find any connections between firefighters’ work and increased risk for cancer,” Rep. Pascrell said.

"This will strengthen the safety of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every single day. This legislation has long enjoyed bipartisan support because having the backs of those protecting our families is a cause we all support.

"I want to thank Representatives Chris Collins and Frank Pallone, and Senators Robert Menendez and Lisa Murkowski for all their efforts to get this bill through Congress. After the legislation is signed, I look forward to working with the CDC and members of the firefighting community to see that the new registry is implemented to its fullest use.”

“Our firefighters are brave men and women, who put themselves in harm’s way day after day. This registry has the potential to improve the quality of life for these real-life heroes,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR-02) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX-26). “From a house fire to the wildfires that ravage the west, these men and women don’t think twice before heading into dangerous situations of fire and smoke to protect others. This national registry is one way we can help protect them.”

A 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths for certain types of cancer when compared to the general U.S. population, specifically digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancers, and malignant mesothelioma.

The study confirmed that firefighters have an increased risk of cancer because of occupational exposure. To bolster the efforts led by researchers at NIOSH, the firefighter cancer registry will improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

Specifically, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will authorize $2 million in federal funds to the CDC from FY2018 to FY2022. Additionally, the legislation will:

  • Develop a firefighter registry of available cancer incidence data collected by existing State Cancer Registries and a strategy to maximize participation;
  • Create a registry that will contain relevant histories, such as other occupational information, years of service, number of fire incidents responded to, and additional risk factors;
  • Make de-identified data available to public health researchers to provide them with robust and comprehensive datasets to expand groundbreaking research; and
  • Improve our understanding of cancer incidences by requiring administrators to consult regularly with public health experts, clinicians, and firefighters.

The legislation has support from several major fire organizations, including the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, New Jersey Firefighters’ Mutual Benevolent Association and the International Fire Services Training Association.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Fire Fighter Steering Committee said “The AFGE, AFL-CIO supports the Fire Fighter Cancer Registry bill because it will help improve the health and safety of our federal firefighters and municipal and volunteer firefighters who protect and serve the American public at the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We look forward to collecting this important data in the federal registry and sharing it with our civilian counterparts.”

“I would like to thank Congress for passing this critical legislation, as well as Representative Collins for his leadership in introducing and championing it,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair Kevin D. Quinn.

"Too many firefighters are contracting and dying from cancer caused by duty-related exposures. This registry will improve our understanding of why firefighter cancer is occurring at such a high rate, and will make it easier to prevent, detect, and treat.”

“Firefighters are routinely exposed to numerous carcinogens over the course of their careers and deserve the best protection and prevention tools available," said International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO General President Harold Schaitberger.

"The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act will provide yet another means to study the deadly relationship between cancer and firefighting. I thank Representative Collins for his leadership on this important issue and applaud the Congress for sending the bill to the President to be signed into law.”

June 22, 2018 - 1:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news, notify, pembroke, corfu, Darien.
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      Donald Stahl

Donald W. Stahl Jr., 37, of North Street, Batavia, is charged with grand larceny, 3rd, grand larceny, 4th, petit larceny and three counts of conspiracy. Stahl was arrested by the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office and is being held in the Wyoming County Jail on $5,000 bail. Stahl is accused of participating with others to steal electronic and computer items from the Walmart in Warsaw. The investigation is ongoing and additional arrests are pending. The investigation was conducted by Sgt. Colin Reagan, Deputy Aaron Chase and with the cooperation of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, including Investigator Chris Parker, Deputy Erik Andre, and Sgt. Jason Saile, along with Walmart Asset Protection employees.

William G. Schultz Sr., 44, of Ross Street, Batavia, is charged with criminally using drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana. Schultz was spotted by members of the Local Drug Task Force on Jackson Street on Wednesday evening. He was wanted on a family court warrant. While being taken into custody, he was allegedly found in possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana. He was ordered held in jail on $1,000 bail.

Malik Austin Hambrick, 21, of Aswego Avenue, Fort Drum, is charged with criminal trespass. Hambrick allegedly entered the Darien Lake Theme Park at 12:20 a.m. Monday following previously being removed from the property by Darien Lake security.

Jeffrey P. Klyczek, 49, of Amherst, is charged with DWI and driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Klyczek was stopped by State Police in the Village of Corfu at 11:39 p.m. Tuesday.

Joseph F. Chiodo, 35, of North Tonawanda, is charged with DWAI (combined drugs and alcohol), DWI with a child in the car, and endangering the welfare of a child. Chiodo was stopped by State Police on Route 33, Town of Pembroke, at 12:23 p.m. Wednesday.

June 22, 2018 - 12:20pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship, bergen, news.

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Natalie Keller, of Darien, looked long and hard about the benefits of horsemanship before enrolling her daughter Sara in the Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship program.

Sara, 9, was born with Down syndrome. When her parents, who live in Colombia, South America, gave her up because they couldn’t care for her, Keller adopted Sara and brought her to the United States at the age of 4 1/2.

Keller was searching for anything which would help Sara when she discovered the Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship Program, which is run at Mat and Sharon Gartz’s Double G Ranch near Bergen.

Therapeutic riding has been in existence for centuries, according to information provided by Beth Allen, who does publicity for the Purple Pony program. When a woman who was disabled by polio won a silver medal for dressage at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952, therapeutic horsemanship was established as being of pertinent value to handicapped individuals.

Horsemanship helps with balance and coordination, Keller said. She has been bringing Sara for little more than a year.

“She’d never been on a horse,” Keller said. “The first week, she jumped off. We told her next week she had to stay on longer than this week, and with death grips on her volunteer, she stayed on.”

Purple Pony is a member of what was the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, founded in 1968 in Virginia. In 2011, the organization changed its name to the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, with headquarters in Denver.

The local Purple Pony group was organized in the spring of 2005 by Lee Morgan and Lorrie Renker of Spencerport. Lessons grew to about 30 riders, but shortly after receiving approval as a 501(c) 3 corporation, Morgan and Renker ended their partnership. The board of directors postponed programming for the summer of 2007 until they could reorganize and offer lessons again.

In 2010, the program moved to a farm in Churchville, where it was run for three years. Their most recent move to Double G Ranch was made in November 2013, where they continue to teach barn and equine safety, the anatomy of the horse, proper care of the horse and the method for mounting and riding the horse.

Through the use of games and mounted exercises, Purple Pony’s goal is to contribute to the improvement of an individual’s confidence, social interaction, self-esteem, muscle tone and cognitive development.

Karen Reeverts, of Le Roy, and Lynette Short are instructors for Purple Pony, which is one of 700 similar groups in the United States.

Information from Purple Pony indicates horsemanship has proven to provide physical benefits to those suffering from a wide range of disabilities, such as mental retardation, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, autism, brain injuries, and more, because horseback riding gently and rhythmically moves the body and internal organs in a manner similar to that of the human walking gait. Horseback riding helps to normalize muscle tone, improve posture and build up the cardiovascular system.

“The experience provides a bond and unconditional love,” Reeverts said.

“Sara loves it now,” her mother said.

Each rider is accompanied by a volunteer who leads the horse, another who holds the reins, and a third who hangs on to the saddle, making the rider feel safe.

“They started Sara by holding on to each side of the saddle, then maybe next time it was her foot,” Keller said. “Then when she was comfortable, they let go and just walk beside her.”

Riders learn the simple commands of squeezing their legs against the horse’s sides to make it start up. They go through exercises to turn the horse and they have games on horseback, led by the instructor in the center of the stable.

Keller’s brother also has special needs and after seeing how the program helped Sara, their mother Becky enrolled him in Purple Pony.

John and Mary Volpe, of Attica, have had custody of their grandson, 13-year-old Andrew Bennett, since he was born. He has sensory problems, Mary said, and horsemanship has helped keep him in perspective and keep his attention.

“It calms him and we’ve seen a big improvement in his posture,” Mary said.

ARC helps the family with reimbursement for costs of the therapeutic horsemanship, she said.

Bob and Hillary Laughton, of Hamlin, have been bringing their daughter Taylor, 14, who has epilepsy, to Purple Pony for five years.

“This is her favorite thing to do,” Bob Laughton said. “It helps with her coordination and self-esteem. Before this, we couldn’t find anything she excelled at.”

Twenty-four riders were enrolled in the spring class, which ends this week. They have been meeting for an hour every Tuesday and Friday for the past six weeks.

Reeverts said classes will take a break for the summer and resume the first week in September.

On Aug. 11, the Purple Pony staff will sponsor a huge indoor garage sale at 8321 Lake Street Road, Le Roy, to help with expenses of running the program. The sale will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in a huge indoor arena, with plenty of off-street parking.

A chicken barbecue will take place and there will be face painting, balloon art, and cotton candy.

Anyone with clean, gently used items who would like to donate them to the sale should call (585) 880-1096 for information. Scheduled drop off dates are all day July 21 and 27 and evenings on Aug. 3 and 4. They request no large appliances, televisions, computers, upholstered furniture or clothing.

In addition to the instructors, the staff of Purple Pony includes Dan Kilker, chairman of the board; Gail Ehmann, volunteer coordinator; Terry Greenwood, treasurer; Lynnette Short and Patricia Famiglietti, equine care; and Dot Gulardo, associate.

Top photo: Instructor Karen Reeverts with the Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship program checks the stirrups for Rob Keller of Darien, as volunteers wait to lead him around the ring at Double G Ranch.

Photos by Virginia Kropf.

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Julia Menzie, a senior at Byron-Bergen High School, has been volunteering with the Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship program for four years. She loves horses and helping people.

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Volunteers guide Taylor Laughton, 14, in backing her horse between two poles during an exercise at Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship program.

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Sara Keller, 9, of Darien is led around the ring by volunteers at a recent session of the Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship program.

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Riders line up waiting for instructor Karen Reeverts, walking at left, to lead them through a game during a recent class of therapeutic horsemanship.

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Seated, from left, are Karen Reeverts of Le Roy, an instructor with the Purple Pony Therapeutic Horsemanship program, Beth Allen and Bruce Rychwalski. Matt and Sharon Gartz are owners of Double G Ranch in Bergen, where the horse program takes place. Standing, from left, are staff members Mary Lou LaPointe, Amy Condoluci, Dale White, Sandy Player, Dan Kilker (board president), Rex Milner and volunteer coordinator Gail Ehman.

June 22, 2018 - 12:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, byron-bergen, news, byron, bergen.

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Press release:

On June 19, the Byron-Bergen learning community and the community-at-large were treated to a special stage adaptation of “Sneaky Weasel,” a children’s book by author Hannah Shaw, performed by fourth-graders.

The show featured the talents of the entire class working together as actors, assistant directors, narrators, dancers, stage crew and scenery designers, sound effects artists, and costume designers. The story centered on an unhappy bully, Sneaky Weasel, who finally discovers how to be a friend.

“Our students have been working on the project for several weeks,” said fourth-grade teacher Alyson Tardy, who along with teachers Jenna Carney and Kelly Morriss, wrote the stage play and directed the performance. “They have each contributed their best efforts.

"It’s been really great seeing students find talents they didn’t know they had, kids stepping up to help each other, and quiet children coming out of their shells to get onstage in front of an audience. The arts are so important for development and this has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to really stretch themselves and shine.”

Top photo: “Sneaky Weasel” featured players (l-r) Grace DiQuattro, Joel Lamb, Simone Scharvogel (as Sneaky), Megan Jarkeiwicz, and Katherine Rogoyski.

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Mama Weasel (Gianna Graff) with all her weasel-y offspring (Madisyn Rodak, Logan Czachorowski, Madison Hutchings, Sidney Maher, and Connor Copani.)

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The cast included narrators plus singing and dancing hedgehogs, rabbits, sheep, rats, mice, shrews, dogs, and even a chicken.

June 22, 2018 - 11:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, woodward memorial library, education, news.

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Elementary schoolchildren in Le Roy at the Woodward Memorial Library were honored last night with the Mary Hadley Love of Reading Award.

The new award is presented in memory of Mary Hadley, who worked for the library for more than 30 years. A member of her family made the donation for the award after she passed away.

The winners were selected by a committee of library staff after receiving nominations from teachers and library staff.

"They are elementary students who just love reading and share that same enthusiasm that Mary had as a way to honor her memory," said Library Director Betsy Halvorsen.

Award winners, and their grades, were: MacKenzie McLaughlin (K), Meredith Ianni (second). Grant Northrup (third), Nathaniel Staley (fourth), Tate Hempel (fourth), Emma Offen (fourth), Evan McAllister (fourth). Marin Kemp (third). Anna Kent (third), and Noah Hurley (third).

The winners received a certificate, a $25 gift certificate for Bridge Books in Brockport, and a small gift bag of prizes.

Photo by Andrew Hempel.

June 22, 2018 - 8:00am

The Alexander Central School District is planning on instituting a fee structure for use of school facilities by community groups and that has a number of parents, especially parents of children who participate in sports, upset, according to Lisa Lyons, president of the Tri-Town Youth Athletics Association.

Lyons raised those concerns with the Board of Education on Tuesday night. School board meetings are generally sparsely attended and Tuesday dozens of district residents were in the auditorium for the meeting, though there's no way to say how many were there because of the fee issue.

The fees, at least as announced, would cost the association about $8,000 for football and basketball, according to Lyons (CLARIFICATION: Lyons provided a revised calculation of anticipated association costs after publication of this story) and she asked a number of questions, none of which were answered by board members after she spoke.

"As residents, we pay taxes that are among the highest in the state for a community our size," Lyons said. "Adding in $6,000 in fees, how is this not double dipping? As a nonprofit organization, these fees will close programs for us. The district parents of these children have stated this is unacceptable."

Besides Lyons, there were two other parents who signed up to speak but with the intention of ceding their allotted three-minutes to Lyons, a request Board President Reed Pettys would not allow. One parent, Mary Shepard, tried to read from notes prepared by Lyons once her three minutes were up but Lyons said after the meeting she really didn't get to express all of the concerns that have been raised to her by the parents.

Before the public comments section on the agenda, during what the board calls "roundtable," where each board member can speak on any issue they care to raise, Superintendent Catherine Huber took a few minutes to explain her view on why and how the fees are being initiated.

She said in the fall, the board appointed a committee to review and potentially rewrite the school district's facilities use policy. She said the committee was comprised of board members and school staff who are past and present parents and coaches involved with Tri-Town.

The board minutes for Oct. 18 list board members Rich Guarino, Molly Grimes, Lisa Atkinson, Shannon Whitcombe, Matt Stroud, Tim Batzel, Rob Adam, and Ben Whitmore as members of the committee. The minutes also list Board Member Brian Paris as a member of the committee but he said he declined the appointment because of other business commitments and never attended a meeting.

The policy was adopted by the board in December.

Huber said the prior policy also allowed for a use fee but no fees were ever charged.

"We believed that it was time to start charging a nominal fee to outside organizations, to community organizations to use our facilities," she said.

Huber said she has tried to communicate clearly and work collaboratively with Tri-Town, inviting Lyons in for a meeting, not only to inform them on the need for the new fee but letting them know that the district could be flexible.

"Our goal is all the same," Huber said. "Our goal is to provide a great experience for all the children of Alexander."

She called the fee nominal and said that Lyons continued the conversation in emails back and forth.

"This is the first year for fee structure, so I suggested that if what we were suggesting is not something Tri-Town could bear, I asked Tri-Town to bring to me what could be a manageable solution in terms of a facilities fee."

One issue raised by Lyons is the district's projections for the Tri-Town fees are much lower than Tri-Town's estimation of the fees, based on the documentation they've received.

Huber presented slides showing the fee structure.

The association, she said, would be charged $25 an hour for football, for example, and with four games, that would come to about $300 per game day with an annual cost of $1,200.

The district's costs, she said, is $56 an hour or $650 per game day, with a total of about $2,700 annual. That would still leave the district short its expenses by $1,520.

The cost for basketball, by Huber's numbers, would be $1,920 annually with the district's annual cost at $3,523, for a two-sport charge to the sports association of $3,120, which is less than half of what Lyons estimates it would cost the association. The association uses school facilities only for football and basketball. (CLARIFICATION: This paragraph added after initial publication).

Those numbers, she said, don't include all of the district's costs.

"I think it’s really important that we have those numbers in front of us because as a community, we all want the experience for our students but we also have to understand that it is the responsibility of the board and the administration of the school district to make sure that there are facilities for people to use," Huber said.

"This community has come to expect a certain level of facility maintenance and certain expectations of around our facilities. It would be irresponsible of the board to not have a certain cost-recovery measure in place in order to maintain those facilities long-term."

Lyons said Tri-Town is a 40-year-old organization. She doesn't know how long the association has been using school facilities but it has been many, many years, so it doesn't make sense to her why now, all the sudden, the district needs fees to maintain the facilities.

While Huber is saying the fees are in that $1,500 range (they change some, depending on the sport and facility), Lyons said based on the use application she's been provided and the belief that the two chaperones required for each event, at $18 per hour each, increase the cost, the range is closer to $6,000 per sport annually.

If that is true, use fees for parents per sport will likely double, which will lower participation and mean the end to some sports. The disparity is so great, Lyons said a counteroffer, which Huber said is welcome, is hard to even formulate.

"I understand a nominal fee," Lyons said after the meeting. "I get it. But for us to even try to offer them something at this point, the fees are so astronomical I don’t even know where to start."

One thing that bewilders Lyons and other parents who joined a conversation outside the auditorium after the meeting is the requirement for two chaperones at each event.

"If something is broken, we’ve always paid for it," Lyons said during the hallway conversation. "If something happens, we try to take care of it. If they have a complaint, they’ve come to us and said there were kids running around the school, what can we do, OK we rope it off, we have volunteers wandering the school, making sure kids are in place, so again it’s not that we’re not trying to work with them, we are to the best of our ability."

In the parking lot after the conversation with parents, Huber said the chaperones were necessary because "we want to make sure our facilities are taken care of."

Asked if there were problems in the past that made chaperones necessary, Huber would only say, "We just want to make sure our facilities are taken care of.”

We relayed those comments to Lyons in an email and she said, "I would hope that if there were any issues that came up that I would’ve been informed. To my knowledge, I don’t recall there being anything that wasn't taken care of. Most issues that had come up were 'kid issues' and handled where both parties were satisfied. Issues with any property -- I only know of two and those were taken care of at the expense of Tri-Town and its insurance."

She said one property issue was recent and the other occurred many years ago.

The fees also don't make any sense, Lyons said, because Tri-Town volunteers take care of the facilities before, during and after events.

"The school puts on varsity games on Friday night," Lyons said. "When we get here on Saturday, that field is disgusting. It was lined but we set it up. We have to empty all the garbage cans. We have to get ready. We have our game. We clean up to the best of our ability. So you’re telling me as a school they have to ingest more fees when staff would have to do it on Monday?"

She added, "It’s not fair. When you really look at it, it’s not fair."

Students going through Tri-Town athletics makes the school district better, Lyons said. She said studies show that students who learn teamwork, discipline, and other life skills through sports do better academically.

The association also prepares young athletes to compete eventually at the varsity level -- a point Shepard also made during public comments after picking up the notes from Lyons.

"We have fed your school student-athletes for years," Shepard said. "We have helped put Alexander on the map with many individual wins, sectional wins, regional wins and many patches. How many athletic scholarships have been awarded compared to academic ones?"

Debbie Green said her daughter started with Tri-Town as a cheerleader when she was 5. After four years of cheer in high school, she earned a college scholarship. That is how Tri-Town benefits the school, the kids, and the parents, she said.

Green also noted that under the new fee structure, Girl Scouts, which she is involved with, will wind up paying $100 per meeting to continue meeting at the school.

The Batavian attempted to interview school board members after the meeting to get their indivdual takes on the association's feedback on the policy but we were only able to talk with two before the rest quickly left the building.

"When I’m outside the board and I’m not in session, I’m just an individual but I don’t give interviews," said Vice President Rich Guarino.

Asked if that was because of the district's "One Voice" policy, Guarino said, "Outside of the board, we’re just individuals and I don’t give interviews for anything. I don’t answer surveys on the telephone. I don’t give interviews."

Board Member Brian Paris did answer questions.

Paris said he believes the facilities policy is a work-in-progress, that it's really still in draft form and that the board is working on it.

"I’m not on the committee to develop it, so I don’t have tremendous insight but I do know that a lot of people put a lot of time behind it," Paris said. "I know this board. It’s a very reasonable board. Our goal is not to put any student in a position where they are not able to participate in any of these activities."

Lyons, Green, and Donna McArthur, who has been with Tri-Town for 42 years, said it's expensive enough being a parent of a student-athlete. Besides fees, there's equipment, training, travel, and other expenses that add up.

For the association, there are also expenses the district may not be considering, from insurance to recertifying football helmets every three years. And, McArthur said, the association has always made sure every kid who wants to play gets to play.

“We never have a child that does not play," McArthur said. "If they can’t pay as parents, we all kick in. We find them shoes, we find them a glove, no kid has ever been turned away.”

And community members help the school district in other ways. It was community members who did the fundraising in the 2000s for Chris Martin Memorial Field of Dreams, which is used by the district's football, softball, baseball and soccer teams.

For all these reasons, Lyons said, district parents aren't happy with what they see as astronomically high use fees.

"There has to come a point where, yes, there is that collaborative conversation," Lyons said. "But as a district, these parents are pushing back because they know that this organization cannot afford those fees. As parents, with that 99.6 percent of kids who are playing who are district kids, they’re already paying for this school. They don’t want to pay any more for it."

June 21, 2018 - 9:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news.

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Photo by Sherry Walsh.

June 21, 2018 - 6:05pm

Press release:

Calling all eighth-11th graders, the Genesee County Youth Court is recruiting new members!

Youth Court is a voluntary alternative for young people who face disciplinary action through school or law enforcement. Youth who are referred admit to the charge and appear before a court of their peers.

Three youth judges listen to both sides of the issue and determine an appropriate disposition. The goal of youth court is to improve youth citizenship skills and decrease problematic behavior.  

Youth Court members learn about the judicial process & law enforcement; develop group decision making, leadership and public speaking skills; participate in all roles of the courtroom: judge, prosecution, defense, and bailiff.  

Genesee County eighth-11th graders who are interested can go online to download an application from the website www.co.genesee.ny.us , where you will find a link on the Youth Bureau page.

Applications are due by Aug. 1st. Interviews of potential candidates will take place in August and September with the training to begin in October.  

For more information on the Genesee County Youth Court, please contact Chelsea Elliott at the Genesee County Youth Bureau, 344-3960.

June 21, 2018 - 4:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in picnic in the park, batavia, FOURTH OF JULY, GO ART!, news.

Press release:

The Original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford presents GO ART!'s 40th annual Picnic in the Park on Wednesday July 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Centennial Park. It is located at 151 State St. in the City of Batavia. 

It kicks off with a Kiddie Parade. At 10:30 a.m., kids can decorate their bikes, scooters, strollers in red, white and blue (decorations provided). At 11 a.m. the Kiddie Parade will travel down Ellicott Avenue led by Uncle Sam and Betsy Ross, and Rosie the Riveter.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  -- Batavia Concert Band

12:45 to 1:15 p.m.  --  Batavia High A Cappella Group

1:30 to 3 p.m.  --  Bill McDonald’s Old Hippies

3:15 to 4:45 p.m.  --  Kelly’s Old Timer’s

12:30 to 12:45 p.m.  --  Buffalo Aerial Dance

1:15 to 1:30  --  Buffalo Aerial Dance

3 to 3:15 p.m.  --  Buffalo Aerial Dance

Throughout the day there will be children's activities.

  • M. Geoffrey Clough -- Cookie Song writing
  • Explore Art Tent: Making Recycled Instruments and Music

FOOD VENDORS

Original Red Osier Landmark Restaurant Food Truck

Abbott’s Ice Cream

Lonsberry Concessions Lemonade Stand

Kernel Cravin’ Kettle Corn

Lori’s Cookies

GO ART!  Oliver’s Candy Bars, New York Chips, Beverages, GO ART! Tee shirts

ARTISANS' ALLEY

More than 30 arts & crafts vendors

Demonstrations by Local Artisans

Chris Mc Gee: Mixed Media Painting

Lydia Zwierzynski: Caricatures

Chris Hummel: Cartooning

Rick Platt & Family: Chainsaw Artist, Mixed Media Painting, Wood Working, Fabric Arts

LOCAL NONPROFITS

Batavia 1st UMC
Batavia Healthcare Center
Genesee County CASA for Children
Genesee Orleans Ministry of Concern
Arc of Genesee Orleans
Oakfield Betterment Committee
Knights of Columbus
City of Batavia Democratic Committee
Acorns (County Park)
GLOW Region Solid Waste Management Committee
MHA of Genesee and Orleans Counties
Out Alliance
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June 21, 2018 - 3:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in John Kennedy School, batavia, schools, education, news.

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Teachers and aides at John Kennedy School yesterday made signs and gave students a celebratory send-off for the summer on the last day of school.

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