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April 24, 2018 - 8:07am

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Sophomore Irelyn Curry (pictured above) tossed a complete game, scattering eight hits, while striking out five on the mound to pick up her first varsity win as Batavia defeated Greece Athena 8-4. 

Maiya Reinhart and Alaina Bowman each were 2 for 4 at the plate.  Bottom of the first was the turning point in the game as Senior Bri Janes and Freshman Mackenzie Reigle both doubled and drove in two runs for the Devils.  Natalie Rogers also singled and doubled for Batavia.  Taylor Stefaniak was 1-3 at the plate and led a strong defensive effort for Batavia.  Batavia improves their record to 2-2. 

Head coach Jim Fazio summarized the win after the game, "Very proud of how our team responded after Athena put four runs on the board in the first inning to take an early lead.  Irelyn was outstanding in the circle and the girls rallied behind her defensively.  We answered their early offensive explosion with seven runs of our own.  Our pitching and defense carried us the rest of the game."

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April 24, 2018 - 6:46am

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In a close non-league Golf matchup Batavia Blue Devils beat Elba Central Lancers 263-270 at Batavia Country Club yesterday.  Teagan Monahan and Bryce Reigel scored a 49 to lead the devils, while Elba's Ben Pflaumer scored a 44 for Elba.

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April 23, 2018 - 4:58pm
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, news.

A caller on Thorpe Street in the city says a man threw a rock through her window and also threw a bicycle at her. He is reportedly pacing outside. Police are responding.

April 23, 2018 - 4:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in wildlife, Alabama, news, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Alabama is hosting its 34th annual Spring into Nature celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 28. This year a free shuttle service will be running between three parking lots and the Visitor Center to alleviate construction and parking complications.

The shuttle will begin at 8:30 a.m. leaving from the Visitor Center every 30 minutes. Iroquois NWR -- Visitors Center is located at 1101 Casey Road in Basom.

Stops include Kanyoo Trail, Cayuga Overlook, and Tonawanda WMA before returning to the Visitor Center. Full shuttle schedules can be found on the Refuge website.

Join us for a variety of nature-related exhibits, crafts, fishing demos, and games for the kids. Bird feeder/nesting platform construction, viewing of live birds of prey, archery games, and face painting are among the returning favorites. Don’t forget to meet "Puddles," the blue goose mascot of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Food will be available for purchase and all activities are free.

Please contact Refuge staff at 585.948.5445, ext. 7037, or visit our website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/iroquois for further information.

Iroquois NWR is located midway between Buffalo and Rochester, and is managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Individuals with disabilities and any other person who may need special assistance to participate in this program should contact the Refuge at (585) 948-5445 or at the Federal Relay No. 1-800-877- 8339.

April 23, 2018 - 4:26pm

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on U.S. trade officials to secure a level playing field with Canadian producers during the renegotiation of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Schumer said that in recent years, Canada has established dairy pricing policies and has maintained high tariffs that have effectively created a “Dairy Wall” stopping most U.S. dairy products from accessing Canadian markets and distorting global trade.

Dairy farmers and producers, like the 340 dairy farmers who make up Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which supplies O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. in Batavia, have been severely hurt by Canada’s manipulative trade practices and it will only get worse without action.

O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc., with more than 400 employees and majority owned by Upstate Niagara, has already lost millions of dollars in contracts due to Canada’s actions “Dairy Wall.”

Schumer said that the time to secure a level playing field with Canada by expanding market opportunities and eliminating Canada’s unfair pricing policies – is now and we cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

“Our hardworking New York dairy farmers and producers like Upstate Niagara Co-Op’s 340 farm family members across the Finger Lakes and O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy, to sell their dairy products, expand their business and create new local jobs,” Schumer said.

“As trade officials near a deal to renegotiate NAFTA – an issue President Trump and I both agree on – we must make it a top priority to begin reversing restrictive dairy pricing policies in Canada that are hurting our dairy producers at their core, and now is a real opportunity to do just that.”

Schumer explained Canada has an unfair advantage over New York dairy farmers and producers. In addition to Canada’s 270 percent tariff on milk, a program called the “Class 7” pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers like Avon’s Anderson Farm and their fellow Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairies since it came into force last year.

In fact, Canada has used the Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports in the past year by creating excess milk production capacity within Canada, then dumping the resulting milk powder onto world markets. To further prove this dumping exists, Schumer added that Canada’s dairy farmers are some of the highest paid in the world, yet Canadian dairy companies are still able to be among the lowest cost sellers of Class 7 products globally.

Anderson Farm is one of the 340 dairy farm members of the Upstate Niagara Co-Op, which is the majority owner of the O-AT-KA Milk Products facility in Batavia. More than 400 employees work at O-AT-KA. Upstate Niagara dairies throughout the Rochester Finger Lakes Region like Anderson Farm depend on O-AT-KA to purchase their milk to then manufacture and sell milk products for the domestic and international markets.

Since Canada’s implementation of Class 7, O-AT-KA lost $19 million in annual sales of Ultra Filtered milk (UF Milk), a product used to make cheese and other dairy products that it had been exporting into Canada. Moreover, the production of this UF milk for the Canadian market had accounted for 20 percent (about 180 million pounds) of all of O-AT-KA’s milk volume.

This severely undercut a $16 million investment made by O-AT-KA in 2012 to build a two-story addition at its Batavia plant to manufacture UF Milk to support its export business to Canada. When Canada unfairly cut off UF Milk imports and implemented Class 7, it dealt a significant blow to the local agriculture economy and was a factor in the current U.S. milk inventory imbalance that is contributing to now drive the price of milk down.

Schumer was joined by Jim Anderson, fourth generation owner of Anderson Farm, O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. President & Chairman John Gould, local dairy farmers, and elected officials.

Gould, who also owns an Upstate Niagara Co-Op dairy farm in Genesee County, said “Canada has a long history of erecting barriers to trade when it comes to dairy and the creation of Class 7 is an example of that. Canada's Class 7 market manipulation has caused harm to O-AT-KA Milk Products and their farm family owners, whose investments in serving legitimate customers in Canada have been blocked.

"As NAFTA is renegotiated, it is time that Canadian gamesmanship ends and a constructive agreement is reached that allows market participation and access under rules that all trading partners can follow. We thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and work in keeping this important issue top of mind as negotiations proceed."

As U.S., Canadian and Mexican trade officials are closing in on a deal to revamp North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Schumer said now represents a real opportunity to dismantle Canada’s market-distorting policies and ensure a level playing field for American dairy farmers and producers.

Schumer noted that he has directly stressed the importance of securing meaningful changes in our dairy trade relationship with Canada to past and current administration officials, including current United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, President Trump, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, and the U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft who have all committed to address this issue.

Right now, products manufactured by O-AT-KA Milk Products include non-fat dry milk powder, buttermilk powder, whey powder, canned evaporated milk, butter, fluid condensed milk, iced coffee, nutritional beverages and other various drinks.

O-AT-KA has gross annual sales of more than $300 million and is a significant employer and economic development engine in Upstate NY’s dairy and manufacturing industries. Schumer said that in order for Upstate Niagara member dairies and O-AT-KA to continue to be global leaders, Canada’s rapacious dairy-related trade policies need to be addressed and that NAFTA represents a major opportunity to do so.

Here's Schumer's letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative:

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

As the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations come towards a conclusion, I would like to again emphasize the importance of securing meaningful concessions from Canada to provide stable market access for our dairy producers. Securing meaningful and enforceable commitments that will allow U.S. dairy producers to compete with Canada’s on a level playing field should be a top priority in NAFTA renegotiations. As I have expressed to you many times, I strongly believe that we should not miss this opportunity to protect our dairy producers from Canada’s recent predatory trade practices.

As you know, Canada’s Class 7 pricing program, a market-distorting supply management system, has caused severe pain to New York dairy producers since it came into force last year. Canada has also maintained large tariffs on dairy products, including a 270 percent tariff on milk. New York’s dairy farmers and companies like Cayuga Milk Ingredients, O-AT-KA Milk, and Ideal Dairy Farm, rely on market-based trade with Canada for a significant percentage – millions of dollars – of their revenue. Not only are New York’s producers locked out of Canada’s ultrafiltered milk market, but in just a year’s time, Canada has used its Class 7 program to triple its milk powder exports, dumping powdered milk products into global markets and undercutting New York dairy producer’s exports. This Class 7 system is likely a violation of Canada’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments, but addressing it quickly through NAFTA renegotiation is needed, rather than waiting for years for a WTO determination. This Class 7 system should be dismantled through new NAFTA commitments.

In our discussions, you have committed to me that you would prioritize addressing this issue through NAFTA renegotiations. The President has also privately expressed to me his explicit desire to address this issue and has publically emphasized, many times, the unfair way that Canada has treated our dairy producers, noting just last month: “Canada must treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive.”

Our hard working dairy producers are the most competitive in the world, but they depend on stable and fair rules to compete in a global economy. Again, I urge you to make meaningful and enforceable commitments that level the playing field for our dairy producers a top priority as NAFTA renegotiations conclude.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

April 23, 2018 - 3:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in Genesee Chorale, music, spring concert, news, Announcements.

Submitted photo and press release:

The world premier of "The Waking," a composition by Composer-in-Residence of the Genesee Chorale Daniel Baldwin, pictured left, is happening next month.

Baldwin will be available for a meet-and-greet with the public beforehand at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 30, at St. James Church on Main Street in Batavia. An open final rehearsal by the Genesee Chorale of “The Waking” will follow at 7 o'clock.

The work, commissioned by Genesee Chorale, will be featured in the Chorale spring concerts entitled "The Call of Humanity" at 7 p.m. May 4 at St. James Church, Batavia, and 4 p.m. May 6 at Pavilion Junior-Senior High School. Presale tickets are $8, available from any Chorale member or online at GeneseeChorale.com. Tickets at the door are $10.

World Turmoil vs. Unity and Peace

As Genesee Chorale Director Ric Jones began the process of putting together this concert program, all he could sense was turmoil in the world.

He said he felt that there was a large divide in the world, a divide that seemed to grow larger every day. He wanted to counteract that divide, and encourage people to embrace unity and peace.

Thus was born “The Call of Humanity,” a mix of contemporary, Gospel, choral and classical music, including the debut of one piece written specifically for the Genesee Chorale -- "The Waking."

“I tried to do a variety of mini-themes within the program,” says Jones. “In the words of Mother Teresa, 'Prayer is about helping the needy.' Other selections, such as 'We Shall Overcome,' 'Harriet Tubman' and 'MLK,' address civil rights and some of the mega figures who have had an impact on that movement."

Anchored in Poetry

The lyrics of "Across the Bridge of Hope" come from a poem written by a group of young friends in Ireland; one of the boys was killed in the fighting shortly after their poem was written.

Two pieces form the foundation of the concert program, "Song of the Universal” by Ola Gjeilo from a Walt Whitman poem, and Baldwin's “The Waking,” from a Theodore Roethke poem. 

“Song of the Universal” was the first piece to “grab” Jones as he went through the selection process.

“The text is beautiful,” he said, “and I love the composer. I kept going back to it. I decided I’d make it the centerpiece.”

“The Waking” stems from Jones’ desire to find “something different that inspires the Chorale and brings the community into Chorale.” Luckily, GO ART! grant money was available, so, with the blessing of the Chorale’s Board, Jones began the fun and frustrating process of choosing text and composer for an original piece.

He and his wife, Karen, pored over “a ton of different poems,” but kept coming back to Roethke’s famous poem. (To read Roethke's poem "The Waking," click here.)

“I liked the rhythm in the text,” says Jones, “and I like the overall message.”

The text was also an inspiration for Baldwin.

“The majority of text chosen for me to set is older and in the public domain,” Baldwin said in an e-mail interview. “The poem (Jones) sent was contemporary and very well done, but also spoke to me in a way I was not expecting.

"When writing vocal or choral music, text is the most important element and must flow naturally (speech, even conversational speech, has its own rhythms, etc.).”

It Begins with Text

For Baldwin, the text is the beginning.

“I always write out the poem by hand and apply rhythms to the text based on what feels natural when reading the poem aloud,” he said. “Then, based on the message and perceived mood of the poem, I assign themes to these rhythms, harmonize, etc. It’s a process!”

Baldwin said he hopes that people “read through the wonderful text in advance of hearing the piece. A vocal or choir performance is the musical equivalent to a dramatic reading.  I set the poem how I heard it and how the text affected me. I hope the audience enjoys my interpretation.”

Director Jones has published some of Baldwin’s other works as part of his Imagine Music business.

“I love his music,” Jones said, “and I’ve watched him evolve. His music feels cinematic to me usually – that epic sound with grandiose chords. I wanted to see what he’d do with this text.”

What Baldwin did was surprise Jones.

“This was more on the contemporary side,” Jones said. “It is different than I expected, and the first time I heard it, I went ‘hmmm,’ but as I listened, there was something haunting about that motif.”

It is, he notes, a challenging piece and Chorale members have had to work hard to prepare it for concert.

April 23, 2018 - 2:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, nursing program, GCC, Gatsby Gala, news, scholarships.

Press release:

The Genesee Community College Nursing Program produces qualified and skilled candidates for positions in the healthcare each year. Under the direction of the Alumni Affairs Office, the Nursing Program Alumni are working hard to help qualified Nursing Program students overcome financial obstacles.

The GCC Nursing Alumni Committee established a new scholarship opportunity for future Nursing Program students to help mitigate financial obstacles to GCC student success. The entire community is invited to kick off National Nurses Week at the Batavia Downs at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 4, for the debut of the Gatsby Gala to support the GCC Nursing Alumni Scholarship.

Guest registration at the event begins at 5:30 p.m.. followed by a delicious sit-down dinner with a cash bar at 6 p.m. Emcee Scott Gardner, president of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, will introduce: GCC's Director of the Nursing Program Laurel Sanger; Chase Hughes, of Buffalo, who will testify to the difference qualified and passionate nurses made for him and his family; and Jennifer Sonricker, of Warsaw, who will share her journey battling her daughter's cancer.

At 7:15 p.m. all guests have chances to win big with door prizes and a cash raffle! The evening will conclude with a beautiful dessert and dancing the night away to the DJ talents of students from GCC's radio station 90.7 WGCC.

Tickets to the Gatsby Gala cost $100 per person and all proceeds go directly to the GCC Nursing Alumni Scholarship.

Tickets are on sale now! RSVP online here. You can also contact the Alumni Affairs Office at [email protected]

The Nursing Scholarship is generously sponsored by the following:

Bronze Sponsors:

Summit Family Dental Care

Laurel Sanger

Jerilyn Constantino

Brenda Schiavone

Michelle Grohs

Jeffrey Erickson Law Office

In-Kind Supporters:

Bobette and Dan McCormick

Tops Friendly Markets in Warsaw

Healing Hands Massage & Spa LLC

Steuben Trust Company

Envision Salon & Spa

Michelle Grohs

Jeffrey Erickson Law Office

Additional Donations:

Robert O. Holley

There are still opportunities available to sponsor Nursing Program scholarships at many levels.

For online details go to: https://www.genesee.edu/home/offices/alumni/alumni-events/gatsbygala/ which offers commitments of $100 - $3,000 and also includes In-kind Support for those wishing to customize their sponsorship. All sponsorship levels include a variety of benefits from free advertising to photos, and GCC Foundation recognition.

For more information, contact Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs Jennifer Wakefield at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6265, or via email at [email protected]

April 23, 2018 - 2:44pm

Press release:

Nominees are sought for the Batavia Blue Devils Athletic Hall of Fame. Nomination deadline is May 16.

The purpose is to recognize players, coaches and administrators who have attained a high degree of success in Batavia High School Athletics.

To nominate an individual you should either fill out the nomination form located under Athletics/Hall of Fame at www.bataviacsd.org or contact the Batavia High School Athletic Office at (585) 343 - 2480, ext. 2003.

CRITERIA:

1.  The Hall of Fame will recognize outstanding athletes, coaches, administrators and significant contributors. These might include worthy booster club presidents, parent volunteers, team doctors and other individuals who have contributed significantly to our athletic program.

2.  Athletes will become eligible five years after graduation and coaches five years after retirement from coaching. The same time frame will be used for significant others.

3.  The nominee must have made an outstanding contribution to his or her sport. Typically this would be attaining All County or All State honors, all-time leading scorer, winning a state championship, etc.. The nominee must have exemplified character while representing Batavia Athletics and also in his/her lives following graduation. He/she must be a positive role model, worthy of being emulated by current and future students.

4.  A member must continue to be a positive role model or they may be removed.

April 23, 2018 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in EDEN, news, batavia, downtown, business, freshLAB, Eli Fish Brewing Company.

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Eden, the new vegan food booth inside the Eli Fish Brewing Company restaurant at 111 E. Main St., Batavia, held a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting Sunday afternoon.

Eden is one of two new food establishments opening inside Eli Fish, as part of an initiative sponsored by the Batavia Development Corp. called FreshLAB. 

Owner Judy Hysek cuts with the ribbon Jim Turcer, left, the first paid customer, Chamber of Commerce President Tom Turnbull, Chris Hysek, Judy's husband, Tracy Burgio, representing FreshLAB, and David Balonek, Judy's father.

April 23, 2018 - 12:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia Rotary Club, batavia, news.

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The Batavia Rotary Club hosted its second annual meat auction Saturday night at the social hall of Ascension Parish on Swan Street in Batavia.

The event was sold out. Participants bought chances to win packages of meat, from hamburger to bacon and steaks to shrimp. Some tickets had more than one chance to win, with each prize often being available to more than one winner.

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April 23, 2018 - 12:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
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    Joshua Bachorski

Joshua G. Bachorski, 35, of South Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, 3rd, and criminal possession of a controlled substance, 3rd.

The arrest comes as part of an investigation into the sale and possession of crack cocaine in and around the City of Batavia.

Bachorski is accused of selling a quantity of crack cocaine to an agent of the Local Drug Task Force in December. 

Members of the Drug Task Force arrested Bachorski on a sealed Grand Jury indictment warrant.

He was arraigned on the indictment in Genesee County Court and jailed on $20,000 bail or $30,000 bond.

The Drug Task Force was assisted by Sheriff's deputies and the District Attorney's Office.

April 23, 2018 - 11:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, news, Lockport.

A driver who was seriously injured in a fatal accident in Lockport at 1:08 p.m. Thursday has been identified by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office as Brandon W. Loucks, 28, of Batavia.

Loucks is recovering from his injuries at ECMC, NCSO reports.

The other driver was identified as Brian S. Ralph, 44, of Lockport.

According to the NCSO report of the accident, Loucks's box truck was eastbound on Stone Road and crossed the center line and struck a westbound passenger car. 

Ralph was pronounced dead at the scene.

Loucks was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC.

The investigation is continuing and no charges have been released.

April 23, 2018 - 11:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, news, batavia, bergen, Bethany, notify.
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      Gary Burney

Gary David Burney, 37, of North Spruce Street, Batavia, is charged with robbery, 2nd, two counts of grand larceny, 4th, criminal contempt, 1st, criminal contempt, 2nd. Burney was allegedly located in the apartment of a person he is barred from contacting in any manner. He was arrested on a warrant stemming from a prior incident where he stole the keys, purse and vehicle of the person he was ordered not to contact. Burney was jailed without bail.

Jacob Jonathan Szumigala, 24, of Orchard Park Road, Oakfield, is charged with: DWI; vehicular assault, 2nd; aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st; speed not reasonable and prudent; consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle; violation of driving restrictions; driver's view obstructed; deposited refuse on a highway; and unsafe passing on left. Szumigala was charged following a three-vehicle, serious-injury accident on Main Street, Corfu, at 5:01 p.m. Thursday. (Previous report.)

Morgan L. Cox Sr., 50, of Dellinger Avenue, Batavia, is charged with criminal contempt, 1st, and aggravated family offense. Cox is accused of violating an order of protection.

Luis A. Ramos-Mecardo, 33, of South Main Street, Batavia, is charged with criminal use of drug paraphernalia, 2nd. Ramos-Mecardo was stopped for an alleged traffic violation at 3:45 p.m. April 13 on Main Street, by Officer Christopher Lindsay.

Frankie McQueen, 27, of Broadway Road, Alden, was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to appear in City Court and failure to adhere to terms of a prior sentence. 

Terry O'Neal Brock, 18, of Wellington Avenue, Rochester, is charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, unlawful possession of marijuana, and speeding. Brock was stopped at 12:38 a.m. Sunday on Route 33, Batavia, by Deputy Jeremy McClellan.

Jorden Elizabeth Prescott, 23, of Ellicott Street Road, East Bethany, is charged with DWI, driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, and speeding. Prescott was stopped at 1:13 a.m. Saturday on Route 33, Bergen, by Deputy Howard Wilson.

Alexis R. Chavez, 19, of Pearl Street, Medina, is charged with DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation, 3rd, unlawful possession of marijuana, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia. Chavez was stopped at 8:40 p.m. Friday on East Main Street, Batavia, by Deputy Matthew Bailey.

Shequan M. Williams, 26, of Rochester, is charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. Williams was stopped by State Police at 10:34 a.m. Sunday in the Village of Alexander.

April 22, 2018 - 6:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in alexander, news.

An elderly couple is lost in the woods in an area off Gilhooly Road, Alexander, perhaps on their own property.

The female caller plots in an area south of the driveway at 4277 Gilhooly Road.

The man is 90 and the woman is 85. The man is tired from prolonged walking but apparently has no other medical condition.

Alexander fire is responding.

UPDATE 6:35 p.m.: Somebody has apparently reached the couple and he can carry the male out and the female will walk out.

April 22, 2018 - 6:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.

A caller reports that an unknown male tried to start a fight with his girlfriend in the area of 286 Ross St., Batavia.

The man may have displayed a knife.

A police officer is out with the woman now.

April 22, 2018 - 6:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, news, Bethany.

A pilot has called in an apparent brush fire in Bethany, near Ellicott Street Road and Paul Road, perhaps halfway to Bethany Center Road.

Law enforcement and Bethany fire chiefs are trying to confirm the location.

One small controlled burn was found in the area but the area is being checked further.

The plane was in contact with a Rochester tower in Monroe County, which relayed the information to Genesee County dispatch.

UPDATE 6:07 p.m.: A small controlled burn located at Route 63 and Clapsaddle. Still investigating.

UPDATE 6:20 p.m.: Residents burning sticks in their backyard were told to put the fire out, which they did. The Bethany assignment is back in service.

April 21, 2018 - 7:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in agriculture, news, notify, Pok-A-Dot, batavia.

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When Rep. Chris Collins is in Batavia around noon and has time to stop for lunch, he usually makes that stop the Pok-A-Dot. Today, he had with him Greg Ibach, undersecretary/marketing and regulatory programs for the USDA (center). Joining them for lunch were Dana H. Coale, deputy administrator of the USDA, and Peter Fredericks, associate market administrator for the Northeast Market Area for the USDA.

They had just come from Wyoming County where Collins hosted a roundtable discussion for dairy farmers. They then toured the Rudgers Registered Jerseys Farm in Attica.

Before lunch was served, Ibach spoke with The Batavian about a few issues that concern local farmers.

Farmers across the nation are nervous about new protectionist trade policies but Ibach expressed optimism that things will work out favorably for agriculture.

"I’m a farmer from Central Nebraska," Ibach said. "My children and grandchildren are our fifth and six generations to grow up on our family farm. Through the years, as we’ve seen great growth opportunities for export agriculture, we always seem to hit up against phytosanitary barriers, quotas, or tariffs that have limited our true potential to grow agriculture markets. We, as farmers in the Midwest, have always asked the government to do something about those barriers and of export markets. This is administration is trying to do something about it."

He said he understands the anxiety and shares the anxiety, he said, but progress with KORUS (the free-trade agreement with South Korea) and the reports he is getting on NAFTA negotiations are positive for farmers.

"I’ve got to believe the world still wants to be consumers of U.S. products," Ibach said. "If they understand that the ticket to be able to continue to ship to us is that they expand our opportunities, I think we will be successful here and I think we’ll see even higher growth rate for agriculture commodities down the road. We may have to suffer a little bit here in the short term but we will get the benefits in the long term."

Many farmers have specific complaints about NAFTA but few want to see the agreement torn up. Locally, farmers complain about limits on the Canadian dairy and produce markets. Ibach said he understands those concerns and believes they are being addressed in negotiations.

"I'm confident we will reach an agreement that is better for everybody," Ibach said.

Another big concern for local farmers is immigration. They continue to struggle to find a sufficient and stable workforce.

Ibach said its a concern shared by farmers and ranchers across the nation, especially when it comes to temporary worker visas for employees who need to be on their farms year around.

"We're trying to work with Congress and the Department of Labor to understand those needs," Ibach said. "Secretary (Sonny) Perdue has a senior advisor who works on this issue every day. We’re trying to try to help find programs and adjustments that can be made to address agriculture worker concerns."

One of Ibach's areas of specialty is expanding ag markets to the rest of the world and he said he sees great opportunity in Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam, India and Africa.

"The entire continent (Africa) is projected to have quick, high growth," Ibach said. "At the same time, they have a lot of poverty. We're just starting to see a middle class emerge. With their agriculture, just with them trying to feed themselves, there is room for us to work with them on that and have them accept the technology out there as far as biotech to allow them to grow themselves as well as be customers of ours."

Here's a press release from the office of Chris Collins about the dairy roundtable:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today hosted USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach for a dairy roundtable in Wyoming County and tour of Rudgers Registered Jerseys Farm. Collins and Ibach discussed the 2018 Farm Bill, NAFTA negotiations, and other issues that impact local dairy farmers.

“With the release of the Farm Bill and ongoing NAFTA talks, it is my hope that our region’s dairy farmers will soon see some relief,” Collins said. “Agriculture is the backbone of our region’s economy and it is essential that we implement policies that help our farmers succeed. I thank Under Secretary Ibach for traveling to my district to talk about important issues that face Western New York dairy farmers.”

“As a fifth generation farmer myself, I appreciate the many ways that Rudgers and other Western New York dairies contribute to their communities and the region,” Ibach said.“The American dairy industry faces challenges from a number of directions. USDA will continue to listen and work hand-in-hand with producers of every size and our Congressional partners, like Congressman Collins.”

This week, the House Agriculture Committee favorably reported the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes important reforms to the Margin Protection Program (MPP). This program provides critical protections to dairy farmers as milk and feed prices fluctuate, and proposed changes will allow farmers to receive more coverage at less cost.

The Farm Bill also strengthens investment in trade promotion initiatives, designed to build upon our current agriculture exports. This week Collins sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to put an end to Canada’s Class 7 pricing program. As NAFTA negations continue, Collins pledged to work with the Trump administration to get rid of this program, which has created an unfair playing field and has essentially eliminated U.S. exports of certain dairy products. 

Additionally, Collins and Ibach discussed with farmers the unfair and complicated H-2A visa system that treats workers on certain types of farms different than it treats those on dairy farms. As a strong advocate for year-round legal work status, Collins and Ibach voiced commitment to finding solutions so dairy farmers can depend on a reliable and willing workforce.

Collins added: “I always enjoy meeting with our region’s dairy farmers and thank the Rudgers family for their hospitality and honest discussion about what we need to do to get this industry back on track. I look forward to continuing our work together on ways to strengthen and grow our dairy economy.”

April 21, 2018 - 6:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, news, Earth Day.

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The County's Parks Department hosted an annual Earth Day event at DeWitt Recreation area, which included events for children, a nature walk, park cleanup, and of course, plenty of people showed up to fish.

The lake is at near record-high levels, which is quite a turn around from about a year ago when you could walk on dry land out to the island.

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April 21, 2018 - 5:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in art, history, alexander, news, Noah North.

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This is a painting by Noah North of Oliver Vaughn, who was 12 years old and a resident of Darien when it was painted in 1833.

I stopped by to see it today at the Holland Land Office Museum because until a few days ago, I hadn't heard of North, who, it turns out, is a painter from Alexander of some minor national renown. His name has never come up before, at least in my presence, in any discussion of local artists.

The painting of Vaughn, who died at age 14, is one of North's earliest, when he was still being trained by M.W. Hopkins, of Albion.

He is recognized among collectors and art historians as a folk portrait artist (also called "naive" or "primitive"). 

He relocated to Ohio where he continued to pursue his portrait career and then returned to WNY, married a woman from Darien, and settled in Mt. Morris, where he eventually adapted to the new medium of photography (working in daguerreotype).

Within the region, North's work can also be seen at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester and the Genesee Country Museum in Mumford. His work is also in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, the Museum of Folk Art, and the Shelbourne Museum in Vermont.

For the next four hours, one of his paintings is available on eBay for $9,000.

April 21, 2018 - 4:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Oakfield, news.

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East Bethany resident Rick Hale holds up a scrimshaw horn he made himself, one of a few antique and reproduction pieces he brought to the Oakfield Historical Society's annual open house today to display. His collection included handmade rifle reproductions and 500-year-old powder horns (below).

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Jim Ferris, of Alabama, demonstrates how a pioneer could have light any time as long as he had something to make into a wick and animal fat to render into an oil.

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