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August 11, 2020 - 7:52am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, covid-19.

By a 7-2 vote Monday night, the Batavia City Council granted $750 monthly stipends to three City Hall employees who have been taking on additional responsibilities during the absence of an assistant city manager.

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski requested that Human Resource Specialist Dawn Fairbanks, Director of Finance Lisa Neary and Confidential Secretary Lisa Casey be compensated beyond their normal pay at that monthly rate until City Council fills the city manager and assistant city manager positions.

In a July 30 memo, Tabelski reported that all three have incurred an increased workload because they have been performing tasks originally assigned to the assistant city manager. Tabelski moved up from the assistant position to acting city manager following the June 20 departure of former City Manager Martin Moore.

Council members John Canale, Jeremy Karas, Paul Viele, Kathleen Briggs, Al McGinnis, Patti Pacino and Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. voted in favor of the stipend, which would take effect retroactively to July 1, while Rose Mary Christian and Robert Bialkowski voted against it.

Canale summed up the majority’s feeling by saying that Council has been asking them to do part of the work of another office (assistant manager).

“That’s quite a job that Rachael stepped into,” he said. “I know as much as we want to keep an eye on how we spend taxpayer dollars, we also have to keep an eye on are we paying these employees the proper amount for the job they are doing?”

Jankowski agreed, noting that the trio has been doing two to three times the amount of work beyond their job descriptions. He also said that if they were union employees, they would be in a position to receive more pay.

“We’re trying to reward them for taking on additional responsibilities. It’s not like we’re using up the whole salary (of the vacant position),” he said. “It’s a small token for additional responsibility. I think it’s a valuable thing and a worthwhile thing … and it keeps us moving forward.”

Tabelski said they have been working long hours, including Saturdays, as they tackle key projects such as the management and implementation of a $750,000 new Enterprise Resource Program solution for all software applications, a $390,000 information technology hardware project and Windows 10 upgrade, a fiber project to connect all city facilities to a fiber network, flood zone issues and other internal and committee tasks.

Christian said she objected to the proposal due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the city in a projected “almost half a million dollars” shortfall, and that Fairbanks and Neary are salaried employees. Casey is an hourly employee.

She said she calls City Hall after 4:30 and gets an answering machine – to which Tabelski responded that the recording comes on at that time, but the employees are still on the job – and also brought up that they recently received a raise – Tabelski said it was 2.75 percent – in the new budget.

“I just can’t do this,” Christian said.

Bialkowski mentioned that Casey could put in for overtime and that Fairbanks and Neary are two of many salaried city employees.

“We have other employees who are salaried department heads and, boy, they work a lot more than 40 hours, and they don't come in and ask for extra money ...,” he said. "When you sign on to a salaried job, it's whatever needs to be done,"

Citing major unemployment, he said, “I just don’t support this.”

In other developments, Council:

-- Approved a one-year contract extension with Client First at a cost not to exceed $87,856 for external project management services and a contract with Systems East, Inc., for a tax collection software package at a cost of $42,921 and for annual training at a cost of $6,240 in connection with the Enterprise Resource Planning software project.

-- Moved to its September Business meeting resolutions to accept four grants that will benefit the city fire department.

The grants are a Federal Emergency Management Agency award for $68,880.95 for enhanced monitored fire and carbon monoxide alarm system at fire headquarters, sprinkler system and specialized water rescue training (with a 5 percent city match); a NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee grant for $800 to purchase bicycle helmets; a similar grant for $3,200 to purchase child passenger safety seats, and a donation of $1,638 from FM Global Insurance Co. to purchase a new fire investigation camera and accessories.

-- Moved to the September Business meeting a resolution to solicit the lowest bid for lead services construction work on Swan and Hutchins street – work that will require engineering expertise prior to the construction. The city previously received a grant for $554,112 to cover the replacement of lead services.

Public Works Director Matt Worth said bids will go out next week, with mid-November as the flexible cutoff for completion.

-- Approved a $189,462.75 contract with Sunshine Concrete Co. of North Tonawanda for the replacement of 3,150 linear feet of sidewalks, including handicap accessible ramps, on portions of Franklin and North Spruce streets and Roosevelt Avenue.

-- Forwarded to the September Business meeting a resolution to borrow up to $420,000 to buy a combination jet/vacuum truck for use in the city’s sanitary sewer system, water system, storm sewer system and highway maintenance operations.

Purchase of the 2019 demo unit with approximately 4,900 miles on it would replace a truck that has been in use since 1994 and has undergone multiple repairs, Tabelski said.

-- Authorized Jankowski to sign a contract with the Batavia City School District for a school resource officer for 2020-21.

August 10, 2020 - 11:53pm

If you’re going to form a committee to build a plan that addresses community policing issues and encourages trust between residents and law enforcement, it has to include people of color – those who are speaking out for equality and racial justice.

That is the position stated by Batavia City Council members tonight as they approved the formation of the Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group as mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order No. 203.

“I think it’s very important to have diversity in the committee because that is the people, and some of the people just like everyone else in the community, who are being affected,” City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said following the board’s Conference and Business meetings. “So, every stakeholder from every diverse demographic that we can come up with, I’d like to see on that committee – so that everyone has a say, to a point.”

Jankowski said filling the committee with people of the same perspective is not the answer.

“If we end up one-siding it or lopsiding it, we’re not really going to solve the problem,” he said. “We need to have legitimate conversations from all the stakeholders – all the people that might or might not be involved – so we can get as much input as we can.”

As previously reported on The Batavian, the advisory group, per a memo from Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, was set up to consist of 15 members – including the city manager, three police department representatives, three attorneys, one Council member, a faith-based leader, Batavia Housing Authority director, not-for-profit representative, Batavia City School District superintendent, business leader and two citizen representatives.

Prior to a vote, Council member Robert Bialkowski made a motion to amend the list to include four citizen representatives to ensure minority input. The amendment was accepted and the measure passed unanimously.

The advisory group came up at the outset of tonight’s proceedings when Batavia resident Sammy DiSalvo used the public comments segment to say he opposed the makeup of it.

After reading off the list of proposed committee members, DiSalvo said, “And finally you’re rounding out this 15-person committee with two citizens, which is atrocious.”

“I hope everybody remembers why this entire executive order was proposed by Cuomo in the first place. And if you’re only going to put two out of 15 positions as citizens to help discuss how police can better police citizens, then this is a moronic proposal put forward,” he said. “This was started because of police brutality nationwide against people of color. And there is also nothing in this resolution about including those disadvantaged groups in this conversation.”

DiSalvo suggested having just one police officer and one attorney – not three of each – and called for half of the group to be “citizens,” with at least two people of color.

“Make sure your citizens are represented and right now they are not,” he said.

Council member Rose Mary Christian said she disagreed “with most of the things that DiSalvo said, and I will not sit here and think that our police department has abused anyone. I will not defend, I will not defund, our police and, as a matter of fact, I stand behind them.”

She said she has a flag at her home with a blue line for the police and a red line for the fire department.

“Safety is number one to me, and I’ll be damned if somebody is going to tell me anything different,” she added.

Fellow Council member Robert Bialkowski offered that the City doesn’t have a lot of the problems that occur in larger cities, punctuating that with “it’s simple – don’t break the law.”

Wording in the governor's executive order does not specifically stipulate the actual members, but mentions that stakeholders should include “but not (be) limited to membership and leadership of the local police force, members of the community with emphasis in areas with high numbers of police and community interactions, interested non-profit and faith-based community groups, local office of the district attorney, local public defender and local elected officials.”

Tabelski said that she and Police Chief Shawn Heubusch used the information in the previous paragraph to analyze “the members listed to make up the group, and then applied it to local conditions here in Batavia to form the parameters of our local group.”

“Our intent was to have good representation from all sides and to comply with the executive order,” she said.

During a presentation to Council, City Attorney George Van Nest outlined eight recently enacted pieces of legislation, including an anti-chokehold act and providing medical attention to persons in custody act.

Heubusch, meanwhile, reported that his agency has achieved all but a couple of the dozen or so standards spelled out in the governor’s executive order, and cited statistics showing a downward trend in crime in the city over the past five years.

Tabelski said that persons seeking to serve on the committee should send a “letter of interest” via email to her at [email protected] or call 585-345-6300 by Sept. 1.

Regular meetings will be scheduled starting in September, followed by a draft presentation to Council in January, public comments in February, final version of the plan in March and submission to the state by April 1.

Previous story: City Council agenda includes resolution to create Batavia Police Collaboration Advisory Stakeholder Group

August 10, 2020 - 6:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, batavia, scanner, pickpocketing.

A woman called the Genesee County Emergency Dispatch Center wanting to speak to a Batavia Police officer regarding her marital prospect, her promised one -- "her fiancé" -- and his "pickpocketing situation." The dispatcher relayed the message.

August 10, 2020 - 5:28pm

Update: 6:40 p.m.

Batavia Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., at tonight's Board of Education meeting, has reported that school will start for students on Sept. 14, following four days of teacher training days -- Sept. 8-11.

He also said that some days scheduled as off days will now be school days, ensuring that there will be 180 days of learning for students.

Soler said that virtual public meetings are being planned for each of the district's schools prior to Aug. 21, as required by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.


Reading, writing, arithmetic, respiratory hygiene.

Teachers will need to be versed in much more than academics during the 2020-21 school year, which gets underway in less than a month.

“We have days at the beginning of the school year that are teacher-only when we’re going to receive some training on COVID procedures along with some professional development on teaching the hybrid model and the virtual model,” said Mark Warren, president of the Batavia Teachers’ Association.

He said the exact training days prior to the date when students return are expected to be determined at the Batavia City School District’s Board of Education meeting at 6:30 tonight. It can be viewed on the district’s YouTube page.

Warren said teachers and other staff will be trained how “to instruct students in proper hand washing, how to cough and sneeze appropriately, and recognizing the symptoms of COVID.”

“I’m not sure if it will be district-led or coordinated by the health department or by another outside person coming in to the school,” he said.

According to the Batavia City School District’s 97-page reopening plan, the district “will ensure all students are taught or trained how to follow new COVID-19 protocols safely and correctly, including but not limited to hand hygiene, proper face covering wearing, social distancing, and respiratory hygiene.”

The plan was developed by the Reopen Batavia Strong Task Force, which included input from the teachers’ union, Warren said.

It spells out that additional training will be provided in:

  • Prevention of disease spreads by staying home when they are sick.
  • Proper respiratory etiquette, including covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoiding the use of communal objects. If communal objects must be used, provide information on proper disinfection procedures between use. Examples of communal objects include, but are not limited to, other workers’ phones, desks, offices, computers or other devices, other work tools and equipment.
  • Providing employees and students with up-to-date education and training on COVID-19.
  • Risk factors and protective behaviors (i.e., cough etiquette and care of Personal Protective Equipment).

The plan also advises that the district will designate those familiar with the Center for Disease Control and Occupational Safety and Health Administration protocols, and Department of Health guidelines in each building as trained screeners. Screeners will be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment provided by the district.

Warren said students have to wear masks on the bus and when they’re transitioning, but said he believes they are allowed to take them off when they are seated and are six feet apart.

He acknowledged that it could be difficult for the younger children.

“I have a second- and fourth-grader and we’ve been working on it at home,” he said.

On the scholastic side, Warren said some teachers will preside over exclusively online courses and others will have a mix of in-school and virtual.

“My preliminary schedule, for example, has one of the courses as an online-only course, and the rest of the courses are hybrid courses where I’ll see the kids some days and they’ll be remote some days,” he advised.

Warren teaches 11th- and 12th-grade math – calculus and a third-year elective called Math for Trades.

August 10, 2020 - 5:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, video, Stafford.
Video Sponsor

First, there was a pickup truck accident with a car fire and just as Stafford fire had things under control at the first location on Clinton Street Road, an MVA with serious injuries was reported a quarter-mile away on Route 33 at the intersection with Horseshoe Lake Road.

It turned out there were no serious injuries in either accident.

But it was a hot, humid day for the volunteer firefighters, deputies, and medical personnel who responded to both incidents.


August 10, 2020 - 4:25pm
posted by Press Release in GCASA, NY-27, Chris Jacobs, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is announcing a $1,000,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services has been awarded to the Genesee Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA).

“I am pleased to announce that this great local organization is receiving a grant to further combat alcohol and drug addiction, and the opioid crisis in our community," Jacobs said. "While our nation has focused on fighting another public health battle, substance abuse has continued to hurt our communities.

"That is why the work the Genesee Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is critical to our region. I am proud to see this funding go to an organization working to make our communities safer for all members, and I am committed to continuing our efforts to end the substance abuse and opioid epidemic."

“This grant will allow GCASA to continue a multi-fold aim of removing barriers to recovery and improved quality of life for people suffering from alcohol and other drug problems," said GCASA Executive Director John Bennett. “Far too long, we have treated addiction only as an acute disease when, in fact, it is a chronic long-term health condition.

While treatment is a guiding force to assist individuals in establishing abstinence and getting them on the path to recovery, it does not address how to sustain individuals and families in recovery over long periods. Grants like this will help build the recovery supports and address the social determinants of health to overcome the long-term effects of addiction.

"It is designed to break down the barriers to long term recovery so people can manage their own conditions over time and build on the resources needed for sustained recovery.”

The grant was awarded through a $101 million grant program through the Department of Health and Human Services to combat substance abuse disorders (SUD) and opioid use disorders (OUD). This grant program supports 116 organizations in more than 42 states – the grant is intended to expand and enhance service delivery for SUD and OUD in rural communities.

Two other organizations in New York State received this $1 million grant -- The Reach Project Inc., Ithaca, and Rochester Institute of Technology Inc.

August 10, 2020 - 4:19pm
posted by Press Release in covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify.

Press release:

  • Genesee County received zero new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • Three of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
    • Forty new individuals are on precautionary quarantine due to travel from restricted states.
    • One of the positive individuals is hospitalized.
  • Orleans County received two new positive cases of COVID-19.
    • The new positive cases reside in Carlton and Ridgeway.
    • One of the positive individuals is in their 40s and one of the positive individuals is in their 50s.
    • Four of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been released from mandatory isolation.
August 10, 2020 - 4:09pm


More than 1,500 flags received by the local veterans' groups were piled several feet high at the Northwoods Sportsman's Club on Sunday afternoon and given a dignified retirement as prescribed by the U.S. Flag Code.

Title IV, Section 8(k) states, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

The event was organized by the Botts Fiorito American Legion Post #576 in Le Roy and Commander Dave Rumsey thanked Bill Joyce, Genesee County Veterans Service Officer, and the Legion posts in Bergen and Caledonia and the VFW post in Caledonia, each of which provided their communities with a flag deposit box. 

Photos by Philip Casper.







August 10, 2020 - 3:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Stafford, news, notify.
jeffersonmugaug2020.jpg wellingtonmugaug2020.jpg
     Shonje Jefferson Chaniah Wellington-Martino

Two people who were located with a disabled vehicle on Clinton Street Road, Stafford, at 6 p.m., Friday, are facing multiple charges including drug dealing and assault.

During an interaction with the subjects, deputies determined that Shonje Kaliq Jefferson, 22, of Norton Street, Rochester, might be in possession of drugs. A subsequent search revealed he allegedly had a quantity of crack cocaine on his person.

Due to the amount of crack cocaine deputies believe they located, Jefferson was arrested on a count of criminal possession of a narcotic drug with an intent to sell.

Deputy Erik Andre and Investigator Chris Parker arrested Jefferson on charges of criminal use of drug paraphernalia, aggravated unlicensed operation, 2nd, unlicensed operator, and pedestrian failed to walk facing traffic.

A passenger in the vehicle, Chaniah Lache Wellington-Martino, 19, of Danforth Street, Rochester, was interviewed by Parker and Sgt. Andrew Hale. She allegedly threw her purse over a guardrail and an attempt to destroy evidence in the purse while fighting with the officers. She is also accused of attempting several times to bite the officers.

She is charged with attempted assault, 2nd, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, tampering with physical evidence, and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Jefferson was arraigned in Genesee County Court and ordered held on $2,000 cash bail or $5,000 bond. The release status of Wellington-Martino was not included in the press release.

August 10, 2020 - 3:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Kiwanis Park, news, batavia.

A deputy is responding to Kiwanis Park on West Main Street in Batavia to meet with a caller who claims he fell in "quicksand."

August 10, 2020 - 3:21pm
posted by Press Release in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer enthusiastically renewed his support for Nate McMurray in the Nov. 3rd election for Congress in NY-27. 

“I am eager to see Nate McMurray win this election so we can get to work on a shared agenda to expand access to affordable healthcare, strengthen the middle class, protect union rights, and preserve our farms," Senator Schumer said. "Nate is a fighter who will take on the damaging and dangerous Trump agenda and always champion the interests of the people of Western New York.” 

McMurray added: “I am proud to have Senator Schumer’s endorsement going into the most important election of our lifetimes. He and I are committed to defeating the Trump agenda and its supporters, like Chris Jacobs, in November. Not only has Chris Jacobs aligned himself with a failed President, but he has condemned Black Lives Matter, voted against a pay raise for our armed forces, and voted to kill the Affordable Care Act at the height of a pandemic that has killed 150,000 Americans.  

“Senator Schumer and I share many core values, like a Washington that delivers for working-class Americans, expanding healthcare, and protecting Social Security. I’m eager to get to work with him on behalf of NY-27 and all of Western New York.”

August 10, 2020 - 3:18pm
posted by Press Release in Chris Jacobs, news, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) is releasing the following statement in response to President Trump signing four executive orders yesterday to provide targeted coronavirus relief to Americans.

“The negotiation process for a new stimulus package has been bogged down with partisan politics and far-left democratic wish lists that do not benefit the American people," Congressman Chris Jacobs said. "I applaud President Trump’s decisive action to make the health and financial well-being of Americans a priority and sign executive orders that will boost our economy, protect unemployed Americans, and aid Americans suffering from the effects of COVID-19.

"Conquering this enemy and rebuilding our economy is an effort we need to be united on, and the President is setting the example of what it means to put all Americans first.”

Yesterday President Trump signed four executive orders, which cover a range of issues including a $400 unemployment weekly insurance to replace the expired $600 bonus, protections against evictions for renters, extension of student loan relief, and a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year.

August 10, 2020 - 3:16pm
posted by Press Release in gas prices, news.

Press release from AAA:

Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.18, the same for two weeks. One year ago, the price was $2.66. The New York State average is $2.26 – also the same for the last two weeks. A year ago, the NYS average was $2.85. AAA Western and Central New York (AAA WCNY) reports the following averages:

  • Batavia -- $2.22 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Buffalo -- $2.18 (down 2 cents since last week)
  • Ithaca -- $2.18 (no change since last week)
  • Rochester -- $2.22 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Rome -- $2.30 (up 1 cent since last week)
  • Syracuse -- $2.18 (down 1 cent since last week)
  • Watertown -- $2.28 (no change since last week)

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their new weekly report and revealed that gas demand fell. This decreasing demand for gasoline has helped pump prices stabilize, and if demand continues to drop, pump prices could push cheaper in the coming week.

From GasBuddy:

"Gas prices have remained in very familiar territory for the sixth-straight week as gasoline demand fell slightly last week, keeping oil prices confined as forces prevent it from falling under $39 but also from breaching $42 per barrel," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

"However, as summer begins to fade, demand recovery may be limited, and there's a possibility we may see more downside potential in the last quarter of the year. Traditionally, gasoline demand weakens into the autumn, and as the coronavirus situation keeps more kids home and more parents from work, we may see a drop in gas prices as we progress through fall.

"However, since no one can predict when we may rebound from the coronavirus situation, nothing long term is set in stone, but we are on track for a seventh-straight week of stable gas prices."

August 10, 2020 - 3:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day, advertisement.

Reminders of how the Deal of the Day program works:

  • To make purchases, you must be registered. Deal of the Day uses a registration system that is not connected to the registration for commenting on The Batavian (the main user login in the upper left of the homepage).
  • Once re gistered you must sign in using the "sign in" link in this box.
  • You click on the orange button, which appears if the item is not sold out, and it takes you to a PayPal button. This allows you to pay either with your PayPal account or with a credit card/debit card. The login for PayPal is completely separate from our accounts.
  • The first person to successfully complete the PayPal transaction wins the gift certificate.
  • You are eligible to buy the same item only once in a four-month period. We use the registration system to track this for you so you don't have to.
  • Only one gift certificate from the same business PER HOUSEHOLD is allowed in each four-month period. We do not have a way to automatically track duplicate purchases within a household; however, if we notice such a purchase, we reserve the right to cancel the purchase and refund the purchase money. Each individual buyer must use his or her own PayPal account for purchases. It's important that participating businesses not be asked to redeem multiple gift certificates from the same person/family at the same time.
  • Gift certificates should be used within 30 days of receipt.
  • Problems, questions, concerns about the Deal of the Day? Email Billie Owens:   [email protected]
August 10, 2020 - 2:20pm
posted by Press Release in anti-rabies clinic, news, pets, GC health department.

The Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments will be hosting FREE drive-thru anti-rabies immunization clinics this month.

The Genesee County clinic will be on Thursday, Aug. 13th from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Genesee County Fairgrounds (5056 E. Main Street Road, Batavia).

Paul Pettit, Public Health director, notes that this is the first time the departments will be offering a drive-thru clinic.

“The drive-thru style will allow for the health departments to provide a vaccination clinic to our communities while adhering to the health and safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic," Pettit said. "This will ensure social distance protocols can bemaintained in an organized manner.”

Upon arrival, staff will instruct you to stay in your vehicle and form a single lane to the clinic area. Public health workers will be screening the occupants in each vehicle for COVID-19 symptoms.

County workers will be directing traffic flow. At the veterinarian immunization station, pet owners will be instructed to exit their vehicle and bring their pet(s) out for the veterinarian to vaccinate.

Once directed to do so, animals must be secured on a leash or in separate carriers at the immunization station.

Face masks, cloth face coverings, or face shields are required when speaking to staff and when outside of their vehicle at the vaccination table. Please limit four animals per vehicle.

“Animal rabies continues to be a serious public health problem in Genesee and Orleans counties," Pettit said. "We encourage all residents to take advantage of this opportunity to make sure that their animals are immunized against rabies and that the vaccinations are kept up to date."

To assist with crowd control, the vaccination clinics are only for respective county residents. The Genesee clinic will only be for Genesee County residents.

You do not need an appointment but please arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the end of the clinic. For Genesee, please arrive no later than 6:30 p.m.

Click here (PDF) to print out and fill out a rabies certificate for your pets. Be sure to print out two copies for each pet to be vaccinated and bring them with you.

The next anti-rabies immunization clinic in Genesee County will be held on Sept. 17th. (The date is subject to change.)

For more information, please contact: Genesee County Health Department: (585) 344-2580, ext. 5555 / [email protected]

August 10, 2020 - 2:07pm

Press release:

Have you been thinking about how you can get involved in our community? What better way than helping to elect those who represent us. 

The time is now.

The Genesee County Democratic Committee has opportunities for you to help elect Democrats up and down the ballot on Nov. 3rd. We have opportunities for every level of interest and experience. We also have activities that you can do while practicing responsible social distancing from home. 

Check out our website geneseedemocrats.net and click on “Take Action 2020."

August 10, 2020 - 1:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in accidents, news, Stafford.

A two-car accident with minor injuries is reported at the intersection of Clinton Street Road and Horseshoe Lake Road. Stafford fire, Mercy medics and Le Roy ambulance are responding along with law enforcement.

UPDATE 1:11 p.m.: Byron ambulance is called as the third ambulance in.

UPDATE 1:13 p.m.: Town of Batavia Fire Department is called to shut down traffic at Route 33 and Seven Springs Road.

UPDATE 1:37 p.m.: Byron ambulance is transporting one patient to UMMC.

UPDATE 1:40 p.m.: A female in her 50s is being transported to UMMC of evaluation.

UPDATE 1:46 p.m.: This Stafford assignment leaving the scene and going to the prior accident site at 5470 Clinton Street Road for cleanup. The roadway at Route 33 and Seven Springs Road will remain closed for awhile.

UPDATE 1:53 p.m.: A third ambulance is leaving the scene and transporting a patient to a hospital in Buffalo.

UPDATE 1:57 p.m.: The roadway is reopened. 

August 10, 2020 - 12:46pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, accidents, Stafford.

A pickup truck went off the road and a first responder reports it's in flames at 5470 Clinton Street Road, Stafford. Mercy Flight in Batavia is put on ground standby. Stafford Fire Department is responding along with Mercy medics. The location is between Prole Road Extension and Horseshoe Lake Road.

UPDATE 12:47 p.m.: Mercy Flight is cancelled.

UPDATE 12:50 p.m.: South Byron's tanker is requested to the scene.

UPDATE 1:06 p.m.: The fire is extinguished. One lane was closed to traffic and is being reopened. Traffic control is needed. The tow is en route.

UPDATE 1:50 p.m.: The female driver got out before flames engulfed the truck. She was transported by ambulance to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

August 10, 2020 - 10:26am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Jay Gsell, county manager, genesee county legislature.

3-7-20_chamberawards_146.jpgAfter living and working in six different cities in six different states over a 19-year period, the Jay Gsell family rolled into Batavia in 1993 with the head of the household in contention for the vacant Genesee County manager’s job.

Twenty-seven years later, and just five days away from completing a distinguished career as the county’s chief administrative officer, Gsell recalls with clarity the 48 hours that resulted in his hiring to succeed Charles Meyer, who had served 11 years as Genesee’s first county manager.

“We had been three years, which seemed like six, in Marshalltown, Iowa, and then there was a conscious decision by my wife (Ann Marie) and I that we wanted to come back east, because we’re both from New Jersey and I felt more comfortable in that setting,” he said.

“Obviously, our daughter (Claire) was just getting ready to go into middle school and we wanted to go somewhere and stay long enough to get her through high school. And, lo and behold, we’re still here.”

Gsell is retiring on Friday – the day before his 69th birthday.

Looking back, he said he had applied for a number of jobs, interviewed for a couple and turned down one or two prior to setting his sights on Genesee County.

“I think there were 70 candidates and they cut it down to 10 finalists, and then the 10 of us came and were interviewed over a day and a half,” he said. “It was over in the Batavia Club (now GO ART! on East Main Street) by various groups of citizens and legislators and city council people, and that kind of stuff. We went from room to room to be interviewed.”

He said after interviewing, he went back to Iowa and received a call from Carl Perkowski, the county legislative chair.

“I actually was in Des Moines at the time because my wife was doing a regional theater show there,” Gsell said. “He made the offer on the phone, we talked about it and agreed that if it happens, let’s do it.”

The ‘Interloper’ Meets Florence Gioia

The date was on Aug. 13 or 14, Gsell said, and he was at the Old County Courthouse waiting for the legislature to vote.

“I’m upstairs in the legislative chambers and the resolution is there. (The late legislator) Florence Gioia is in the audience, and complaining about where did they find this interloper and carpetbagger, and why couldn’t they find somebody local to be the next county manager,” Gsell recalled. “And so, I’m sitting there over on the side, and after she did her little piece – and she was in that yellow slicker that she always wore – I just raised my hand, and said, ‘Hi, Miss Gioia. I’m that interloper.’ ”

Gsell’s eyes lit up at this point and, while laughing his signature laugh, he added, “And the rest as they say, is history.”

A product of New Jersey (the northern counties of Passaic and Essex), Gsell is the oldest of five and actually is a Junior, although he doesn’t use the Jr. after his name. Just as in the early days of his professional life, he moved around a lot while growing up.

“Every time there was another kid, we moved to another house,” he said.

He graduated from Seton Hall Prep School on the campus of Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and earned a track scholarship to the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. In fact, he was a scholarship athlete in high school, as an undergraduate and in graduate school, clocking personal best times of 9:02 in the steeplechase (his primary event) and 4:09 in the mile.

Getting ‘On Track’ for a Master’s Degree

Gsell’s success as a runner played a key role in his enrollment at American University, where he earned his master’s degree in public administration in 1974.

“Glenn Wood, a friend of mine who was at that time the world-record holder in the mile in the senior age 40-plus division and a professor at American University, said you ought to come here, we have a good public administration program. So, I said, what does that entail? And then he said we also need an assistant coach for the track and cross-country teams.”

That was enough to persuade Gsell to head for Washington, D.C., where he attended school at night, worked during the day and ran two and a half hours a day with his contemporaries while coaching them as well.

“I did this for 18 months, got my master’s degree and then I set out to try and get a real job,” he said.

Following an internship in Richmond, Va., and a regional government post in the nation’s capital, Gsell took on several real jobs over the next 19 years – starting as a city budget analyst in Trenton, N.J., where he met his wife, and then on to city management roles in North Shores, Mich.; Eau Claire, Wis.; Winchester, Conn.; Cumberland, Md., and Marshalltown, Iowa.

Gsell said that the mindset of municipal government officials at that time was of a nomadic nature.

“I wasn’t probably going to set down my roots in one of those first four or five communities that we lived in and moved to,” he said. “It was my psychosis or my psychology that said, ‘I gotta move; it’s just going to happen.’ ”

No Giving in to Ralph Nader

While in Connecticut, Gsell recalled an interaction with famed political activist/consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who lived in Winchester.

“I met Ralph Nader twice, personally. He came into my office to complain that his old grammar school was being renovated and he didn’t like the way they were doing it,” he said. “He thought that because the school budget was part of the town/city budget, he felt that I could go in and just tell the superintendent and the board of education that you’re not going to do that. I respectfully disagreed with him.

“But it’s interesting that when you walk in and see this icon sitting in your office, I was like, ‘What the heck did I do?’ You genuflect, and ask 'where’s the holy water?' ”

Gsell said that every stop prior to Batavia proved to be a learning experience (he cut his teeth dealing with the media while serving as the assistant city manager in Eau Claire) and he is proud to say that he left each location on his own terms and on good terms.

The Genesee County manager job proved to be his first and only county government position.

“For me, it was a matter if I was going to break the mold of moving frequently, either going to larger governments or on to a different challenge,” he said. “Leaving local government at the town, village and city levels and moving to a county was going to be, for me, somewhat unique. But in hindsight, it was a great move.”

Gsell has made his mark both professionally and as an active member in civic organizations, such as the Rotary Club, United Way, HomeCare & Hospice, Chamber of Commerce. Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Leadership Genesee and the Genesee Area YMCA.

Finding a Home on Washington Avenue

He and his wife have lived on Washington Avenue in Batavia, not far from the Batavia Middle School, for the entire time.

We’ve never lived in the same house as long as we have in Batavia, neither of us, even when growing up,” he said. “We must have looked at 18 houses in a day and a half. I think it was the last house we saw. We saw nothing in Le Roy. Everything was either from Stafford, west. As soon as Ann Marie walked in and saw the woodwork and everything else, she said this is the house.”

In time, Jay, Ann Marie and Claire realized that Batavia would be their permanent home.

“I think it was between conversations with my wife and daughter, after Claire graduated from Batavia High in 1999, that it was pretty clear at that point,” he said. “I thought, OK what else is it that I would want to accomplish that I couldn’t do here? It really became then that this would be where we set our roots down.”

Gsell said his son, Christopher, who he had adopted when he was in the third grade, had moved out to California to spend some time with his biological father. Today, Christopher, 45, is chief creative officer for Halo Media LL, and lives in Brooklyn with his wife.

Tragedy struck the family on March 22, 2009, when Claire, passed away at the age of 27.

“She had been working in a pretrial services program in Monroe County toward her goal of becoming a probation officer, and two weeks later (following her death), we got a letter stating that they wanted her to work there in that capacity,” Gsell said. “She really wanted that job. This would have made her day.”

Aa 2003 graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Claire also worked part time at DePaul.

“As my wife always says, ‘Man plans and God laughs,’ ” Gsell said, indicating a strong faith has sustained them in their loss.

Unloading the Nursing Home was a Big One

Reflecting upon his career in Genesee County, Gsell said priorities included adopting “consistent and well-funded budgets that were balanced so we weren’t living on the edge in terms of revenue assumptions” and making wise decisions about county facilities, specifically mentioning the county-owned airport, courts facility and former nursing home.

“We’ve spent almost $30 million at the County Airport, most of which has been federal and state money, and turned that into a Class A reliever airport under the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and state guidelines in the regional pattern,” he said. “And we sold the nursing home for $15.2 million to Premier Healthcare to stop the bleeding. Fortunately, Premier is in the business of operating nursing homes. It still is the owner and they own the one in Le Roy, too.”

He said the county had been operating the nursing home at an average annual deficit of about $2 million for eight years prior to unloading it in 2017.

“We used about $5 million of the sale to settle obligations while we still owned the facility,” he said. “As far as profit, not even close as the nursing home owed money to the county’s general fund.”

Gsell said the 52,000-square-foot, two-story Genesee County Court Facility on Ellicott Street (across from his office on the lower floor of the Old Courthouse) has served its purpose, but he wishes it had two more stories.

“If that were the case, it would have been city and county law enforcement with dispatch on the first floor and you go up from there,” he said. “All criminal justice would have been located in one place, and we would have had more storage in the building. I guess that constraints at the time were such that it just wasn’t in the cards.”

Gsell: City Police Should Be on Park Road

Gsell also said that the City of Batavia should have partnered with the county about 10 years ago on what is now the county sheriff’s office on Park Road.

We tried numerous times to pull that off. We spent a lot of time going back and forth – where to locate it. Just for the sheriff’s administration building, we were all over the City of Batavia, looking at various sites, working with consultants as to where to put the two together,” he said. “As it turns out, we at least accomplished consolidated dispatch, which even to this day is not universal in the State of New York as far as counties and relatively larger cities.”

He said about 20 sites, all inside the city, were considered for a combined city/sheriff’s police building.

“Finally, the county, seeing the reluctance from the city, had to do something. As it turned out, we worked with the city and the VA Medical Center to use the Park Road site because the city actually owned that property, which was within the city limits,” he explained. “That was one of the opportunities that was missed -- for us to put our two law enforcement entities completely together.”

Gsell said much progress has been made in bringing water to the county, through a long-standing agreement with the Monroe County Water Authority and recent connections with the Erie County Water Authority; in the area of shared services with towns and neighboring counties; and on a new state-mandated county jail that has been “paused” by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were ready to put that sucker out for bid late last year and all of a sudden COVID-19,” he said. “Now, we’re exploring a joint jail with Orleans County, which would need approval from the state legislature. The need is not any less -- it’s the ability to determine what the right size is as well as where the financing will come from because our sales tax has taken such a hit.”

He’s Known as ‘The Dean’ to His Colleagues

Gsell said his job has been made much easier over the years thanks to consistently strong legislatures and the constant communication with other county managers and administrators throughout the state.

“We’ve always had very good legislators … good people to work with,” he said. “Plus, I am thankful to have made close friends with colleagues; people who rely on each other and network with each other every day.”

One of those people is Shaun Groden, Greene County administrator and president of the New York State Association of County Administrators and Managers. 

“Jay is the dean of New York State county managers, partially from his tenure but primarily through his expertise,” Groden said. “He always is able to dissect the issue, and he has a rabid sense of humor, too.”

Groden said administrators seek feedback and advice from one another via a listserv (electronic mailing list), and all value Gsell’s opinions.

“Jay would often add his two cents and it was typically humorous as well as insightful,” he said. “Just the other week, his response was both comedic and right on point. I am going to miss these comments.”

A Trip to Italy; Remembering Barber Conable

At the end of this work week, Gsell will turn the managerial reins over to Matt Landers, his assistant for the past six years. He said he is leaving the county in good hands.

“It’s what our legislative body and our team here is all about – a very professional local government organization that respects tenure as far as employees are concerned, understands the serious nature of what it is we do … and as far as the succession process, we try to build that into a lot of our departments so when an opportunity occurs, we can promote from within,” he offered.

Gsell said he will continue to stay involved in the community and that he and Ann Marie may do some traveling once coronavirus-related restrictions are eased.

“Ann’s only family is her nephew, Brian, down on the Jersey Shore. He’s about the only person we could go visit right now. My siblings are in North Carolina or Virginia, and we can’t go see them right now,” he said. “My other sister lives in Michigan with her husband and three kids.”

He said his wife wants to go back to Italy. “She’s 110-percent Italian,” he quipped.

“Ann Marie has been all over the place when she worked as the first female tech for Dow Jones, making sure the ticker tape machines were working at the brokerages,” he said. “Me, I’ve been to Canada, that’s it.”

Travel plans aside, he says he takes great satisfaction in completing the task before him and being able to forge so many lasting relationships. And he considers himself blessed to have met a particular congressman who was born in the Wyoming County Village of Warsaw and lived in the Genesee County Village of Alexander.

“The fact that I got to meet the real Barber Conable, up close and personal, to me was at the top of my list, all things considered,” he said. “When I was in high school that’s when he was at his ascendancy in the Congress – the most respected congressperson of that era in Washington, D.C., during Watergate.

“Who gets to call that part of their legacy? Barber was it. I met him in that Saturday morning coffee klatch over at Karl Buchholtz’s place (Genesee Hardware) on Ellicott Street, and I was thinking to myself, ‘Holy crap, Barber Conable! Really, really?’ That’s almost as good as my Lou Holtz (head football coach at the College of William & Mary from 1969-71) moment.”



At top, photo by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce; Gsell in his office at the Old County Courthouse, photo by Howard Owens; Gsell (in back row, second from the right) as a freshman member of The College of William & Mary track team, submitted photo.

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